Dance (Twitter)Party

16 Jan

Tonight I took part in my first Tweetchat, #letstalkdance. Every Monday night from 10-11 pm EST Kiner Enterprises Inc. (@kinderenterprise) invites anyone to sign on and talk dance.  Tweetchats provide a psuedo-chat room on Twitter organized around a topic and accessible through a hashtag.

I had just seen Wim Wenders’ PINA  at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last weekend and was amazed at the use of 3D technology and how perfectly it suited dance.  After sharing this with #letstalkdance, I was simultaneously talking with one person from Oregon and another from Pennsylvania (all from my desk in Brooklyn). Although the format of Twitter is very limiting (only 140 characters per tweet), #letstalkdance allows people from across the county to come together and talk about dance.

Hope to see you next week.  Search #letstalkdance on Twitter and see what people are saying.

You can read more about this Tweetchat on Kinder Enterprises’ blog:  http://www.kinerenterprises.com/blog1/2011/06/29/join-our-weekly-twitter-party-every-tuesday-2-3-pm-est/

PINA

15 Dec

I wanted to burst out in tears throughout this entire film, tears of joy, of pride, of longing, of hope, that there is dance with such passion and soul being shared in this world.

As the film opens with “Le Sacre du Printemps” (Stravinky’s, The Right of Spring) dancers stomp and pound through the dirt covered stage, their sweat drenched bodies sticking to every piece of dirt it comes in contact with; the fear of the ritual across their faces makes this one of the most prolific dances I’ve ever seen.

Pina Bausch’s Wuppertal Dance Theater brings out the sheer emotional capacity we are all capable of, but rarely acknowledge. Sometimes, or I think oftentimes the words we write and the words we speak are not enough, they only allude to our thoughts and ideas. Pina Bausch is proof, or perhaps she proved that when words fail, movement can and will succeed. If you think about it, a kiss is one of the most intimate exchanges between two people, an expression of love and caring that transcends all languages. One simple movement conveys more than any number of words. This makes writing about this film nearly impossible, yet all the more important to making sure everyone knows about it and thus, know what Pina Bausch did for the performing arts.

The most amazing technical aspect of this film is that it is shot in 3-D, which gives you the feeling that you are on stage with the dancers, that you can touch them and that you should be getting wet when the rain starts to fall and the dancers flick their hair across the stage during Vollemond.

Each dancer, from those who were with the company from its inception, to those who just joined the company is a unique individual. None are afraid to bear their souls to the world. They hold nothing back while performing; letting all their emotions and physicalities shine through in a way that captivates audiences around the world.

The raw, emotional movement of the dancers gave me goose bumps, hypnotizing me to the point of a meditative like state. I was purely present in the moment and lost all concepts of time and space. I was in that perfect place, a place I wish I could be every time I see a piece of art. That feeling of unconscious consciousness is what keeps me going back to dance performances again and again, in hopes that I will see something so amazing I will lose myself in the work.

Wim Wender’s calls this film PINA, made for Pina Bausch, but don’t forget Pina’s words, dance, dance, otherwise we are lost. She once told a dancer who kept messing up her choreography, “dance for love.” PINA is a celebration of her work, it does not serve as a biography of her life, but you could call it a biography of her work.

 

PMT Dance Studio -Celebrating 10 Years, 2001-2011

6 Dec

PMT Dance Studio -Celebrating 10 Years, 2001-2011

Why do you dance? Studio Owner Pavan Thimmaiah dances because it is his true passion. Building a student following that began with a single hip-hop class, he has since been the proud owner of PMT Dance Studio in New York City for the past 10 years. A few weeks ago, they celebrated their centennially with their annual Fall Dance Series. A series Pavan began in order to provide professionals and students with the opportunity to perform side by side.

Even though, PMT is a small space on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue, it is home to dancers of all ages, shapes and sizes. They all come here to share their passion for dance, in whatever dance form that may take.

During their Fall Dance Series, I had the pleasure of sharing in their passion of dance, for one night. On that night, I sat there with the intent of writing a review of the performance; thinking, okay, get ready to remember every detail so you can review this performance. I took a long look around me, observing a modest studio space, with the addition of a few stage lights, and black curtains on the walls to designate where the stage should be. I skimmed through the program, taking note of choreographers, musicians and dancers. Just as the lights began to dim, I pulled out my notebook and my pen, anticipating the notes I was about to take on the performance.

I didn’t take very many notes about the dances I saw. Instead, when I got home and read over them, I realized they were not going to help me write a review, but were about how I felt sitting there, watching and learning from the performers.

I want to share with you a little bit of the hope and joy and genuine happiness that I felt while watching the performers from PMT Dance Studio. Even, the audience seemed different from a typical dance audience. There was less tension in the air and more excitement to see their friends and family performing in front of them; something I haven’t experienced in quite some time, especially in the harsh dance world that oftentimes exists in New York City. Everyone around me was at PMT’s Fall Dance Series because they simple enjoyed dancing or watching dance, or hopefully, both.

As, I watched all of the dancers perform everything from street jazz, to contemporary, to hip-hop, to salsa, I noticed these dancers weren’t just performing to show off, they were performing from the heart, out of their pure love and joy of dance. From the beginner dancer, to the most advanced dancer, everyone let their personality shine through with the flick of a wrist, nod of the head, or the swagger of their walk. There were girls strutting across stage as if in a hip-hop music video, making me wonder where the rapper was hiding. The salsa piece included couples, young and old, some more experienced than others, but all excited to perform. The break dancers hopping in their handstands and kicking their legs, awed and amazed, while the African dance with live drummers pounding out the rhythm made it very hard to remain in my seat. The entire show wasn’t perfect, but it was done with sincerity that makes everyone feel like dancing is for them.

PMT dance struck me as a place that isn’t there to churn out the next big thing, but as a place where everyone is part of one big family, a family that simply loves to dance.

“Dance should be used to solve all of our complex problems…”

1 Dec

Direct from Ted TV:

John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal

About This Talk
Use dancers instead of powerpoint. That’s science writer John Bohannon’s “modest proposal.” In this spellbinding choreographed talk from TEDxBrussels he makes his case by example, aided by dancers from Black Label Movement.

We are a dance blog, so I’m assuming this video is preaching to the choir; therefore, I implore you to pass this on to anyone you know who has questioned the validity and the importance of dance. This video has the real possibility of changing more than a few minds.

John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal

To find out more about “Dancer PhD” check out the links I’ve listed below:

Can Scientist Dance?

‘Dance Your PhD 2010′ Winner Announced

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter From Sara Wookey

28 Nov

This open letter from Sara Wookey is well composed and worth the read. It calls out to under served artists and asks us to stand together and reflect on our participation in this current economy; morally and financially.

“I want to suggest another mode of thinking: When we, as artists, accept or reject work, when we participate in the making of a work, even (or perhaps especially) when it is not our own, we contribute to the establishment of standards and precedents for our cohort and all who will come after us.”

http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/751666/an-open-letter-from-a-dancer-who-refused-to-participate-in-marina-abramovic’s-moca-performance

“First Position” Debuted in New York

14 Nov

On Saturday, November 5, at the DOC NYC, New York’s Documentary Festival, ballet aficionados, aspiring dancers, and the merely curious filed in droves to see independent filmmaker Bess Kargman’s documentary “First Position”. The film follows six young aspiring dancers over the course of one year as they prepare for the international student ballet competition, Youth America Grand Prix.

Although the film centers on dance students and their desire to become professional dancers, the most compelling aspect of the film was that it revealed they are just normal kids. Twelve-year-old Aran, who is deemed a “prodigy” by his teacher, also lives on a military base in Italy with his family and loves skateboarding; while high school senior Rebecca, loves pink and used to be a cheerleader.

In addition to exploring the dancers’ lives outside of the ballet world, the film shows how the love of ballet crosses cultural, economic, and social borders. When I think of a young ballet dancer, an image of a blonde waif-like bun-head comes to my mind. Even though that is an accurate physical description of many dancers, like Rebecca in the film, it is not the norm. Take 14-year-old Michaela for example, the film reveals she was born in Sierra Leone, adopted at the age of three, and that her goal is to “become a delicate black classical dancer.”

The kids’ multidimensional stories bridge the gap between mainstream and dance audiences. While ballet and one of the art form’s most prestigious competitions are the common threads between the six young people, their quirks, electrifying spirits, and touching stories that really bring the film to life.

Link to film site and trailer: http://www.firstpositionfilms.com/

Yours, Mine, and Ours (SPLICE: DUETspaceQUARTET)

27 Oct

SPLICE: DUETspaceQUARTET

October 13-16

Joanna Kotze & Benn Rasmussen

Dance New Amsterdam

Photo by Erika Latta

Joanna Kotze’s Between You and Me begins with a divided stage; three rows of raised light bulbs delineate two rectangles.  A bell rings prompting Kotze and Francis Stansky to move, they start filling their separate tracks with a vocabulary of quirky, nonchalant movement.  They seem indifferent in their separate existence and content within a strict boarder around their space.  As their pace quickens they are no longer satisfied with their enclosed space, the two begin switching sides and exploring outside their borders.  They circle around each other.  In this stirring of space they notice each other and finally come close enough to touch.  When the initial connection is made they savor the moment, after being confined in their individual paths they have made human contact.  Keeping a close relationship, they explore this union.  With support from the other, one dancer is able test their own limits and discover new movement.  Kotze and Stansky don’t hold this connection for too long, they return to their separate movement but they no longer seem isolated.  Incrementally the rows of lights are moved and the divide between them is broken down, until there is no separation and the entire space is shared.  The individuals are no longer confined and discrete, they have merged into one relationship that occupies a much larger space.

 

Benn Rasmussen’s Black Groundbegins with several silent intervals that calmly and consciously introduce four dancers and two black books.  The lights expose a scene, the bodies on stage either move slowly or remain still, and after a short duration the scene ends.  As the piece builds momentum the continued silence focuses the audience on the two black books.  The objects are infused into the movement and become integral to the relationships of the group.

Photo by Eriak Latta

A book often comes between a couple; at times it is comforting and tender, other times it upsets the calm and divides the individuals. The books are rarely opened, often held at arms length, and then suddenly slammed to the ground.  Tension is palpable and the books appear to be the cause.  The audience is witnessing this community deal with their shared ownership of what is held in these books.   What they contain is unknown to the audience but it clearly weighs heavily on the group.

 

 

 

Joanna Kotze is one of four choreographers chosen for the inaugural year of the New Directions Choreography Lab at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  The goal of this novel program is to give emerging and mid-career artists an environment to develop their work without requiring a final product.  The choreographers are given a stipend, access to dancers from The Ailey School, mentorship and rehearsal space at The Joan Weil Center for Dance.   To learn more about this program click here.

Benn Rasmussen is founder and Lead Producer of RoofTop Dance, a project he started in 2010 with four other producers.  The summer series is self-sustaining and provides a platform for an emerging community of artists to share their work.  RTD has created an oasis for dance in Bushwick, if you haven’t been make sure to check it out next year! www.rooftopdance.com

How and/or Why Should We as Dancers Connect Across the Nation

13 Oct

My friend Angela, a fellow contributor to this blog, sent me an e-mail a few days ago asking me about my thoughts about how national and regional dance can be connected. At first, I didn’t think I had anything to say, but then I actually thought about it. Here is my response to Angela’s question:

Yes, the biggest question is HOW do we connect? But I also think Why it is important to make a connection between national and regional dance is more imperative. Why should people in New York City care what’s happening in Des Moins, Iowa? Or Denver, Colorado? It’s like a debate where you pick the side that seems easiest to win, but really the opposing team has the better hand. It goes back to the old saying, “If a trees falls and no one sees it fall, did the tree really fall?” If art happens or a performance happens and no one sees it, did it exist or actually happen? This is all very philosophical, but I just can’t think of a an answer to How until I firmly understand the Why.

When I think of answering Why Connect? I think duh, because we should, but that’s obviously not going to convince John Smith of the importance of dance. I Just watched this video a friend posted on her Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2349117563337

It’s short, and worth the watch. It talks about how much media distorts and shapes the views of the general public, especially with regards to women and their bodies. I bring it up, because it gives you a very clear idea as to what our competition is (as artists). When you compare dance (as a disciplined art form) to this, it’s easier to argue that we need to connect regional and national dance so that girls can be confident, so that children and adults have a different kind of outlet of expression; one that isn’t scandalous and all about sex like the media.

Personally, I think connecting national and regional dance is important from a cultural stand point, dance has always been a way to preserve and understand past cultures. Could it also be a way for the different regions across the US so relate to one another? Could it be helpful in finding common ground between the big city and the small town? I think that’s what has always drawn me to dance, the fact that I can dance with another person and words are unnecessary. The obvious example of this is two people who speak different languages coming to an understanding via dancing. All the time, people see the United States and think of it as an English-speaking nation, but there is no national language (maybe we should make it dance). Even if there are two people, from the United States and they both speak English, that doesn’t mean they’ll understand one another, but sometimes you throw some art, some movement in the mix, and the understanding is deeper than if they could actually understand each other’s words.

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