Monday, May 21, 2018

New Work! The start of Awakening and Is It Through You

I'm working on a new show...

The culminating event will be on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in March, 2019, but in the mean-time, I'll be workshopping the material in a series of shows & showings (Nov 2018 & TBA).  I hope you can come to one and chat with me after about what you see.

There are 2 parts of the show:

Awakening (25-30 min), which will be a feast for the senses and "awaken" your ears and kinesthetic awareness to the parallels of where you are now, and how it connects to the wild earth.  I will be taking my dancers and, hopefully you, on a journey from human-inhabited hovels to places in nature that have a similar spirit.  This part of the show features local dancers and the company Lucid Beings.

Here are some of the places I've created so far (which will be tweaked along the way):

  • Inside a quiet bedroom just before sleep to the forest floor at night
  • From the top of a skyscraper, to the top of a mountain
  • Inside the busy transport of a ferry to underneath the waves in a storm

What I would like to create next:

  • Inside a subway terminal and the trains to inside the byways of a cave
  • Inside a cathedral with the voices echoing to a vast rolling forest with the wind talking through the trees

This is an ongoing project that will naturally branch out as inspiration strikes. For now, a half-show seems best.

Is it Through You (20 min), is inspired by Walt Whitman "letter to a pupil" and will feature the Mountain Empire Performance Collective:

IS reform needed? is it through you?
The greater the reform needed, the greater the Personality you 
need to accomplish it.

You! do you not see how it would serve to have eyes, blood,
complexion, clean and sweet?
Do you not see how it would serve to have such a body and soul 
that when you enter the crowd an atmosphere of desire 
and command enters with you, and every one is impress'd 
with your Personality?

O the magnet! the flesh over and over!
Go, dear friend, if need be give up all else, and commence to-day 
to inure yourself to pluck, reality, self-esteem, definiteness,
Rest not till you rivet and publish yourself of your own Personality.

The theme of finding the essence of oneself, the personal purpose, the idea that to effect real change means you must dig deep and do the personal work because that is where the real and sustainable passion worth following will come from, these are all impactful themes to explore in this particular turning point in both our culture, and our art.

Within dance, we are slowly turning away from replication of our choreographer's personal body of movement, and looking to honor the gifts that come into the studio from a wealth of movement lineages.  What better time to dig deeply and do the work of acknowledging the personal lineage of our movement, and honor the individual movements that have developed along the way?

I hope to find along the way: How does this "Personality" manifest?  What will we accomplish with this elevated definition of self?  How does the acknowledgement of creating movement solely through the breadth and depth of the individual change the direction of our art? And how does that change the power structure of creation?

Tonight I head to the studio with these prompts:

  • Comfortable Phrase: Start by making movement that feels comfortable on your body. Stop. Now create a phrase that feels "comfortable" for you.
  • Identifiable Phrase: Make a phrase of movement that people would recognize as "your movement". What are those identifiers?  Tease them out and play with them. 
  • Personal Theme: Make a few short phrases that are comfortable for your body to repeat. Find the one that you feel the best with. How does it relate to "your movement"?  What could you add to make it more identifiable as you?  
  • Make-it-Your-Own Phrase: Take a phrase you see someone else performing and learn it (not too closely).  Now change it to make it "yours".  Pretend they made it for your own show.  How would you massage it to fit within your aesthetic?
  • Legacy Phrase: Recall a mover or choreographer that had a great impact on your movement.  Create a phrase that identifies them, that recalls their style. Now change it to reflect more of yourself.
  • Relating Phrase: Move about relating to the space or a person in it in a manner that feels natural to you.
    • Claim the space in your own way
    • Observe the space in your own way
    • Remove the person or literal reference to the space. Set this phrase of movement.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hello my friends,

My show Spacetime Suite is coming up at the end of September!

Join me, Dance Metro DC's 2016 Presentation Grant awardee, for this fascinating concert featuring a cast chalk-full of the DMV's most innovative dance-makers.

Sopoci Drake uses astrophysical phenomena as inspiration for this human experiment in movement.  Black holes become the backdrop for human decision-making, the orbits of celestial bodies mirror intimate relationships, and the collision of galaxies give us a reflection of the movements of humans across cities and countries.  Set choreography and improvisational scores are used to study the effects of flow on both the mover and the observer. Watch art and physics collide in this critically acclaimed work described as "seductive, lovely, inhuman" ( with Sopoci Drake's signature "decisive and controlled vocabulary" ( 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Planetary Dance with Anna

Last week I was fortunate enough to observe a Planetary Dance ritual with Anna Halprin.

As a movement analyst and a structure geek, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make notes on how she organized the ritual (over the internet from CA!!) and what I saw transpire in the room.  Below are my notes on the event and paraphrased ideas that Anna expressed.  I wrote as quickly and accurately as possible, but paraphrasing was necessary. 

This was made possible by some fabulous people at UMD and once I have that info, I promise I'll post it.

2:00    Instructions from Faculty for the (about) 40 participants (Movement Integration, Ritual Dance class, other participants, faculty)
-       3 Concentric Circles
o   Outer: Running clockwise
o   Middle: Trotting counterclockwise
o   Inner: Walking clockwise
o   Inside these circles: the drummer will sit.  You may join him and pulse in some way. No rotation.
-       Make an intention: who or what are you running for?
2:15    Meet Anna and begin Warm-up Exercises
-       Gather in a circle.  Say your name with a gesture.  The circle repeats your name and performs your gesture.
-       Send a clap around the circle keeping a constant rhythm.
o   Try it without the aid of the drummer.
o   Try it again while stomping your feet rhythmically. 
o   Try it again with your knees bouncing.
o   Send it in the other direction
-       Anna says, “You, yourself are your own instrument”
-       Warm up using polarities
o   Grounding – breathe out and get grounded with a growl and pushing the person to your right
o   Uplifting sky – reach from your ribs, scapular, each finger into the sky
o   Horizon – find where the ground and sky meet in your body.  The “horizon”. Draw a diagonal line between your belly button and the bottom of your sacrum.  Put a red dot in the middle of that line.  That’s your middle.  “Energy radiates from there”.
o   Swinging – bring your arms to the air. Let go. Notice the swinging
-  Now try with head
-  Feel the gravity in the drop, the inertia in the swing, the force to return. More force makes a jump happen at the top!
Beginning with Running
-       Anna explains what will happen
o   A volunteer will start to run.  As she begins, she will state her intention
o   Intentions can be in memory of someone, or for a cause like the safety of refugees
o   You can improvise during the run
o   The speed of the run is your choice
o   Add into the run and state your intention
-       A volunteer starts to run.  As she begins, she states her intention
o   More people follow when prompted by Anna and faculty
2:33    A few minutes into the process
-       People are creating the inner circles of trotting and walking and pulsing.  They are taking rests
o   There are smaller layers with clapping in the center
Anna prompts the group to add chanting and sounds as they enter the middle pulsing area
-       Faculty begin to add movement besides running in the outer circle.  Others begin to follow them or follow the visual prompt
o   More complex layering starts
-       The circles begin to contract as the outer running circle becomes less populated.  It expands as more people join
o   There is a concentration around the drummer throughout this expansion and contraction
o   Windows begin to appear as people find places to turn around to join another circle.
-       2 people become primary sounders
o   Others float in and out as occasional sounders
-       Notes: polarities, grounding, breath, rhythm, sounding
-       Moving Methods
o   Running circle: dancing, skipping, walking, running
o   Trotting circle: skipping, slow jog, fast walk, sliding
o   Walking circle: walk, strut
o   Pulsing middle: swaying, dancing in place, clapping
-       Transition Methods: quick turns, sliding
-       Rest Methods: moving to an inner circle, slowing pace of movement, lessening frequency or intensity of core initiations, lowering facial and body affect, finding less populated circles
-       Space Negotiation
o   Establishing leaders
-  Movement: 5 people emerge as leaders
-  Sound: 3 people emerge as leaders
o   Finding running space, finding windows, filling open space, not letting the circle disappear
2:45    Circles contract
-       Down to 4-5 people at a time in the Running circle out of about 40 people present
-       2 people emerge as new movement leaders
-       One runner has knee impingement, this is lessening flexion in joint and maybe preventing twisting in spine?
-       Pulsing crowd has expanded exponentially
2:54    Runners down to 0 for a moment.  Back up to 1.
-       Walking circle speeds up to a trot and expands in size.  Is this to compensate for lack of runners?
-       We lose 2 dancers out of the entire ritual to fatigue
-       Vocalizations slide down to the decibel level of a conversation
2:58    Anna prompts Final Run and Gathering around Drummer
-       Arms into air to gain levity
-       Clapping near drummer
-       Anna prompts everyone to slowly lower to the ground
o   Private Moment: visualize what you ran for. Imagine it will come true.
o   “Close your eyes, lower your head, come inside yourself”
o   See who or what.  Imagine it’s truth. “Do they have anything they want to say to you?
o   Stand and place your hands on your heart
o   Blow your breath into your palms. Burst/fling your arms in the air with a “PAH!” to send the message into the air.
3:03    Form into groups of 4-5 people
-       Share what your intention was and how you’re feeling now.
3:11    Time Check and transition of people who need to depart for another class
-       Appreciation shown to drummer
-       Anna says “Thanks”
3:15    Question and Answer Time
-       Q: Natural Elements within Ritual
A: I work very “objectively” with anatomy of individuals
o   Ex) movement of ribcage w/ trapezius
o   Ex) upper-lower connection and tone: touch your sternum & touch your sacrum. Move one & feel the movement of the other
o   Ex) Partner back-to-back sitting: first person bends forward and the second rests their back on first person’s forward spine.  Feel the open space between the sternum & pubic bone.  Now switch.
-       Q: Meaning/idea of the shape of the concentric circles and their use in ritual.
A: "Tri" This has meaning in many ways.  It’s also physical; it accommodates people’s physical range and endurance.
-       Q: Significance of the use of rhythm, chanting, drumming.
A: Usually many musicians & singers participate.  Music always adds inspiration
-       Q: Do you have any specific Memories that inspire your work now?
A: Vertical Dance Company in Israel
o   Wanted to teach them a new creative process that uses the dancers more: instead of setting choreography on them, using a score.
o   Also did a peace walk with women of all different faiths: women walking in silent meditation for peace.  Ended in dancing and singing
-       Q: Elaborate more on HEALING component of work
A: We can use dance as a powerful healing force that participates with the medical profession.
o   Be active in the use of imagery
o   Keeping body in good shape
o   Internally experience movement.
o   Go deep into your own body
-       Q: What aspect of your career are you most proud of?
A: I never thought of…
o   Planetary Dance: 46 different countries. Getting more people moving that never had experienced it before.
o   Tamalpa Institute: Daughter continues it.  Life as an art process.  How does art relate to your life?
-  Self Portrait Process: One week on pelvis, one on arm and at the end, you dance your portrait
-       Q: My class is in process of designing a community ritual dance event with an altar.  What words of wisdom do you have for us?
A: Consider; what is your intention?
o   Ex) Help people with AIDS connect with their community.  This turned into a 10 day even where each person brought a caregiver with them. 
o   What do you hope to achieve?
o   How will it involve the audience and what role will they have?
o   How do you develop a vocabulary that supports your intention?
o   What is the community’s role?
-       Q: Why are altars effective?
      A: They become a concrete symbol.
3:30    Goodbye is said with a “PAH” sent skyward to Anna

National Dance Education Organization Conference 2015

I spent a lovely October weekend in Phoenix presenting at the annual NDEO conference. 

NDEO 2015 Conference-goers try out MEPC's Telephone Score
The Mountain Empire Performance Collective presented Necessity Fuels Creativity: Exploring Long-distance Methods of Dance Collaboration


I presented my own Laban research Exploring Laban Effort Combinations: A Spatial Affinity for Flow. My own conference handout and notes on my website

The conference proceedings will be out on the NDEO website in future.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Somatics Conference and Laban Discoveries

This last week I had the pleasure of presenting my work in Laban Movement Analysis at the Bill Evan's Second International Conference on Somatic-Based Dance Education. The week was full of insights, and fabulous feedback. It was clear that many of the attending somatic practitioners we contributing great things to the field.  
Several of the participants requested further reading based on my presentation regarding the spatial affinity for flow and the fourth dimension. I have since updated my website with all of my conference materials, videos, and additional illustrations.  Feel free to peruse and try out the material.
I will be presenting this material again at the NDEO conference in October 2015.
I hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dancing In The Back Yard At TICKS!

Yesterday afternoon, I headed over to the Capitol Hill neighborhood in DC to join a bunch of friends for a backyard BBQ and dance party.  This was not an ordinary summer fling, however.  TICKS!  was a dance performance hosted by Josh Kohn, Juliana Mascelli and Irfana Noorani with performances by Meredith Bove, Helen Hale and Stephanie Miracle, featuring tiny interludes with hosts Juliana and Irfana. 
It was casual, full of the blankets, chatter, drinks and food that you'd normally see at a backyard soiree, and dances like this one:

That we were directed to view through a mirror in a twisted musical chairs sort of way (when the plays, you use your mirror to see.  When the music stops, you use your eyes). 

Conversations were had (skateboarding, "twee", mirrors, who you should meet), dance was witnessed, summer happened.  I definitely contemplated what dance might be fun in another installment.  Cool.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mountain Empire Performance Collective: Mountain Empire Performing This Week In D.C.

Mountain Empire Performance Collective: Mountain Empire Performing This Week In D.C.: Everybody Knows This Is Now Here opens this week in Washington D.C. at the Capitol Fringe The Capitol Fringe opens this week and Moun...