Posts

CHOREOGRAPHIC PREPARATION, GOALS AND MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

Image
Currently, my compulsion to write a post seems to be driven by conversations with friends and peers. And a friend recently said to me “you must write that down right away,” in response to a comment I made about some video research I was doing. I was actually musing out loud about the ways I am trying to clarify my current perspective on the intent and the spatial kineticism (I’m probably making up that word) of the “concert dance” world from which I hail. I have some ideas about how the socio-cultural aesthetic may be reflected in the contemporary dance environment I will encounter in India. But rather than projecting an expectation, I am currently more focused on how I define my own aesthetic viewpoint on modern dance in the USA.
“Concert dance,” as I am defining it here, is primarily constructed to be framed on a proscenium stage, and when US contemporary artistes wish to break down the proscenium barrier, they often surround or infiltrate the audience. This is just my observation, …

DO INSECURITIES PUSH ME TO BE BETTER?

Image
This year, my summer intensive teaching responsibilities included ballet for modern dancers, and modern classes in the style of Paul Taylor. I have taken this opportunity to observe, in particular, my personal feelings about the very first class of each discipline I am teaching. The majority of students in my classes are new to me, from widely disparate backgrounds, and our time together is limited. So the introductory class is that crucial “first impression” from both my and the students’ perspectives.
In hindsight, I have observed that my time as a teacher, coach or guide, has been considerably more solitary than my time as a dancer. During my dancing years, my focus gradually shifted far beyond just what I was doing, to observing my peers’ talents, strengths and weaknesses. At times, this broader perspective was emotionally hard to balance in assessing my talents and strengths against my weaknesses.
My perfectionism underpins an obsessive work ethic, but for me, comparison and contr…

Comparing My Own "WORK" Twenty Years Apart

Image
As I contemplate creating new choreographic work while I am in India, I decided to look back on some of my past creative work. I am reticent to describe myself as a choreographer when I think of the genius of works in which I was privileged to dance throughout my career. 

This is also a chance for me to test out posting video content on this blog.

These two solos were created twenty years apart. 



Shapeshifting was premiered in 1991 and was something of a “gift” to Matt who is speaking his own words in the video clip. Sadly, Matt passed away this year after living for decades with Multiple Sclerosis.  SHAPESHIFTING
Brook was a section of my MFA thesis performance installation in 2011, and was created in memory of a close friend who committed suicide the previous year.
BROOK

Ephemera Builds An Enduring Perspective

Image
A recent coffee date with a friend included extensive conversation about how we came to be the individuals we are today. It struck me how, sometimes, only the briefest of encounters can shape whole facets of our lives. So while I often focus on the many people whose lives have catalyzed shifts in my own, and with whom I have gotten to know personally, there are many who will likely remain strangers to me.
Going to see live performances of any kind, is for me a kind of ephemera which will live on only in how I remember my responses in the moment to the work, the performers, the environs. And yet these experiences did not live/exist discrete from the rest of my life to that point.

Nearby is Jacob’s Pillow, where I selectively go to see dance performances during their summer festival. Most recently, I saw Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui / Eastman perform Larbi’s, Fractus V (2015). I will leave reviewing the work to others, as my purpose for writing here is to comment on how this work prompted me to r…

How Come & Why I Am Heading To India

Image
Based on recent conversations, I realize that saying on this blog that I am going to India with a Fulbright-Nehru “Academic & Professional Excellence” grant does not describe exactly what I intend to be doing there. The short answer is that I will be teaching “modern” and “ballet” classes at various dance academies in Mumbai and New Delhi. Additionally, I will be choreographing, running seminars for teachers, and offering masterclasses. Hopefully, in my six months there, I will have a chance to connect with other institutions as a “guest” teacher in some capacity, as time allows.

The genesis of this whole adventure was two years ago when a dance school in Mumbai sent a request to the Paul Taylor Foundation looking for a Taylor-style modern dance teacher to work with them for up to a year. A few years earlier, Taylor 2 had travelled to India and taught a few masterclasses at the school in Mumbai. After I responded to the request, it became evident that the financial chasm between wa…

What don't I know?

Image
In 2011, I received a Fulbright “Specialist” grant as a part of their program that places professionals with proven excellence in their field for projects that are between six weeks and four months. That grant was used in support of a licensing project for me to stage Paul Taylor’s “Company B” on the graduating students at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington. This also happened to be one of the few opportunities for me to connect in person with Nigel, whom I mentioned previously as having just lost a very short battle with cancer. I came to view the Fulbright grants as supporting global opportunities to build an international network for future projects, and deepening established relationships with institutions and individuals.
What I did not know about Fulbright, at first, was the manner in which it administers to the considerable number of grantees, in a myriad number of countries across a cornucopia of disciplines. In hindsight, I have to admire the ability of Fulbright to…

Transitions

Image
Transitions of any kind can be hard. After all, we work diligently to secure and surround ourselves with the familiar and that which makes us feel comfortable and safe. So why change if we don’t have to? Why create the need for change? For a variety of reasons I may be predisposed to being distrustful of a “safe” life with a “secure” future, but I do know that dealing with transitions goes better with practice. So, I consider that when there are choices to be made (what to eat, which job to apply for, whether or not to get out of bed), there is no truly “bad” choice, and I think it is better to choose and accept where that choice leads, rather than do nothing. I leave myself the option to change my mind, but at least I have made a step forward from where I was before I made a decision. And many times I have watched myself choose the seemingly more difficult route. There were many choices over decades that I believe led to my Fulbright-Nehru grant and my upcoming trip to India. And I …