The Art of Making Dances

Among other things

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If you like or teach Ballet…

you should read this http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15290824.2013.824579#.U1cibsfn2kE

I just got the latest issue of Journal of Dance Education.. probably my last one since I didn’t renew my membership with NDEO. (I’m not yet eligible for one of their cheaper memberships…) Anyway, I digress.

This article is immensely interesting and gives some information on the rich history of ballet and its’ patriarchal roots, as well as ways to change the education of the form as we move forward.

BRILLIANCE! I love dance.

Filed under ballet ballerina dance education dance dance class dancer dance history ballet history

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On Love

shapeswemake:

Lily Myers

I chopped my hair off today,

in five sharp cuts over the bathroom sink.

It was done in less than a minute; I stared surprised at the bunches of brown strands that used to be me.

Read More

I so love and appreciate the strength of this. <3 

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"If you do everything today, what will you do tomorrow?"

I wish I knew who originally said that.

Every time I look at graduate school programs, I feel physically ill…. granted I am already physically ill at the moment, so everything is relative.

I once had a professor who said, “You think people look at you funny when you tell them you’re majoring in the performing arts… well you should see the looks you get when you tell them you have a Masters degree in the performing arts.”

I can pretty much guess, it’s the same look my family gives me every time I mention my career aspirations.

Anyway. Looking at graduate schools for dance. Here’s how it goes down.

1. I open the department website and read the programs offered, enamored with romanticized visions of my academic future.

2. I click EVERYTHING and see what requirements I need to apply.

  "I have to take the GRE? To get an MFA in Dance? You’ve got to be kidding me. Oh wait, you only need it for the MA. (What the hell is the god damn difference? I’m still not using advanced algebra in dance. EVER. Though… it is possible….hmmm.)

"You require 10+ YEARS of professional experience??? Will you take me if I am 8-9 years short??? … so I can’t even study here until I’m in my 30s?????"

3. Look at the curriculum and course guide.

"OOOH I’ve always wanted to take a class like that. Yes, more choreography classes. I want a balance."

4. PANIC.

"That thesis sounds like the single most terrifying process ever. How does anyone choreograph an evening length work in a single semester… AND write 20,000 words about it."

"Oh. You only take 2 students a year. Forget it. I don’t have a shot in hell."

5. Then I experience a flood of all the emotions I faced during my undergraduate program.

All-consuming fatigue from endless all-nighters and papers. The incredible pressure to finish and set choreography AND have it be clean for a showing. The anxiety of listening to, and then trying to interpret faculty feedback. Harsh feedback. Revisions. Having a professor quietly take me aside at the end of a reasonably successful class to tell me my technique was not up to par. Having a professor use me as a class example of what not to do in an attempt to correct me. Soul crushing.

"Am I really cut out for this?"

"Am I good enough?"

Is this really what I want to do with my life?”

"Is this what I’m meant to do?"

"Can I be that honest with my own students someday?"



6. Improv Dance.

"There. Now I feel better…. I remember why I love dance."

7. TURN OFF THE INTERNET. Give up for the day. 

8. Contemplate the endless career possibilities.

I have so many things I can see myself doing in the dance world. I have big dreams; way too big to ever come true…. and so then I am left pondering what the right decisions are. Do I need an MA, an MFA, an EdM, a PhD, a K-12 Certification?

There’s so much I want to do in life, and I feel so unproductive because I never know where to start or which dream to follow first. Instead I feel myself becoming stagnant, prepared to retreat and settle because I’m scared of my own shadow.

Baby steps. 

I know. 

You can’t do everything all at once.

But then again..

"Do not leave for tomorrow what can be done today." - James E. Faust

Food for thought…

Are you in a graduate program in Dance? If so, where? Do you like it?

Filed under dance dancer ma mfa edm graduate school dance graduate school mfa dance identity

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The only thing I fear more than change is no change. The business of being static makes me nuts.
Twyla Tharp

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ryanishka:

ted:

Adrianne Haslet-Davis dances again for the first time since the Boston terrorist attack last year. 

When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line, Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost the lower half of her left leg in the explosion. She’s a ballroom dance teacher, and she assumed she would never dance again. With most prosthetics, she wouldn’t.

But Hugh Herr, of the MIT Media Lab, wanted to find a way to help her. He created a bionic limb specifically for dancers, studying the way they move and adapting the limb to fit their motion. (He explains how he did it here.)

At TED2014, Adrianne danced for the first time since the attack, wearing the bionic limb that Hugh created for her.  

Hugh says, “It was 3.5 seconds between the bomb blasts in the Boston terrorist attack. In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor. In 200 days, we put her back. We will not be intimidated, brought down, diminished, conquered or stopped by acts of violence.”

Amen to that, Hugh. 

Watch the full talk and performance here »

I’m gonna cry this makes me happy THIS MAKES ME SO FREAKING HAPPY

she lost part of her leg and she is STILL dancing and somebody decided they wanted to make that a thing that is possible for dancers in that situation and I love humanity sometimes I really do, this is beautiful


It’s not well appreciated, but over half of the world’s population suffers from some form of cognitive, emotional, sensory or motor condition, and because of poor technology, too often, conditions result in disability and a poorer quality of life. Basic levels of physiological function should be a part of our human rights. Every person should have the right to live life without disability if they so choose — the right to live life without severe depression; the right to see a loved one in the case of seeing impaired; or the right to walk or to dance, in the case of limb paralysis or limb amputation. As a society, we can achieve these human rights if we accept the proposition that humans are not disabled. A person can never be broken. Our built environment, our technologies, are broken and disabled. We the people need not accept our limitations, but can transcend disability through technological innovation. Indeed, through fundamental advances in bionics in this century, we will set the technological foundation for an enhanced human experience, and we will end disability.”

Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster. Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics.”

It was 3.5 seconds between the bomb blasts in the Boston terrorist attack. In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor. In 200 days, we put her back. We will not be intimidated, brought down, diminished, conquered or stopped by acts of violence.”

(via dancersareangelswithoutwings)

Filed under dance dancer ballroom dance disability bionics inspiration inspirational ted tedtalks

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I don’t agree with the extreme technique that the competitions develop these days. I think it turns dancers into robots, which is not pretty to watch. I am definitely a believer in artistry over tricks. The artistry will last longer, and you can develop it over decades. Tricks will come and go; one day you won’t be able to do them. After a while they’re kind of boring. With artistry, something new always happens. It’s creating a story and using your imagination on­stage. There is no imagination in tricks whatsoever.

Sara Mearns, Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet (via danceindawnlight)

hell to the yes.

(via dancersareangelswithoutwings)

Filed under dance competition dance contemporary dance contemporary jazz modern modern dance ballet dancer artistry creativity

157,842 notes

seraphknights:

cultureshift:

This is the Memorial to the Missing and contains over 50,000,000 pennies to represent the lives of each American child abandoned to abortion by a society and a culture that has embraced their destruction. We must prevent the need to add to this memorial. Take a stand. Get involved.
 ”How we treat the least of us defines us.”

"should I use this $500k to help struggling parents and pregnant people or should I put it in a glass box"


Right… But imagine how many pennies you would have if there were one for every child born from an unwanted pregnancy, from a rape victim, with a fatal diagnosis that will cause them to suffer for the duration of what little life they do have. Imagine how many pennies for every child born to a parent that cannot support them. Not even how many pennies. How many GLASS HOUSES would you need? You’d need those pennies to pay for THEM to survive.

seraphknights:

cultureshift:

This is the Memorial to the Missing and contains over 50,000,000 pennies to represent the lives of each American child abandoned to abortion by a society and a culture that has embraced their destruction. We must prevent the need to add to this memorial. Take a stand. Get involved.

 ”How we treat the least of us defines us.”

"should I use this $500k to help struggling parents and pregnant people or should I put it in a glass box"

Right… But imagine how many pennies you would have if there were one for every child born from an unwanted pregnancy, from a rape victim, with a fatal diagnosis that will cause them to suffer for the duration of what little life they do have. Imagine how many pennies for every child born to a parent that cannot support them. Not even how many pennies. How many GLASS HOUSES would you need? You’d need those pennies to pay for THEM to survive.

(via tcookiedancer)

Filed under oh did I just voice my views on abortion on the internet? oops sorrynotsorry

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First make it REAL, then make it DANCE.

This is the motto of Headlong Performance Institute through Headlong Dance Theatre. This was also the motto of the advanced dance composition course at my college.

(For an amazing read if you love choreography and the creative process: http://theartofmakingdances.tumblr.com/post/82657099534/headlong-performance-institute-what-its-all-about  )

Some choreographers start with the music, others think of their theme and then do research, while some find a few pieces of movement vocabulary, and then the rest falls into place. I for one, have always been inspired by music. I hear a piece of music, and I immediately see dance (or not, if it’s terrible music. I.E. #Selfie). It makes long car rides endlessly entertaining, because it’s like I have a free dance concert in my head. So once I find my song inspiration, the structure and some key movement ideas evolve simultaneously. Then I research, before finally solidifying the movement vocabulary and structure for the piece.

So what am I getting at?

Well….  When I started choreographing my sophomore year of college, I caught the bug…. the bug that made me feel the need to churn out a new work every subsequent semester. I loved it, I wanted to learn more, I wanted to improve, I wanted to present my work on the big stage. (Note: the italics are my secret guilty desires…)

What ended up happening was just that… I got into a groove. I did get better each time around, because I learned, I took feedback, took the classes, and thought harder about what I was making.

I made a couple of truly great pieces that I’m still proud of… though with some moves that have been recycled into every modern dance ever invented. (Sometimes that’s inevitable. Hence the recently gone viral video: How to Contemporary Dance.)

However, I eventually fell into a rut. I wasn’t coming up with creative ideas anymore. I had choreographer’s block (like writer’s block…) Sometimes I think it was because the program was too mentally rigorous and demanding on my creative mind. Being in a composition class and choreographing an original work for a concert at the same time is exhausting. In comp, you are asked to churn out new projects every week. That means making a new dance and coming up with new ideas for all 15 weeks of the semester on top of developing the ideas for your work further than the projects for class. How does one person continue to spew out so much creativity?? (Not to mention balancing that with your other 6 classes and second major…)

At some point, I just wanted to “make a pretty dance for the sake of dancing”… which can be aesthetically pleasing to watch if done right, but ultimately tiresome for the audience because they get lost and stop caring. The best pieces make you think and teach you something. “What are you teaching your audience?” my composition professors would ask.

The best pieces make you as an audience member feel smart, because you understand. The title clues you in to the theme, or a movement metaphor jumps out at you and sparks a whole chain of ideas of what the dance might be about.

Ruts and Grooves, Ruts and Grooves. Both my favorite and least favorite chapter of Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.

So I found myself really stuck in a rut the fall of my senior year… I just couldn’t think of the “perfect idea”, and I HAD to choreograph.

…No, this wasn’t my psychological need anymore. I was in advanced dance composition, and you were required to choreograph for a concert (namely the mainstage student dance concert… the one on the big stage.)

It was the night before my proposal, where I would show a minute of movement vocabulary to three faculty members. I had already submitted my stale idea that was “safe”, but not creative enough. Not for Moving Stories (the big concert).

I got through it.. the whole process (though it was a bit of a stressful mess for everyone involved). But it was on the big stage, and I was darn proud of it.

But as time passed by, I grew less proud. Not because of the dancers (who were fabulous), but because it didn’t mean anything. My theme was the fight or flight response, but that became too loose, and it was more of a dance for the sake of dancing like I had wanted originally. People got a bit of my theme from it, which I can attribute to some of the movement vocabulary and the structure.. but it was a bit long, and a bit too broad of a theme. I don’t think I was ever able to answer the question of what I was teaching my audience.  It was an energetic, visually cool piece that people enjoyed but didn’t understand.

And so, I was disappointed. It wasn’t real enough.

Then it was my final semester, and I wanted to choreograph again, because who knew when I would get another chance. Again, I didn’t put enough thought into my piece, and came up with my idea the night before the proposal. I even had to change my safety idea that I had already sent in to the faculty, in fact. The piece was funny (as intended), but again didn’t have enough substance. It wasn’t real enough.

Now that I’ve entered the “real world”, where the pressure (and opportunity) to choreograph what I want is gone (for right now at least)… I am filled with ideas. Thankfully, I will have the opportunity to choreograph original works this summer… for the first time in over a year.. and I have 4 works I must prepare. The problem is, I have too many ideas already and it’s not even May.

And I’m not even talking ideas. I have the works. I did research, I found music, I went through 16 stages of back and forth doubt about whether my ideas were stupid or brilliant. I edited and cut the music already (WHO THE HELL AM I?) I have movement vocabulary and structures.

…I’ve NEVER been so prepared. I think the time off has served me quite well. Sometimes creativity cannot be conjured at will. It needs time to ruminate, time to grow into something REAL.

First make it REAL, then make it DANCE.

…I just love that.

Filed under dance choreography dance composition modern dance creativity modern contemporary contemporary dance creative process choreographer's block writer's block ruts and grooves how to contemporary dance

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Headlong Performance Institute: What It’s All About

The HPI approach boils down to those two sentences.
 
Make something real. Then make it good.

image



In a lifetime of seeing dance and performance, I can say: it’s the first step that’s usually missing. I see (and sometimes even enjoy) a lot of well-polished pieces with no authentic origin. Pieces that are imitating other pieces, pieces that proceed thoughtlessly from, “It would be so cool if we……”
 
So before you polish it, before you make it cool, you have to make something real.
image


That means:
 
1) Something you are genuinely curious about. (Different from Something I Like.)
 
2) Something that can be performed, that exists in action. Talking about my concern for a political issue while dancing around is not action; that’s sprinkling a little meaning on top of some movement.
 
Curiosity is the start, because as we say in HPI:
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Make a piece of art when you don’t have (or even need) clear conclusions. You are provoked and curious. You are awake. You bring to your rehearsals the same qualities a good audience brings to a show: attentiveness, openness, playfulness, and comfort with complexity and absurdity.
image


This is the hardest task in training to be an artist. There are many places and people that will teach you how to step two: making it good. But not nearly enough opportunity to nakedly and fearlessly discover what you are truly curious about, what your voice is.
 image


source: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs104/1101824090702/archive/1111783816850.html

Filed under dance dance composition choreography modern modern dance contemporary contemporary dance art creative process creativity

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I think Pina&#8217;s feminism is more about bringing the issues associated with gender to the forefront and shedding light on them, rather than opposing them and &#8220;changing them significantly&#8221;. She makes dances based on real life after all, and do the roles of men and women still have a ways to go in terms of equality? Absolutely. I think some of her works are defiantly feminist, but I think a great majority of her works are more humanist, and represent the struggle to achieve gender identity and equality.
*stepping off my opinion soapbox now.*

I think Pina’s feminism is more about bringing the issues associated with gender to the forefront and shedding light on them, rather than opposing them and “changing them significantly”. She makes dances based on real life after all, and do the roles of men and women still have a ways to go in terms of equality? Absolutely. I think some of her works are defiantly feminist, but I think a great majority of her works are more humanist, and represent the struggle to achieve gender identity and equality.

*stepping off my opinion soapbox now.*

(Source: moonurl)

Filed under dance pina bausch modern modern dance dance theatre

4,963 notes

buttonpoetry:

Jesse Parent - “To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter”

"If you break her heart, I will hear it snap with the ear I pressed against her mother’s belly."

From the Coaches Slam at CUPSI 2014. This performance has the longest sustained break for applause we’ve ever seen a poet have to take.

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So I dug right down to the bottom of my soul….

I had high hopes when I walked into a Gaga/Dancers class this week. I had heard wonderful things about this class, and was so excited to try it.

Gaga classes last for one hour and are taught by dancers who have worked closely with Ohad Naharin in the Batsheva Ensemble or Batsheva Dance Company. Teachers guide the participants using a series of evocative instructions that build one on top of the other. Rather than copying a particular movement, each participant in the class actively explores these instructions, discovering how he or she can interpret the information and perform the task at hand. Gaga classes offer a creative framework for participants to connect to their bodies and imaginations, increase their physical awareness, improve their flexibility and stamina, and experience the pleasure of movement in a welcoming, accepting atmosphere.

I LOVE improvisation, so I was all about this class from its description.

After doing some research, I found a website that listed these “instructions” for class.

Never stop: The class is one session, no pauses or exercises, but a continuity of instructions one on top of the other. Each instruction does not cancel the previous one but is added to it, layer upon layer. Therefore, it is important not to stop in the middle of the session. If you get tired or want to work at another pace, you can always lower the volume, work 30% or 20%, float, or rest, but without losing sensations that were already awakened. Do not return to the state your body was in before we started.

Listening to the body: It is important that you take the instructions gently into your body while being aware to its sensations, abilities, and limitations. Do not seek excessive effort on your first time – seek the quality of the movement, the sensation to which we are aiming, but with less intensity in the work.

Awareness: Be aware. Get inspired by the teacher and by other people in the room. Be aware of people around you, the space that they need, and the interaction if any.

Silence: During the session we do not speak unless instructed to use our voice or words. If you have any questions, you are welcome to bring them up at the end of the session.

Classes start on time: Attending the first minutes of the class is very important so you will be able to produce more from the session and take care of your body. It is advised to arrive 15 minutes early, turn your phone off, find yourself a place in the studio, relax, and start.

No entry for latecomers: If you are late, give up. Go do something else that is pleasant. Come tomorrow.

We work barefoot, without shoes.

We will be happy to hear how you felt during your first session and later as well.

Wonderful! I’m ready. (In hindsight, I probably wasn’t ready for a variety of reasons, but also because I’ve been battling chronic neck pain for over a month (waiting for appointment with an ortho), and I’m extremely conscious of my movement so as not to aggravate my condition further… preventing me from completely losing myself in anything…)

 I walk in to a enormous, gorgeous studio that is also used as a performance space complete with stage lights, legs, and wings. I am 5 minutes early, so I quietly find an empty area of floor space and lay on my back. 

The first thing I notice are the bright fluorescent lights that are assaulting my eyes as I gaze up.

I shut my eyes.

They still burn holes in my retinas.

After a few minutes, I gaze over at the clock. It’s 5 minutes after the hour. "So much for starting on time…" I catch myself thinking. I quickly try to let go of my negative thought, and remain optimistic.

Class begins.

A young woman wearing animal print pants with the crotch that ends by the knees walks in and puts on some “music.”

I say “music” because I can more accurately describe the noises coming from the sound system as ambient garbage attempting to assault my ears. It sounded like someone was playing bad 80s music, remixed, three rooms away, overlaid with slow dub step beats and ambient “nature” sounds.

Thankfully, she turned the music down so low that I could almost tune it out…. but not quite…

…Only to draw my attention to the real city ambiance outside. Blaring horns, traffic, air vents shuddering, laughter from the stairwell, elevator chiming, sirens, shouts.

The fluorescent lights are still bright and harsh.

Then she starts with the “instructions” that would build upon each other for the duration of the class in her calm, lilting voice. So calm, in fact, that I could barely understand her. “Is she slurring? Are my ears not working? What does she mean about this finding circles bit? I missed that.”

Oh. My. God. I cannot get into this.

Between the monotonous lilt of her voice, the ambient garbage music and city noise assaulting my ears, and the fluorescent lights assaulting my eyes, I did not feel safe to let go in that environment. I observed the other students in the class. They were so obviously into it.

Maybe it’s because I come from a rural area and I cannot tune out these stimuli. Maybe people actually like ambient garbage “music” here.

I don’t understand these NYC dancers in the pants with the crotch at the knees.  They look sort of cool, but also ridiculous. Mostly I’m annoyed because no matter how many pairs of those pants I try on I look like I’m drowning in them. Short legs. Whatever.

UHG Nina, STOP getting distracted and focus on whatever what’s-her-name-in-the-low-hanging-pants is saying.

Feel the water cresting up to your temples, and find a quiver that begins in your pelvis…. the water is coming to a boil, and you’re spaghetti. Let your spaghetti begin to cook…”

WHAM!

The dancer next to me looks like she is having a violent seizure. Her spaghetti is not boiling, it is spasmodically sizzling and one of her long limbs just knocked into me.

Suddenly I felt like Diana Morales because I was feeling absolutely NOTHING from this class.

Jesus! there’s still 20 minutes left! Should I leave? No. That’s so rude, and against the ‘rules’.”

"But it was free*. You’ve paid NOTHING to be here."

"BUT I HATE IT. I FEEL NOTHING."


I turn my attention back to the teacher, hoping to find some inspiration, only to see that she’s so into her own movement, her eyes are closed (as most of the other students)! I’m sorry, but I cannot take anyone seriously right now. Should a teacher really be so self-indulgent that she can’t see what their students in the class are feeling? Everything in me screams ‘NO.’

I need music that will evoke movement. I need soft, comforting lighting. I need more direct instructions. This is not working for me. Everything hurts my neck. I’m frustrated.

Finally the class is ending, and I am so keyed up with frustration at the horrible music and lighting and senseless “instructions”. She thanks us and ends class (5 minutes early)

So much for class ending on time.”

Mostly everyone remains in the room, laying on the floor in savasana, reflecting and recovering.

I, on the other hand, am the first one out the door. Breaking the “ambience” and letting the door shut loudly behind me.

I even go so far as to stand in the lobby downstairs for 5 full minutes, listening to a gaggle of children singing “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs, because ANYTHING is better than what I just endured.

Maybe it was the environment. Maybe just an inexperienced teacher. Maybe I was too worried about my neck. Maybe it just wasn’t my day. Maybe I just didn’t like it.

I accept that. It is clear from my observations of the other students in the class that they enjoyed it or at least got more out of it than I did.

I  hope that one day I can try a different Gaga class and enjoy it.

…Perhaps not for a while though.

*Free- thanks to the work study program, my classes here are free or reduced rate, depending on the length of the class and if there’s an accompanist.

Have you felt this way before??

Filed under dance dancer pants dance pants gaga dance nyc dance ambient noise bad music improv improvisation improv dance