Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Intensive: some background

A contact jam, photo by Lynn Lane
Leslie Scates and Blake Dalton, photo by Lynn Lane
This Sunday we start work in the studio in our first Summer Intensive as Lori Teague and Leslie Scates guide the dancers of CORE Performance Company, and anyone else who would like to join us, as we learn and explore movement improvisation through many lenses. Improvisational performance is a skill and an art form that is a shift from the "class, rehearsal, performance" model of traditional dance techniques like ballet and other forms of modern dance. Many of the roots of this approach come from the early post-modern dancers at Judson Church, who were exploring what performance was in content and context. 

Contact improvisation (CI) grew out of the Judson Church movement, begun by one of its members, Steve Paxton in 1972 or thereabouts. The CI movement grew, as Nancy Stark Smith says in a talk (reprinted in Contact Quarterly), because you can't do it on your own, you need a second person to move with! The creators made a conscious choice to keep the form open and not make it a codified and copyrighted, so it continues to grow across the world through jams, retreats and workshops like ours. 

Along the way, Nina Martin of Lower Left Dance Collective, which Leslie Scates has also been a part of, noticed the need for improvising movers to be more aware of the space outside themselves. So she created Ensemble Thinking, a technique to build the mover's skills and awareness of the larger space and structure of the spontaneous composition (s)he was creating with others in a group. The flip side of this work is called Solo ReWire, and instead of a group awareness, it's a solo practice of making choices to move in ways that are not habitual, ones outside your usual movement patterns. Take a look at a blog post from a dancer who took a workshop with Leslie and Nina, a sort of poem about her experience of the process.

And each morning our day will begin with a class from Lori Teague that is infused with lessons from Rudolph Laban's work and Bartenieff Movement Analysis. Lori is a Certified Movement Analyst, which means she is certified in a knowledge set that includes methods for describing movement and how it works, a system not designed only for dancers, but which is often used by dancers to help inform conscious movement choices. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Blog about Searching for a Blog (Atlanta Edition)

A report from Communications Intern, Kathryn A.:

My initial reaction to the task of finding blogs about dance in Atlanta was one uncertainty and mixed understanding. So of course, the first stop was Google. In the search bar I typed "Atlanta dance blogs" and like most things typed in Google my results seemed to be endless. I soon realized, however, my seemingly infinite findings would only lead to a handful of pertaining and suitable sites that I would only discover after pouring over waves of words and pictures with a fine tooth comb.

The qualities necessary for a blog to make the cut were:
  • Dance or Arts related  
  • Based in the Atlanta or Decatur area 
  • Updated on a regular basis  
  • Having an overall professional and respectful feel 
Over the couple weeks I browsed through blogs, these requirements expanded and became flexible. Finding a blog that solely focused on the dance scene in Atlanta turned out to be a harder task than my initial findings led me to believe. Once I weeded out the websites of actual dance companies and studios in the area, I began reading through content and discovering the vast and diverse blog world that I barely knew existed. Although not all pertaining to dance in obvious ways, the blogs I did find all shared the compelling quality of grasping the reader and further prompting them to go out and do or go out and see through the vividly honest posts.

Some of the treasure I found:

PERSONAL LESSON: In the form and fashion of most of the blogs I read, I will take this moment to add some of my personal views and experiences. Blogs to me were scary, foreign concepts that I hardly understood or cared to understand. My deep trust issues with technology as a starting platform, I just did not see the reason or want for people to share their thoughts in a stream to the entire cyber world. Weren’t social networking sites enough? Who had time to write these things? And even better who would read them?

Well here I am, a good amount of blog banter passed over by my retinas, to say I am now a blog appreciator and follower. I realized in my findings that yes, blogs were random people just sharing their opinion but those distinct opinions are what made reading through them so fascinating. All of these people have a passion, whether it be dance, visual art, fashion, food, traveling, etc., and being so overwhelmed with that passion they make an outlet to let it pour out to any person interested. It is inspiring in a way. Reading through them, you wish you had something you felt so strongly about that you had to share it with the world. Also, you may have a passion ignited within you, you are unaware you possessed. Either way, what I had before dismissed as a time-wasting and absurd practice I now recognize as a unique and valuable method of communication.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Dance/USA in San Francisco

Howdy, all!
This is Claire H. and I do Communications for CORE. Most of the time this blog is for the dancers to talk about their process and what they're creating in the studio. I usually don't post because I'm staying in the office while they go on tour to far off places, not nearly as exciting to talk about! But this last week, Managing Director Elizabeth and I went to San Francisco for the Dance/USA Conference, so I thought talking about it might help fill in the summer gap while we're off season. (And yes, that's the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate...that's the side of town we made it to!)

Elizabeth and I joined several hundred colleagues from the professional dance realm talking about everything from leadership through meaning, to online marketing nitty gritty (at least the sessions I went to).

I had a chance to meet up with some other Houston and Atlanta dance people, among all the national attendees, of course:
  • our Field Facilitator and Dynamic X-Change teacher, Lydia Hance (photo left, who also has her own company, Frame Dance,
  • Dance Source Houston's Stephanie and Mollie, 
  • and Marlana from Houston Met
  • And from Atlanta, Full Radius Dance Artistic Director, Douglas Scott 
  • and Atlanta Ballet's social media coordinator, Brian, and Artistic Director, John McFall.  

We were welcomed into the beautiful spaces of the San Francisco community at Yerba Buena Arts Center and ODC/Dance. And once more proving that the dance world is super small, I ran into Lauryn, who lived in Atlanta a few years back, who now works as Studio Administrator for ODC (photo right). There were showcase performances by a huge variety of local San Francisco performers. All were well done, but the most interesting aspect and unique to SF is those companies nourished through the long history of the SF Ethnic Dance Festival, which was happening concurrently with the conference. We got to see performers doing gamelan, Tahitian dance, Cambodian, and more, in addition to a range of contemporary dance and ballet pieces.  

And because I'm the one who looks at marketing for dance, I was impressed to see this ad for a local company in a BART station. I've been in the meetings with arts admin folks locally who talk about doing advertising on a larger scale like the back of buses, etc., but I've never seen a big poster for dance (maybe I just wasn't looking at the right time and place...)  It was interesting to compare cities, and you can see the ways that public funding influences dance in each city. According to a recent Americans for the Arts study, Atlanta is number one per capita for the number of arts related businesses and second in number of employees of arts orgs. But on the other hand, the funding per capita in Atlanta is around $3 and SF's is around $12. At first impression, the number, quality and size of the facilities in SF is what shows that funding disparity the most. Only so many of the dance companies in Atlanta have homes. Houston has better support through local funding than Atlanta, but not up to SF levels, and of course, everywhere the support from government is constantly in danger of being slashed to either a bare minimum or nothing at all.