The Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater, a professional modern-dance company and school, will be the performers January 2 for “WOW! First Wednesdays,” a series of free concerts and performances held the first Wednesday of every month at the California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Boulevard, Escondido, California.
Free performances will be held at 4 and 7pm, reports the Pomerado News.
For Jean Isaacs and her company of dancers, the free performances are not only a way to give back to the community, but a chance to get feedback for some of their new work. “It’s the best way to market our shows,” said Isaacs. “A good portion [of the show] will be new material.” The new material comes from their new show Cabaret Dances: The Water Lilies (Nymphéas), which will premiere later in January. Roughly one-third of their free performances will be dedicated to this new material, which Isaacs described as “impressionistic” and based on Monet’s “Water Lilies” paintings.
The performances will also feature a selection from the company’s well-known “Trolley Dances,” which they have done for 15 years on San Diego’s trolleys. The dances were also performed in last year’s “Trolley Dance” in Riverside.
For more information, call the box office at 800.988.4253. To see the original story, visit http://www.pomeradonews.com/2012/12/23/free-modern-dance-event-planned-jan-2/.
Among the huge outpouring of relief for damages from Hurricane Sandy nearly two months after it hit, a modest effort is on the horizon for the shoestring but vibrant world of modern dance in New York City.
The New York Times reports that starting in early January, checks from $1,000 to $5,000 will go out to companies, choreographers, and theaters knocked back on their heels by the destruction and flooding.
Dance/NYC, which provides support for troupes in the city and is a branch of the national dance service organization Dance/USA, is distributing the funds to those that can demonstrate some sort of loss, even if outlined in a general way. The most tangible kinds of need are damaged sets, like the ones designed by Isamu Noguchi for Martha Graham and her company that were submerged in the basement of Westbeth, the downtown artists complex.
But companies can also ask for money to cover unpaid fees to performers because of storm-related cancellations, extra travel expenses when artists were stranded outside New York, or lost ticket revenue for companies or rental fees at theaters. The Mertz Gilmore Foundation is providing $200,000 toward for the grants, which are being awarded, first come first served.
The choreographer Ralph Lemon, who programmed a three-week showcase of contemporary dance creators in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in September, lost archives, costumes, and technical equipment held in a storage space on the Lower East Side, at 10th Street and Avenue D. The loss included many years’ worth of archives and artwork.
However, he struck an optimistic note, saying that his future work would not be greatly affected. “Less stuff is less stuff,” he said. “The invaluable loss was irreplaceable, so the value remains elusive. Full circle moments are good.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/arts/dance/modern-dance-groups-to-receive-hurricane-sandy-relief-aid.html?_r=0.
By Bill Evans
Challenge the core. To build students’ core strength in each class, have them do the yoga “plank” with weight on the forearms. Tell them to hollow the abdomen (exhaling to bring the navel closer to the spine) and maintain this form for at least 30 seconds. As they become stronger, encourage them to place one hand at a time behind the back and then to lengthen one leg at a time until the foot leaves the floor. Incorporating these into longer movement phrases with music allows students to experience them as dancing rather than exercises.
Liquid breath. Oxygen comes into the system as a gas but travels through the body in liquid form (in the blood) to nourish each cell. The heart’s contractions move oxygen from the lungs into the blood and gather carbon dioxide so it can be expelled. While the lungs play a vital role in this process, every body cell is involved. Within the body, then, breath is a liquid experience. My students respond well to images of “liquid breath” and “cellular respiration,” which bring them increased elasticity, resilience, and flow.
Boston’s contemporary Urbanity Dance will make its inaugural trip to Orlando, Florida, this week to perform and hold master classes with Yow Dance, an emerging modern dance company in central Florida.
Betsi Graves, Urbanity founder/artistic director, hails from Orlando, where she graduated from Bishop Moore High School in 2000. She said Orlando artists often bring a “background of amusement park showmanship” to their work.
“The entertainment culture in Orlando offers the creative outside-the-box thinking that I love. For instance, when I dreamed of props for our first production, I pictured a human sized hamster wheel, birdcage, and conveyer belt. People told me it couldn’t be done on the budget we had. But being from Orlando and attending Disney World every single Sunday as a little girl, I am a dreamer,” she says. “So we hired volunteer students from Boston Architectural College to create the sets, and they turned out amazing.”
Urbanity will open the second act for Yow Dance performing Larry Keigwin’s critically celebrated AIR on November 9 to 11 at 8pm at The Theatre Downtown, 2113 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at http://redchairproject.tix.com/Event.asp?Event=492754 or by calling 480.280.3309.
In the November issue of Dance Studio Life magazine, SUNY Brockport professor Don Halquist shares his thoughts on teaching students how to layer their own passion, their own emotions, and their personal uniqueness on the choreography they have been taught in class or for performance.
Halquist, a member of the Bill Evans Dance Company for 20 years, will expand on these and other modern-dance concepts when he serves as a faculty member at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference. Set for August 1 to 4, 2013, at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, the DLTC features some of the top motivational minds in the dance education world.
Halquist has performed as a guest artist with the New Mexico Ballet and in the companies of Nora Reynolds Daniel, Licia Perea, Debra Knapp, and Jennifer Predock-Linnell; and has taught dance at the University of New Mexico, Santa Fe Community College, and the New Mexico Ballet Company school.
“We should encourage reflection on the part of our students,” Halquist says in his article. “Ask them to think about what the movement phrases mean to them, and encourage them to bring their own images to the material they are learning and performing.”
For more information on the DLTC faculty, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dancelife-teacher-conference-faculty/.
2012 Bessie Award nominee Darrah Carr Dance and celebrated guest choreographer Seán Curran return to New York City’s Irish Arts Center this November to premiere new work in the company’s signature style of ModERIN: a unique blend of traditional Irish step and contemporary modern dance.
Set to the haunting music of Irish traditional musician Seamus Eagan, Curran’s Sé Caoineadh explores the emotion of lament and reveals the lyrical depths of sadness, longing, and regret. Curran, artistic director of the Seán Curran Company, danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and the original Off-Broadway cast of Stomp, and has choreographed for Trinity Irish Dance Company, ABT’s Studio Company, Denmark’s Upper Cut Company, Sweden’s Skänes Dance Theater, Irish Modern Dance Theatre, Ririe Woodbury Dance Theater, and Dance Alloy.
The program also includes displays of lightning-fast Irish dancing to live musical accompaniment by Liz Hanley, Niall O’Leary, and Christel Rice.
The Irish Arts Center is located at 553 West 51st Street, New York City. Performances are set for November 16 and 17 at 8pm; a special price family show on November 17 at 11am; and a matinee November 18 at 3pm (pre-show conversation at 2:30pm). Tickets are $25 general; $15 for the family show; and $20 for IAC members. To purchase, call 866.811.4111 or visit www.irishartscenter.org.
The cast and crew of the indie film Brujo are huddled in a garage in tiny Washington, Vermont, one recent afternoon, waiting out a downpour. They’ve been filming the modern-dance movie on writer/director Glenn Mack’s sprawling homestead for almost three weeks, and with just two days of production left, they’re preparing to shoot the final scene.
When the rain lifts, everybody treks down a winding dirt road—past a pair of dairy cows munching on tall grass—to a leveled-off dirt stage encircled by cameras, musicians and onlookers. Several dancers, including Vermonters Maris Wolff, Hanna Satterlee, and Jane Beaumont Snyder, move their bare feet across the dirt while violinist and singer Mazz Swift improvises on a theme: “The Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé.
This is Mack’s first feature film. Splitting his time between Vermont and California, he’s worked in the Hollywood film industry for years, usually as transportation coordinator.
Set at a rural modern-dance retreat, Brujo tells the story of a woman who grows suspicious of her girlfriend after an alluring and flirtatious boxer shows up. With the help of a mysterious brujo—or male witch—the jealous lover attempts to put a curse on the boxer, with disastrous results.
“The plot is important,” Mack told the Seven Days publication, “but the dancing is what the movie is really about.”
Why dance? “I thought every Teamster wanted to direct a modern dance movie,” he jokes. Mack’s interest in dance actually goes way back: his mother was an accomplished ballet dancer in her native Netherlands. When he decided to make a movie, he asked his friend, Marina Fukushima, a San Francisco-based dancer and choreographer, to be involved from the start.
“I think dance can speak through intuition and nuance,” says Mack. “So I’m letting the dance have the last word.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.7dvt.com/2012mystical-movie-about-dance-music-and-witchcraft-shoots-central-vermont
By Bill Evans
Muscular strength is not the same thing as stability; flexibility is not the same as mobility. Clarity of form without resilience leads to rigidity; flexibility without grounding creates formlessness. Dancers achieve a balance of mobility and stability when moving by releasing surface tension, establishing a give-and-take relationship with the earth, and allowing breath to happen freely throughout the body. When we yield to gravity with an open body wall, we become grounded, claiming power without sacrificing fluidity. When stabilizing ourselves by connecting to gravity and mobilizing ourselves by breathing fully and releasing unnecessary tension, we become integrated and adaptable.
Today’s modern dancers are expected to execute a variety of inversions—movements in which the weight is supported by the hands, arms, and shoulder girdle with the pelvis, legs, and feet reaching upward. To prepare for them, include upper-body strengthening patterns in your warm-ups. I have borrowed from yoga inversion postures to create some of these. Starting with Downward-Facing Dog, I have explored variations that avoid shoulder girdle injuries and help students feel confident being upside down.
By changing “front” regularly, you will facilitate the kinesthetic learning that is so important in modern dance, in which each artist is expected to find her/his uniqueness rather than look a certain way. You will also allow those who always stand in the back to experience how much more aware they become of what is being said and demonstrated when not following or hiding behind others. In my classes we face all four sides of the studio, and sometimes we make the corners our “front.” This helps students wean themselves from mirrors and sense the difference between the kinesphere (personal space) and the room in which they are dancing.
I often hear teachers tell their students to be “longer, bigger, taller,” but I seldom hear requests to become smaller, softer, closer to the earth. Laban told us that all human movement is basically growing and shrinking. We gain greater access to our largest range of movement when we also explore our smallest. By encouraging students to become small as well as large, you can help them discover and replace tension-holding patterns that create rigidity, lack of shock absorption and, thus, injuries.
Good teaching is often more about asking appropriate questions than about giving answers. By learning how to investigate movement concepts, students become empowered to participate in generating knowledge. After modeling a new movement pattern, I invite students to move with me as I explain the concepts I investigated in creating it. When they become comfortable with it, I invite them to explore the concept in their own ways. Usually I begin by encouraging them to change the timing of the phrase, then the movement qualities, then the sequence. Next, I suggest that they leave parts out and repeat others, and finally to explore whatever they find most satisfying or challenging in the phrase. Thoughtfully guided improvisation can facilitate the acquisition of personally meaningful technique skills and expressivity.
Without context there is no meaning. To empower our students, we need to cite our sources, telling them the origins of the movement styles, phrases, and concepts we are sharing. When passing on new movement material, let your students know when and where you learned it and why it is meaningful to you.
Unsigned copies of Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance DVD are now on sale for $14.95 by using the promo code DANCE.
The documentary tells the story of The Joffrey Ballet, a groundbreaking cultural treasure known as the first truly American dance company. Narrated by Tony and Emmy Award winner Mandy Patinkin and directed by Bob Hercules, the film documents how The Joffrey Ballet revolutionized American ballet by daringly combining modern dance with traditional ballet technique, combining art with social statement, and setting ballets to pop and rock music scores.
The film has been nominated in the Outstanding Documentary category by the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, which honor dancers and choreographers on stage and in film. The 30th anniversary award ceremony will be held June 4 at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University.
To purchase the DVD or learn more, visit http://dvd.joffreymovie.com/. To see a listing of upcoming locations, dates, and times for theater showings for the documentary, visit http://www.joffreymovie.com/screenings/.
Got news? Email Karen@rheegold.com and include your name, email and phone. We like accompanying photos too with photographer’s credit and photo description.
When dancers compete with others, their focus is often outside their bodies. But they learn more efficiently and deeply when they are aware of internal sensations and feelings. Therefore I encourage students to excel, not to compete. To experience success, they need to improve just a little bit each week. I ask them to establish three primary personal technique goals for each semester and to track their progress. I check in with them at mid-term and receive a full report at semester’s end. They develop more of their potential through this approach than by comparing themselves to others.
Neutral alignment is crucial to a dancer’s long-term health and well-being. Even minor misalignments of the pelvis, spine, rib cage, knees, or ankles can cause unnecessary wear and tear that will create chronic musculoskeletal injuries. All dancers, and especially beginners, should be encouraged to focus on efficient alignment and open pathways of flow and connectivity through the joint centers—from the soles of the feet to the top of the head and from the tip of the tailbone to the tips of the fingers.
The Tea Dancers/Ballet de la Compasión
By Ann Murphy
When Natta Haotzima arrived in the United States from Mexico City seven years ago, she felt both the sting and the promise of her new home.
Haotzima spent her 20s in her native Mexico dancing (Afro-Cuban, ballet, and modern dance), painting, sculpting, and practicing circus arts with the Ècole de Cirque de Quebec (a contemporary-style circus school and performing group launched by founders of Cirque du Soleil). But still she felt unfulfilled and restless. She decided to go to the United States for a vacation and ended up at Burning Man, an annual countercultural artists’ gathering in the Nevada desert. For Haotzima it seemed like a variation on the ancient Aztec and Mayan village celebrations held throughout Mexico, not to mention street performance, which she had participated in for years. It was entertaining and tribal, but she wanted more.
“I was coming from too much circus and was looking for a mission. It was a tough moment for me,” she says during an interview near Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California, where she trains with modern dancers Katie Faulkner and Maureen “Mo” Miner. Haotzima includes her teachers’ fluid style in her own eclectic twice-weekly dance classes, which include ballet, gymnastics, and martial arts moves, held at Berkeley’s small 8th Street Studio.
The 34-year-old choreographer and teacher, who has been practicing Buddhism for seven years, knows that dance isn’t a cure-all for the world’s ills, but she is convinced that it can alleviate suffering. So three years ago she formed The Tea Dancers/Ballet de la Compasión, a small troupe of six aerialists, fire tamers, and modern dancers that she calls her “loyal group”––an open-hearted band of artists she chooses for their “interest in humanitarian work” more than for their technical ability. With them, she set out to “shelter and embrace the distressed” with compassionate performance and interaction.
The curious company name—part Anglo, part Latin, Western as well as Eastern––points to the complex mission this small troupe has carved out for itself. It combines Haotzima’s desire to honor tea (which she sees at the center of life in Asian society), while acknowledging the role of compassion; it signals her Latin roots and her American presence. “Tea Dancers” also refers to the fact that the troupe dances with fire and puts the flammable material (coal or amber) into tea bags of varying sizes, which are far easier to manipulate than traditional fire pots.
Haotzima regards her dance, a blend of street performance and modern dance, as tied to Buddhism, which she has embraced ever since she came to the Bay Area and was offered temporary shelter at Hua Zang Si, a temple in San Francisco’s Mission District. For her, offering the gift of dance is an act of compassion. Empathy for others’ suffering (the definition of compassion) is the cornerstone of Buddhism, a philosophy that originated in northeastern India in the fifth century BCE and spread throughout Asia and eventually into the West. In Buddhist practice, dance is traditionally an extension of meditation in which the dancer engages in compassion through concentration and intention. Inevitably it is ritualized, like the Japanese tea ceremony, and designed to bring merit, or spiritual benefit, to the viewer.
Haotzima’s approach to compassion is far from the activist route followed by choreographers like Bill T. Jones, Anna Halprin, and others who work directly with social themes and experiences of hardship or tragedy. Nor does she employ therapeutic dance circles, or group improvisations designed to lead the audience to states of higher awareness, even though higher awareness is, indeed, what she and her dancers are after.
“Our main mission is to dance for those that have an absence of inspiration and motivation,” she explains. “It’s compassionate because we do this free of cost; we do not ask for anything in return. It comes from our heart, and it feels very good to the heart.” Buddhist dance, in other words, has expanded its traditional boundaries.
While Haotzima directs and guides her troupe, the dancers contribute to the work in a multitude of ways. Chris White, for instance, not only shimmies up and spins on silk drops; he is a painter, musician, carpenter, surfer, yoga practitioner, and former competitive long-distance runner in charge of The Tea Dancers’ rigging, lighting, and fire. He also collaborates with Haotzima on scenic design, sometimes painting during a performance and projecting the evolving work on a portable screen that he built.
White is one of the company “loyalists” who, like one of the others, had no previous dance background but attend classes with Haotzima—because, as Haotzima sees it, movement skills can come while attitude can’t. Seeing White nimbly scaling the silk ropes and turning upside down one Sunday, one begins to see her point.
“It’s like running,” White says. “You have this control and loss of control.” The control comes from the skill gained and the loss of control from the unknown, especially heightened in a company in which the creative edge is extensive and that is devoted to uplifting audience spirits. (The troupe performs, for free, as often as possible—sometimes once a month, other times more—although payment is welcome.)
“We have to improvise with our hopes because we don’t know what gigs are going to come up,” White continues. “We have to maintain a positive spirit regardless of our plans.” Although he adheres to no spiritual belief system, he says “the Buddhist philosophy is influential––we go where we’re led and where people are interested in inviting us in.”
Part of the troupe’s ethos is trying to “do more with less,” Haotzima says. “Money issues never stop our plans.”
That positive spirit is at the core of the whimsical and ethereal work the company creates, in which floating tulle, shiny orbs of light, and swathes of crimson fabric manipulated by sticks turn into spectral jellyfish, delicate fireflies, and morphing flowers. There are no clear narratives in the work, but images proliferate to the point that the dancers seem like esoteric acrobats moving through an imaginary landscape.
Mayra Enriquez, who moves with the same combination of modern dance, African dance, and circus spirit as Haoztima, has been involved since the troupe launched. “Without her,” Haoztima says, “this company wouldn’t be possible; she is an extension of myself.” Also from Mexico, Enriquez began her performing career dancing with fire on the streets of Mexico City. She launched a 10-year study of African dance before traveling to Guinea, West Africa, to deepen her practice. Today she combines circus, modern dance, folkloric, African, and African fusion movements in the work, and, like Haotzima, is versed in somatic modalities such as Pilates and yoga and choreographs on the troupe.
All this adds up to a youthful spirit of possibility that the small band of artists brings to youth shelters or to the elderly in nursing homes, and occasionally to bona fide art centers like the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Wherever they go, The Tea Dancers are after images of emotional truth and beauty designed to inspire hope in audiences. The family feel of the group is palpably kind and warm, and it may be that spirit, above all, that distinguishes them most.
“I was intrigued by [Haotzima] and her politics, and where she was going with the work,” says Jim Beatty, director of a creative arts program for children, Ha Ha This A-way, and manager of Berkeley’s 8th Street Studio. Today Beatty is the company’s “guardian angel” and official chair of the troupe’s board as well as all-around advisor. He met Haotzima when she contacted him about the 8th Street Studio, a small but airy space that had trapezes rigged in the space long before most people had heard of aerial dance.
“Early on, Natta talked about wanting to make dance accessible to people, and to celebrate those who have so much less, people who usually don’t get exposed to The Tea Dancers’ love of life,” says Beatty. “Artistically, I was really impressed with her compassion and ethics. When you’re doing your art it’s a gift, and it helps people receive it if you don’t have the mask of celebrity”––something, he notes, that this humble group has none of. “You really can’t measure the impact immediately—it’s like pebbles in a pond.”
Years ago Haotzima thought that to bring about change she had to change jobs—become a journalist or a therapist, for instance––and she even pursued a radio internship with that in mind. “But now,” she says, “everything is resolved.” Today she is convinced that she can dance compassionately for those in need of beauty, using her circus/modern dance background and her blend of video, live drawing, fabric dancing, and circus-inflected routines in which fire and light offer an ethereal, delicate glow. Often the dancers are allowed to bring fire into senior centers and youth shelters, or to set up their rigging and do aerial ballets. When that is impossible, Haotzima says, “we perform modern dance on the floor with props, or just improvise.”
Haotzima believes she has the means to spread delight and kindness through her art. Moving with fire in the dark, she and her fellow dancers become the source of a river of sparks that seems to bring the action of the stars down to earth. And in such a glow, it appears that nobody has to go it alone.
RIOULT, an American modern dance company with a classic sensibility, will hold a four-day 2012 New York season at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, New York City, May 10 to 12, with a family matinee May 13.
The season features the world premiere of a work by artistic director/choreographer Pascal Rioult inspired by T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” with a commissioned score by Grammy-winning composer Joan Tower. The piece will be danced at each performance to live musical accompaniment with cellist Raman Ramakrishnan and Tower at the piano. The program also includes Rioult’s Firebird (2003), and Celestial Tides, which premiered at The Joyce Theater in 2011.
The family matinee features Firebird and Small Steps, Tiny Revolutions (2008), which features more than a dozen children from the community performing with RIOULT dancers. This program is part of the two-year Five-Borough Arts-in-Education Tour, a partnership between RIOULT and City University of New York Performing Arts Centers (CUNY PAC) that began last fall.
Tickets range from $10 to $49 and are available at 212.279.4200 or www.ticketcentral.com. The Lynch Theater is located at 524 West 59th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Visit www.rioult.org for more information.
Got news? Email Karen@rheegold.com and include your name, email and phone. We like accompanying photos too with photographer’s credit and photo description.
The eighth annual Miami Dance Festival will kick off with an environmental dance performance by Momentum Dance Company on April 1 at Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
The performance begins at 5pm and admission is free. For information and reservations, call 305.673.7256 or 305.858.7002.
The Miami Dance Festival (formerly known as the Miami Beach Dance Festival) showcases performances of modern and traditional dance by Momentum Dance Company, other South Florida dance troupes, and visiting artists, as well as dance films, master classes, dance workshops, and a number of special events. An opening night party and a reception will be held for festival artists, sponsors, and patrons.
Festival highlights include:
- April 18: Miami Dance Festival Film Night featuring Paul Taylor: Dancemaker, Miami Beach Cinematheque
- April 26: Florida Dance Theater, Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 1000 Convention Center Drive
- April 27: Ballet Flamenco La Rosa presents a program with live music, Hialeah High School Theater
- May 13: Miami Dance Festival Family Day, Miami Beach Botanical Garden
For a full schedule of events and ticket information, visit http://www.momentumdance.com/overview/.
Bill Evans Dance Company will present “Dancing in the Vernal Equinox,” five premieres with choreography by modern dance master Evans, on March 18 at 3pm at Hochstein Performance Hall, Rochester, New York.
Live music will be provided by Eastman’s Ossia New Music Ensemble, directed by Matt Evans. Along with Bill Evans, dance artists include Heather Acomb, Tom Ciccone, Kathy Diehl, Trent Furnace, Don Halquist, Mariah Maloney, Leanne Rinelli, Jenny Showalter, Vanessa Van Wormer, and Courtney World.
Tickets are $20 general, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students and children. They will be available at the door after 2pm the day of the show or through reservations at email@example.com. Visit www.billevansdance.org for more information.
To help students find dynamic variation and movement efficiency, I guide them into moving from the three different weight centers. The pelvic floor is the center of power and grounding. The upper thorax (behind the sternum) is the center of delicacy and buoyancy. The navel center is neither forceful nor gentle; moving from it balances strength and lightness and allows other expressive qualities (free/bound, multi-focused/direct, sustained/sudden) to resonate.
Learning is active. Each student must be fully engaged in thinking, sensing, and feeling in order to take ownership of the process of positive growth and change. To encourage such engagement, I ask students what they are sensing in their bodies, what they are seeing in the dancing of their peers, and what meanings they derive from these experiences. Since I’ve been asking such questions and ensuring that dancers give voice to their thoughts and feelings, the time it has taken them to understand and embody the concepts we are investigating has shortened considerably.
When I ask teenage dancers what a plié is, often they answer, “Bending the knees.” This oversimplified image of a total body experience has caused countless dancers to become non-resilient and disintegrated. Plié involves simultaneous yielding in the hips, knees, and ankles. The folding at the hip is the primary action. Suggested language: “Ride your exhalation; drop your heavy tail; allow your sitz bones to widen and your feet to melt into the earth. To rise, push the earth away with your tail and your feet as you allow the sitz bones to narrow.”
There is an epidemic of hyperextended knees among today’s young dancers. Flexibility is important in modern dance, but pressing back in the knees when rising from plié creates misalignment throughout the skeletal system and a dangerous loss of shock absorption when jumping. Students must know the difference between extension (which allows for resilience) and hyperextension (which creates rigidity). I never say, “Straighten your knees.” Instead, as dancers return from plié, I say, “Extend the hip while allowing the patella to slide freely upward.” To guide leg gestures, I say, “Lengthen the whole leg, sensing the through-line in your open joints.”
Our modern-dance ancestors started with breath. For Martha Graham, it was called “contraction and release”; for Doris Humphrey, “fall and recovery”; for Rudolf Laban, “growing and shrinking.” As you enter the studio, notice your own breath to help you become centered. Draw your students’ attention to their breath to help them become present in body, mind, and spirit. Remind them that movement rides on breath and that breathing is not just about the lungs. It takes place on a cellular level as oxygen travels through the cardiovascular system. Liquid breath throughout the body brings resilience and adaptability.
To reinforce the fact that each group of students is a learning community, I often invite dancers to take a little walk at the beginning of class during which they make eye contact with every classmate. I look each student in the eye and speak her/his name at least once in every class. It is easy to notice the high-achieving students and those who might be struggling, but all students want (and deserve) to know that they are seen, acknowledged, and important to you.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will run a special holiday schedule that includes matinee and evening programs on Christmas Eve, an evening performance on Christmas Day, and two performances on New Year’s Eve.
Performances are set for December 24 at 2 and 8pm, December 25 at 7:30pm, and December 31 at 2 and 7pm. Select programs will include modern dance master Paul Taylor’s Arden Court and hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris’ Home. Visit http://www.alvinailey.org/calendar/2011-W53 for details on each performance’s program.
Also, Ailey’s dancers plan a special New Year’s Day program at 7:30pm that highlights this year’s premieres and new productions, along with Revelations in its entirety.
Through Ailey’s Ticket to Dance program, ticket holders get their first class free at The Ailey Extension, which offers dance and fitness classes for the public.
Tickets starting at $25 are available at the New York City Center box office (131 West 55th Street), through CityTix® at 212.581.1212, or at www.alvinailey.org or www.nycitycenter.org. For discounts on groups of 10 or more, call 212.405.9082 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York-based Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company, which has been creating and performing original modern dance works that merge the culture and traditions of Japan with the Western dance vocabulary, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a gala performance December 3 at 7pm at Ailey Citigroup Theatre.
The performance will include screenings of past performances, including a segment of the choreographer’s signature work, The Tale of Genji; a live performance of Heian, and the world premiere of Rebirth. Performers include special guest Toshinori Hamada, along with Heather Currie, Ari Someya, Cho Ying Tsai, Atsushi Yahagi, with guest musician Yukio Koma, a shamisen master. A reception with silent auction featuring some of the company’s costumes will follow.
Ichinohe, a native of Japan, was one of the first Japanese dancers to graduate from The Juilliard School. With the help of several American supporters, Ichinohe founded her company 40 years ago, and has distinguished herself over the years for her unique vision and her pioneering of multicultural choreography that blends Japanese themes and aesthetics with Western dance technique.
The company has appeared in many New York venues, as well as The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Wolf Trap, the Japan America Theater in Los Angeles, the Festival Internacional de Teatro de Oriente in Venezuela, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and in various cities in Japan.
Tickets for the performance only are $30 or $15 for students and seniors. Tickets for the performance plus post-reception are $70. For reservations, visit www.smarttix.com or call 212.868.4444. For details, visit www.ichinohedance.org.
Modern dance master teacher Bill Evans will make the keynote presentation during this week’s Florida Dance Education Organization’s 2011 conference, “Dance Education: Legacy and Literacy.”
The conference will be held October 27, 28, and 29 at the New World School of the Arts, 25 NE 2nd Street, Miami, Florida.
This year’s conference features Evans, a renowned performer, teacher, choreographer, lecturer, administrator, movement analyst, author, adjudicator, and consultant, along with classes in ballet, Pilates, jazz/Fosse, Afro-Brazilian, and modern technique studies of Laban, Horton, and Graham, plus other topics. New this year is an expanded National Honor Society for Dance Arts student program.
For a full schedule and details, visit www.FDEO.org.
Modern dance groundbreaker Ted Shawn is being remembered by the dance educational center he founded, Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts, on October 21—the occasion of his 120th birthday.
To view a video clip of Shaw’s Men Dancers in the piece Kinetic Molpai, recorded at the Pillow in 1937, visit
Shawn selected his original core group of dynamic performers from the athletes he taught at Springfield College. His purpose was to forge a new performance style for men, and to prove that dancing could be an honorable profession for the American male. The company performed over a thousand times in more than 750 different cities around the U.S. and Canada, and conducted foreign tours to London and Havana.
The Pillow is gearing up for another special occasion—January 2012 marks the official beginning of its 80th anniversary. Auditions will be held in January through March in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and internationally, for The School at Jacob’s Pillow’s 2012 programs. For more information, visit www.jacobspillow.org
Guest choreographer Seán Curran brings his own innovative flair to Darrah Carr Dance’s signature blend of contemporary modern dance and traditional Irish step during four shows this November at the Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, New York City.
Curran’s new work features virtuosic displays of powerful percussive footwork by the company’s cast of champion Irish step dancers.
Shows are set for November 11 and 12 at 8pm and November 13 at 3pm, along with a specially priced family show with audience participation on November 12 at 11am. The Saturday evening show includes an audience talkback with Curran and artistic director Darrah Carr. A pre-show conversation with Carr will begin at 2:30pm November 13.
Tickets are $25 general admission or $20 for IAC members. All tickets for the Saturday morning family show are $15. (Discounted $18 tickets are available until October 25 by using the discount code DANCE1.) Visit www.irishartscenter.org or call 866.811.4111 to purchase. For more information on Darrah Carr Dance, visit www.darrahcarrdance.com.
The Paul Taylor Dance Foundation introduces Take On Taylor, a series of free events at the Taylor studios on Manhattan’s Lower East Side designed to introduce new audiences to Taylor’s work and to further engage audiences already familiar with the modern dance master.
The first event will be held September 18 with movement workshops for both youth and adult dancers and non-dancers led by Taylor 2 director Ruth Andrien and members of Taylor 2, plus performances by Taylor 2 members.
A youth movement workshop for ages 4 and up will be held at noon, followed at 1pm by a performance. An adult workshop will begin at 2pm, with a performance at 3pm.
Throughout the year the series will feature different events, such as performances by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, additional performances by Taylor 2, lectures by dance scholars and other arts luminaries, and open houses.
Both workshops and performances will take place at the Paul Taylor Dance Company studios at 551 Grand Street, New York City. For more information about Take On Taylor, visit www.ptdc.org/free. To register, call 212.431.5562.
The company recently announced the launch of youth and young adult dance classes at The Taylor School beginning in September. Space is still available. For information and schedules, visit http://www.ptdc.org/school. To register, call 646.214.5815.
Choreographer Nir Ben Gal from the Israeli modern dance company Liat Dror Nir Ben Gal will join the Eureka Dance Festival in Washington, DC, in September to create and perform original dance pieces in collaboration with five DC-based choreographers.
The choreography will premiere during the Eureka Weekend of Premieres at Dance Place from December 9 to 11. A preview of the work can be seen at Eureka’s September 18 Work-in-Progress showing from 7 to 9pm at Dance Exchange. This free preview is open to the public.
Nir Ben Gal will also lead a community master class on September 14 at Dance Exchange, 7117 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland. The master class will focus on composition and will culminate with each participant creating a short piece. Students will explore the meaning of a dancer’s body weight and experiment with their ability to give and receive that weight. The workshop will include dance, movement, and healing exercises. The master class is open to dancers/movers of all levels, ages 18 and older. Suggested donation is $20 ($15 for Eureka members.)
For more information about the Eureka festival, visit www.dancefestival-eureka.org.
For Eureka Weekend ticket information, visit www.danceplace.org.
The musical group OK Go has teamed up with modern dance company Pilobolus to create its latest video for the single “All Is Not Lost,” according to Glasswerk.co.uk.
The Grammy award-winning rock band created both a regular, non-interactive version available at http://www.okgo.net/# or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur-y7oOto14, plus a special, HMTL5 interactive version of the video that can be accessed at www.allisnotlo.st.
On August 9 OK Go will release its new All Is Not Lost EP, which features the title track, a live version, remixes, and a HD, non-interactive version of the video. The All is Not Lost video was made in collaboration with director Trish Sie, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, and Google Chrome Japan.
The track is taken from OK Go’s latest studio album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
Isadora Duncan’s expressive technique finds a home in the Hudson Valley
By Eileen Glynn
Legendary modern-dance pioneer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) believed in nature as the primary source of inspiration for a dancer. While classes in Duncan technique are not as common as classes in the techniques of other modern dance greats such as Martha Graham or José Limón, Duncan’s legacy is thriving at The Meadow Dance Studio in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley.
In The Art of Dance, a collection of her essays that was published after her death, Duncan encourages dancers to seek nature’s harmonious lines and mirror the movements of waves, wind, birds, and passing clouds. She describes the dancer like this: “A fresco of changing grace, her body floats and undulates like silk in the wind, a princess of rhythms performing the dance in the garden of life.”
Given the profound connection between dance and nature in Duncan’s work, it seems only fitting that a studio dedicated to keeping her legacy alive would be located in a beautiful natural setting. Since opening its doors in 2004, the Meadow school has offered its students a chance to embody Duncan’s philosophy through proximity to natural beauty, both indoors and outside.
Director and owner MaryBeth Hraniotis, who holds a BFA as well as certifications in Alexander and Duncan techniques, designed a state-of-the-art facility complete with stained-glass windows and a second-floor vantage point overlooking broad meadowlands full of tall grass, wildflowers, and a horse paddock. The Shawangunk mountain ridge frames the entire vista. In addition to Duncan classes, the studio offers a unique mix of belly dance, Reiki healing, Geospatial, and Alexander Technique classes.
According to Duncan’s philosophy, a dance that springs from nature can also be a great teacher. “Many profound secrets of the outer and inner meanings of Nature and natural forces can be given to the child through the dance,” she writes. “The child can understand many things through the movement of its body which would be impossible for it to comprehend by the medium of the written or spoken word.”
Hraniotis’ own childhood was steeped in nature. When she was 7 her family moved to a rural area in upstate New York. “I was free to go into the meadow unobserved,” she says. “I would sit in the field, write poetry, and create dances to those poetic phrases. I was really following my own creative impulses.”
Like Duncan, who quit her childhood ballet lessons and famously called ballet’s vocabulary “ugly and unnatural,” Hraniotis was largely self-taught until she went to college. She encountered her first Duncan technique class as a student at SUNY Brockport. Hraniotis went on to study both modern dance and ballet and eventually received her degree in dance from the University of South Florida.
After establishing a successful practice in the Alexander Technique and raising three children, Hraniotis returned to her early interest in Duncan technique, enrolling in the Isadora Duncan International Institute (IDII) at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center in New York City in 1997.
Founded in 1977 by Duncan’s adopted daughter, Maria-Theresa Duncan, and dance historian Kay Bardsley, the IDII is currently under the direction of Dr. Jeanne Bresciani, a third-generation Duncan dancer. Brescani also holds training sessions at the Tempio di Danza in the heart of New York’s Catskill mountain region, at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and at the original Isadora Duncan Dance Research Center of Kopanos in Athens, Greece. The institute also has an affiliated branch in Tokyo, Japan.
Hraniotis happened to read a magazine article that featured Bresciani, was moved to contact her by phone, and then realized that she had found an important mentor. “Dance is a moving story handed down from teacher to teacher. From Isadora to Maria-Theresa to Jeanne to me—I’m very close to the mother line,” Hraniotis says. “You can’t just read about dance in a book; you have to experience it. That’s what I love about dance lineage.”
While Hraniotis’ interest in Duncan technique was purely exploratory at the beginning of her studies, in 2003 she became certified to teach it. Today she performs with the IDII’s professional company and serves as a teaching artist and assistant director of The Isadora for Children and Teens Performing Group under Bresciani’s direction. Housed at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, the ensemble performs throughout the New York area. In addition to her work with IDII, Hraniotis offers community-based classes in a variety of public school and collegiate settings as well as through the Youth Bureau of Orange County, New York.
“I decided to open Meadow Studio in order to teach in my own community rather than leaving to teach elsewhere,” she says. “I wanted to offer people a different choice. I do not allow the compromising, over-sexualization of young children; rather we surround children with beautiful images and ideal thoughts.”
The use of guided imagery in Duncan training is instrumental in developing a child’s rich imagination. Duncan believed that no two persons’ dances should be alike. She wrote: “I shall not teach children to imitate my movements, but to make their own. I shall not force them to study certain definite movements; I shall help them to develop those movements which are natural to them.”
For parent Rachel Hunderfund, whose 8-year-old daughter, Chloe, has been dancing at the Meadow Studio for six years, the opportunity to foster her daughter’s imagination is what led them to enroll in Duncan classes. “We did a trial ballet class at another studio where the kids were directed to mimic the teacher exactly. I didn’t think that provided enough creative expression, which is what I was looking for,” Hunderfund says.
Hraniotis begins every class with a structured improvisation. “The students go to the windows and look out into the landscape. For example, we’ll have a discussion about the different properties of wind and how wind is invisible until we see it move something else—it’s a felt presence. I’ll have the students breathe in and out like the wind and begin to move from that place,” she says. “We create an ideation about wind—taking the idea inwardly and then moving it outwardly from that inner felt impulse.”
Hunderfund appreciates how the spark of an idea generated in dance class can spread to other aspects of her daughter’s learning. “After Chloe danced about the wind, she became interested in learning more about the wind from a scientific standpoint. She wanted to find out how the wind creates waves on the ocean,” Hunderfund says. “So she’s becoming interested not just in dance and in how a concept relates to the way she moves, but she is also interested in how a concept relates to the world around her.”
Following an introductory improvisational period, Hraniotis gathers the students into a circle around a work of art, a beautiful object, or an interesting photograph. After reflecting quietly on the image, each student takes a turn improvising, so that everyone has the opportunity to be seen. Once the last student has danced, the entire class creates a tableau. Summarizing the process, Hraniotis says, “Duncan dance philosophy is realized via the imagination of each individual student and then is co-created through a group process which constellates a living, breathing work of art.”
The heavy emphasis on individual imagination does not come at the sacrifice of technique, however. “Most people have the wrong idea about Duncan dance. They think we are just waving our arms around with scarves,” Hraniotis says. “Yes, Duncan dance is called natural, but that’s because when it’s done well the technique is so mastered that it disappears and what you have left is a fully embodied, effortless way of being. Duncan dance looks effortless, but it takes a great dancer to do it well.”
In order to develop technical skills, Duncan classes include a barre component that adjusts according to the student’s age. The Meadow Studio has approximately 20 Duncan dancers divided into several levels, with technique classes offered two days a week. The barre work emphasizes suppleness in the body through ankle raises (similar to relevés, but with a pulsing quality), soft pliés (avoiding fifth position), tendus (emphasizing a caress of the earth), exercises similar to rond de jambe en l’air and grand battement, as well as movements that focus on opening and closing the body.
“The child can understand many things through the movement of its body which would be impossible for it to comprehend by the medium of the written or spoken word.” —Isadora Duncan
Following the barre work, students move across the floor with a blend of movement created in the moment and choreographed combinations. At times, students learn Duncan reconstructions or contemporary creations by Hraniotis. A major emphasis is placed on creating dance phrases in keeping with the musical phrases. Hraniotis uses both contemporary atmospheric music, as well as classical masterpieces by Schubert, Chopin, and Mozart, to name a few.
“The Duncan dancer is an emotive, expressive, physical manifestation of the music. In Duncan dance, the melody occurs in the lower sphere of the body, while the upper sphere of the body is the harmonic,” Hraniotis explains. “Rhythmical time is maintained in the lower half of the body, while expression occurs in the upper body.” The solar plexus, an area that Hraniotis envisions as an orb of light between the heart and navel, connects the two spheres of the body. “Duncan spoke of the solar plexus as the motor of the soul. I perceive it as the place that we are powered from. The arms, legs, and all gestures radiate out from the solar plexus.”
Duncan technique pays careful attention to the dancer’s physical well-being. “We don’t compromise our body in a way that breaks it down. There is no expiration date on Duncan dance. Maria-Theresa was dancing well into her 80s and 90s,” Hraniotis says. Indeed, adult class offerings are an important component of her school’s programs. Hunderfund’s sister studies Duncan technique with Hraniotis and has performed with her niece (Chloe) on several occasions. “I love the concept of intergenerational dance performance,” Hraniotis says. “You see the whole spectrum of experience.”
The Meadow studio’s performances are not only intergenerational but also inclusive of audience members. Rather than an end-of -year recital, Hraniotis creates “seasonal festival experiences” based on a theme, such as “Fall Cornucopia,” “Winter’s Light,” and “Spring Songs.” In nice weather, students perform outdoors on the studio’s property in a specially created dance circle in the middle of the meadow. The dancers wear silk tunics inspired by those that Duncan wore, and Hraniotis creates an open work using music, a storyline, and poetry. “I invite all of the children and adults in the audience to get up and manifest a work of art that is spontaneously created in the moment,” she explains.
In addition to fostering communal dance experiences, Hraniotis also encourages the development of male dancers within a technique that is often associated with Duncan’s own strong feminist perspective. Hraniotis’ 17-year-old son, Peter Jacob, has been studying with her since he was 3. While he is currently the only male in the school (other boys have left to pursue sports), Jacob hopes to serve as a role model for other boys and plans to follow in his mother’s footsteps as a teacher and performer.
“Duncan’s technique was made for the human being as a whole,” he says. “I hope to re-imagine a foundation for a contemporary Duncan technique that includes the male archetype. I want to bring this technique to everyone.”
Duncan’s Life and Legacy
If modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) were one of your studio’s students, she’d be the tattooed hellion in the back row. Duncan rejected ballet as a stifling routine of mindless repetition. She favored free-form movement inspired by nature, which she performed barefoot in flowing (and sometimes revealing) costumes in an age when women were still corseted. Duncan wasn’t the first to do these things, but she was their most celebrated proponent.
Her life was as rule-breaking as her art. Duncan espoused socialism, took lovers of both sexes, bore two out-of-wedlock children by two different fathers, and married a Russian poet 17 years younger than herself. Even her death on the French Riviera was flamboyant: her flowing silk scarf became entangled in a car’s rear wheel and axle, breaking her neck.
Duncan was born in San Francisco to a mother who raised her four children in poverty after her divorce. In 1899 the budding dancer and her family sailed to England, and her art was soon celebrated there and across Europe, where she acquired an ensemble of young followers, dubbed the “Isadorables.”
“The dancer of the future,” she wrote, “will be one whose body and soul have grown so harmoniously together that the natural language of that soul will have become the movement of the body.”
Duncan’s technique “consisted of unspectacular runs, skips, leaps, and falls, given impetus by the ‘natural’ rhythm of breathing,” writes dance historian Nancy Reynolds. “Of course, what Isadora did with them was different; her art was not about steps.”
To preserve her art, Duncan founded three schools—in Germany, France, and Russia—but none has survived. Still, her legacy continues.
The Isadora Duncan International Institute, based in New York City, was founded in 1977 by Maria-Theresa Duncan and Kay Bardsley. It offers Duncan classes at the Harkness Dance Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York; the institute’s Tempio di Danza, a studio in High Falls, New York, in the Catskill Mountain region; at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York; and at the original Isadora Duncan Dance Research Center of Kopanos in Athens, Greece. It also maintains an archive of Duncan-related letters, photographs, books, and programs. For details, visit isadoraduncan.net.
The Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation, also based in New York City and founded by Lori Belilove, works to perpetuate Duncan’s dance legacy with workshops, classes, and performances by its affiliated Isadora Duncan Dance Company. To learn more, visit isadoraduncan.org.
Dance Place’s annual adjudicated showcase of new works by established and emerging choreographers from throughout the region will feature works ranging in styles from modern to contemporary ballet.
Some of the program’s pieces include: Travis Gatling’s Angels Unawares; Susan Mann’s Duet;
Semigloss, choreographed by Gabrielle Campagna; Nicole Martinell’s Flirt & Fizzle; Diana Movius’ Legacy; and Wayles Haynes’s The 50’s Front.
New Releases Showcase will be held July 2 at 8pm and July 3 at 7pm at Dance Place, 3225 8th Street NE, Washington DC. Tickets are $22 general admission; $17 concession (members, seniors, students, teachers, artists); and $8 children (17 and under). To purchase tickets visit www.danceplace.org or call 202.269.1600.
A program of new workshops and classes, from modern to salsa, are underway at The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
This week saw the start of beginning modern on Wednesdays, and beginning/intermediate modern on Thursdays. Other classes include intermediate/advanced tap on Wednesdays (starting July 6), beginning/intermediate salsa on Thursdays (beginning July 14), and intro to ballet on Mondays (starting July 19).
Classes in intermediate and advanced modern with Mark Morris Dance Group company members Teri Weksler, Kraig Patterson, Elisa Clark, and David Leventhal will also be offered.
Visit https://markmorrisdancegroup.org/the_school/adults/class_schedules#workshops for exact dates and times. Pre-registration recommended. Register online or call 718.624.8400.
The work of Martha Graham, the legendary choreographer who redefined modern American dance, has been performed all over the world before and since her death in 1991—with the exception of Russia.
That will change on June 23 at a gala celebrating the acclaimed career of Diana Vishneva at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, said this week in a New York Times story.
Vishneva, a 34-year-old prima ballerina with both Maryinsky (formerly the Kirov Ballet) and American Ballet Theatre, will perform Errand Into the Maze with Benjamin Robert Schultz, a member of the Graham company. Created in 1947, Maze is one of 13 Graham masterpieces based on ancient Greek myths.
“It’s kind of astounding because we’ve been everywhere else in the world,” Eilber said of the performance. “We’re really excited. We’re hoping that Diana Vishneva will whet their appetite for more Graham.”
To view the full story, visit http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/08/russia-finally-gets-to-see-a-martha-graham-dance/?ref=dance.
“Performing the Border,” a shared program presented by two companies that blend modern-day dance with classical Indian dance, will be held May 20 at 8pm at Ailey Citygroup Theater, 40 West 55th Street, New York City.
Presented by Indo-American Arts Council, Inc., “Performing the Border” is a 90-minute evening of dance that builds on the grammar of two Indian classical dance forms, bharata natyam and odissi, along with a modern dance vocabulary. Two companies will perform: Sakshi Productions, founded by Nandini Sikand and Kakoli Mukherjee, which performs neo-classical and contemporary works based on odissi dance; and David Phoenix Singh’s Dakshina Company, a bharata natyam and modern dance troupe.
Tickets are $25 ($18 for seniors and students). For reservations, call 212.352.3101 or visit www.theatermania.com. For more information on the companies, visit www.sakshiproductions.org and www.dakshina.org.
The Limón Dance Company has created five workshops where dancers and teachers can explore the Limón modern dance technique this summer, with three opportunities in the States, one in London, England, and one in Mexico City, Mexico.
- Limón West Coast Summer Workshop, Dancing as a Creative Act: Two-week workshop combines technical rigor and personal exploration to focus on developing individual creativity. Intensive training in Limón technique and repertory, new repertory, principles of performance, and techniques of creation, breath, and movement, with master teachers Colin Connor, Brenna Monroe-Cook, and Debra Noble.
- Limón East Coast Summer Workshop, Limón Dance Company in Residence: Led by artistic director Carla Maxwell and associate artistic director Roxane D’Orleans Juste. Three-week workshop with intensive training in Limón technique and repertory, with an emphasis on individual work. Daily classes taught by members of the Limón Dance Company, visits to open rehearsals, special evening events. At SUNY College at Brockport in western New York state.
- Limón Teachers’ Workshop Europe, Teaching Contemporary Limón, London, England.
- Limón Teachers’ Workshop Mexico, Teaching Contemporary Limón, Mexico City. Both workshops examine the use of Humphrey/Limón principles in contemporary dance training. Open to teachers and graduates of teaching programs. Designed to guide each participant toward an individual approach to Limón-based teaching. Daily technique classes, exploration of the underlying principles, phrases from repertory (contemporary and classic), and the use of rhythm and music in Limón classes.
- Limón New York City, Betty Jones Workshop with Fritz Ludin: Nine-day workshop at Peridance Capezio Center. Investigates the synergy of Limón’s propensity for the dynamic, humane, organic, and Dr. Lulu Sweigard’s contributions toward greater efficiency. Taught by Betty Jones. Technique classes followed by repertory classes.
Dancewave this June will present “Spring Celebration 2011,” a showcase of modern dance repertory premiering the Dancewave Company’s work with Gallim Dance.
The opening night performance will be held June 10 at 8pm, with a gala benefit performance honoring Theodore S. Bartwink of the Harkness Foundation for Dance on June 11 at 8pm. Both will be held at the Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, Long Island University, Brooklyn campus.
Performers include Dancewave’s pre-professional youth dance companies: Dancewave Company I, Dancewave Company II, and Young Movers Ensemble. The program includes the premiere of excerpts from I Can See Myself in Your Pupil a suite of dances set to music from Israel, Spain, Australia, Italy, and New York, choreographed by Andrea Miller, artistic director and founder of Gallim Dance.
This spring, Gallim Dance is working with the Dancewave Company, Dancewave’s top pre-professional modern dance company for teenagers. Gallim company members Caroline Fermin, Francesca Romo, and Troy Ogilvie have been giving classes and leading rehearsals for Dancewave’s teens twice weekly in Brooklyn.
A video series that follows Dancewave’s graduating seniors as they work with Gallim and prepare for their culminating performance can be seen at www.dancewave.org. Videos will be released weekly up until the spring gala.
The performances will also include Conversations by Nathan Trice, underground by David Dorfman, Flashback/FlashForward by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, A Watershed Moment by Matthew Westerby, and a new work by Daniel Gwirtzman. The June 10 performance will highlight solos by Heather McArdle and Nathan Trice for company members. The gala night presents Dancewave’s youngest company for ages 10 to 13, Young Movers Ensemble, presenting works by Dedrick Lee Anthony and Adam Scher.
Tickets to the opening night performance (Dancewave Company I and II) are $25 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets to the gala (Dancewave Company I, II, and Young Movers) are $80 for adults in advance ($95 at the door) and $20 for ages 18 and under in advance ($30 at the door). The gala includes a pre-show reception and silent auction at 6pm, Taste of Brooklyn cocktails and appetizers, live music, and an auction of luxury items, along with the performance. For information, visit www.dancewave.org/sc2011.html.
Tickets to the 2011 American Dance Festival (ADF), running June 9 to July 23 in Durham, North Carolina, go on sale May 9 at 10am.
The 2011 ADF, entitled Something New, Something Treasured, will celebrate the best in modern dance with performances by companies and choreographers including the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pilobolus, Martha Clarke, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Eiko & Koma, Anne Teresa De Keersmaker’s Rosas, and Shen Wei Dance Arts.
For tickets to ADF at Durham Performing Arts Center performances, log onto www.americandancefestival.org, call 919.680.ARTS (2787), or visit the DPAC Ticket Center, The American Tobacco District, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, from Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm.
For tickets to ADF at Duke performances: www.americandancefestival.org, 919.684.4444, or at the Duke University Box Office, Bryan Center, Duke University West Campus, Box 90940,
Durham; Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm, or Saturday, 10am to 2pm.
Visit www.americandancefestival.org for information on shows and locations, ticket prices, discounts, parking, seating, and restaurant sponsors.
A professional modern dance company that has toured throughout Kansas for nearly 25 years is giving its final full performance this week, reported Jan Biles in the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The Lawrence Arts Center recently announced the 940 Dance Company, formerly known as the Prairie Wind Dancers, would be disbanding because of financial difficulties. Since its founding in 1987, the company has performed in more than 100 Kansas communities, eight Midwestern states, and Mexico. More than 100,000 people have seen its performances.
The six-member company will present its final concert, “Red,” on April 14 and 16 at 7:30pm at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire Street, in Lawrence, Kansas. The company will end its season with performances for children and a collaborative, site-specific program with University of Kansas dance students on May 7 at 7pm at the Wakarusa Valley Heritage Museum near Clinton Lake.
The 940 Dance Company has its roots in the Prairie Wind Dancers, founded in 1987 by Candi Baker, dance program director at the Lawrence Arts Center. It has performed at community and college concerts and festivals and taught and performed in hundreds of schools.
To read the full story, visit www.cjonline.com/life/connected/2011-04-09/modern-dance-company-disbands.
The Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation will offer five weeks of adult workshops in New York City from July 5 to August 19 in the movement techniques made famous by the modern dance pioneer. The foundation has scheduled:
- A basic workshop July 5 to 9.
- An intermediate workshop July 11 to 16, including an overview of Duncan’s life, technique, and repertory with a focus on Duncan skips, runs, leaps, Tanagra Figures, Dionysian movements, waltzing, flying jumps, and basic arm gestures.
- An advanced workshop July 18 to 23, with repertory including dances from the suite of Brahms waltzes, The Many Faces of Love, and excerpts from Duncan’s work set to Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony.
- Teacher training workshops, June 27 to July 1 and August 15 to 19, in which participants will take class, observe children’s classes, and engage in seminars in the teaching of Duncan’s dance, with a focus on the Duncan plié, barre work, port de bras, use of the torso, and the locomotion steps found in the Duncan waltz, polka, skips, and flying jumps. Other topics addressed in the workshop include use of drums, clapping, and singing; using fabric, scarves, and found objects as props; and preparing theme-related classes.
The late-June teacher training workshop will take place at Bridge for Dance, 2726 Broadway. The other workshops will be offered at the Gina Gibney Dance Studio, 890 Broadway.
In addition, the foundation’s artistic director, Lori Belilove, will lead a one-week program for women only that will introduce them to Noyes Rhythm, a vocabulary of movement inspired by Florence Fleming Noyes who established in 1912 a system for teaching natural and rhythmic movement, similar to the Duncan technique.
The program will run from July 31 to August 7 at the Shepherd’s Nine Noyes Rhythm Camp on a 100-acre site in the heart of the Connecticut Valley. It will also include swimming, boating, and evening dancing by lantern light.
The Bill Evans Dance Company will perform seven Rochester, New York, premieres, including both award-winning modern dance choreography and classic and contemporary rhythm tap dance, at the Geva Nextstage this month.
Bill Evans has been named one of America’s three favorite tap dance artists by Dance Magazine. His company has performed in all 50 states and 22 countries.
The shows’ program includes the modern dance works Dreamweaver, Bach Dances, Saintly Passion, Harold, and In Gloves, a humorous theater piece with spoken text. Rhythm tap pieces performed to live piano music by James J. Kaufmann include Swingin’, Waltz, Los Ritmos Calientes, Preludes, plus Yes, Indeed!, Evans’ humorous signature a cappella work. Special guest rhythm tap artist Cheryl Johnson will join performing artists Heather Acomb, Kathy Diehl, Mariah Maloney, Kristen Socci, Andrea Vazquez, Vanessa Van Wormer, Courtney World, and Don Halquist.
The Geva Nextstage is located at Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury, Rochester. Performances are set for April 8, 10, 14 and 17. All shows begin at 7pm, except for the April 17 show, which will be at 2pm.
Tickets are $20, with a $15 price for seniors, students, and groups of 10 or more. Student rush tickets are $10. To purchase, call the Geva box office at 585.232.4382. More information can be found at www.billevansdance.org.
The American Dance Festival (ADF), encouraging the creation of new and innovative modern works while also preserving modern dance heritage through the continued presentation of timeless dance classics, will present Something New, Something Treasured from June 9 to July 23 in Durham, North Carolina.
This edition, the festival’s 78th season, features eight ADF-commissioned world premieres, five U.S. premieres, five reconstructions, and five company debuts. The festival also marks the final season of ADF director Charles L. Reinhart, who has played a key role in the evolution and proliferation of modern dance during his 43-year career. A gala in his honor—featuring works by Durham’s African American Dance Ensemble, Martha Clarke, Mark Dendy, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and the Scottish Dance Theater—will open the festival.
This season will encompass the breadth of the modern dance genre with a dramatically varied program featuring ADF commissions and reconstructions by Twyla Tharp, Martha Clarke, and Rosie Herrera. Paul Taylor will present an ADF-commissioned world premiere entitled The Uncommitted, while Pilobolus will present an ADF-commissioned world premiere in collaboration with a Japanese butoh artist, Takuya Muramatsu, in celebration of its 40th anniversary. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will reconstruct the troupe’s masterpiece D-Man in the Waters, accompanied by the Durham Symphony, and Eiko & Koma will celebrate their 40th anniversary with the reconstruction of River.
The season will also feature five international companies/choreographers making their ADF debuts this summer, including Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas (Belgium), TAO Dance Theater (China), Yossi Berg and Oded Graf (Israel), Scottish Dance Theater (Scotland), and Bulareyaung Pagarlava (Taiwan).
Performances will be held at the Reynolds Industries Theater, located on Duke University’s West Campus, or at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Tickets go on sale May 9 at www.americandancefestival.org. Prices range from $23 to $51. Visit the festival web site for a full performance schedule.
Jay Distributors and DanceClassMusic.com are offering several titles of music CDs for modern and ballet classes at discount during the month of February.
Body and Drum, a 51-minute CD by Melanie Aceto and Joe Thomas, contains 14 unrepeated original drum tracks without singing or vocal instructions for a complete modern dance class. Thomas presents a combination of rhythms perfect for a Humphrey/Weidman-based class, from slow floor warm-up to driving motor rhythm. Body and Drum (#MA01C) is on sale for $12 (regular $15).
Other special offers include a two-CD package deal of Modern Ballet Studio Melodies Vol. 1 (#CH01C) and Modern Ballet Studio Melodies Vol. 2 (#CH02C) for $45. (Regular price when purchased separately: $54.)
Both offers are good through February 28 or while supplies last. To order or to peruse other available CD titles, visit www.DanceClassMusic.com.
John Pennington will hold classes in contemporary/modern dance at ARC Pasadena in California on Saturdays in February from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.
Pennington is artistic director of the Pennington Dance Group and ARC Pasadena. He serves on faculty at Pomona College and California State University at Long Beach, and has enjoyed a 14-year career with the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company as a performer and teacher.
Classes are geared towards those with prior dance experience. The fee is $10 per class. No pre-registration necessary. Questions about these classes can be emailed to email@example.com. ARC Pasadena is located at 1158 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. For more information, visit www.arcpasadena.org.
Applications are now being accepted for the Mark Morris Dance Group’s 2011 summer intensives, with sessions to be held on both the East and West coasts.
Two weeks of classes—June 6 to 10, and June 13 to 17—will be held at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York. In Seattle, Washington, a one-week intensive will run June 27 to July 2 at the Cornish College of the Arts. Cost is $300 for one week, or $550 for two weeks for students who register by the early application deadline of April 15. Final application deadline is May 20 ($325 one week, $600 two weeks).
Daily classes will include modern dance, ballet, Pilates, and MMDG repertory. Additional activities may include dancer panel discussions, injury prevention seminars, and music workshops. Each session concludes in an informal repertory performance. For more information, call school director Sarah Marcus at 718.624.8400. To register, visit www.markmorrisdancegroup.org/summer2011.
Ground Zero Dance will present the expansion of choreographer Pam England’s COURT at Dogtown Dance Theatre, Richmond, Virginia, from February 3 to 5.
Set to the Renaissance music of English composer John Dowland, COURT is a classically based work of modern dance theater investigating love, greed, hypocrisy, and power. Originally performed in 2002 by five dancers and four musicians, the evening-length work has been re-staged for 10 dancers and one singer, with live accompaniment. Also, special guest Thadd McQuade of BREAK THEATER will perform I Will Follow It: A Hamlet Play.
Ground Zero Dance is the resident company of Dogtown Dance Theatre, a new home for Richmond’s independent performing artists at 109 W. 15th Street (the former Bainbridge Junior High School gymnasium) in the Manchester neighborhood.
Performances are February 3, 4, 5 at 8:00 p.m., with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on February 5. Tickets are $20 (or $10 for students) and will be available at the door, cash or check only. For more information, call 804.353.9774 or visit www.groundzerodance.org.
A new slate of classes for teens, children, and adults has been set for Fridays at The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center, 3 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
New classes for 2011 include creative dance level 1 and 2 (children) and modern dance level 3 (teen), as well as adult classes in advanced ballet, beginners and intermediate tango workshops, and an intermediate jazz/hip-hop workshop. Full schedules for children and teen and adult classes are available at www.mmdg.org. Registration is now open for children and teen spring classes, beginning January 31. For questions, call the school at 718.624.8400.
Borrowing From Butoh
Last November I saw a performance by butoh troupe Sankai Juku that got me thinking about something we rarely do in our speeded-up world: slow down. Since life seems determined to continue at its pell-mell pace and we are continually bombarded with ideas about how to do more in less time (well, with the exception of the slow food movement), maybe it’s time to rebel. Let’s get all butoh and look for the value in slow, the richness in minimalism.
Butoh, in a very simplistic description, is a post-World War II Japanese modern dance form begun by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno that often uses extremely slow movements. There’s much more to it, of course, including grotesque imagery, emotionally loaded themes, gender neutrality, and bodies painted white. But let’s focus on the slow part. One thing that struck me as I watched the six men perform Hibiki—Resonance From Far Away was how well I could see the differences in the way each body performed each movement. Granted, naked torsos help with visibility, but the slow tempo is equally revealing, and I couldn’t help relating it to dance training. What might you see in slow movement that a normal tempo might mask? I’m no dance teacher, so I could well be talking about something that’s not a new idea to many of you—but if it is, it’s worth considering.
Now let’s think about minimalism. The beauty of Sankai Juku founder/director Ushio Amagatsu’s arm unfolding behind him as nothing else moved was enough to bring me to tears. And six men whisking in and out of a converging circle, arms held up before them, elbows bent and palms out, only their feet and legs moving, were a striking example of the power of less.
Maybe audiences full of impatient parents and siblings demand a busy stage packed with fast-moving bodies in ever-changing configurations. But it’s worth trying to find the time and place to explore the idea of simplicity. —Cheryl Ossola, Editor in Chief
Real Dancers Watch Dance
“Someday, I’m gonna . . .”
How many times have you said that? I often find those disheartening words falling out of my mouth when I see an advertisement for a ballet I’ve never attended or read about a fun, new company I’ve never seen. I live a stone’s throw from Boston, for Pete’s sake. There are oodles and oodles of good companies around—tap companies, contemporary companies, endlessly optimistic companies that keep sending me flyers in the mail. What’s keeping me from checking out the dances they work on so earnestly year after year? The price of parking? Bad on-demand movies? Or, dare I say it—apathy? And I call myself a dancer! If I’m not supporting these companies and their dancers, who is?
So I’ve decided that this is the year to get in gear. And I’ve also decided that you’re going to join me.
I challenge you, dear readers and fellow “call-ourselves-dancers,” to make a pledge to attend at least two performances by dance companies you have never seen in the coming year. It’s January, so that gives us 365 days (minus about five days for dress rehearsals and recitals) to investigate, choose, and attend two dance performances. It doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s not. Anything that excites you is eligible. It could be a fabulous company coming to town (last year I was determined to see Desmond Richardson with his Complexions Contemporary Ballet, but I put the flyer down and forgot about it), or one of those local troupes that always seems to be featured in the newspaper’s arts section.
Why do this? Because no matter how much fun it is to cruise the web and check out dance videos, or laugh at the weekly debacles on “Celebrity Square Dancing Stars” or whatever silliness is on the tube, it’s not live dance. Dance is meant to be bodies onstage connecting with bodies in the audience. It’s the sound of feet thumping or the sight of sweaty brows. It’s art that swooshes over the footlights and makes your heart pump. It’s unmistakable, and it’s out there, waiting. This year, I promise to meet it halfway. —Karen White, Associate Editor
Modern Dance, a 26-foot-high abstract sculpture by Boston artist Jacob Kulin, is on display on the Wharf District Park portion of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway as part of the “Bright Lights for Winter Nights” celebration.
According to the Boston Globe, the free-standing wood and steel work was crafted to resemble a human body in motion. Kulin said the sculpture’s main rectangular beam is made of old-growth cedar reclaimed specifically to bring a piece of Boston’s history to the Greenway.
Modern Dance replaces the 35-foot sculpture Botanica, by George Sherwood, which had been on display since July 2009.
New York City-based TAKE Dance brings energy and emotion to the Dance Place stage, 3225 Eighth Street NE, Washington, DC, on January 22 at 8:00 p.m. and January 23 at 4:00 p.m.
Takehiro “Take” Ueyama, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, moved to the United States in 1991 to study at The Juilliard School in New York. He danced with the Paul Taylor Dance Company for eight years before founding TAKE Dance.
In his choreography, Ueyama finds inspiration in the beauty of nature, duality in life, and the exploration of darkness and light in relation to the human condition. His repertory features powerful athletic movement contrasted with delicate gesture and sensitivity. Ueyama’s SAKURA SAKURA was a prizewinner at the 2005 International Modern Dance Choreographic Competition in Spain.
Tickets are $22 general admission; $17 for members, seniors, students, teachers, and artists; and $8 for children (17 and under). To purchase, visit www.danceplace.org or call 202.269.1600.
Students of the Limón Institute’s Professional Studies Program will demonstrate their progress grasping the nuances of the modern master’s movements in a fall studio showing on December 5 at 7:00 p.m. at Peridance Capezio Center, 126 E. 13th Street, New York.
Three months into a nine-month program, the students will perform what they have learned so far. The performance will include a movement study by Geraldine Cardiel in which the students illustrate Limón principles such as breath, fall and recovery, suspension, and rhythm. They will also perform Doris Humphrey’s Water Study, an excerpt from Limón’s Psalm, and Carla Maxwell’s Etude.
Also, the José Limón Dance Company will perform There Is a Time, La Cathédrale Engloutie, and Chrysalis at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 W. 37th Street, New York, on December 14 and 15 at 8:00 p.m. For tickets and information, visit www.limon.org.
The Nutcracker, A Contemporary Ballet, a one-hour, modern-day version of the holiday classic, will be presented in three shows this December at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center.
The production—with story line, choreography, and direction by Tamara Saari and Nancy S. Smith and concept by Giada Ferrone—blends classical ballet with contemporary dance. Touches of theatrical drama include an aloof Marzipan Doll, a Gingerbread Toy yearning for love, and a breakdancing King Spider that battles the Nutcracker.
It will be performed December 18 at 8:00 p.m. and December 19 at 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, 248 W. 60th Street, New York. Visit www.manhattanmovement.com for tickets. For information call 212.787.1178.
Full Circle Dance Company of Baltimore, Maryland, will hold open auditions for new company members on December 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Morton Street Dance Center, Baltimore.
Under the direction of Donna L. Jacobs, Full Circle is a multiethnic professional ensemble that performs choreography from a variety of modern dance traditions. Since it was founded in 2000, Full Circle has built a strong body of work that tackles challenging thematic topics through personal explorations and collaboration with artists from other disciplines and the general public.
Dancers should bring a resume and headshot (if available) and be prepared to take an advanced level company class and learn repertory material. Men and ethnic minorities are encouraged to audition. Company rehearsals take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Questions can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.235.9003. See the company website at www.fullcircledance.webs.com for directions to Morton Street Dance Center plus photos, videos, press, and additional information about the ensemble.