Rehearsal Recaps Documentation & reflection on Burns Dance Media rehearsals and projects
Inspiration Text, films, performances, et al. that inspire me
Teaching this summer!
April | 23 | 2014
I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things after having my first baby...phew that's a doozy! So I'm happy to report that this summer I will be teaching a class and performance project along side Peter Kyle at Greenwich Academy in the Wallace Performing Arts Center, Greenwich, CT. Click here for more info. Can't wait to hop and groove and have some fun! WHOO!
Here's an interesting article about the effects of ibuprofen on the bodies of an athlete if taken continuously. I am an avid ibuprofen user to treat my soar body especially when training because of its anti-inflammatory effects, but if continuous use makes it less effective than maybe I should cut back?
Of course the article asks why athletes use ibuprofen and the response is that it helps you train better. Did they forget that it is a pain killer? Athletes use ibuprofen because they are in pain...it's part of being an athlete. Not being in pain does help your performance, but I use pain killers to dull the pain not as some sort of athletic enhancement.
It may be that if someone uses ibuprofen before every exercise session for a year or more, she said, "intestinal integrity might be compromised." In that case, small amounts of bacteria and digestive enzymes could leak regularly into the bloodstream.
More immediately, if less graphically, the absorption of nutrients could be compromised, especially after exercise, Dr. van Wijck said, which could affect the ability of tired muscles to resupply themselves with fuel and regenerate.
Ironically, this bacterial incursion resulted in "higher levels of systemic inflammation," -- ultramarathon racers who frequently used ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory, wound up with higher overall levels of bodily inflammation. They also reported being just as sore after the race as runners who had not taken ibuprofen.
Animal studies have also shown that ibuprofen hampers the ability of muscles to rebuild themselves after exercise. So why do so many athletes continue enthusiastically to swallow large and frequent doses of ibuprofen and related anti-inflammatory painkillers, including aspirin, before and during exercise?
"The idea is just entrenched in the athletic community that ibuprofen will help you to train better and harder," Dr. Nieman said. "But that belief is simply not true. There is no scientifically valid reason to use ibuprofen before exercise and many reasons to avoid it."
I think I've seen Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk before but my sister brought it to my attention again and it dawned on me how her talk parallel's Steven Pressfield's book "The War of Art." I wonder if she's read it. :)
"A writer writes with his genius; an artists paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this..." ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Kellie and I presented our piece in DNA's Raw Material last weekend and it was wonderful! Kellie and Hannah performed the duet Kellie and I have been creating and it was just a wonderful experience. I stepped out of the process at the end of July and allowed Hannah to take my role so the choreography wouldn't suffer the wrath of a large round woman trying to partner and poor Kellie wouldn't have to lift the extra 20 lbs. :) Hannah took the part and really made it her own. They were funny and honest and physically ridiculous! I receded to the audience where I gave feedback from the outside for the last 2 months of the process. It was wonderful to get feedback from the Raw Material artists and be a part of their process as well for four whole months. Because of this process, I think our work grew tremendously in scope and in our plans for the future primarily because of having continual feedback on a monthly basis. Note to self: Get continual feedback on a monthly basis. :)
Congrats to all the Raw Material peeps! I loved being a part of this process and am so grateful for the opportunity.
Kellie Lynch and I have collaborated on a bombastic, action adventure duet titled "Pirates Have Parrots and Parrots Perch" that will be one of the six works shown in Raw Material at DNA next Thursday and Friday, October 4th and 5th.
Hannah Siedel will be performing my role in the work as I am now 7 and a half months pregnant. She is exquisite! We are so lucky to have met her and she has been an amazing addition to the process.
The other artist that are showing work include:
Tough Cookie Dance/Michael Philip Richman and Josselyn Levinson-Dustin
Anna Marie Shogren
Abby Zbikowski/the new utility
These fabulous artists have brought such unique perspectives to the table; it will truly be a wonderful show.
Thank you to all my fellow RAW artists. I have loved meeting you and learning more about your work and myself in the process.
Adele Myers and Dancers is an NDP Award Recipient!!
July | 24 | 2012
AM&D has received a huge honor! The company will be funded for the creation and touring of the new project, "Einstien's Happiest Thought." We are so excited and proud! Read more about all the artists and funding here.
Kellie and I were accepted to participate in this year's Raw Material at DNA. We have to participate in several workshops with the 5 other selected artists and will show the work on October 4th & 5th in the theater at DNA.
Last Saturday, June 23rd, was our first workshop. The set up was a showing with feedback following each piece. We all showed for 10 minutes, then had feedback for 3 minutes and then were able to ask questions.
I feel like all the artists are coming from different backgrounds, so it is really nice to have feedback from all these different facets of movement. Kellie and I were kind of cold before we showed our 7 minute phrase for our duet, but the feedback was great and we are definitely going in the right direction.
Kinebago: So, what I love about your performance is how open it is. It has this great combination of openness and specificity of movement together. So it feels both external and internal. Vulnerable and emotional, but still geometric and anatomical.
Heidi: Yeah, and part of it is that difficulty. The movement is difficult enough to do that I can never count on it being easy. So in performance, I have to pay attention in a pretty extreme way. So the movement is built to be open, but it's so hard to do that the care that I have to take to dance it demands that other presence.
As I get older and the fear/nervousness/excitement of performing in front of people becomes more manageable (not gone by any means), I think I'm beginning to be able to understand something of what Heidi means here.
In my own work, I've recently been playing with celebrating a wobble or fall within a set phrase and allow them to introduce improvised small new movement pathways into the phrase, but always having to revert back to the set phrase. This seems to allow for a surprise or newness for both the performer and the audience and in addition it actually strengthens the performers muscles to be able to "correct" a movement.
However, in others work, this isn't always wanted. :) In Adele's new work, we are playing with the idea of pushing ourselves to our most riskful physical moments so that the audience can see the effort, strength and desire to pull ourselves out of it or find the end of a suspension without falling. Sometimes you have to forcefully muscle your way out of a suspension because you went so far...and sometimes you fail. :) But when taking these riskful scenarios in front of an audience, part of me doesn't want to fall or take that extra chance. I've tried so hard for so long to be able to stand on one leg and balance, what if the audience doesn't see how hard it is or how difficult it is and thinks I'm not a good dancer because I pushed myself to the limits and almost fell or wavered? In addition, we are constantly working on being present with the audience. Thankfully we have had 2 years of practicing our being present with the audience with "Theater in the Head" before attaching all these new obstacles. Being open and inviting the audience in when your concentrating on your movement is such a difficult task...it's such a fine and interesting line to try to traverse.
I think these ideas are a little different than what Heidi is saying here, but fall in the same pool. :)
Heidi: ...my dances don't feel like they're about something, other than the movement. Even though I recognize that they are for other people. I don't think of story or meaning while I'm moving, I'm thinking about pure physicality. But in teaching, I couldn't come up with enough language about physicality to get people to understand what I was doing.
Kinebago: So it's an afterthought.
Heidi: The imagery is an afterthought. Like, I've made the movement, and here's a way I can reframe what I'm doing so that you might understand it better.
Kinebago: So when you say things like "I'm holding the moon," when you made it you weren't holding the moon...
Heidi: Nope, no moon.
Kinebago: But now there's a moon.
Heidi: Yeah. I can't... I'm not a literal person. Although it's funny... at night before bed I read bad science fiction, or fantasy books. I listen to thrillers while I'm driving in the car. I love the idea of plot! But I can't make dances that way.
Kinebago: Why do you think that is?
Heidi: Well mainly, because I don't believe the movement means that...
Me too!! Me too!! I also am an avid fantasy reader and also feel like I can't put plot in my dances. Sometimes creating movement for me comes from emotions that I'm trying to let go of or physicalize. However, other times I create calculated, structured improvisations that bind the movement in certain ways, but again...a lot of the time, the movement is only a collection of the emotions, thoughts or aesthetic choices I felt or thought were interesting when I was making up the phrase. My subconscious seems to know the meaning of my movements when I'm doing them, but my conscious has either yet to figure it out or is not meant to. I haven't figured it out yet. :)
Recently I'm a little stumped with my new project "The Soil Project" because I feel like there is so much meaning there without me having to outline it further. Does it have to be more than a series of photos that can mean anything from death to life to recycling to a fantasy goddess? Does it even translate to movement? This project began with an image, so where's the movement in it? Is there plot? We'll see I guess.
There is a vitality,
a life force,
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.
And If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine
how good it is
nor how valuable it is
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.
Keep the channel open...
No artist is pleased...
There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes "us" MORE alive than the others.
I just finished a two week rehearsal and teaching intensive with Adele Myers and Dancers in downtown New Haven, CT at ECA (Educational Center for the Arts). What a wonderful group of students, beautiful facility and such a welcoming director. We helped Adele teach comp classes throughout the two weeks giving the students a chance to learn, create and put together movement material. My favorite part was when I would ask them what they thought should happen next. Their eyes just lit up like they didn't expect to be able to make that decision and then they just went wild with suggestions. The rest of the 12 hour days were spent in the studio rehearsing with Adele for her new work "Einstein's Happiest Thought" and experimenting with ladders, marbles and ropes with composer Josh Quillien, lighting and installation artist Cathy Couch and novelist Blanche Boyde.
We had a great time each day and it was a new experience for me considering I am now about 4 months pregnant, surprise! That's my first public virtual announcement. Not really into sharing it all over facebook. Scary. :) I have to say that the 8 to 12 hour days were challenging for my newly changing body. Although everyone tells me they can't tell I'm pregnant, which must mean they just think I'm getting fat, I can definitely tell the difference. I'm remembering when teachers use to talk about reserving your energy when performing and I thought I understood this..but it is a whole new ball game now. My dwindling lung capacity combined with the Relaxin (The hormone giving my cartilage and ligaments more flexibility) makes it much easier for me to over stretch all those attachments to my pelvis. I failed miserably in preserving these attachments the first week and it was quite painful (lower back, pubic symphysis and hamstring attachment soarness), but after a short weekend rest for my pelvis, week two was much better. It is very interesting to figure out my new limits and during the second week I was able to find I could perform with as much intent and power, changing some of the outcome, but keeping my pelvis a little more intact.
After reading this article, I might also go back to some pelvis aligning exercises. I think that some of the strain comes from my pelvis twisting or becoming misaligned and putting extended strain on one hamstring or other. More on if these exercises work later. :)
I'm performing this weekend in Johnsbury, VT on May 12! We are doing a mish-mosh program of AM&D works for the community and if your around that area, come and check us out! Adele and Diana are performing the duet from "Is That All There Is," the company will be performing "This dance is what you see" and Adele is performing her solo from "Theater in the Head!" It's gunna be fun! Click here for more info.
Stunning time-lapse of Yosemite National Park by Shawn Reeder
May | 02 | 2012
This one would probably have impressed Ansel Adams. Shawn Reeder, a Bishop, Calif.-based photographer and musician, spent two years working on this time lapse video of Yosemite National Park. The nearly five-minute video is composed of almost 7,000 individual photographs.
Dr Emily Cross' research focuses on the relatively new field of science called neuroaesthetics which looks at how the brain perceives artistic endeavours.
"The fMRI data we've gathered will hopefully show what the professional dancer actually perceives when he sees himself moving in very complex ways; whether he is happy with that movement or not, and how his brain differentiates between the various different contexts in which we had Riley dancing."
Given Mr Watts' lifelong focus on dance, Dr Cross also thinks the scans of his brain may reveal slight structural variations compared to average people.
I can't wait to find out more. I wanna know 1) if my brain is different...because I've always thought that it was :) and 2) the results of the fMRI data because I actually use this method to choreograph by videoing improvisations and then choosing the movements or groups of movements that "speak to me."
I've been working with four breath taking dancers, Rebecca Woods, Robin Neveu Brown, Katie Sethura and Meg Weeks, since December 2011 on re-staging "The Making of Statues." It's so wonderful to have a second opportunity to revision the work. After some time away from the work I was able to extract what didn't quite fit and create something new in collaboration with these brilliant minds.
The work will still have exquisite guest-star Diana Deaver performing a solo and I will now have a modified role in the work since my injury. My understudy was such a freggin' star, I just couldn't take her out! And then there were six. I am also collaborating with lighting designer Gifford Williams to create the fabulous lighting to accentuate the projections, no easy feat.
We finished our Monday rehearsal after two wonderful run-throughs of the work with the projections. I'm very pleased where we are in our process; The work has found a new light.
I hope whoever is reading this will be able to attend and really see these amazing dancers a.k.a goddesses in action! Click here for details on tickets and location, etc.
As most of you who read my blog know, I was in the hospital for 5 days at the end of January because of a dance related injury. My knee was the size of a cantaloupe and my thigh, calf and foot were also affected. I had a skin infection that was set off when I hit my knee. The trauma to the knee resulted in an inflammation of the bursa between the patella and the skin above called pre-patellar bursitis. It is supposed that the swelling and heat from this trauma injury aided the fast growth of the skin infection that began to spread along my knee, thigh and calf. I was admitted to the hospital so they could administer IV antibiotics and monitor my infection, taking multiple blood samples a day to make sure the infection didn't get into my blood. My blood cultures showed an elevated white blood cell count until a week after I was released from the hospital. They had released me with a multitude of drugs including pain killers and antibiotics.
While in the hospital, I couldn't move my leg at all. I wasn't able to move my knee, walk or even stand without excruciating pain. I had fevers up to 104, which is what promoted our initial ER visit. I was on IV fluids and rotating panel of antibiotics that gave me various allergic reactions...which was uber fun.
I began physical therapy two weeks after hospitalization. I began with bending the knee and walking without crutches and have an exercise program that still includes building up the VMO and gluteus medius muscles. Two weeks later I'm able to bend my knee all the way and put weight on it. Stairs continue to be a constant menace, especially going down, but I can take them normally now with only a little pain in my knee. Last Monday, I was finally granted permission to take yoga classes as long as I modified them as needed. My PT continues with more weight bearing bends and squats, however, I am still not up to jumping or putting weight on the knee cap.
But today, it has been a month since I've fully danced and this is a hard land mark for me. I'm happy that I'm able to take yoga now, my family and friends are all there for me and I have been able to be creative directing and choreographing with my company. I am also sad that it is now getting closer to the performances that I hope to be able to dance in beginning with my own choreography on March 17th @ Green Space and ending with Marjani Forte's work at Danspace March 22 - 24. I'm not in the best physical shape and I have an uncertainty about my ability and a hesitancy toward movement. Hopefully in this next month I will make great improvements.
It's been an awesome journey so far and it feels like a lot has happened in a month and nothing at the same time. I found a pretty accurate breakdown of my emotional states which I've put below. My husband can attest that I've been a menagerie of emotions and I just find it interesting that people have logged this and it is kind of "normal."
With serious injuries that are likely to result in a significant period of time out of the sport, athletes will often experience emotional disturbances. Researchers (4) suggest that athletes often follow a five-stage process following injury:
Acceptance and reorganisation.
After the initial shock is over, many athletes tend to play down the significance of the injury. However, as the injury becomes more apparent, shock is often replaced by anger directed internally toward themselves or externally towards other people. The responses can vary in intensity depending on situational and personal factors but can be especially strong in individuals whose self-concept and personal identity are based on being 'an athlete'. The loss of identity due to an inability to perform can cause much distress.
Following anger, the injured athlete might try bargaining/ rationalising to avoid the reality of the situation. A runner may promise herself to train extra hard or to be especially pleasant to those around her if she can recover quickly (5). By confronting reality, and cognitively realising the consequences of the injury, an athlete can become depressed at the uncertainty of the future. It must be noted, however, that depression is not inevitable and has not always been observed during the grief reaction in research studies.
Finally, the athlete moves towards an acceptance of the injury and focus is directed to rehabilitation and a return to sports activity. This stage tends to mark the transition from an emotional to a problem-coping focus as the athlete realises what needs to be done to aid recovery. The timescale for progression through these stages can vary considerably and setbacks during rehabilitation can lead to further emotional disturbance. In cases of very serious injury and ones in which the emotional reactions are prolonged, the skills of a clinical psychologist might be required.
How long can you be patient? One week? Two? Three? A month? Is it relative to what your being patient about? Do small steps alleviate some of the stress of trying to be patient? Is trying to be patient different than actually being patient? Is it possible to actually be patient or are you always in a state of trying to be patient? If your led in multiple directions or given many possibilities, does this allow you to feel like your getting somewhere in turn justifying your continued wait? If your given cookies and juice after waiting 2 hours, does this reward for waiting let you know that those making you wait are aware that you are trying to be patient, are sorry you've been waiting or to raise your blood glucose level and to put you in a better mood?
I suppose this is the origin of the word patient.
patient (ˈpeɪʃənt) - adj
1. enduring trying circumstances with even temper
6. a person who is receiving medical care
Clearly, patience is a virtue. One that I have yet to only try to achieve and not actually be.
You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn't realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don't recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves.
After you go so far away from it, though, you can't really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it's because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they're left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.
That's what I believe.
The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It's not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don't know it's happening until one day you feel you've lost something but you're not sure what it is. It's like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you "sir." It just happens.
These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I'm going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you."
I recently switched from Premiere Pro to Final Cut Pro X. I've been wanting to switch to Final Cut Studio for a while after I switched from PC to Mac but couldn't justify laying down the extra cash on Final Cut Pro Studio when I still had a good Premiere version on my PC. Premiere had really slow transcoding and compression times and since I was already anticipating the issue of not being able to import my old project to FCStudio, not having this capability in FCPX didn't pose a threat. I knew the FCStudio interface was similar to Premiere after seeing a few tutorials so I was excited to have the cheaper option to try out the new software. When I finally had the opportunity to switch over to the new and improved fabulous use-friendly version of Final Cut, I was disappointed to see the interface was more like iMovie than Final Cut 7. I guess you get what you pay for, but I was also surprised that Apple thought this might be a replacement for FCStudio users.
I have switched between a good number of software programs for my design and video work and usually can adapt and find an intuitive way around, but this version is almost so dumbed down that I have to look up the simplest things, or that's what I thought.
When I looked up how to create chapter markers I was very surprised to see that it wasn't even possible. It seems that it is so dumbed down that a lot of things that I'm looking for have actually been deleted. I just had my first update for FCPX and that feature still hasn't been added. Luckily there is an easy way to add them in Compressor (which seems to be a little more intuitive than FCPX), and from experience so far, Compressor is the only reliable way to export your materials from FCPX anyway.
So, for my future use and yours, here is how to create chapter markers in Compressor 4.
1. After creating your project in FCPX, select all your clips in the project and select the menu item "Share" and then "Send to Compressor" in the drop-down menu. Note: Any markers you create in FCPX will not be exported to Compressor.
2. In Compressor you want one batch file window containing your project file and one empty batch file with a drop-down template window on top. If the empty batch file and template window are not open, select "File" from the menu and "New Batch" from the drop-down menu. This will likely open in a tab next to your project file. If this happens, select "DVD" or "Blu-ray disc" from the template menu and right-click on the tab and "Tear off Tab". Then drag your project file into the new batch file with the DVD settings.
3. Open the preview window by selecting the preview button on the batch window or by selecting "Window" from the menu and "Preview" from the drop-down.
4. Find the time code for each chapter marker you want to create in the preview window's scrub bar. Simultaneously open a text editor and enter each time code and chapter name by the time as follows:
00:20:00:02 Chapter 2
Save this file as anything.txt
5. Select the marker tab to the right of the scrub bar in Compressor's preview window and select "Import Chapter List..." and select the text file anything.txt
Note: You should now see the chapters in the scrub bar.
6. Select "Submit" on your batch window. You will see a progress bar open in the history panel and towards the end of the progress Compressor will ask you to insert a DVD.
I took a much needed vacation to visit my family and had the opportunity to visit Kunst-Stoff Arts in San Francisco for the first time for some much needed "GUT motives" Advanced Physical Practice w/ Kathleen Hermesdorf & Albert Mathias. The class was wonderful and juicy with such rich content and powerful energy. It's amazing how Albert and Kathleen can ramp up a space even when there are only about 13 people!
Kunst-Stoff is not in the best part of town and is weirdly above a Burger King (I passed the fry kitchen on the way to class), but like with many dance spaces, once you enter the studio, all else falls away. The feel of class was pumped and hard-core. I found the dancers in the class to have a softer quality than those in NYC, but a really fun and welcoming vibe.
I'm sorry I wasn't able to take more of the classes, but recommend "GUT motives" to anyone visiting the San Fran dance scene.
Other highlights while in CA: We visited Carmel & Monterey Bay, took a 5 mile hike around Elephant & Black Mountain at Hidden Villa, and walked to see over 100 elephant seals in Ano Nuevo.
Come get your first peek of "The Soil Project" this weekend at Studio A.I.R.'s First Saturdays! I'm honored to share this evening with the work of David Aglow, sleepdance and Taj Dance.
"The Soil Project" digs into the friction between fantasy and reality by arranging and documenting healthy, luminous bodies buried in moist, nutritious soil and submerged in water. By combining photo and video techniques akin to crime scene documentation, with visceral, live movement, the work attempts to identify and understand death by disguising life. taraleeburns.com/thesoilproject
When: Saturday, November 5th
8:30pm, doors open at 8pm
What to bring: Tickets at the door
Suggested donation: $5 and/or bring food and drink to the reception
Where: Studio A.I.R.
67 Metropolitan, 4th Floor (Between Wythe and Kent)
(L train to Bedford Avenue)
MAP YOUR ROUTE @ HOPSTOP
It's been a while since my last post. The busy got the best of me. :)
I recently got back from an amazing tour with AM&D featuring "Theater in the Head." Master classes, hotels, wonderful audiences and being constantly surrounded by gorgeous, fulfilling dancing everyday.
It's always a trek getting anywhere. We usually take the train to New Haven and Adele picks us up in a van. First stop, Keene, NH. We met the students there with a movers and shakers master class and there were all levels of dancers, even some guys from the basketball team. Apparently a lot of colleges have their jocks in dance classes. I loved seeing them rise above to take the class...they also literally rose above, they were huge! The class was followed by tech/dress for the rest of the day and beginning early the next day before the show that evening at Redfern Arts Center, what a beautiful space and wonderful crew.
After the show we headed out to Providence, RI and continued on our two day tech/dress schedule toward a show the following day at Rhode Island College. Adele had set a work on the students prior to the performance. Relating with the students that had already connected with Adele was really fun.
Prior to both shows, Adele had us in the lobby talking with the audience. They were always surprised and scared to see us out there, but it made the performance much more fulfilling. Knowing who I was actually performing for was really exciting and I really felt like I was connecting with people.
Now I'm back in New York again. I feel like a yo yo. A little burnt out, a little sad I'm not traveling around and dancing everyday, but happy to be in a place where everything is happening all at once and I can make my own choices. Choosing what to go to, when to sleep, how to take care of myself after a tour where life is all laid out for me...it's the flip side.
Next stop, November 19th at The Taft School in Watertown, CT!
These photos are by Ivan Singer of myself, Diana Deaver and Kellie Ann Lynch at Redfern Arts Center.
For some time I've been working on a branding scheme for my artwork and I need some help.
Should I name my work under a company name such as Burns Dance Media or should I operate under my own name Tara Burns or Tara Lee Burns? I want to hear what you think!
About my work: - athletic, luscious, gestural movements
- small, slow and detailed movements
- video projections spilling throughout the space
- blogging and providing process and details online
- It is my artistic vision, but often collaborative in nature
"The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are."
~ Steven Pressfield's Do the Work
Pressfield talks about an artist's friends and family as forms of Resistance. He speaks of Resistance as what is keeping you from doing your art. This could include self doubt, rejection and/or criticism. He says your family and friends are forms of Resistance because they are not interested in helping you grow, they liked what part they played in your upbringing or how you were when you first became their friend. They question and judge your continued growth because they knew you first and liked you then.
In my excitement from returning from my retreat the other day, I was bombarded with some criticism for looking like I was naked in the mud in these pictures on my blog. I was not COMPLETELY naked by the way. :)
"Oh no, what is Tara doing now? You look naked. These pictures are disturbing. What is this all about?! What is wrong with you?"
The truth is that as artists we share things with people that everyone is feeling or thinking. It might come from a different perspective, but everyone sometimes feels crazy, lost, in conflict with something or someone and performing artists put that on stage, other artists might write or paint these things. Another truth is that non-artists are just plain jealous of our courage as artists for communicating in abstract ways, for living a life that involves retreats, and uncharacteristic schedules, for making other people think in different ways and for (to them) having an exciting life.
Why is what I do so crazy? Why, when I have just found what makes me the happiest, is that when people criticize me the most? What right do they have to tell me that what I am doing is silly or not important? What are you doing that is so important and why is it more important than what I'm doing?
A complete whirlwind, Artward Bound was an amazing experience.
Robin and I prepared for our final showing, went to the farmers market in Eldridge, and prepared for our final party evening following the showing.
In the morning, I re-edited some footage for projections to try in our rehearsal from 2 - 4pm. We made a last minute decision to put up some white sheets to project on so the visuals would show up more. We also decided to try extracting all the material and showing the solos with the projections. I'm very interested in the large body parts on the screen and if they are distracting or if people like seeing that close up. We were happy with the choices we made for the showing and then left it at that. It was nice to be able to have time to run the piece as well as edit footage and set up the space, leave the projector and then come back for the showing.
It was funny to then break for 2-hours before the showing to bake cookies for our shindig that evening. :) Everyone made a potluck dish (all the food was fabulous - never did I dislike eating anything on this trip), I made cookies.
The director of NACL and a couple friends of hers were at the showing as well. It went great, aside from when I jammed my finger during my performance. Everyone was showing bits and pieces of new material. Everyone seemed very surprised that my work had changed a lot from the previous time we showed. I realized two reasons for this were that FCPX (Final Cut Pro X) allowed me to edit and project the footage right away by making it full screen. I did it this way because I was dancing in the piece and didn't have a technician to change between scenes like I usually would in Isadora. If I wanted a blank screen, I added a gap in the footage and Robin and I were in charge of staying with the footage. Also, since we were trying new things and only had so much time in the studio, we didn't have a chance to get attached to certain aspects of the footage, so we made large landmarks and left the rest up to chance. This was a great way to do it, especially in a setting where you are still manipulating the footage so much. However, if I wasn't trying to project the footage encompassing the full space, Isadora would have been necessary.
Our potluck quickly turned into sitting around the fire til 1:30am. We never wanted for something to talk about because we could always fall back to further feedback on someone's piece, discussing and digging into different aspects. I just felt so lucky to be on this retreat and that all the people were so open and easy to get along with.
Travel Day! I got up early so that I would have time to pack and boy did I need it. We had a career session before we left as well. It was an idea party about someone's work and words to describe it as well as names to call the company. It was really fun and I wish I had known more about these peeps work at the beginning of the retreat. Check out some of the video work from one of the artists I was on the retreat with here: http://vimeo.com/23239944
After we cleaned and packed up the cars, we were off to the city. I donated the 400lbs of top soil I didn't use to NACL.
I'm already looking forward to my next retreat. This was so beneficial in so many ways, personally & for my work. I recommend this adventure to anyone wanting an experience with unstructured structure. Don't worry, you won't be bored between cooking, cleaning, career sessions & showings and you will be wanting for more time with your work. It was the perfect amount of time, the perfect group of people and the perfect surroundings. It was exactly what I needed.
We started the day off with another 7:00am rehearsal and I videoed a run of the material. We also investigated our improvisation involving mimicking water ripples in a pool of water and displacing each other physically. We added that we could follow the "wake" of the movement of the other dancer to allow us to travel around the space and be more connected to each other. This means we would watch each other, follow a body part or essence of a movement by following an elbow with our head or turning a portion of your body when the other's whole body turns. Our moments of displacement were much less dramatic, but also more true to the idea we first were trying to achieve.
After rehearsal we headed out to film some close-ups at the state park. On the way, I almost hit a deer and then he stopped to say hi for a little bit. He kept licking his lips and even ate some grass while standing on the side of the road.
We filmed in our favorite place. We've dubbed it 'the tree graveyard' because the ground is covered with fallen decaying trees covered in moss and unstable to the step. In the shoot we focused on grabbing (hands) and climbing (feet) because it was 50 degrees outside and neither one of us thought it was a good idea to be buried in soil or immersed in freezing mountain water. The trickling stream and bright green moss everywhere was very Lord of the Rings. It's so beautiful.
After our shoot in the park we made dinner for ten people. Robin made Vegetarian Chili (which was wonderful) and we had corn bread, brown rice and salad. Four career sessions were smathered around dinner. We discussed Artist Statements, Project Descriptions, Workshop/Residency Proposals and how to talk to your dancers about them needing to step up to the plate, get their asses to rehearsal on time and help you make your work what it should be. All great topics and I learned a lot. At this point my brain is swimming a little bit and it will take me weeks to dig through (no pun intended) the amount of feedback this residency has given me.
Tomorrow's our last full day and then we head back to the city on Sunday.
We are definitely more than half way and wow, whirlwind. My mind is in a blissful place of too much information, being able to do my art everyday and wanting time to process as well as wanting this be how it always is.
Today I worked on editing video to prepare for our afternoon Fieldwork showing. For the showing, I tried to create an amalgamation of situations to help me understand what people's reactions were to different things. It's hard to present something in a way to learn how people perceive something, when you just don't have time to do it fully and your not exactly sure what you are intending in the first place. You would think I would have time, but no, there is a lot going on here between grocery runs, cooking and cleaning for 10 people and scheduling each day as it comes. It's just too much to focus fully. I'm glad I don't have more to focus on! I'm still continuing to get great feedback from the showing, so that is awesome. We had another amazing dinner and a short career session at the end of it discussion combining your art with your personal life.
I feel so blessed to be able to focus/unfocus like this. It's amazing.
I woke up at 6:00am this morning to prepare for our 7:00am rehearsal. Our slot was 7:00 - 9:30am, WHAT?! Is that even possible? I'm surprised Robin is still talking to me with how hard our schedule as been.
Our rehearsal was great though. I was able to get into the space at 6:30am and wrap my sleepy head around our new improvisation. A lot of things are sprouting here at Artward Bound. :) We have now done three specific improvisations relating to water, rocks, dirt and man versus earth. This morning our new improvisation was expelling and displacement. Like magnets we repelled the other, but like a drop of water in a pond we could affect the others movement with a ripple.
After rehearsal we headed to the woods for some digging, burying and some creepy. I buried Robin almost fully to her face in the wooded area behind the house. We learned that I like the contrast between the fresh, moist, black, soil and the brown leaves around it. Something about the circle around the body creates a defined space, a burial site. I like the gardened look of the body and the nutritious/fed feeling and texture when she begins to twitch and move. I also am intrigued and creeped out by the notion that this is much like preparing a dead body. Robin and I have also become more relaxed with placing the soil around. I now am dumping bags of soil on her. Today she said that it made her think, "This is how it must be to be buried." Scary. We were able to get some good shots until the camera battery died...which was disappointing. On to the next!
I spent the good later part of the day writing my artist statement and project description for this project and my website/future proposals/panels. I had my career development session tonight and I let them tear in to me, "Give it to me strong!" That's what I say! It was nice and refreshing to deviate from the Fieldwork model and just hear people's thoughts. Hear their real opinions on the matter and just say things they wanted. It's very different from Fieldwork. Noted.
Before my career session I had a lovely phone-pep-talk from Colleen Keegan of Creative Capital with five other Creative Capitalians. It was our 3-month update call and she said we could schedule another in 5-months, yea! We all spoke of our challenges and successes since the workshop and Colleen spoke wonderful words of wisdom including, "Pulling ideas out of thin air is really hard." I liked that. :) Whenever she says things you just believe her. She is really a great performer actually. She said some other really inspiring things but my book is over on the desk...over there and that's all you get for tonight. So, it's sad, but you will have to live off words for this evening. I have new pictures...but I'm done sharing for today. Maybe tomorrow. :)
Robin and I woke up early and headed to the state park again. We began with a little scouting and planning and decided to first head over and film me lying supine in the rocks and stream but without the fabric. We decided the fabric (pictured below) definitely didn't work and so we wanted to try covering some areas with the rocks...yes those areas and some others. I don't want it to be about the boobs but at the same time I don't want it to seem like we are going out of our way to cover them up. I seem to be very interested in seeing a body lying facing up, as part of nature, very alive looking but also in something of a blank stare. After my freezing experience in mountain water we returned to a new tiered stream to film Robin buried in dirt in a mossy, Lord of the Rings area near the water. This time she wasn't so much cold as feeling the creepy in the dirt.
We were back by 2:30 for our Fieldwork session and I showed some of the footage from Day 2 and some very neat things were said. People were struck by a lot of the things I'm interested in, which is good to know I'm not on planet z with this. It was nice to know there was no sense of death or dying and people found it to be very alive. They saw a great sense of texture, a goddess emerging from the ground or a seedling coming from the earth. Some said it didn't look difficult to reach out of the soil. It was said that zooming into the body didn't provide any new information. Also, that certain elements reminded people of crime scene photos or a CSI episode, which Robin and I had mentioned earlier.
We also saw and gave feedback for 5 other artists. I'm still learning to form my feedback to adhere to the Fieldwork parameters, but that is interesting as well. How to not say anything but what you saw and felt, but without judgement or opinion is difficult and requires re-wording and occasional coaching.
Robin and I watched some footage while capturing it, followed by dinner and a fire with smores!! MMM! :) Another great and full day. We went to be early to be up and ready at 7am and in the studio.
What a great day! Robin and I got up and went to a Multi-use NY State Park in the morning for a good chunck of the day. It's like 10 minutes from the house we are staying in, amazing. It's not a national park so it's more a wild piece of land and we found a lake and waterfall with a beautiful river/brook attached and tried out some ideas involving walking on rocks down the river, laying in the water and letting it move you.
We spent a good chunk of the day filming, videoing and scoping out locations for our next shoot. This time, Robin arranged me laying in the mountain water and I was shivering by the end. Robin walked around the wet rocks and took photos and video of me in the water. Time stopped for me a little. We also scoped out some other places to do some dirt projects.
It's harder for me to look at footage of myself and be objective. I came up with these two images. I'm not sure the sheet we used to cover my parts 'goes' with the rest of the look. We never see Robin's underwear when she is in the dirt and I don't think cloth should be a part of the project but I have mixed feelings about it. What do you think?
After we got back, editing and then into the space for rehearsal. Robin and I worked with integrating some of the ideas of nature into the material we already have specifically thinking about the lower half of your body planted in soil and the upper half submerged in water.
We also began working on an improve involving switching roles between 1) an inanimate object/foundation and 2) a climber/digger. Where the inanimate object/foundation is akin to soil, a tree or a foundation that would shift as soil, a decomposing tree or unsteady ground would shift and could also grow or lengthen. The climber could walk and climb upon this surface and dig underneath it to build it back up again. At our desire we could switch roles and the other would accept the switch and subvert into the opposing role. This was super fun and really exciting. I'm intrigued to hear responses and see how it looks when we get better at switching roles back and forth.
Really exciting and fun day. We did everything I wanted and then a beautiful dinner ended the evening.
We are going to try some other things in the multi-use area today. More later….
"I keep visualizing being buried in soil. Thick, moist, black, nutritious soil. Parts of my body are exposed. Most of my face and some of my neck, parts of my arms and hands, my belly button and some of my stomach, my knee and foot on one leg and my upper thigh and toes on the other. The skin on my face and arms is luminous and alive, my eyes are open and closed. It's a calm image. My chest is breathing, moving the soil above it. My flesh contrasts the dark moist soil. Bright green grass and seedlings are growing through the earth and around my body, in one armpit, beside a knee, through my toes, around one side of my neck. It's a breathing, quiet, resolved and content image. This is my death and my life." ~ Me
Robin and I just finished rehearsal at 11pm. A long day, but a full and productive one. We started at 8am with a warm-up on the porch followed by heading to the woods behind the house for a video/photo shoot. We wheeled eight 40 lbs bags of top soil to the back of the property and then carried them into the spot we selected in the woods for burying. I've had this image in my head for a while and we are going to continue to create photo, video, projections and movement throughout this week that steam directly from this image. The image I have in my mind is an whole image of an alive but buried body as a part of the landscape. Today I was able to experiment capturing (with video and photo) what I've been seeing in my mind.
Robin was buried first; I will get my turn later this week (I'm sure she is looking forward to returning the "favor.") It was a cold morning and when anticipating what it would be like to be buried, we both talked more about trying not to think about the bugs in the dirt or the fact that your not supposed to be buried yet. Alas, it was the temperature that seemed to be the biggest problem. Robin was extremely cold in the moist soil and was shaking uncontrollably about 45 minutes into the 90 minutes she was buried. Although I told her to let me know if she needed to stop, she pushed through and we got some great photos and some beautiful photos. After a hot bath she felt much better about the experience, and was excited to do it again...or so she says.
Seeing this experience come to a visual realization was so satisfying, exciting and what I have been craving since we arrived. Now that we know we are on the right track, I can relax a little...maybe.
After our burial experience, we had a Fieldwork session where I showed the material from what I've been calling "Solo Experience." Robin and I have been working on various forms of this work since January this year. I received amazing feedback that I haven't even been able to fully process yet, but a couple things that resonated with me were: 1) My emotional accessibility was evident yet also perceived by some as a character. In response to that, Robin later asked me, do you want the audience to know your not trying to put on or be a character but truly trying to just be you? The answer is yes, however, if they don't know me, how is that done? 2) Another thing that begs an answer from my psyche, and came across as a consensus among the group, was contrast in tempo, physicality & emotional commitment. At one point I break from almost crying into a sneeze and another time, I'm flogging myself as referred to by one viewer and then stand and walk away with an unrealistic sense of ease after such an arduous act. I like the contrast of these things somehow, that is what this movement language I am creating is about, I just don't know what that means yet.
After Fieldwork I was able to have a little private time to watch the dirt footage and photos. I edited the footage and then helped make dinner for all 10 fellow Artward Bounders.
Robin and I headed to rehearse about 8pm in the studio till 11pm and I was able to see the video I edited huge and beautiful on the black curtain while we worked on material in front of it. We deepened some of the things we worked on yesterday and talked about the layering of the project.
I feel like the project has three layers we've been working with right now.
On a basic level, our personal, internal and unrelenting focus to be in the moment, allow for change and embrace sensation while moving.
Detailed phrasework we have been creating through improvisations encompassing our personal solo expression
The image in the soil and the subsequent improvisations that arise from that.
How these relate just yet, no one knows.
That's as far as my brain will take me tonight. More later...
We arrived yesterday around 3pm at the Highland Lake, NY NACL Retreat Center and immediately commenced in learning the lay of the land with a tour of the grounds including 3-story guest house with a wrap around porch, a wooded area in the back, a theater space right next door and access to swim in the lake. We then picked our rooms out of a hat and had some time to settle before grocery and dinner preparations. Robin and I had a chance to check out the wooded area with beautiful green moss growing on wet rocks and streams, fallen trees and moist wet soil. We then were able to test out the space for a little while before a wonderful dinner, chit chat and bed.
I'm just about to pass out after my first full day of retreating and boy was it full. Robin and I started the day with a 7 - 11am rehearsal. The space has black tin ceilings, beautiful wooden floors, a sound system, lighting, projector and they even provided some sheets for projecting.
Robin and I worked on some concepts I had already begun thinking about when we walked through the woods yesturday.
We created an improved based on the water and rocks in a stream.
Choose one body part to be the initiator and the driving force of the water and the rest of the body forms the rock bed of the stream. After trying this, we were able to create a list of parameters.
Each joint can be an initiator
Rocks don't have to be on the ground, but can be space holders hovering in the air before another initiator takes over
You can stack your rocks
Water can move your rocks
Water can pool
If the water initiator can move a rock, than so be it.
We then created some more movement based on solo improvisations we had videoed in NYC. However, in approaching it differently this time, I decided to learn the solo and try to direct it by feeling it from the inside instead of from the outside. This approach seems more inline with some of the layers we have been playing with as far as embracing and enjoying the sensation of movement inside the body and trying to share that with an audience.
After rehearsal, we ran out to get soil for the next adventure we will have tomorrow morning, more on that later. :) Needless to say, we got lost in our small town but I was pretty excited to get 960 lbs of top soil to play with tomorrow. I'm excited!!
Since we got lost, we were late for our first Fieldwork session which created a little disarray but we got back on track and were able to use the Fieldwork and the Liz Lerman forms of feedback back to back on a fellow participants work. I really enjoyed transforming from one way of feedback (Fieldwork) to another (Liz Lerman). Basically these are both ways to help artists receive feedback that is helpful, yet not judgmental or too opinionated. The big difference between the two forms of feedback seemed to be that the Liz Lerman method creates a dialogue between the artist showing work and those giving feedback and Fieldwork only allows the artist to give clarification but not to explain the work, hence no dialogue.
We have another exciting day tomorrow! More later...
"We are beginning to place enormous emphasis on creativity, but there is a tendency to think that being creative is limited to 'produce' something. I would suggest to you that the basic creativity of the human being consists in his working toward his own fullest development, the realizing of his own potentials, the allowing himself to grow. What we create first is ourselves and it is out of ourselves that the producing comes." ~ Mary Starks Whitehouse, "Creative Expression in Physical Movement is Language without Words"
Adele kept reminding herself of something very similar during her Summer Stages residency, "Don't make anything."
I'm headed out to an Artward Bound retreat tomorrow morning in the Catskills at Highland Lake for 10-days to focus on my own work and I was lucky enough to find the above quote this morning. Instead of freaking out about the product, I'm not going to worry about it, I'm going to be immersed in the process and allow myself to grow. If you let it..."it" will come. :)
I hope to document the residency here. If I can't get online, WHAT!? I'm scared... than I will write about it when I get back.
Excerpts from Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art":
"Most of us define ourselves hierarchically and don't even know it. It's hard not to. School, advertising, the entire materialist culture drills us from birth to define ourselves by others' opinions. Drink this beer, get this job, look this way and everyone will love you. There's a problem with the hierarchical orientation, though. When the numbers get too big, the thing breaks down. A pecking order can hold only so many chickens. In Massapequa High, you can find your place. Move to Manhattan and the trick no longer works. New York City is too big to function as a hierarchy. So is IBM. So is Michigan State. The individual in multitudes this vast feels overwhelmed, anonymous. He is submerged in the mass. He's lost.
We humans seem to have been wired by our evolutionary past to function most comfortably in a tribe of twenty to, say, eight hundred. We can push it maybe to a few thousand, even to five figures. But at some point it maxes out. Our brains can't file that many faces. We thrash around, flashing our badges of status (Hey, how do you like my Lincoln Navigator?) and wondering why nobody gives a shit.
We have entered Mass Society. The hierarchy is too big. It doesn't work anymore.
For the artist to define himself hierarchically is fatal.
An individual who defines himself by this place in a pecking order will:
1) Compete against all others in the order, seeking to elevate his station by advancing against those above him, while defending his place against those beneath.
2) Evaluate his happiness/success/achievement by his rank within the hierarchy, feeling most satisfied when he's high and most miserable when he's low.
3) Act toward others based upon their rank in the hierarchy, to the exclusion of all other factors.
4) Evaluate his every move solely by the effect it produces on others. He will act for others, dress for others, speak for others, think for others.
But the artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don't believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life.
The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.
To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution."
Adele Myers and Dancers has been teaching a residency at Greenwich Academy every summer for 8 years now and last week two other AM&D company members and I had a blast doing just that. Adele was busy hosting another residency at Rhode Island College the same week, so we took the reigns teaching and setting a piece the 14 students.
Each day, we taught class and then repertory. By the end of the residency the students had a 15-minute version of Adele Myers and Dancers "This Dance Is What You See" to perform for parents and friends. Each day was filled with new challenges, but the classes and workshops went by fast and seamless.
"This Dance Is What You See" allows the students to create their own set of three gestures by focusing on their personal actions, gestures and postures. For example, one would fixed her hair, stand with her hand on her hip and then twist her earring. It was mentioned that this was the perfect piece for high school students because they were allowed to fix their clothing and hair right on stage, something they usually aren't allowed.
We were able to speak on Adele's ideas of presence and get the students to be themselves onstage and look at the audience while highlighting the athletic technique of the company. It was a really fun week.
On a separate note: The other AM&D company members and I talked about how weird it was to do the same thing everyday. It was very soothing, yet odd, to get up to take the train to Greenwich, then teach and return around 6:30pm. It was like a real 9 - 5pm job...so weird. Not sure I would like that. Who knows? :)
As AM&D begins to embark on more and more touring and residency opportunities I am noticing all sorts of exciting and wonderful change happening in the company. The company, after our premiere performance of "Theater in the Head" at Vermont Performance Lab and recently loosing our beautiful male dancer to the life of a doctor, is closer than ever.
After taking a break, and then working almost one on one with Adele at Summer Stages/Concord on her new project and then just recently getting back together for a whirlwind of rehearsals in both NYC and New Haven, CT to hash out our fall tour (see AM&D's calendar for dates). I've realized that "Theater in the Head's" two year process dealing with the presence and vulnerability of performing resulted in a genuine human piece of art, that brought this company closer than it's ever been before.
Every rehearsal thrills, humbles, challenges and nurtures every part of my being. Well, sometimes my physical isn't *nurtured* per say. :) My thresholds are met and exceeded. I love watching the women of this company and thinking, "I hope I'm good enough to dance next to that." and then turning around to have them say the same thing back to me.
I think the most exciting and wonderful part about being in the company is the trust. The trust between each performer, the trust between the choreographer and the dancers and the dancer's trust in the choreographer's vision and ability to see it through.
"Unlike most other cultural productions, dance relies on the physical body to enact its own representation. But at the very moment the dancing body is creating a representation, it is also in the process of actually forming that body. Put more simply, dancing bodies simultaneously produce and are produced by their own dancing. This double moment of dancing in front of an audience is one in which the dancer negotiates between objectivity and subjectivity--between seeing and being seen, experiencing and being experienced, moving and being moved--this creating an interesting shift of representational codes that pushes us to rethink the experience of the body within performance."
~ Ann Cooper Albright's Choreographing Difference The Body and Identity in Contemporary Dance
"All you do is click on the video and use the spacebar to submit your vote, it will automatically populate [a visible bar graph on the video]. This allows a viewer to quickly assess the most intriguing segments of the video and quickly jump to those sections by clicking on the bar graph."
I'm excited to implement ZURB's new video voting system in HTML5. I think this might be a great application for blogging creative process and choreography. I'm interested to find out if allowing people to vote on their favorite part of a dance phrase, sequence or work sample would help foster audience investment as well as finding out which section or image of the work impacts the audience majority. I've only briefly begun playing with it, but so far it is very intriguing.
I just returned from Summer Stages Dance Festival in Concord, MA and what a beautiful place! I was fortunate enough to spend the whole week with Adele Myers and one other company member. We had the luxury of rehearsing for 8 hours a day among historic sites where Paul Revere rode and digging even deeper with conversations over wine amidst big band music at the Colonial Inn.
Our rehearsals dug into Adele's newest work exploring various forms of momentum, line and forms of falling. We really took the time to investigate each sequence of movements and see how long we could fall. Adele talks more about it here.
We also spent time with Adele's 11-student cast. The cast performed a version of Adele's "This Dance Is What You See" at the ICA in Boston last Saturday. By the end of the 3 weeks, Adele's interest in presence and being ones self in front of an audience really shined in the students she worked with and it was amazing to watch them bloom, even in the week I was there.
We also were able to meet and take class with Dan Wagoner (a former company member of Graham, Cunningham and Taylor and artistic director of Dan Wagoner and Dancers for 25 years). It was so encouraging to hear him speak about dance so passionately and also to watch him teach with such fervor and grace when coming up to his 80th birthday. We also received feedback from Dan Wagoner, Richard Colton and choreographic fellow Tennille Lambert while I was there.
It was a wonderful week and I'm so fortunate to go on these retreats to explore movement with so many different and inspiring people.
I found out the other day that Rosemary Fletcher died on July 13th. I know her from Jacksonville's Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and I just wanted to share my most vivid memory of her. I remember going to perform at her school in college and she walked out and gave me a huge hug. I didn't know her at the time, but she was so excited to have us there and welcome us to the school. It was the most warm welcome I have ever received. She was the most vibrant woman with a glow of energy around her and a hop in her step. I know a few dancers that came from her hard work and love and she will be missed.
You can read a wonderful tribute to her here. The obituary also lists where you can donate in her name.
As a performing arts school, Studio 19 offers everything from ballet to voice lessons, but with director Maria Errico's Graham background, her Contemporary Youth Company is the goal of a lot of higher level students in the school. The dancers (all high school ages) really embraced my quirky, improvisational, "freaky" contemporary style. :) I really enjoyed their effort and eagerness to learn something new.
We had three days of class and repertory focusing on their personal love of dance, ideas of performance and stretching the elastic body. We worked on improvisational ideas involving statues or poses. I asked them to improvise by moving through poses or statues. This resulted in detailed shapes that turned into movement and by the end of the three days they were creating interesting and uninhibited improvisations inside and around the set material they learned.
Each day I taught new segments from "The Making of Statues" and they embraced it like goddesses. The residency culminated in a 20-minute showing for the parents. They were very fast learners and were ready and waiting to catch whatever I threw at them.
A big applause to the dancers at Studio 19 and a thank you to Maria Errico for her fabulous support!
Rehearsal Recap: Negotiating the Body, June 21 w/ Robin
July | 03 | 2011
During this rehearsal, Robin and I dug into our new project (Solo Experience) playing with improvisations and negotiating the body through imagery.
We focused on improvisational research. The idea for the three-hour rehearsal was to roll through a series of improvisations focusing on different parts of the body and specific imagery to make them move in different ways. Keeping our eyes closed the whole time to really focus in on the imagery and body, we took the first hour to warm up our bodies and minds to the ideas. Then after reflecting on those ideas and how our bodies responded, we began another hour of improvisation playing with the ideas of "trance-dance" or "meditative-dance" (which is what we are thinking of calling these improvisations).
Some of the imagery we used during our improvisations included:
- Bubbles or Helium Balloons in the joints. We found that visualizing bubbles in the jaw and eye sockets especially, released the brain from analytical thinking and helped us to stop judging ourselves and really focus on the visceral experience of the movement.
- Scrunching and Reaching. Creating muscle tension and compact-ness in a specific area and then expanding that area as if blowing up a balloon or stretching a piece of elastic. Building from fingers to wrists to elbows to shoulders etc. allowed a step by step visualization that helped combine all the elements in the end.
- Peanut Butter from the Heart. By putting our hands on our sternum, solar-plexis or heart area where our emotions stem from, we visualized digging out a viscous substance (such as peanut butter) from this area and then smeared it on our bones. Beginning with literally smearing with the hands on the surface of the skin and visualizing your bones and how the 'peanut butter' or other fluid would feel on the bones and continuing this visualization to smear your movement and stretch your bones to create movement when you no longer need your hands.
I am aiming to find an improvisation that stems from a meditative state, but that also draws from our dance technique. I am not interested in letting the technique, physicality, or knowledge of the body go at all to achieve this, but am interested in a way to find an improvisation that stems from our emotions and a soft calm brain-state.
It had been a while since I was able to get into the studio by myself. During this rehearsal I created a new phrase for a section of The Making of Statues revisited. I plan on recreating TMOS, deleting/changing everything and really digging into everything. My work on Robin's solo is almost complete and as I've written we have begun work on my new project together. My ideas of presence and subtle improvisation are beginning to filter into the TMOS a little more to keep it alive and I have yet to find a couple more dancers to build and recreate the new sections. I'm pretty excited about this.
I spent the majority of rehearsal listening to the soundtrack from The Making of Statues and working on a segment of the battle section. It is unison, dynamic and warrior-like. I'm pretty excited about the phrase and taught it in my classes last week. Through teaching, I was able to refine and clarify the phrase a lot.
Check out this TED Talk on the use of projection and theater!
Natasha emphasizes the importance of theater for the sake of community, invention and relief. There are so many reasons art exists. She lists about 20 just in this video. Through her own work, she explains what every artist wants to do...touch the audience, change their way of thought or take them away from the everyday grind or the unrelenting war and let them be immersed in something else. Something social, something magical and something important and tangible.
Request to oppose HR 1891 because it seeks to terminate the critical federal support directed to arts education
June | 16 | 2011
"On May 25, 2011 the House Education & Workforce Committee, by a vote of 23-16, approved HR 1891, legislation that terminates 42 federal education programs, including the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education. This bill is more serious than the annual funding measures that threaten to de-fund arts education, as HR 1891 permanently strips policy language out of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that allows the Arts in Education program to be funded each year." ~ American's for the Arts
I urge you to contact your Member of Congress to oppose this legislation! You can do so very quickly and easily by going to the American's for the Arts website and filling out a letter they will send directly to your congressman with bullet points, header and footer. Add your own story and send it along, it takes 2 mins.
A couple weekends ago I was honored and humbled by the participants and leaders of the 3-day Creative Capital Professional Development Retreat I attended. The weekend, sponsored by The Field, was filled with Strategic Planning, Marketing, Internet, Video and anything you could think of talking about in relation to promoting, funding and achieving your personal and artistic goals. Twenty-four directors, choreographers, actors, dancers, composers, musicians, poets and more piled together in a room to discuss how to fund and create a sustainable income for their art. Lead by Jackie Battenfield, Daniel Alexander Jones, Colleen Keegan, Aaron Landsman and Richard Move, the workshop allowed us to write, talk, network and most of all empower us to achieve our goals.
The team gives you both a book of tools as well as workbook to create your strategic plan. They follow up with you in 3-months to see how it is coming along. The whole thing is scary and wonderful at the same time. Everyone was so grateful and generous and now we are all trying to keep in touch and keep the community going. It's such an invaluable resource!
For me, the workshop was an opportunity to celebrate being an artist. I felt empowered. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity and recommend it!
"Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur's indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be--and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway."~ Steven Pressfield's "Do the Work"
Remember when my dad said I needed to be more arrogant? Steven thinks so too. Brilliant men think alike. :)
I just finished reading both Pressfield's books, "The War of Art" and it's sequel, "Do the Work." What makes these two books so satisfying is that you complete them in five seconds, so you feel very productive while being reminded that you are not alone in your quest for ____.
The books can be applied to any creative genius1 from starting a business to creating a work of art. Steven affirms that you are doing the right thing in creating your art. Of course you knew this already, that's why you are doing it. But it's nice when someone tells you, "you have to do this, this is what you are here for," when your struggle involves what feels like climbing an never ending mountain. It's also just a comfort reading that others feel the same way you do. The books are guides, all be it vague, of how to push through the hard times and fight the dragon Steven calls Resistance, although I decided I'm the dragon in that scenario...better odds. And shaa, dragon!?
Filled with motivational quips and quotes, the primary focus of the books are to notice and battle these forces of Resistance, namely, our self-doubt, fear, procrastination, self-sabotage, societal conformism, and those people that don't want you to change or get hurt by your hard choices. Steven says we have to "free ourselves from the tyranny of consumer culture," and get crazy, "the crazier the better." Is that why artists are so "weird"!?2
I recommend both books. They are short, inspirational and great especially for anyone wavering in their passion or feeling a little less confident today than yesterday. Because sometimes we do.
I think I might start each post from now on with little gems I found in these books. I like the idea of inspirational quotes slathered all over my site so I will remember them.
Here is one last diamond for today:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fee, our presence automatically liberates others."~ Marianne Williamson
1. "Genius is a Latin word; the Romans used it to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. A writer writes with his genius; an artists paints with hers; everyone who creates operates from this sacramental center." ~Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art" ↑
"Kinetic Truth" is something Alexandra Beller said in class last Saturday. She was referring to completing only the physical action and not commenting on or over elaborating a movement in a way that you think you should react. I immediately stole this phrase from her mouth and put it in my pocket. Perhaps that is what "Conversations with Yourself or Solo Experience" is all about? Not applying the theory to an already created movement, but building movements from those kinetic truths.
We began rehearsal warming up with quiet improvisations based on my usual class but focusing on allowing the spaces in the joints to grow those "water snake" toys (pictured left) and evenutally allowing imagery and the thoughts to arise in the mind as well. We ended warm-up by finding a still place and listening for a "Kinetic Truth" to arise, only moving when the physical body wanted to and almost meditating, allowing the imagery, judgment and thoughts to come into and leave the mind.
After noticing these thoughts for a while, we could grab onto a thought and allow that thought to initiate movement. We could then amplify this movement or stay with the "kinetic truth." Continuing to allow judgment to fall away. We kept adding things that could affect our movement including sounds (music, outside the windows, from the next room), smells (we kept smelling someone making dinner), thoughts without images and visual imagery. We thought of the textures of these things and how that can affect the movement. We also introduced what we now call "vomiting" and "switching bubbles" to the possibilities of stimuli that movement could be drawn from. Vomiting is shutting off the brain and moving fast, running rampant with whatever movements come out of you and vomiting movement from your physical person. We found that while trying to "vomit," if you move too slowly, your brain interferes. Switching bubbles was from the "water snakes" we had placed in our joints. We found that throughout all of these improvisations we kept falling back to finding "water snakes" in our joints, so we allowed this to be a part of the improve. How does the body react when you switch one joint's "water snake' with another joints. I just like saying "water snake" in my philosophical rant here. :)
This rehearsal was a lot easier for me than my solo rehearsal. Of course, Robin was doing the heavy lifting and I was just facilitating the mind seeds to make one crazy. Right before rehearsal I had just gotten to the point in Steven Pressfield's new book, "Do the Work" that said, "and then you hit the wall." So, maybe I've just hit a little motivation/confidence wall, I'm sure I will hit many more and different walls as I continue. :) More on Pressfield's two books ("The War of Art" and "Do the Work") later.
After coming back from vacation with my two showings in Florida, this rehearsal was really...different. Motivating myself to create something new was really hard. I think partly because I just got back from vacation and partly because after writing multiple applications for different residencies with the same project going in slightly different directions, I'm confused as to which direction I want to go.
But...I did the work. I rehearsed the material I have been working with and logged some imagery in the notebook. Feathers falling on my face while I'm looking up and blowing them up and down was one of them and laying on a sheet of ice starring at a chilly clear blue sky was another.
I recorded some improvisations to begin to put together some new material. I kept improvising and stopping and starring at the ceiling. My inspiration that I felt before break has waned a little and I'm confused about where it went. Hopefully I will find it again during AM&D's tour beginning this weekend. :)
Ever since they opened on 7th and 9th Ave in Park Slope, Crespella has had a clear design vision. Starting as simple, clean and minimal in quantity the design elements keep growing, layering clean sharp modern edges with an old-time coffee shop feel. Their very simple website gives you a feel of the clean and clear layout, type and design choices of the whole shop. Not only is the design of the store (sign, counters, menu, etc.) well thought out, but the food is wonderful. They feature Stumptown coffee/espresso drinks, pastries and cookies, and a large selection of savory and sweet crepes filled with Italian yummies such as Mascarpone and Chestnut Honey or Ricotta, Spinach & Mushroom. Yum! Kudos to the designers and the chefs. :)
I just got back from Florida after spending nine days in the sun. We spent everyday at one pool or another and ended at the beach, it was wonderful.
While in Florida, I also did a dance workshop with the 1st grade at Triangle Elementary and a master class at my old studio in Eustis.
Set up in the school lunchroom at Triangle Elementary in Mt. Dora, 135 kids sat and watched while I demonstrated ballet, jazz and modern improvisation. They oo-ed and ahh-ed every time I did a split or a handstand; I was amazed the boys seemed way more into it than the girls.
The kids were giddy when they found out it was time for them to get up and dance. In 3 groups of 45 kids, I taught a short phrase and then told them to "Do their own dance!" It took them a little while to figure out what improvisation was, but they finally let loose and showed us their moves. They were awesome!
I finished the workshop with a solo performance of excerpts from "Conversations with Yourself or Solo Experience." I used this as an opportunity to experiment with deviating from the set choreography into improvisational chunks and then arriving back into the set materiel. I, of course, took out any inappropriate gestures. This also gave me the opportunity to add a few more tricks for the kids to oo and ahh over. :)
The kids were such a loving and non-judgmental crowd; this was a great environment to experiment with receiving stimuli from the audience to affect and alter my physical state resulting in improvisational tangents within the choreography. We ended with a question/answer. Most of the questions were, "How do you do a handstand?" or "I liked your dance" and "What's your favorite color?" I also used Adele's technique of asking them if they would title the work I performed for them and the kids came up with titles, "Superstar Dancer" and "The Best Dancer in the World." Umm, can I just perform for 6 year olds all the time? :)
Following this workshop, I taught a master class at my high school dance studio in downtown Eustis, Studio 19. Owned by Maria Errico, Studio 19 is one of the only studios in the area that teaches modern dance, specifically Graham. I owe this studio and Maria a lot, after all she introduced me to modern dance. The students here are wonderful. I taught segments of my normal class and they caught on quickly. We did a little show and tell where they showed me the awesome Graham pieces they are working on and then I did some "Conversations with Yourself or Solo Experience" for them. I was told of my solo, "That's the first time I've ever cried watching dance." and "That's the first time I didn't get a specific theme from your work, but I was so emotionally invested. Were you sick? Did you loose someone?" They said I pulled their heart strings, but these comments make me think I need to add a little more levity into the performance of the solo, so I'm not specifically riding one emotion but many.
What a rich vacation! :)
Photos: The drawings above are from Triangle Elementary's first grade students. Each class drew pictures and wrote letters to me. That's 135 letters. I've got my work cut out for me!
Orange Grove Dance, comprised of choreographer's Matthew Reeves and Colette Krogol, is producing it's first evening length event with grand aplomb in Park Slope's The Green Building. The 1400 sq. ft. old brass foundry will barely contain OGD's version of Romeo and Juliet, "Verona." With alumni collaborators from various years at The University of Florida, the design crew as well as OGD's artistic directors are from the Gator swamp.
Krogol and Reeves, co-artistic directors of OGD, are recently married and live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Colette dances for Dendy dancetheater and, with Matthew, Neta Pulvermacher Dance Company. Matthew has also danced for danceTactics Performance Group and Diavolo Dance Theater. An original sound environment was composed for "Verona" by Dylan Glatthorn who is currently receiving a Masters from NYU in Film Scoring. Joe Stribling, also from NYU's film program, and Matt Wharton, Company Manager and Technical Director for Vital Theater, have collaborated with Matt and Colette to create the visuals projected on the The Green Building's massive brick walls.
This event is not just a gorgeous display of dancing by Matthew and Colette, but a party, an installation, a love story and a test of physicality. It's a pretty epic event that you won't want to miss. The dancers throw themselves at each other while thwarting platforms, water, a cement floor and each other in an environment of shear auditory and visual stimulation. The Green Building's raw brick walls, exposed beam ceiling, sweeping drapery and chandeliers have the perfect urban charm for the athletic, romantic and rough movement. Attendee's can expect hors d'oeuvres and wine with their ticket purchase and will be directed to the speakeasy lounge prior to and after the performance.
I recently applied for and was accepted to attend the Creative Capital's Professional Development Program Weekend Workshop through The Field. The retreat is three days and involves presentations by the 24 participants and sessions in strategic planning, business plan fundamentals, promoting your work, funding your work, web, blog and email essentials, social networking, grants and proposals, artist statements, time management skills, expanding your audience through targeted marketing, writing and talking, art business management, budgeting and financial planning and individual consultations.
I'm excited to participate and meet others in the field (including theater, music, etc.).
The application encompassed the usual including an artist statement, proof of professional track record and answering several questions about why the workshop would be good for you at this time in your career.
In addition, we were given the opportunity to opt-in to adjudicate fellow applications through a peer panel. We didn't really make the final decision on who would be in the workshop, but we did get a chance to read 13 other applications (not our own), score them on clarity and the fulfillment of criteria with a 0, 1 or 2 (0 being least clear, 2 being most clear) and then meet with six others to discuss the applications (everyone in my panel read the same 13 applications), the scores you gave them and hear all the different opinions and responses.
There were two really interesting things about being a peer panelist.
1) By reading others applications, I felt like I really understood what was clear, unclear and who stayed on topic. I began to realize how important following the directions on format became when reading so many applications, including using an easy to read font and including the questions asked in the application, etc.
2) During the peer panel, finding out that others give a 0 to the application I gave a 2 and then hearing the differences in opinion and how subjective even clarity can be.
The whole thing was a really helpful process, clarifying certain aspects of writing an application and showing how hard it is to be on a panel. I totally recommend being on a peer adjudicated panel to anyone who is applying for grants or presentational applications.
As you can see, I just implemented a new color scheme of the site. I thought it was a little drab and needed a little more color. So, BAM! I like red. :) Let me know what you think.
I started with a little inspiration by using CSS Evolve, it's pretty fun to play with, especially if you have a stylesheet that makes it easy to change the colors out. This fun little tool is one in my designer's toolbox, so I thought I would list my frequently used design tools below.
WhatFont "Easily get font information about the text you are hovering on."
Color Hunter Paste an image URL and it returns a color palette for that image.
GridBox A Firefox plugin that overlays vertical and horizontal rulers you can pull and arrange guides like in Photoshop.
CSS Evolve A fun way to reinvent your website or color scheme.
We had an amazing breakthrough this rehearsal. After one run, I began to give Robin the tasks I have been developing in my solo rehearsals. We began with only her noticing the joints in her body in addition to watching and allowing outside stimuli to affect her while performing her solo. In this piece, there are projections of exploding stars on the floor and back wall, so the stimuli is multiple and difficult. Like I mentioned before, it feels like your concentrating on pulling strings between your internal and external consciousness. Phew, that was deep. But it does, your brain needs time to process/multi-task because while you are doing this, you are also doing the set choreography. We built up to amplifying the joint movements, allowing weight shifts to happen because of these amplifications and embracing what happens because of the ripple of changes and by the end of the rehearsal Robin's performance had totally transformed. The choreography was the same. Intention changed, ownership changed hands from mine to hers and she bloomed into a new beautiful, confident goddess, investigating, amplifying and embracing subtle spontaneous improvisations. At that point, my notes were just, "Holy F#$!" and "YES!" all down my notebook.
I was so into the movement and projections the live-feed seemed like too much. I didn't even turn it on and half way through was like, oh yah, I didn't do that. But it didn't need it.
I did imagine at one point the moon turns into a mirror however. But that would require a camera facing Robin from upstage, because at that moment she is facing upstage. New thoughts, details and exciting breakthroughs.
Putting all these subtle explorations on another person really made me feel like I was onto something. That all of these investigations weren't just in my mind. The next step is letting go of performance expectations and instead enjoying the experience. On to the next!
I began to experiment with the first of three phases in building a work developed genuinely from movement. I discussed this idea more in depth during my last solo rehearsal post.
During my last rehearsal on 4/1, I videoed an improvisation where I followed these rules:
a) combining gestures and facial expressions with more physical movements
b) noticing and embracing the subtle shifts needed to complete the movements
After watching the video there were three sections of the improve that intrigued me in detail and isolation of multiple joints simultaneously, so during this rehearsal I learned those sections and attached them to the beginning of the material I have generated so far. In learning, I noticed that my improves are much more detailed than the material I created from words or emotions.
So, I also began to experiment with amplifying the subtle shifts in my joints, allowing subtle and spontaneous articulations and events within the set material. This is a hard brain tease and I will work more with it this week.
Note to Mom: There are 3 pictures of me on this post Mom, even the sparkle belly, that's my belly. :)
The reason I wanted to post about this is because Adele shares what we've been working on in AM&D since we began her newest work "Theater in the Head"...in 2008. I'm positive that her idea's of human beings in performance is what is spawning my whole performative exploration. But mostly, her trust in my performance as well as her allowing us to take risks and make mistakes has really allowed me to enjoy my dancing, instead of being afraid of it...finally.
AM&D has a residency at Vermont Performance Lab through the premiere of "Theater in the Head" in July. It's been so amazing to work on the aspect of performance for this long. I think I am just beginning to figure out how I perform.
I'd also like to add that we added some new footage to the adelemyersanddancers.com repertory page. Check out Theater in the Head's here.
My favorite is the second video, which is an awesome video (edited by Emmanuelle Pickett) of the company performing excerpts of "Theater in the Head" at Artspace in New Haven, CT. (Yes Mom, I'm in that one...I know Mom, not that much. And just so you don't get your hopes up, I'm not in the first one at all.) But it's pretty gorgumous too; the stars of Act 2 are absolutely beautiful. Not as beautiful as me, I know Mom. :) I love you Mom! :)
Last week I spent 6 hours in rehearsal on my solo. When warming myself up, I've begun talking through my class out loud, this has allowed me time to get my words in order to describe the class as well as really understand what I need to be ready to do my movement.
I applied for two more residencies this week. This really allowed me to get my written words in order and articulate verbally what I'm interested in experimenting in as well as where it might lead. In addition, I noticed that clarifying things in writing allowed me to also clarify what I am trying to achieve physically.
I've been exploring the improvisation or possibly zooming in to the articulation of joints as you execute movements. I was reminded yesterday of Steve Paxton's standing "small dance." I think this is a similar concept but instead of noticing the small dance that happens when standing, noticing the small dance that happens underneath the large dance. I am really interested in embracing these articulations and making this process visible by experimenting with magnifying the articulations so they are large enough to see. Embracing seems to be the key word lately. Instead of challenging my habits, I'm embracing them. Instead of being hard on myself for not executing the exact move (this is a hard one), finding a "small dance" improvisation out of the "problem" and possibly creating an even more interesting or physically extraordinary outcome.
For the past year, Adele has begun to encourage us to watch and take in the outside stimuli we see in rehearsals and performance and embrace the effects it has on our movement. She is very interested in seeing people, us being ourselves and this is how we are achieving that. After experimenting with this for a year, my performance and confidence has improved by just embracing what happens in the moment. I'm interested in going even further by executing set choreography and embracing all the outside stimuli and then going even further to recognize those small joint articulations and possibly magnify them to create a different quality and aesthetic outcome. I think it is a balance, like a string pulling your consciousness and concentration in different directions. You have to execute 'x' move, while receiving stimuli visually/auditorally and zoom into these articulations. But this isn't a piece, this is just a physical exploration.
So, in order to make a work combining these explorations with additional visual and thematic stimuli (music, projections, etc.). Perhaps these "conversations with myself" are what make me visualize the projections. I often see memories and flashes of images when I dance. Can I log these visuals and use them to create the projections. If an audience is present, do I still see images? Can a musician work with me in the same way to create music from this set dance score and then find those same subtle articulations within the movement. Can I make a work that genuinely blooms out of the dance, the need to communicate physically? We will see. :)
I taught on Wednesday at DNA, which was really fabulous!! I'm teaching again in April!! Check it out! :)
Class: I'm generally very grounded, it takes a fork lift or other heavy machinery to get me off the floor, so I'm embracing that and beginning the class with breathing through the body into the floor. I am also interested in shifting the bones of the joints, beginning with the ankles, then knees, then hips while pressing them into the floor to get them ready to move. During this class we used a "foot improve" to warm up the feet before continuing into some distal yoga-based stretches while investigating splaying open and closing the rib cage as well as floor head-tail stretches and folding and "smushing" the joints toward the floor. Plies dug into the the hip as well, really rotating and "smushing" in the joints followed by an adagio across the floor, which was incorporated into the phrase at the end. The phrase was taken from the solo I've been working on, "Conversations with Yourself or Solo Expression," and it was so beautiful to see the class experiment with the material in different ways. I'm really happy with the structure and a lot of the material and will be building on this when I come back to teaching in April, see you there! :)
You would think NYC would be on the up of the up of technology, but in a lot of ways the city has to function a little slower, but none more than the subway. Since it is underground there is no wifi, 4G or any other form of phone or internet down under.
I spend a great deal of my time trying to figure out why my various forms of technology are not updating my information for offline viewing on the subway.
My RSS feeds (I use the Pulse app for Android on a MyTouch 4G) are constantly not updating and when I notice they didn't update I'm already on the train so I wouldn't be able to refresh them if I tried. Furthermore, I only subscribe to feeds that show the whole article because I can't click on "more" on the subway to read the rest of the article. Dear Bloggers, please allow your whole post to be viewable by subscription. I read all my feeds on the subway, and I'm walking everywhere else, so I decide whether to add a feed for subscription based on whether I can read the whole article offline or not.
This morning I added about 7 articles to "Read Later" on Instapaper and my kindle still hasn't updated. I have a kindle with wifi support only because there is just no where for me to be able to download information on the go with my kindle.
Just a little rant, make your full posts available by subscription and someone please help me figure out how to use my new kindle. :)
Last year I got a projector, this year I got somewhere to put it.
I LOVE my new projector "case." When going to rehearsals I usually schlep a ridiculous amount of technology. My minimum usually includes a projector, laptop, dv camera, tripod and all the required cords such as VGA, firewire, power, an extension cord, etc.
This backpack not only has padding everywhere but all the sections in the main compartment are detachable so I am able to fit my projector snugly at the bottom of the bag, above the hard plastic water-resistant base, and arrange the Velcro padding above to house my dv camera. Other bits, tapes & cords can be put in the various pockets (also padded). It has a separate compartment for my 15' Mac Book Pro at the back. It has a handle on the top for easy luggage-like carrying and three straps on the side for my tripod.
So far my only gripes is that the straps for my tripod just barely fit around the tripod, but they do, so I'm not too sad about that.
I was debating on getting a bag that I could wheel around the city, but in some cases in Brooklyn (including where I have been rehearsing lately) the roads/sidewalks disappear or are so bad that you couldn't really wheel anything around. So I would have to carry the bag sometimes and then the wheels and handle would just add weight. Also, at the time I bought it, snow covered half of the sidewalks, so wheeling anything was out of the question.
After about a 10 - 15 minute walk with the pack, the muscles between my scapula start to burn, but I'm hoping in time that I'll just build up some killer back muscles and then I can hike a mountain or something with a seriously heavy pack. :)
My goal for our rehearsal yesterday was to accomplish the following:
- To try out the new costumes I found:
1) The light pink silk dress I wore for the 60secondsdance.dk video
2) A light blue heavy raw silk (very) vintage floor length dress with beautiful silver beading on the collar and waist.
Robin looks great in both costumes. I love the blue one, but we didn't have time to check out how the projections showed on the fabric because she wasn't able to move in it yet, it needs some altering. So, I'm excited to see how that looks eventually. Instead we used the pink silk one because it was ready for moving and the projections look GREAT on this beautiful fabric. The dress also really fits the Billy Holiday song I have been playing during the moon section.
- To test out the new installation patch I created for the La Mama's "Mediated Media" Gallery Exhibit modified to fit the solo.
The patch for La Mama's gallery is a movement-based interactive installation using live-feed and motion-sensing to allow participants to create ghost-like outlines inside a projected sphere amongst the stars. The installation was originally based on Robin's solo so (after submitting the installation for review) I decided to insert it into her solo. Now, when she moves sharp or fast enough for the sensor to pick it up, a white outline of her body appears in the moon. During the rehearsal, I followed her with a camera connected to the computer. As her shadow explored the inside of the moon, so did a live closeup outline of her body.
- To complete several runs of the solo in costume for feedback culminating in a final video for submissions for various projects.
Although we were successful, I realized I needed MORE technology. I brought a small digital camera to film the entire project and although it came out OK, I was unable to get a second video because I didn't have enough space on the card. I was using my other camera for the live-feed so I couldn't film with my DV camera. And the digital camera didn't have a fire-wire input so I couldn't reverse their roles. Meanwhile, I was clicking through projected scenes in Isadora AND trying to follow Robin's face, hands and upper torso around the space with the live-feed camera AND trying to watch the outcome all at the same time. So, I think a small camera like a flip would be a great addition to the project. Can you connect a fire-wire to a flip? This way I can continue to use my DV camera to video the piece. I guess I also need another set of hands attached to a brain. Anyone interested? :)
I recently submitted a 60 Second Dance Film to Dansens Dage for their 60Secondsdance Competition. We'll see how it turns out in the end, so far they have 120 applicants and the first place winner gets €1500 and the runner up receives €500. All the applicants have to follow very specific rules including adhering to exactly 60 seconds as well as following a general theme of "place" or "sted."
Check out my video:
The film is titled, "Conversations with Yourself" because all the movement is derived from the solo I am currently working on with the same title. The additional footage of tree branches and sunlight, although taken for the purpose of this competition, adhere to the ideas of the gleaming, over exposed and sun-strewn projections I envision for the final performance solo work as well.
I'm currently working on a dance film to apply to Dansen Dage's 60 Second competition as well as an installation for Culture Hub's Mediated Motion exhibit at La Mama's Gallery. Who know's if I will get either of these, but both are really great ways for me to expand on some of the dance projects I am already working on with film and installation.
For the 60 Second competition, you have to create a 60 second dance film in a limited amount of time about 'place' or 'sted.' Being that the application is due tomorrow, my limit was about a week and a half. So, I took to the studio with my newest costume piece (a light pink silk dress) to film the solo I've been working on ("Conversations with Yourself") and am now editing them into a film. Looking at the body through the camera lens is pretty fabulous, I'm noticing that I like seeing the body up close more and more. My partner in crime was instructed to film me at all levels and get interesting angles including from above, up close, feet, torso, arms and head, etc. We then took to the park to film some of the same movements in the park in boots and jeans (note: turning in boots on grass is hard).
For the installation, I've been working on creating an interactive representation of Robin's moon solo (See Related Post). Using the projection of the moon, I'm creating a way for passers by in a gallery to be inside the moon with live-feed. I'm still working on design elements and logistics.
Giulia Mureddu will be an artist in residence at DNA for the next two years, so you might hear something of her in the future. I saw her hour long showing/presentation in the Theater @ DNA on March 11th focusing on the creative process she used throughout her two week residency at DNA.
The showing was not a formal presentation of work but rather a lecture-demonstration of the processes that Giulia and her team of four have been working on in rehearsals. Giulia brought two dancers with her from Amsterdam and auditioned two NYC based dancers who worked with her throughout the residency.
Giulia would speak about what they were exploring and then they would demonstrate. We saw Shannon perform a monologue, after which Giulia explained that during the monologue Shannon was observing the gestures she used when speaking. This was the smallest point of departure for them. They continued to develop on this by showing larger group improves involving microphones and a concept they called 'zooming.' 'Zooming' allows them to 'zoom in' on the gestures they used when speaking. They would tell a story and observe the gestures they were using while speaking and then amplify (or zoom into) the gestures creating larger movements. I loved this idea, primarily because it parallels the ideas I've been working with on gesture (See Related Post) which allows genuine emotions to filter through gesture into larger physical movements. They also showed examples of 'shadowing' which was another performers interpretation of the first performer speaking with gestures and zooming.
Each demonstration was true to a task using voice and movement to accomplish a goal. The performers were fabulous. Each dancer/actor allowed us to see into their personalities within the structured improves they explored. The entire time I wondered how being in front of an audience shifted these improves for the performers and upon asking this question later, one performer responded that sometimes the bodies ego takes over and their movements begin to grow bigger and expand more than they might in rehearsal. However, Giulia said she didn't see much of a difference.
After the showing I spoke with DNA's Executive Director Catherine Peila, who told me that Giulia is part of DNA's recent endeavor for international exchange allowing artists from other countries two to three years of residency and performance with DNA. An evening of Giulia's work will be hosted in the Theater @ DNA in 2012.
I strongly recommend keeping tabs on Giulia, the showing was definitely food for thought and I look forward to seeing what comes of this exploration. I might even try some 'zooming' in my own rehearsal. :)
Two cues really helped me take focus off my hamstrings this week in a yoga class. I think I've been told them before, but this time they really resonated.
While in seated forward bend:
1) Don't just think about your torso going forward and pressing into your legs, instead think of the insertion points of your femur bones drawing back into your pelvis. This helped to release my quads so they weren't pushing my hamstrings into the floor and I was able to lengthen my hamstrings more.
When going from "chair pose" to "eagle pose":
2) As you begin to shift your weight to balance on one leg and continuing throughout the pose, think about a string connecting your inner thigh to the front of your spine. This helped to keep focus on the my midline, allowing me to stack the bones in my legs.
During last Tuesday's rehearsal, Robin and I took two hours to make subtle changes to the piece. We began shifting her spacing to effect the shadows within the projected exploding stars and addressing moments where she can follow or touch the projections. I think this is helping us to figure out where her character might be going. From the very beginning we created this solo based on images of statues and paintings of Greek and Roman moon goddesses Selene and Diana. There are moments of hunting, drawing arrows and fighting amongst the changing constellations and the large moon. But within the solo, what is the character saying? Why is she saying anything at all? We are still working to really find that out.
We tried a new song within our current soundtrack of the more ephemeral "Instrumental" and "the Mooooon (version)" by Microphones. "It's like reaching for the Moon" by Billy Holiday begins as the moon and Robin meet for the first time. I'm not sure if it is a little too cute. When I downloaded it, I was thinking along the lines of a smokey club in the 1930's with a sultry woman singing, not something that makes you want to do the west coast swing. :) But that doesn't mean I don't like it. It changes the whole mood of the piece when the new song comes on. I definitely enjoy the change. However, I'm questioning this specific song because it is about reaching for the moon, and when you see a big rotating moon come on stage, perhaps that doesn't leave much more to be desired? Do we want a superficial crowd pleaser moment? If so, is this too far? Perhaps it could go toward the funny side of things? After all, we don't want to take ourselves that seriously, right?
I'm continuing to think about the next half or evening length rendition of "The Making of Statues" and I'm kind of liking the idea of showing a taste of each goddess individually. There are a couple group moments and/or duets that I really like, but other than that I'm enjoying the idea of trimming the fat, so to speak. We will see how that turns out.
Toward the end of this rehearsal, I showed Robin what I had been doing with my solo. She could think of several parts where things popped out at her and spoke of specific gestures and moments. At one point during the solo, I cough. Robin said my first "bodily function" was very surprising and she didn't know if I just had to cough or if it was part of the choreography. The only other "bodily function" I perform in the solo, so far, is a sneeze. :) Just so your imaginations don't drift too far.
I'm hoping to schedule a showing soon. So if your interested in attending please let me know!
Obama quotes Robert Frost, "A great nation should make great poetry" in his speech prior to giving out the awards. See Obama hand out the National Medal of the Arts to Jacobs Pillow Dance! Skip to 10:04 to see all the recipients receive awards and 14:11 to see Ella Baff receive the award for Jacobs Pillow.
If you haven't already heard, Eiko and Koma are "installed" at Baryshnikov Arts Center March 29 - April 9 for NAKED. While in NYC they are doing a workshop at BAC called Delicious Movement March 15th & 16th 7 - 9:30pm. Uh, yah I wanna do that!! What? That sounds like an ice-cream sundae for your body. It's a bit pricey at $65 for both classes totaling 5 hours...but since their installation is FREE you can see the installation and take the classes making it justifiable. Experience Design and Marketing merge to totally make me wanna take this class. Now all I need are some testimonials...
This past week I had the fabulous, fun and fortunate opportunity to spend my time performing with AM&D. We were continuing a residency that began in January at the Taft Boarding School in Watertown, CT. AM&D was commissioned to perform a piece with the students in addition to performing a piece of our own.
Adele set the work, "This Dance Is What You See" on the students. During our process in January, she had the students make up movements as well as gestures/actions specific to each individual, such as Sandra always licks her lips. All these movements and gestures in addition to phrase work created by Adele and us eventually morphed into a piece with a result that was more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.
When watching their friends perform, the student body showed that they recognized individual unique gestures for each performer through laughter and applause. Each performer had the opportunity during the piece to be themselves as well as use as their own specific gestures.
Dancing with the students reminded me how this is supposed to be fun. They were so jazzed and proud of themselves after the performance it was amazing to see that. Of course they should be, they were fabulous! It was just a really great energy and great to be reminded of what the arts can do.
Deep Thoughts on gestures: All this makes me further question the connection gestures have to specific individuals. If I do Sandra's gesture, will it be the same or is it then mine? If a unique gesture is replicated in an abstract way (for example: with a large physical movement) by a different individual, what does the audience perceive then? Is the gesture then "put on" or does the gesture then have to be "acted" by the performer, does the gesture simply become the abstract movement?
Even though a haircut as a dancer might be tax-deductible we still have to pay for them. If you need a new haircut and don't wanna pay for it check out Bumble and Bumble University in Chelsea. All you have to do is fill out a form and get a consultation. I had my consultation today. You go in, wait in a line and then they ask you what you want to do with your hair and you tell them. Then they tell you if that works with any of the cuts their students need to perform. You usually can't get just a trim. They are training their students to create specific cuts, so you will have to change your hair. But you get a free new look...why not, right?! Well, I guess you might not want to have a student work on your hair and possibly have half your head shaved, that might be, why not? You could go back to your normal salon and pay a minimum of $70 bucks for a haircut, but what would the risky fun in that be!?
I have my first appointment tomorrow, so I'll let you know how it goes. I'm not afraid. :)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed to cut New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) funding by 10%. That's in addition to the 10% decrease in NYSCA staffing. The ArtsNYC Coalition has 'gone to the mattresses' in a pretty diplomatic way by asking them to reduce this cut from 10% to 2%.
It will take you 2 minutes to write a letter to 5 state officials using the form that the ArtsNYS Coalition provides. Click here to do just that. The form is simple and just asks you to copy and paste what you want to highlight, add a few words like where you are from or how the arts have affected you and send.
I haven't received a grant from NYSCA and it will be quite awhile before I do. I actually have to be eligible to apply before the odds will rise in my favor. However, if we don't show that we (the artists) are serious about creating, performing and keeping our arts alive than why would anyone else take us seriously. NYSCA offers 2,300 grants to not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations and even though that seems like a lot, it's still not enough. In the words of Bill T. Jones, "Maybe we should die." If nothing else, your letter would plant one more seed in an officials mind toward keeping the arts around in the future.
Rehearsal Recap: Week 3 - Solo Experiments or 'Conversations with Yourself'
February | 28 | 2011
In this week's rehearsal with myself I added onto what I'm calling "Conversations with Yourself."
“Conversations with Yourself” is currently a movement exploration working toward a solo. Finding a way to make my art connect with the audience and touch something inside of them is very important to me and the only way I know to begin to address the problems discussed by Bill T. Jones in the MR interview when he said, "how do you have an informed public even have a taste for the type of work that...I enjoy? It has to happen from us."
In exploring the physical reactions we have to emotional, personal and everyday encounters resulting in the small gestures and reflexes that are produced from these encounters such as a sneeze, shrug, rolling your eyes, scrunching your lips, biting your cheek, laughing or dizziness. I am deriving large physical movements from these reflexes/gestures as well as incorporating the original gestures to create a deep resonance or familiar connection with the audience. My plan is to use this method to devise the movements for a final solo. Although I already have ideas for projections, I want to perform the solo first with no projections and get feedback on it's resonance before adding additional stimuli.
In this week's rehearsal, I began again by remembering last week's rehearsal, layering in more concrete transitions and intentions. Then I came up with as many recognizable hand gestures as possible and videoed an improv, requiring myself to use the hand gestures in the improv as much as possible. When I watched the video, I thought it was interesting that my improv looked much like a phrase from Alexandra Beller's class and since she's already doing that, I decided to go further. So, I then gave myself new parameters, requiring the hand gestures to be done at the same time as the physical body movements such as a turn, jump, kick etc. This was a difficult task, and didn't always happen in the improv, but after I watched the video, I could then select specific sections I liked and then taught them to myself. I thought it was really interesting as well how detailed my improvisation was, making teaching it back to myself quite difficult.
So far the material I've created and kept has gestures consistently throughout. However, since I've now compiled contradicting gestures, emotions and postures from these everyday encounters, I wonder if a story or consistent emotion can be drawn from a solo that is comprised of such a schizophrenic score.
In rehearsal with Robin this week we got the chance to explore the projection of the moon in turn creating a new section within the solo.
Prior to rehearsal I created a series of projections of the moon passing from stage left to right, diagonally and a mixture of both as well as different sizes, i.e. having the moon encompass the whole stage, floor to ceiling, and the same size and smaller than the back projected surface. By creating and repeating a structured improvisation score, we discerned that the image of the whole moon projected on the back wall was the most visually satisfying and also allowed her to explore the entire moon.
Within our improv score we included the following rules:
To keep her shadow inside the moon
To explore the edges of the moon with different edges of her body
To try to stay in the center of the moon
To move downstage 3x and upstage 3x
We created a spacial trajectory allowing her to press off the surface of the moon, then notice her shadow as she came away, introduce a shadow that encompassed the whole moon and finally slip out of the moon. As we repeated the improv, we found several specific moves that we kept constant within the improv and let all other movements be chosen by Robin as long as she stayed on the set spacial trajectory.
Robin Neveu Brown rehearses a solo from The Making of Statues on 2/22/11. We have been exploring her relationship to the moon through structured improvs inside the moon, allowing her shadow to explore the inside of the moon, to move the moon, lie down in the moon, fill up the moon, touch the edges of the moon, etc.
If you read nothing else in the MRPJ#38 edition of the journal, you should read PJ's interview with Bill T. Jones, [find out more about Bill here] of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and new Executive Artistic Director of New York Live Arts, on the first two pages. The interview discusses new curatorial models for New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop) as well as the state of today's modern dance world.
I think Bill T. Jones hit the nail on the head with these two parts of the interview. The whole interview is riveting and I would type the whole thing out here, but you should just go pick up a journal. :)
PJ: In your estimation what are the three most significant challenges facing the dance community today?
Bill T. Jones: "I think that dance has decided that it is the domain of the classic young disaffected bohemian who has to leave the dance world when they get to their late 30s or 40s and who has a great difficulty in taking on, becoming a middle aged and middle class person. In other words, people want to have children, have security for health care, all those things, those are big callenges. Is that dance world the domain of young folks who are in a kind of cultural rebellion? Or is it an art form that actually transcends that?"
[In describing the 2nd significant challenge facing the dance community] "...to be able to pay people salaries that they can actually grow old with, grow older, and have health care and families and these types of responsibilities, I don't know if you can do that only on grants. Even on grants you have to get the kind of wider appeal in order to get the kind of deep pockets that are out there in the corporate world and in some degree even individuals. That's a concern I have: How does dance actually pay for itself? Which has always been the case. And is the dance world by definition ghettoized? In otherwords, I always ask the question when I'm making anything, who am I making it for? And I think that there has been, in the world that I come from....an assumption that we're making it for an elite, an educated elite that shares certain values about beauty, form, meaning, the communal activity that we call "Theater" and "Performance." I'm not sure I have the answer to that, but I don't think that is what is going to help us right now fight against the tide of conservatism, help us fight against an ever more philistine society that literally doesn't really give a damn about beauty, doesn't give a damn about inner life. A world that we used to think would be infected by an enthusiasm for those qualities. Now we have to be more canny than that. We have to be more resourceful. We have to be more integrated than that."
PJ: So I'm wondering, as this new merger [between the Bill T. Jones Company and Dance Theater Workshop] is happening, how do you feel like you're going to help propose, let's say, new models of curation of perhaps the ghettoized bohemian downtown dance community. There's all this love and effort, and people exert themselves day in and day out for the love of the form, but most people cannot pay their bills, quite simply. And neither can the organizations.
Bill T. Jones: This has got to change or we will die.
PJ: This has to change or we will die?
Bill T. Jones: Yes, yes it does. Maybe it's a Darwinian world out there and maybe we should die. Something else will come. And that's the first thing to realize with some humility and some bluntness. Unless we find a way to pay the bills we will die. And that's no big crime. Because you may die, but there's always another young person out there who has another idea. I don't know what your feelings are about the 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 year olds coming along and their relationship to live performance. I don't think many of them have much relationship to live performance. I think that they're really interested in, what they're interested in --is say, game culture. I'm talking, but you probably know more than i do right now. I feel that I have to make the case constantly for middle class ticket buyers, but it gets even scarier as people get younger. They can easily just chalk it up as something that's irrelevant to them. So that's the first thing that people are laboring for, that's one thing that they have to realize. The culture can do without them. They have to find a way and understand how to make themselves indispensable or integral to the culture. Now in terms of curatorship at Live Arts.
I think we have a lot to learn from the likes of Michael Kaiser [President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in D.C.] in this regard. I never thought I would say that because he's a man from a world other than my own, but he has some real workable knowledge about turning organizations around, that has to do with the infrastructure, that has to do with the programming, and that has to do with the promotion. The clarity of the mission. And I think that that is the secret of what's going to help us not die. I'm trying to figure out how we can keep what we love about the downtown experimental work; that's very youth-oriented, and by the same token, to cultivate persons who might be able to make an assault on the world of the commercial theater, on the precincts of television and film. We don't care what it's called as long as there are certain values of rigor and intelligence at work. We need to find a way to encourage mid-career artists. We are always in pursuit of the new. We love the new, we support it, but we also keep an eye on artists who have been laboring who have something to teach. I think we have to invest a lot more in teaching itself. This is the age-old question of how do you have an informed public even have a taste for the type of work that I'm sure you enjoy, and I enjoy? That is not going to happen from the government. It's got to happen from these institutions we're talking about that represent the artists. It has to happen from us. Does that make sense to you? It's a series of issues. They are all linked.
There is also a section that talks about branding. They start talking about clarifying our goals and intentions about our work and our community. PJ asks, "how do we "brand" with sophistication? How do you simultaneously brand and get people aware of something and then also keep the discourse at a level that is still challenging society?" He asks, Is branding manipulative? Bill T. Jones responds, "Yes, of course it's manipulative. Let's face that. Is that surprising? But what's your goal? To get them in and for them to have an experience, right? ... That's what really good branding people do. They really lay out this thing in such a way that you can actually see yourself choosing it, and participating in this choice, rather than being hypnotized. They're there. Can you afford them? That's another question. Can you really get them the information that allows them to do their job? We in this community have got to be more grimly pragmatic to protect our warm and adventurous hearts and minds. That's the only way. If we don't we will die."
There is much more and you should read it. You might cry. There are no answers, just questions. Questions all of us have to ask ourselves. Questions we are all talking about with each other and it's so nice to see them all laid out in a passionate, illustrated, well worded way...but then we still have to look toward answering them. Everyone else is manipulating their audience to buy their products and come to their shows...we need to keep up..."or we will die."
On a less dramatic note. I also enjoyed John Jasperse dancer Elenore Hullihan's article about her expectations of Europe titled, "New York's Alright" on page 6. She tells of her journey from NYC to LA to Europe. Her expectations of Europe being a bright open dance playing field and her decision to move back to NYC. It was great to hear a "grass is always greener" article about something I've been weighing on the scale. It was a great to hear a dancer's perspective on something a lot of dancers here in the city think about. She brought up that although European dancers can make a living dancing, "their existence is fractured. They travel around from country to country living on a project-to-project basis. They deal with massive governmental structures..." etc. Though, she also reminds us that NYC is here and will be here when you get back. :)
"I have learned that masochism follows people who have trained their bodies. It is like a shadow we can't seem to get rid of, and we all struggled in our own ways with the drive to do "more," while knowing, what does "more" mean when you are only yourself? I did find it incredibly liberating to have no judgment against my body; in the context, my body just existed and the more it was itself, the better." ~ Isabella Bruno
"Reminding myself to be here right now, here right now, here right now, smelling the public, counting the public... " ~ Heather Kravas
Pat Hoffbauer asks Pat Catterson, What is dance?
Pat C: The reason I did my first concert, part of the reason, was that I'd seen a lot of things that I thought weren't very good, and I thought, well, I can make dances that are a little bit better than that. But I thought, I want to perform. I have this friend who takes Intermediate class at Merce, and I want to make a piece, so we get to perform and that was the reason I first did it. It was an opportunity for us to dance. Because I knew for me it was totally about dancing. There was technique and there was dancing, and I knew I could dance, I knew what dancing was.
Pat H: What is it?
Pat C: It's a physical rapture. It's physical--you catch onto something and you become the movement. I don't know how to--it's really hard to explain.
Pat H: You mean, you give up some part of you in order to, I don't want to say magically, but magically engage, but also abandon yourself.
Pat C: I think it's a mixture of control and abandon, but the abandon is very important. I grew up around dancing, and I knew what dancing felt like. When you dance you become--you surrender to something that just takes you over. I knew that I could dance and I knew that I really felt rhythm, and rhythm is so connected to the feeling of dancing for me. And expression and feeling--I mean, to me rhythm is feeling. I knew that I could dance. Dancing was something else, and it's hard to articulate what that is. So all these other people that I asked to be in my concert to me they were dancers. They may not have had that other thing that some people were used to seeing, but they were amazing individual movers, very intelligent and distinctive!
I've been working on a new design for my site for a while now to incorporate both my dance media work and my design portfolio in a coherent way for users to view both forms of my work.
Re-designing this site, I got caught up in exploring CSS3 with cross-browser compatibility. The key css design elements I decided to experiment with were transparency, background position and rounded corners. Across the different browsers these all work differently, so they were tricky to implement in an effective way, but I believe I have created something that works in each browser I chose to accept including IE 7,8, Firefox 3.5, 3.6, Safari 5 & Opera 10.
I would love to hear any feedback on the design and ways to improve the user experience.
I'm really enjoying rehearsals with Adele lately and finding that the way the company is growing together and expanding on ideas of performance and individuality suit me very well. I'm finding that since I'm enjoying this process so much, I am starting to bring a lot more of that into my own work as well and it makes me question if I'm "allowed" to do that. I'm not using the movements I do or create for her or stealing her thematic concepts but I am drawing on the performative models we have started to develop inside of her rehearsals as well as the methods she is using to achieve them.
In my own rehearsals this week, Robin and I further explored her connection with the projections. I allowed Robin more time to wear the movement, running the piece as much as possible with the projections as well as giving her different things to think about each time. Determining that she was allowed to deviate from our predetermined movement vocabulary to look at the projections and interact in various ways seemed to be a breakthrough for us.
I asked her through email to send me the tasks I had given her in rehearsal and she wrote back with some fabulous tidbits and takes on those interactions.
Here are those tasks and her comments on them:
Task: To look back at the projections at different points to see if I can let that dictate my spacing and set up our relationship.
Robin: "I don't know how well I have done this one because I am still following the basic preset spatial patterns of the solo. I think that, if I do even notice a sparkle that I could go to or get in front of, it's too late and my muscle memory has taken me to a different spacing."
Tara: This is a fabulous note and hopefully in the next rehearsal we can really dig into allowing not only deviation from the movement vocabulary like we did in this rehearsal but in the spacial patterns as well.
Task: To acknowledge the projections that are on my body so that I acknowledge being a part of that world.
Task: To let every execution of the solo be different so that I don't become married to the choreography but instead am being present and alive within the dance and its relationship to the projections.
Tara: I just have to say that this sounds so yummy to me.
Task: To stay inside the moon. But not as a feeling of containment or limitation but as an idea of filling up the space within the moon as much as I can with my body, stretching out, distal points, etc.
Tara: Again, I have to say how yummy this sounds to me. :)
I can't wait to get into the studio next week to tryout new spacial improvs based on reactions, altered projected environments and lengthening the moon section to incorporate a bit more "filling up the space within the moon" or unconfined containment.
I also worked in the space on my solo this week as well. I actually have a good 7 minutes of solo material and already have ideas for projections. I'm not married to the order of the movements I've been creating but have been experimenting with laughter, facial expressions and gestures combined with physicality. I am still working with a lot of the same questions I proposed last week, nothing has been solved and I believe I am at a point where I need an audience to determine if I'm on to something or if I'm just blowing smoke. :)
Here's to blowing smoke, if nothing else it's fun.
For the past two weeks I have been both rehearsing new solo material as well as refining a solo created in collaboration with Robin Neveu Brown from The Making of Statues.
In rehearsal with Robin, I am experimenting with ways of connecting the projections with the movement. When we originally created the full 30-minute version of The Making of Statues, I was working with first the large scope of the project and second with the idea that the projections were the environment or atmosphere where the dancers lived.
I now want to understand Robin's physical relationship to the projections to further facilitate understanding and purpose. I'm beginning this process with Robin because her solo already had some connections and now we can really draw out more and find out why she is amongst exploding stars and what effects the enormous rotating moon has on her.
In our last rehearsal, we began to find ways for Robin to manipulate the exploding stars projected on her and allow them to become pieces of her, this makes me wonder if I can create an engine that allows her to do this in real time instead of timed with the video. Ut-oh, that sounds hard!! :) I like it!
In my solo rehearsals, I am exploring the emotional reactions we have to situations and the small gestures or reflexes that are produced from situations whether it be a sneeze, shrug or even laughing or dizziness. I then began to derive large physical movements from these emotional or reflexive mannerisms. I began rehearsals with writing down mannerisms and linking them with emotions. For example, the emotion of 'longing' would be linked with the mannerism 'sneeze.' I would then create movements from the emotions and link the movements to the mannerisms. I'm already confused. :)
I've also been working a different way, by simply improving and recording the outcome of the following simple structure: While allowing myself to follow the emotions that the music produces in me, go through the lists of mannerisms and connect them randomly with the emotions and the movements created from these emotions. So far this creates adagios because my brain hurts, but it does produce more interesting material than creating the movement by myself, so far. :)
Further questions: I'm curious if we would be able to derive the original mannerism or emotion from one that is distorted into a larger physical movement.
Are my facial expressions genuine to the emotions I am trying to achieve or am I making a generic furrowed brow, a smile, etc. How do I recreate a feeling of dread or happiness or agitation with larger movements on a stage for performance each time it's performed? Will these feelings penetrate the 4th wall?
Conversations with yourself: When I'm going over a conversation I've had or planning a conversation in my head I often produce facial expressions and gestures while I'm walking down the road by myself. When I catch myself, I wonder if others saw me what they would think. I wonder if people can actually tell I'm doing this? What would this mean for a performance piece. Can it be incorporated into a work? Can the audience see the facial expressions if I were to incorporate them?
Tara Lee Burns Choreography
THIS MONTH @ WAXworks
October 24th @ 7:00PM
Tara Lee Burns Choreography will be performing an excerpt from their newest project, The Making of Statues (formerly titled The Welkin Ring). Come see a sneak peek before the full event in November!
This shared event will also host choreography by our very own Julie Bordonaro in addition to Kristi Schopfer, Barbie Diewald/TrioDance Collective, Roschman Dance, Corporeal Arts Incorporated and Deborah Kaufmann.
Triskelion Arts Theater
118 N. 11th St. 3rd Floor
Btw. Berry & Wythe
Brooklyn, New York 11211
L to Bedford Avenue
Press Release: Tara Lee Burns and Philip Montana present an evening of Contemporary Dance and Multimedia
October | 05 | 2010
For Press Ticket Requests and Inquiries Contact: Tara Lee Burns, 407-575-1638 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Philip Montana and Tara Lee Burns present a shared evening of Contemporary Dance and Multimedia.
Thursday - Saturday, November 11 - 13, 2010, New York, NY --- PM Dance Co. and Tara Lee Burns Choreography share three evenings and two world premieres featuring virtuosic and fluid contemporary dance, immersive projected celestial environments, and the conflict between internal and external forces. The performances will start at 8:00PM at Red Bean Studio Theater, 320 W 37th St. New York, NY 10018 (Btwn 8th and 9th Ave) 7th Floor. Tickets: www.brownpapertickets.com or at the door. $15 General Admission. Saturday Night Gala Fundraiser after the performance sponsored by Famous Grouse. Seating is limited.
PM Dance Co. will present a world premiere work exploring the confines that exist all around us. Using virtuosic, precise, and fluid vocabulary, the work abstracts the human narrative by exploring the complexities of both the internal and external forces that prevent us as Americans from moving forward. Two worlds exist in one; the one in which we can always move forward and the one in which we repeatedly trap ourselves.
Tara Lee Burns Choreography presents the world premiere of "The Making of Statues." "The Making of Statues" (formerly "The Welkin Ring") is a 30-minute mythological fantasy that depicts the stories of goddesses immersed in a projected environment. Follow five goddesses as they break through their mortal lives to become divine while immersed in projected celestial environments. Evoking connections between ancient Greek goddesses and constellations, their mortal relationships are tested, revealing the agony and ecstasy of both mortals and gods.
Philip Montana has danced professionally for Tatiana Bagonova, Michael Foley, Shapiro & Smith Dance and Shen Wei Dance Arts. He currently dances with Liz Gerring Dance Company, Adele Myers and Dancers, Christopher Williams and Mark Dendy. His own works have been presented at WAX, Pier 63 and Galapagos Art Space. He currently serves as the Resident Choreographer for Pioneers Go East Co., which is presently in residence at La MaMa ETC. Philip received his BFA from the University of Florida in dance performance and his MFA in dance from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Tara Lee Burns currently dances with Adele Myers and Dancers, Milvia Pacheco Salvatierra and Philip Montana. She has performed throughout Germany, the UK and the US with white road Dance Media, Alexandra Beller/Dances, Andrea Haenggi/AMDaT, Kelly Drummond Cawthon, Kelly Donovan and Dancers, Voci Dance Company, Palindrome Inter.media Dance Group, Kathinka Walter Dance and The People's Touring Project. Her choreography has been presented throughout Florida including the University of Florida; Moving Currents' NewGrounds, Tampa; CityArts Factory, Orlando; Winter Garden Theater; The Orlando International Fringe Festival, Valencia Community College and Jacksonville Community College and in New York at The HATCH Performance Series, WAXworks and Soundance Theater. Tara earned a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of Florida and an MA in Digital Performance at The University of Hull/Doncaster, UK.
Thursday - Saturday, November 11 - 13, 2010, New York, NY @ 8:00PM. Red Bean Studio Theater, 320 W 37th St. New York, NY 10018 (Btwn 8th and 9th Ave) 7th Floor. Tickets: www.brownpapertickets.com or at the door. $15 General Admission. Saturday Night Gala Fundraiser after the performance sponsored by Famous Grouse. Seating is limited.
Tara Lee Burns Choreography has submitted a video
to the Space on White Blank Canvas Give Away Contest!
Space is awarded to the video with the most viewings on YouTube between now and 12am April 28th! View the video below or on YouTube, then send the link to your friends/students, post the link on your Facebook page, watch it on your phone and help us win!! Spread the love!
Come have a beer and see an excerpt from The Welkin Ring!
I would love your feedback so we can continue developing the work!
Saturday, April 17 @ 8:00PM The HATCH Performance Series
131 West 24th Street, 4th Floor,
New York, NY 10011
Tickets are $10 at the door
So please arrive early to get a seat!
Performers: Megan Bascom, Julie Bordonaro, Robin Neveu Brown, Tara Lee Burns,
Audrey Ellis and Colette Krogal
This will be an informal showing with 7 other choreographers including Allison Jones, Alisa Fendley, John J. Zullo Dance, Heather Harrington, Abdul Latif & Karen Love, BARKIN SELISSEN PROJECT and Meghann Snow & Suzanne K. Strobe.
Questions I have for the excerpt you will see: (I would love to hear your feedback after the show!!)
- I am interested in creating an environment. Does that come across?
- Which moments stand out to you the most?
- What words, stories and/or characters come to mind during the excerpt?
A little background about The Welkin Ring: The "welkin" is the dome of the sky as described in ancient texts. The full 30 minute work will have projections creating an environment including clouds, stars and naked tree limbs. We are working with the personification of constellations including Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Virgo.