Thursday, April 24, 2014

Teaching thoughts - using imagery

In my classes, I use a lot of imagery to help my students engage their creative bodies and minds. Imagery provides the opportunity to sense, feel, and sometimes even "see" the intended goal.

In my own dance practice, I also use imagery to "see" what I'm drawing in space, or to add texture to my movement qualities. Imagery allows me to drop into the psychology of the work - connecting my thinking body and my dancing mind.

One of the images that I've been using recently is that of a helium balloon with a weighted anchor point. Head = balloon. Spine = string. Pelvis = weighted anchor. The head floats on top of the spine, like the balloon. The string/spine allows the balloon/head to anchor, but the string/spine is soft, flexible, and mobile. The weight anchor/ tail-sacrum-pelvis grounds the string and the spine, allowing them to float and move, (and celebrate and dance) without leaving the earth. The counter-energy of the helium balloon and the weighted anchor keep the string straight and supported from the top and bottom.

Often, dancers are encouraged to "lift out of the pelvis" or "lift up" - or "project out" into the space or "project up". These cues may come from a place of encouraging the dancer not to look down or send their weight and energy down, but may also have the undesired effect of the dancer placing all of her attention/ emphasis in one direction - now up, instead of down. Dance, like life, requires a balance and an equal pull from opposing forces. I've been experimenting with imagery that encourages a direction of both up and down.

What works for you? What images have you tried?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Reviews from KYL/D's Be/Longing: Light/ Shadow

I'm still processing the performance and experience of KYL/D's Be/Longing: Light/Shadow. But, some of the review have been published and I wanted to share some of my favorite moments from reading the authors' perceptions. As in much of what I read about dance and the non-dance world, my thoughts are piqued with some of these writings and impressions. More of my own thoughts to come as to how these writings and Kun-Yang's work pushes the field. But for now, you can read the reviews and develop your own thoughts.

Did you see the performance? What do you infer from the reviews and the work?

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"a chiaroscuro of light and dark, movement and stillness, inhaling and exhaling, sound and silence."

"dancers who tap into a reverence for humanity while exemplifying excellent modern technique and ensemble dancing"

"all gave their full selves to the work's rigorous demands"

From Kun-Yang Lin, a premier of contrasts by Merilyn Jackson

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From the Dance Journal:

"We could be at a yoga studio, or a modern dance class, or even just Whole Foods (which might explain why everyone is so good looking and in such great shape)..."

"it is particularly successful in synthesizing both ethnographic and somatic strands of research - an in turning the results of this research into a stunning display of technique and artistry that transports the audience into another place, and ultimately into themselves."

"Dancer Jessica Warchal-King emerges from the group, both physically and technically, early on. She kicks backwards ferociously like an enraged farm animal, then dives into a fluid back roll, pausing on her shoulder with one leg in the air before flicking her foot at the audience. She dances like a rubber band: strong, flexible, capable of creating just about any shape, yet always ready to snap."

"Partnering sections challenge conventional male/female pair ups and the women of the company do just as much heavy lifting as the men."

"it is clear that Lin's work is an act of selflessness, an act of love. The dance - even as beautiful, unexpected, and breathtaking as it is - is just a medium for communication and we are all invited to take part in the conversation."

Read more:
Review - Be/Longing: Light/Shadow by Kat Richter

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From Cheyney University News:

"artistic masterpiece of poetic movements and innovative sounds"

Read more:
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers Mesmerize the Crowd by Angelitta Anderson

Reviews from Nora Gibson's Temporal Objects and conversation starters on contemporary ballet

Nora Gibson's Temporal Objects received a lot of press. More thoughts to follow on the dialogue that the work has created among those who wrote about it and how I respond to their views, aesthetic, and how the conversation pushes the field further... but for now, here are a few of my favorite press quotes with links to the full articles.

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From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"devotion to technique, razor-sharp dancing, and a laserlike vision of each work's arc."

"Jessica Warchal-King was the principal cog in the Gibson machine... Erin Gallagher, Melissa McCarten, and Meredith Stapleton wheeled around with the intensity the piece demanded. Gibson, a small dynamo, was most fascinating to watch."

Read more:
An International Dance Pairing - Review from the Philly Inquirer by Merilyn Jackson

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From the Philadelphia Dance Journal:

"Gibson('s) performance style somehow combines the intense gaze of a tightly coiled bunhead with the fluidity of a more pedestrian vocabulary."

"interesting break from tradition"

Read more:
Philadelphia Dance Projects offers up Philadelphia's own Nora Gibson and Ireland's John Scott by Kat Richter

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From the Dance Journal's Student Author program:


"Each dancer moved in their individual style and brought the ballet vocabulary to life."

 "pure beauty of the various lines within the dancing body"

Read more:
Two Choreographers Emphasize the Allure of the Focused Dancer by Mackenzie Holmes

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From thINKingDANCE:

"formalism, precision, and fascination with repetition"

"the unfrilly look of Balanchine ballerinas, but with a physical variety Mr. B would not have accommodated" (Hurrah for diversity on stage! - exclamation my own)

"intensity and dramatic changes"

Read more here:
Cold, Hot and In-Between by Lisa Kraus