Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So You Think You Can... Get it RIGHT?

...Get it RIGHT?

I don't know what that means.

But... okay. Try.

Now... wait. Try again. Really. You have to do it more than once. Especially if you just learned it and/or are doing "it" for the first time.

Insert your "it" here. A tendu. A piroutte. An inversion. A time step. A business presentation. A language. A classroom. A Dance. Yes, with a capital "D". (and an A in capitAl. Check out the difference between capital and capitol at )

This post comes after a moment with a young dancer... I had just taught her a new phrase and after a minute or so of experimenting with it, she noticed I was watching her. Almost defensively she stated, "It's not in my body yet."

"Of course not. I just taught it to you. You're figuring it out. That's what you're supposed to be doing. Figure out how your body can negotiate the movement. Make it yours... but you need to spend some time with it... So, keep working."

She looked at me as if I had three heads before nodding and returning to her kinesthetic investigations. (Surprised that I would give her permission to experiment? Be patient? Witness her exploration?)

Later that evening, I was cross-training at the gym. One of the dance competition tv-shows was playing on a big screen next to one of the political conventions. The irony was not lost on me.

Watching both, side by side, I was not shown by the producers the years and years of work, research, sweat, tears, frustrations of these people. I was just shown a brief thirty to ninety seconds of very well rehearsed material. And that was the performance. The product. No wonder my student got defensive in class. Our society is being taught that we only have ninety seconds to impress our audience... whomever that might be.

Granted, first impressions are important in business transactions and social meetings, but when we're looking at education or an artistic process (or running the country), ninety seconds is not enough time to develop an understanding and relationship with a given subject.

Again, I don't know what "getting it right" means. Only that a lot of people are fixed on making sure that other people know what wasn't right. So, please take the time you/I/ we need to research and investigate and question and come up with several different answers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Riding the wave and digging the trenches

I wish I could heal the world through plies.

Or at least really, really. share the power of the understanding of the undercurve.

The undercurve? The bottom part of the kinesphere-ical motion. The bottom of a circle. The digging of the trenches when you're on a swing, trying to stop yourself from going too high or swinging around the bar and becoming inside out. (I'm dating myself with the ancient reference of Nickelodeon's Inside Out Boy. I'm probably dating myself with a reference to Nickelodeon... Google it. Youtube it. He swung over the bar. Something you don't do if you're digging trenches and engaging the undercurve. Total overcurve. with superpowers. But there are super powers in the undercurve.)

As a young dancer, I didn't understand the undercurve. What was the purpose of going down? I was interesting in going UP! Higher. Into the raked audience! Weren't we taught to project even into the nosebleed seats?

But it's not all up. And without the down the up can't be as high.

Again. Dance reflects life. Dance is life. Dance is a way to understand the human experience.

The undercurve and the overcurve. Exact opposites existing in the same sphere. In honestly, one cannot exist without the other. There is no height without the grounding from which to leave. It's a balancing of opposites and an examination of physics. "For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction."

And this serves true in the body of the emotional and psychological world too. We can turn to the physical, dancing body for truth. The lower we can engage the undercurve - the support that may not been seen by the audience; The bottom of the plie; The bottom of the inversion; The bottom of the tendu; The plie before the turn - the leap- the lift - the more fully the overcurve is realized and physicalized (in the flesh and bones body, the emotional body, and the psychological body). These require an intense experience of the opposite before the height of the overcurve can be achieved and explored. Likewise, the "low" points of the emotional and mental state can be experienced and complemented by the overcurve... the "high" points. Each in balance. One exists with the other.

There are many other examples of this. The sprinter's prep before leaving the block.... The 2012 Olympics just closed. What other examples did you see in these tried and true athletes - masters of their bodies and physics?

In this time, I am witness to change.

Change is a constant and the undercurve is followed and complemented by the overcurve. Only to be circulated into another opportunity (necessity) for an undercurve.

Have you ever watched a captive dolphin show? They perform this beautifully. I'm told they jump as they do in the wild... circling down before exploding out of the water. Have you seen this in real life? It's truly magical. (So is the human body. And the plie).

My dear friends and readers. In these times of challenge and change, return to the grounding of the undercurve.

Perhaps this post is more about the relation to dance and life more than it is about dance class or performance itself... but one cannot separate the body from the lived experience. And the body cannot be separated from the dance. Our bodies tell and hold our stories. Dig deeply.

See you at the barre. And in the modern dance class. And the jazz class. (And the tap, hula, West African...) And the performance. Let's investigate in our studio laboratories and report back. What are your research findings?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dancing into the fall

There's a new schedule up at the CHI Movement Arts Center, home of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers for the fall:

I'm going to continue leading barre, but we're shifting it to Fridays from 1:30-2:15pm. "Lunch at the barre"!

I'll also be leading barre on Thursdays in September from 6-6:45pm.

Interested in my teaching?

Several weeks ago I had a wonderful class with MM2 Modern Dance and Katelyn Capato was kind enough to share her reflections:

(One of my personal favorites: "Yes, a ballet class for modern dancers! As modern moving artists, it is still important for us to keep our bodies connected to our core in strong technique." YES!!!!)
photo credit: Steven Weiss

And if you're thinking about coming to barre, but really want to know more about it, you can read Kristen Kaschock's review in thINKingDANCE:

See you in the studio!

PS. The CHI Movement Arts Center (CHI MAC) is located at 1316 S 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147. One block south of the cheese steak giants, Pat's and Geno's, between Wharton and Reed.