Thursday, May 29, 2014

Her words will last forever

Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou, for the example you provided!

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"All great achievements require time."

"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

"A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim."

"I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good."

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

"All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tell us that we are all more alike than unalike."

"I know that I'm not the easiest person to live with. The challenge I put on myself is so great that the person I live with feels himself challenged. I bring a lot to bear, and I don't know how not to."

"Our stories come from our lives and from the plawright's pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace."

"I got my own back."

"The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are."

Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer Dancing Plans? Join KYL/D!

For the past several years, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers has hosted daily dance classes during the summer. Join us again, this year!

Photo by Matthew Wright
These classes are "professional workshops led by the artists of KYL/D designed to advance the professionla or aspiring dancer. Classes are influenced by Kun-Yang Lin's CHI Awareness Technique, through the unique voice of each Teaching Artists. Company repretory and the artist's choreography will be included in class work."
Starting June 16th and running through August 1st. Monday-Friday 1:30-3:30pm.
I'm teaching July 7-11. Pre-register for a discount here

AND! If that's not enough dancing, dancers are invited to KYL/D's open company classes - Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5:30pm and Saturday from 12:30-2pm.

AND! I'm leading barre at the CHI Movement Arts Center Saturdays from 11:30-12:15pm.

AND! I'm also teaching Dance for PD Saturday mornings from 10:30-11:30am.

AND! Rachael Hart is teaching CHI Dance each week and running two CHI Dance camps. CHI Dance is mindfulness movement for children.

Interested in learning more about what's happening at KYL/D's home this summer? Click here - Summer 2014 at CHI MAC.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! Thank you, to Mom's of all types, for everything you do -
For Your Strength.
For Your Wisdom.
For Your Patience.
For Your Encouragement.
For Your Leadership.
For Your Guidance.
For Your Hugs.
For Your Love.

What's your Happy Mother's Day dance?

(Here's my friend Shaness with Pharrell Williams).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Butterfly Kisses - Imagery & Teaching

Recently, I heard an instructor give the cue "Lift out of your pelvis".

My analytic brain immediately responded, "That's impossible! The entire body is connected by fascia and other tissues and you can't lift out of anything." But I understood her point. Some of the dancers in the class were sinking and "sitting" into the pelvis, anterior-ly tilting the pelvis and creating improper alignment. Strengthening the lower abdominal muscles, engaging the pelvic floor, and using the "Y" ligament (aka the iliofemoral ligament) for support would be more "correct" anatomical cues, but are hard to grasp without extensive exploration of these areas separate from dance technique (ie Pilates), a pretty awesome anatomy teacher, and/or super sensitive/ educationally inclined physical therapist.

"Sitting" into the pelvis is a common premise in today's dance class culture. Personally, I blame it on the larger society's focus on a sedentary lifestyle. We sit to type papers or blogs or emails or engage on social media. We sit to read our electronic devices. We sit to have meetings. We sit to travel from place to place. Although these are positive activities (yes, I'm sitting to write this...), we spend a lot of time with our hip flexors flexed. Therefore, in a fully standing, vertical experience, it is habit that our hip flexors are tight.

What can lengthen these super-tight hip flexors in a way that encourages a neutral, functional posture? My challenge presented itself. (Stretching helps. Mindful practice of hip opening helps.)

The immediate, equal and opposite response/ reaction to anterior tilt is posterior tilt. Posterior tilt is often referred to as "tucking" and is no more effective or efficient than anterior tilt. While anterior tilt engages the quads (which, in turn contracts the front of the hip joint), posterior tilt engages the glutes (which, in turn, contracts the back of the hip joint). These occur because the quads and the glutes are more easily accessible than the pelvic floor and the deep internal rotators. (The quads and glutes are closer to the surface and larger.)

But, someone famous said that nothing worthwhile was easy. Such is dance.

My pedagogical question: What image might open the front of the pelvis without contracting the back of the pelvis? What was soft, but strong? Accessible, but fleeting (like dance and every moment)?


A sentimental gesture. Fleeting. Soft. Powerful. Recognizable. Opening.

I encouraged my students (and myself) to give themselves butterfly kisses. Cue: Put your hand to your eyes, give your hand butterfly kisses. In this way, the dancers were not only experiencing the opening and closing, but giving themselves some gentle love. (I've discovered that dancers sometimes need some extra self-care because we work so hard). Cue: Now take this feeling and place it in your hip joints.

Butterfly kisses engage the up and down dynamic. They require action and awareness of the entire eye - the front and the back. They open and close - providing space, light, darkness, and love.

Some of my dancers added images of fireworks, sparklers, or those cute accessories you can get for your car.

What works for you to find proper alignment?

(It's an oldie... but...)


Dance Training = Valuable Life Skills

Happy Graduation to my many Dancers and dancing friends who are moving onto the next chapter of your lives! This time can be scary and exciting. It's a new adventure - the beginning of a new process or performance.

In times of major life changes, I encourage you to remember your Dance Training.

You spent a lot of time perfecting your technique, your performance skills, your spatial awareness. You spent hours disciplining your body and your mind, focused on multitasking - filling the space in between the counts with movement, remembering choreography, injecting intention and your own story into the process, paying attention to and acknowledging your audience, paying attention and being sensitive to your fellow dancers onstage, being constantly aware of your lighting, your space, your costume, your floor. You were prepared (albeit still surprised) when the lights went out in the middle of the show, the wrong song came over the speakers, the floor was uneven and slippery (and you were in pointe shoes), and your costume ripped onstage. You took a deep breath and re-blocked the piece during dress rehearsal because another dancer was injured during tech. You were injured during tech and worked with your choreographer and fellow dancers to re-block the piece and in a day you modified all of your movement to a low level or a chair.

You spent months working on your turns, your flexibility, your jumps - and all of the parts that would come together to complete the whole: your spotting, your stretching, your strengthening, the physics of the turn, the develope, or the jump. You understood that without practice, discipline, and a clear understanding of how the parts fit together, you wouldn't achieve the goal. And once you did, you found another skill, performance opportunity, or audition to master.

You looked to your instructors, friends, peers, mentors, parents, YouTube, blogs, and social media for feedback and ways to improve. You received praise, criticism, and constructive feedback and learned how to negotiate it all. You've learned to dance to your strengths and how to work on your weaknesses. And you've learned how to accept them both with grace, humility, and a stubborn persistence.

You've figured out how to give yourself a barre at your kitchen counter or how to practice Pilates and Yoga in a small space (hotel room, dorm room, hallway... you know what I'm talking about). You articulate through your feet and releve when you're waiting in line. You create choreography to the music in the grocery store and you can turn a branch, a keyboard, or a ladder into a beautiful prop. And you don't even mind when people turn their heads during your Improvisation on the Beach.

Your dance training has provided you with valuable life skills that will accompany you on any journey. And just in case you need some reinforcements, here are some ways your skills can translate.

1. Dancers are disciplined and hard working. We are goal oriented, but also concerned about the process. There's always a performance - but there's a long rehearsal and creative process to get there before the performance can occur.

2. Dancers can improvise. Remember that moment onstage when ______ (you fill in the blank)? Did you just run offstage? No! You improvised in the moment and allowed the show to go on. That's not just a stage skill - that's a life skill. (That client in the board room; that time when your boss didn't show up to give the presentation; that time when you needed to cover an extra shift because someone had a family emergency.... this is nothing new. You're trained in improvisation)

3. Dancers learn quickly and adapt quickly. All of those quick barre combinations or end of class combinations where the instructor said it once or twice and you needed to understand it, digest it, and perform it immediately? Your brain and body have been trained in ways to quickly take in information, adapt it to your immediate situation, and turn around a performance. Even if the performance isn't perfect you....

4. Dancers apply corrections and feedback quickly. Class time is limited. Theatre time is limited. We need to correct and move forward. Always. (Sure, you leave and continue processing, but an immediate turnover has to happen).

5. Dancers work well independently or in groups. We've performed solos and group pieces and each demands a different practice, but we have to adjust to each. Our own growth and technique requires that we work on our own. Performing with an ensemble demands that we give up part of our ego for the betterment of the group. We have been trained to listen and to hear each other so that together, we all shine.

6. Dancers can empathize. We've all been put in that role, character, variation, or piece that didn't quite fit our personality. We were challenged to find a way to understand that role and needed to do some strenuous research to find our way into it. But we did. And the performance went on. And now, we have a better understanding of how we work so that we can take a step back and empathize with someone else.

7. Dancers are professional. Sometimes accused of being cold or mean or compartmentalized, we know that a job needs to be done and we can leave our own stuff at the door. The show must go on.

8.  Dancers are ready for the performance. The interview. The tough client. The audition. The show. Our training has taught us to always be prepared and to always perform. We might have an off day (in class, with our balance, with our health, with life...). We might not like the immediate situation at hand. We might need to step into another character for a moment, but we know how to perform. (I'm not saying that dancers are good at hiding the truth, the opposite is true. Dancers often wear their heart on their sleeve, or tights, or leotard. But we know when that places is called, the show must go on.)

What are your 9 and 10? I know you're creative! I've left these open for you to critically evaluate your own experiences and add them. I know that your dynamic presence is expanding as your imaginative body and mind are engaging and questioningPlease share!

And in the meantime, know that you can always return to your body - to the barre or the floor - when you feel out of place. You can always return to the studio and the creative process.

Merde for your next performance and adventure!

Friday, May 2, 2014

#whydancematters - Happy National Dance Week!

Happy National Dance Week!

Why does dance matter?

For the past few months, I've been working with a group of university dancers. In addition to exploring dance technique, we explored parallels between dance and life, adding intention to their performance and my composition. This year, marking the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, I felt it important to include discussions and physical investigations of ways that our country has changed and continues to change into the semester. Through guided exercises, the dancers explored how non-verbal communication provides insight into an individual, beyond what might be said aurally. The dancers embodied movements from each other and in doing so, reported that they felt they better understood their classmates and developed deeper friendships. They experienced kinesthetic empathy and further understood this term from a scholarly perspective by reading literature, discussing their research, and participating in live performance as dancers and audience members.

I understand that some people who haven't been exposed to Modern Dance or abstract art may find a Concert Dance performance challenging. To help their audience understand the journey of the work, I asked my dancers to provide some insight into their own processes. I invited them to reflect:
What have you discovered - or what layers have you uncovered during this process?
What will you take away from this process? What are some of the things you have learned?
What do you want the audience to know about these pieces? What do you want the audience to take away from this performance?

I projected their words during their performance and am including them below.