Sunday, December 8, 2013

December Dance Events in D.C. and Maryland


WASHINGTON D.C.

Joy of Motion, Atlas, Friendship Heights, and Bethesda locations
Masterclasses:
12/6, 12/7, 12/11: Flamenco Master Classes with Alejandro Granados
12/7: Classical Variations Workshop with Kathleen Weitz
12/15: Holiday Character Workshop with Kathleen Weitz
Performances:
12/10: Motion Expressions The Heart of Hip Hop Concert

Atlas Performing Arts Center
12/11-12/22: Step Afrika!  Magical Musical Holiday Step Show
“Who wants to sit still and be quiet for the holidays?” Can Step Afrika! teach a polar bear to step? What about a penguin? This December, come make music with Step Afrika! and their furry friends from the Animal Kingdom in this new holiday tradition! Come ready to bring in the festive season with a bang featuring the electrifying artists from Step Afrika! and special guest DJ Frosty the Snowman. We’ll get you in the mood for the festive season.”

The Washington Ballet
12/6-12/29: Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker at The Warner Theatre, Washington DC
“A holiday must-see! Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker transports you back in time to historic Washington with George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker. Glorious music, swirling snowflakes, magnificent sets and costumes have made this Nutcracker a DC tradition with raves from critics and sold-out crowds.”

Dance Place
12/14: Kwanzaa Celebration 2013 at the GWU Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre in Washington D.C.
"Light up the darkest nights of the year with dance, music, song and rhythm centered on the seven principles of Kwanzaa. In this performance for all ages, Coyaba Dance Theater welcomes the holiday season with its annual Kwanzaa Celebration. Live music, exuberant dancing and a true community of dancers will welcome you into their fold as you kick off the holiday season."


MARYLAND
The Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts at University of Maryland, College Park
12/6-12/7: Way In, an MFA Dance Thesis Concert
“In Way In, Jessie Laurita-Spanglet will explore the nature of our physical habits, and how those habits relate to our emotional patterns. The episodic piece will seek to expand on the traditional relationship between the performer and the audience member, engaging both in a shared sensory experience.” 
12/14: The Nutcracker, Act II, with Ballet Company M
“Ballet Company M presents a rendition of Act II of Tchaikovsky's famous holiday ballet The Nutcracker, allowing the audience to partake in their own journey through the Forest of Snowflakes and the Land of the Sweets.”

Dance Exchange, Takoma Park, MD
12/19: Showing and Critical Response Process with artist-in-residence Kevin Ormbsy at Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, MD
Join Dance Exchange artists and public to view works-in-progress by Kevin Ormbsy and participate in a facilitated dialogue.  Learn more about how different artists approach their work and see have a chance to see dance for free!  7-9pm.

Strathmore
12/12: Holiday Cirque with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra 
“Holiday Cirque will get you into the spirit of the season! Bring the entire family to hear holiday favorites while experiencing an awe-inspiring performance by the majestic Cirque Musica. Stunning aerial feats, strongmen and mind-boggling contortionists will take your breath away in this ultimate holiday extravaganza.”
12/16-12/17: Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
“Celebrate this Christmas with Moscow Ballet’s world famous production of the Great Russian Nutcracker! Bring the whole family for the quintessential Holiday experience. Forty star-studded Russian artists perform Olympian feats in the Holiday classic seen by millions. Don’t let your family miss the performance of a lifetime, full to the brim with magical toys, falling snow, growing Christmas trees and astounding Russian dancers. Tickets are going fast so get your seats now! Learn more at www.nutcracker.com.”


OTHER

Dances Made To Order, Online
Featuring three D.C. dance artists including Erica Rebollar, Boris Willis and Iliana Silverstein 

Every month, YOU choose the inspiration then sit back as three artists rise to the challenge of creating dance films in just three weeks!
As soon as the films are ready, we put them online for your instant viewing pleasure. It's super convenient and affordable art you
don't even need to leave the couch to enjoy.”


If you'd like your event added to next month's list, feel free to contact me!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dance Project Fall 2013

Last Sunday I ventured out to Friendship Heights to visit Joy of Motion for the first time and experience their annual fall showcase, Dance Project.  Nestled in the modest black-box/studio space known as The Jack Guidone Theater, Dance Project featured 13 different choreographers of various styles and talents.

What brought me to the showcase was a particular modern choreographer and a curiosity about the others.  What made me keep my butt in the hard, metal chair was not the level of dancing but the sheer breadth of styles represented.  

As a die-hard contemporary artist with all sorts of flatulent, idealistic notions about "pushing the art form forward" and only displaying "honest and necessary movement", I was slightly horrified by the contest atmosphere set up by Joy of Motion.  Each choreographer was competing for 100 hours of free studio time and 50% off theatre rental (good things).  Winners were to be determined by audience vote (hmmmm, okay, not unheard of in this day-in-age).  But I do not attend competitions, I attend concerts (can you imagine my nose in the air?).

Okay, I could go on about how "the air of competition cheapens an event and audience experience by pitting choreographers against each other who should be collaborating to grow audiences for this least valued of art forms" and how it "damages the quality of piece chosen by the each choreographer" and "throws the audience off track in how they should be viewing and assessing/not assessing live art forms."  Yes, I'm quoting the blog I'm itching but don't have time to write because I have papers to grade...

So I'll say this:
The first part of the concert got off to a rocky start with a mixed bag of styles that did not complement each other.  There were also missing pieces (2-3 choreographers who elected only to perform Saturday night) and a haphazard mentioning of this fact that left about 30 people sitting around for an overly long intermission because they didn't realize that the choreographer listed wasn't about to perform and we were indeed in intermission.  No announcement, no change in lights...nothing.  I suggested someone announce this, but they were more comfortable having 5-8 individuals ask independently of each other and convey the message piece-meal to their friends and family.

I ain't mad at cha, I just want to know when I can pee.

Anyhow, there was also the perennial family members and friends leaving as their groups concluded performing even though 2/3rds of the concert was not yet complete.  Hooo, boy.  If you were my acquaintance, we'd have a talk about theater etiquette.  I could talk about how this is related to the competition nature of the event, but I digress...

(All of this speaks to the casualness and comfort which people obviously feel with the establishment and the concert itself.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but again, can you picture my concert-going nose in the air?  Just have a chuckle with me.  I'm trying to unwind my tightly-wound sense of decorum here...)

Then the concert really took off and the energy noticeably picked up.  Obviously chosen to perform further down the line-up for their polish and seniority, mentionable groups included RebollarDance and their gritty and ever-so-subtle tongue-in-cheek excerpt of GoodHurt, Delicious Lawn Gnomes and their highly polished mixture of street dance styles and comedy routine, and Piernas Locas Project for their palpable energy and engaging hardcore rap and hip hop styles.

Take-away, I would definitely check this concert out again to keep in touch with the companies that aren't in my normal air-nose concert circuit, but I'd definitely have to have a glass of wine before-hand so I don't mind all the casual comings and goings of this popular event.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

November D.C. Area Dance Performances

November Dance in D.C. and Surrounding Areas


Joy of Motion
Dance Project Fall 2013 
Nov 9-10 (Sat. 8:30pm, Sun. 7pm) in D.C. at The Jack Guidone Theater

Dance Project is an annual choreography showcase of the best local dance companies. JOMDC created the Dance Project series in order to give rising artists a performance platform. This concert will feature the Audience Favorite Award, where the audience votes for their favorite performance. The winner will receive a handsome package including 100 hours of free rehearsal space or a 50% off theater rental at the Jack Guidone Theater. Don't miss the opportunity to give a local dance company a chance to RISE!”

Performances by:
Nate Bond
Dayo N Dance
Delicious Lawn Gnomes
Rachel Leigh Dolan
Kaution Dance Kru
LoBrace Dance Works
Kjerstin Lysne
Casey Maliszewski
Motion X Dance DC
Piernas Locas Project
RebollarDance
relEASE
The SAPAN Institute (performing Saturday only)


The Collective
The Collective and ClancyWorks in Concert
November 16-17, (Sat. 8pm, Sun. 3pm) in Baltimore at The Theatre Project

“This concert highlights the rich history of collaboration between ClancyWorks Dance Company and The Collective as well as both companies' continuing mission to engage the community and ultimately use dance as a catalyst for social change. By returning to Theatre Project for the third consecutive season in a shared performance, both The Collective and ClancyWorks have committed to presenting new, relevant work that is both accessible and engaging. The Collective will present new work from their current season's repetoire as well as share the stage with The Community Project 2013, featuring dancers culminating a six-week rehearsal process as community members learning a modern dance work.” 


The Kennedy Center
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet 
Nov. 6-10 in D.C. at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre

“As ‘one of the most courageous projects in ballet today’ (The New York Times), the Kennedy Center's own The Suzanne Farrell Ballet--led by Balanchine's famed muse--returns with two mixed repertory programs.”

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty - New Adventures
Nov. 12-17th in D.C. at The Kennedy Center’s Opera House

“Renowned British choreographer Matthew Bourne returns with his latest re-imagining of a ballet classic. Danced by his company, this haunting new production is a gothic romance; a supernatural love story that even the passage of time cannot hinder.”


Dances Made To Order
Featuring three D.C. dance artists including Erica Rebollar, Boris Willis and Iliana Silverstein 
Nov. 13, online

Every month, YOU choose the inspiration then sit back as three artists rise to the challenge of creating dance films in just three weeks!
As soon as the films are ready, we put them online for your instant viewing pleasure. It's super convenient and affordable art you
don't even need to leave the couch to enjoy.”


Dance Exchange
Master Class with Laura Peterson
Nov 14, 6-7:30pm in M.D. at Dance Exchange

“Dance Exchange is thrilled to offer yet another master class this month! This time we’ll be moving with the immensely talented Laura Peterson, Artistic Director of Laura Peterson Choreography based in NYC. This master class kicks off an exciting collaboration between Dance Exchange and the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center Millennium Stage, where Laura will be showing her work \'Forever\' on Friday, November 15 at 6 pm. Throughout the season, the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center Millennium Stage and Dance Exchange will work together to bring some exciting master class opportunities with artists from around the country into our community.”

Laura Peterson Choreography 
Nov. 15, 6pm live broadcast

Information is scarce, but here ya go:
Excerpt:


Dance Meets Theatre - DX & Single Carrot Theatre’s worshop on Devised Work
Nov. 21, 7-9pm in MD at Dance Exchange

“Dance Exchange has a long history of working with Theater companies to create more meaningful work on stage and in the community. This season, we are partnering with our Baltimore-based theater friends of Single Carrot Theater to host a series of tool sharing workshops, as well as this HOME series evening of discussions on how to create effective and evocative devised theater work that incorporates choreography.”
http://danceexchange.org/calendar/


Dance Place
City Rhythms Festival
Nov 23-24 (Sat. 8pm, Sun. 4pm) in D.C. at The Atlas Performing Arts Center

"Feel the driving heartbeat of DC as we bring together the area’s foremost rhythmic dance troupes. Dance Place resident company Coyaba Dance Theater presents their Female Drum Ensemble alongside hip-hop artists Culture Shock and Baakari Wilder’s tap dancers. Shuffle and sway with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble and their signature Americana style. Then pump up the volume as the internationally celebrated Step Afrika! takes the stage with rapid-fire, precision stepping and electrifying energy."

http://www.danceplace.org/events/city-rhythms-festival-2/

Contact me if you would like your event included in December's listing

Friday, October 11, 2013

Best Thing about Touring: Gratitude.

One of the best things about touring, or heading to a new theater to dance is the little rituals each space has.  You have your rituals, your company has its own rituals and then the space has its own set.  It's very moving.  Rituals ground you, prepare you for what's next, and make you realize WHY, why you are there.

I recently closed a show at The Dance Center of Columbia College, Chicago with Mordine and Company Dance Theatre.  It was a trip that I couldn't have made without the support of family, friends and acquaintances who helped me so generously through my fundraising campaign.  So it makes it all the more meaningful for me to complete this little ritual...



I made it, I made it, I made it.  And now I'm there, on the wall, next to the names of all those dancers who came before me and struggled to get there just as hard as I did.

*ahhhh*

Heavy moment, and so lovely.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Show Week in Chicago: Itinerary

Show week for Mo&Co at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago!

Tuesday: tech rehearsal

Wednesday: 10am workshop with Shirley at The American Rhythm Center and I'll be the 11:30am guest speaker for Chicago Semester in the Arts, then on to dress rehearsal.

Thursday: Opening Night at 8pm and post-performance talk!

Friday: Pre-performance talk at 7pm, Show at 8pm and Champagne Reception after!

Saturday: Family Dance at 3pm (bring the kids and boogie) then Show at 8pm.

Sunday: 9am I'll be teaching a Composition Workshop at Northwestern University!

Monday: Fly home to Washington D.C. and miss all of my Chicago friends terribly.







Thursday, September 26, 2013

Working on Multiple Dances

Getting work done!  While I'm hanging out in Chicago for the next 2 weeks, I'm often between rehearsals.  The big Mordine and Company show is next weekend at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago and it's shaping up very well.  We're performing with members of Mucca Pazza, and having musicians in the room while we dance is creating much electricity.



In the mean time I'm (of course) working on the next piece I'm setting on The Collective in Baltimore for their performance on 11/16-17 at The Theater Project.  I've just finished editing the music and re-recording a couple of monologue tracks (my 2nd favorite thing to do).

If you want to see how fast I can talk and how tongue-tied I might get while dancing, come to this show!

http://www.collective-dance.com/performances.html

NOW, if you want to dance with me while I'm in Chicago, come to Company Class with Mordine and Company at Extensions Friday, 9/26 10-11:30 for $10.  I'm teaching an advanced modern class focusing on easy, easy hips.  We'll open them up and see what we get.

Then come see me dance, of course.

And if you're a Northwestern University student, I'm teaching a Laban-based Composition Masterclass on Sunday, Oct. 6th in the ballroom of the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September and October Events

I am gearing up for two performances that I'm very excited about:

The first is a free event on 9/15/13 in Baltimore, MD with The Collective as a part of Akimbo Baltimore at Metro Gallery from 2-5pm.

The second is on 10/3/13-10/5/13 in Chicago, IL with Mordine & Company Dance Theater at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. I'm so so so proud to be on the same season as Susan Marshall, Cloud Gate and Bill T. Jones among many other talents. My feet will touch the same stage theirs have and will touch. Giddy! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dancer Pep-talk For The Economic Downturn

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?"

To me, my students, anyone else who needs it (this has been building up for a while now from conversations with students, colleagues, friends in other fields, literature...): Take a look at ALL the fields of research and development around you.  Just open your eyes.  They have all been suffering in the same way for a while now for many reasons.  Yes, it's in the way we've structured our government, current business models, entertainment models, educational models, etc.  They all have a part to play.  The real point is that if you're an artist and you feel like your field of art is suffering, you're in good and plentiful company.

If you're getting worn out, don't feel like you've sold out if you have to support your art by getting a job unrelated or less-related to your field.  Don't.  That's an order.  From me.  You're just doing what you have to do to provide the basic needs for yourself.  You can't expect yourself to create art if food, shelter and your basic necessities aren't provided for.  Just consider it nesting for the next economic bloom.

Yes, you could run away to a co-op and create beautiful art while defaulting on your student loans, but you'd be leaving your spouse/partner/family/children/etc. behind and that's just not something that fits your life, like ever.  Plus, you've been building up much needed social capital in your current community and that's not something to throw away.  Take it from me (4 states in 5 years), your social capital is the only way you'll get into that special little group that's doing whatever project that just happens to fit you to a "t".  They have enough friends right now, thank-you-very-much.

All of your expectations were created or created for you by someone who developed them in an economic wonderland.  It's time to cut yourself a little slack and realize that you're in a new reality.  When you see people succeeding around you, just ask them when they got into their job and how.  You'll likely find a trail (hire date, personal connection, internship, promotion from a lower position gained prior to...) that leads back to before the economic bust.  

This is a time that affords us less materials, less studio time, less... But it's also a time to squirrel away ideas, musings, create what we can, create when we must, and discard the ideas that are irrelevant for our current state of being, create new ideas, and above all, just keep at it.  And give yourself class in your living room even if the neighbor thinks you've lost it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer SHORTS Aug. 9

My first performance as a new resident of the east coast is coming up!

I'll be performing in the show Summer SHORTS with The Collective in Baltimore, MD on August 9th.
This is The Collective's annual show filled with short performances by company members (limited to 5 dancers and five minutes) along side guest artists Christopher K. Morgan & Artists and DishiBem Contemporary Dance Group.  It's the perfect little dance version of hors d'oeuvres.  Small, varied and a taste of what modern dance has to offer.  They'll be serious, funny, fast, ponderous, strange, ordinary, and certainly different than your typical friday night fare.

I'll be performing in 2 pieces.  One of my own and one as a dancer for someone else.  A nice little introduction to my new dancing family and community.

If you'd like to join me, or spread the word, Summer Shorts will be:
Friday, August 9, 2013 at 8pm
Creative Alliance at the Patterson
3134 Eastern Ave
Baltimore, MD 21224

Tickets are $15/adults, $10/students, seniors , and CA members
call 410-276-1651 or purchase online at www.creativealliance.org

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Birthday To ME!

What's up!?  I'm a leo, so therefore I need your full attention.

It's my Birthday!!!  I'm celebrating for the whole weekend/week, so stop by here, my Facebook page or my Twitter page to send me some love.  Hey, I live far from all of my family and friends and although my husband rocks, sometimes I need the support of all of my cyber-friends :-)

What am I doing to celebrate?  Dancing, of course!

Peace

Friday, July 19, 2013

Goal Met! I'm going to Chicago!

So, as some of you know, I have been raising travel expenses to get to Chicago.  Why?  Because when I was living there, I was a company member with Mordine and Company Dance Theatre, and right before I left, it was decided that Mo&Co would be one of the season openers on The Dance Center of Columbia College's 40th Anniversary Season.  As The Dance Center is one of the major places to see dance in Chicago, I was very excited.  

Then my husband and I moved.  

I talked to Shirley (Artistic Director of Mo&Co) and said, "If you'll have me, I'll be back to do my role in the piece All At Once" (I'm in the maroon v-neck t-shirt).  She said yes and everything was fine and dandy until...

My husband and I moved to D.C. and because of various misfortunes, went through our pitiful savings at an alarming rate.  After 3 maxed out credit cards and many familial loans later, I was facing calling Shirley and telling her to replace me unless I could fundraise enough money to get to Chicago.  

WELL, I am so happy to announce that with all of your help, I have raised enough to get my tush out to Chicago for rehearsals and the show!  

Thank you so much to my generous donors:

A big thank you to my generous donors on GoFundMe who helped me with travel expenses for the trip!  
Anonymous
Anonymous
Sarah Coffey
Mom & Dad Drake
Diego, Lauren, & Monica
Andrew Lomen
Paula Biasi
Brad and Megan Vollmer
Bart Griepentrog
Anonymous
Kelly Anderson

If you would like to see this exciting show in Chicago on October 3-5, 2013,  click RIGHT HERE for ticket information through The Dance Center's Box Office.  


If you're not in Chicago, then check back here as I blog my way through the rehearsals and show.

Thank you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dance with me!

Guess what?  I'm teaching again!

Come take class with me in Washington D.C. this Saturday 7/13 and next 7/20 at Dance Place.

I'll be taking over Deborah Riley's classes for a bit (a fellow CMA) and leading my dance partners in some lovely Bartenieff movement and round-a-bout patterns to lubricate the joints and getting us dancing up, down, and all around.  Multiple ages will be there and I'll even have live accompaniment!

More details here:
http://katiesopocidrake.weebly.com/classes--workshops.html

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Help Send My Dancing Feet To Chicago

AAAAANNNNNNDDDDD, now it's my turn.

After staring, puppy-dog-eyed at so many artist's requests for funding, now I get to ask....


Here's the deal: I just moved (for my husband's job - not my choice! But it was his dream-job, so we had to) to Washington D.C. and even though it will be a good move for the long run (thing 10-20 years) it has put my husband and I deeply in debt and me out of a job.

I JUST got a part-time job at the National Zoo, am sub-teaching at a local studio, and am commuting to Baltimore for my new company, but all of that means we're still not able to pay our bills and are leaning heavily on family to get us from month to month.

SO, before we moved, I got and signed onto the fantastic opportunity to go back to Chicago in late September through early October to perform with Mordine and Company Dance Theater and Mucca Pazza at The Dance Center of Columbia College for their 40th Anniversary Season.  This is a big deal.

Now I am faced with the challenge of getting back to Chicago to rehearse, tech, teach masterclasses for children and adults, and dance for one of the most discerning dance audiences I will ever face.

Please consider helping me get there.  I even made a nice little video to show you how hard I've been working over these last few years.

Thank you in advance (for donating OR simply sharing my GoFundMe page with your friends) and here's where you can help:

http://www.gofundme.com/3i38p8

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kickstarter, Fighting Gravity, and the Personal Touch

So, like all you artists out there, I am constantly inundated with crowdfunding requests from dancing friends using Kickstarter, Indiegogo and beyond.  The requests are all from friends that I know, love, believe in and root for, but they come like an onslaught.

I do love this new medium even with its many issues.  I have never been comfortable with the idea that artists must beg for money before we can even dream of booking a rehearsal space let alone take the great risk of creating something that might fail spectacularly.  Crowdfunding feels a bit more genuine when compared to the traditional appeal for grand sums from local businesses or the tried and true donation basket at the end of the show (yes, I believe in this method, but crowdfunding at least gives you the potential to appeal to someone other than your current audience).  Crowdfunding often gives you the opportunity to support or be supported in small ways by people who really believe in what you're doing.  It's all sorts of inspiring... but...

As someone who can't even pay her own rent at the moment, I am usually forced to ignore the request and try to volunteer for a show to give my support or spring for a ticket.  SO, when I was contacted from Fighting Gravity, a group I've never heard of and people I've never ever met, I thought, "Delete, delete, delete...wait... read more...", and I started thinking about what might make me donate, or just become aware of and share about a project that is not in my traditional medium of modern concert dance and not by a company I've followed over the years.  So I asked for more information.

Fighting Gravity , described as a "group of fraternity brothers" who perform "mind-bending black light performances from Virginia Tech to America's Got Talent"... "with a show that is by, for, and about our generation" seems to be following all the rules of successful crowdfunding: an exciting look, a catchy message, aggressive marketing, and engagement.  I got curious. How'd they get started?  Who are their dancers?  How'd they end up together?  What might my college students, who are interested in much more than just modern concert dance, learn from them?   They obliged and gave me the whole story which I have included below.  What did they get from me?  My interest and, obviously, I'm sharing it with you.  It also gives me and my students a little window into what it takes to create and support a show that is meant to please, inspire, wow, and woo the up and coming generation.

As a modern dancer and choreographer, I've taken a lesson from these folks.  If you are willing to share a personal story, you get investment of some kind, even if it's word of mouth.  And that's gotta be worth something.

Read on for their answers to my many questions and hear the dancers in the show share their thoughts:

Travis Dalrymple and Mike Matsumoto of Fighting Gravity

- How long did it take to get from doing performances with no pay to paying gigs?
    - Fighting Gravity didn't actually exist until our first performance on America's Got Talent. So we weren't established at all until after the show was finished. After AGT we went on tour for about two months with other acts from the show. As soon as that tour was over, we started receiving inquiries across the country and the world. So our first real paid gig was about a month or so after we got off tour. We know the route we've taken is totally crazy compared to most dancers or artists where it can take years to get paid for your craft - we weren't trained performers and what we were doing isn't traditional dance. But having worked with, hired or performed with real dancers, we are blown away by the dedication, talent and spirit of dancers and the dance community. That spirit is something that we hope comes across in our show. 

- What were your original ideas about your future versus now?
    - Our original plans were just like most other college students across the world, graduate and try to find a career within the fields that we were studying. Once we went on America's Got Talent that all changed completely. Ever since then we've been working with one goal in mind: our very own full length show in NYC. And then world domination. 

- How easy/hard is the day-to-day work?
    - The day-to-day work changes often. Some days it can be extremely stressful and other days it can be laid back. It's constantly changing, which is actually quite refreshing because it's always something new. Some days we're working on choreography, some days we're working on design, others we're building new props and painting. The best days are when we're performing. 

- How much time does it take to support the project? 
    - It's more than a full time job to support the project. But you make it work because it's your dream and a shot at creating something amazing for our generation. Things tend to pop up on short notice and you have to always be ready to handle a situation or make a call. You really have to be able to work at a moments notice.

- Do you have other income sources or it this full time? 
    - Some of us have multiple jobs and some of us work on FG full time. Luckily there's enough of us that we can be flexible and spread work across several people to accomplish our goals. It takes a lot of sacrifice - we've put everything we have into this. Blood, sweat, tears and blacklight! 

- What else does it take to get a new project off the ground?
    - It takes determination, desire, a lot of team effort and constant innovation. It takes work...lots of it. And a good amount of luck. You have to be ready to be told "no" - and then push on til you get the "yes" from the right people for the right reasons. You can't be afraid of change because when you work on large projects like a full length stage show, there are a lot of people involved and you have to be able to collaborate at all times. If it were easy everybody would have a show but the entire experience thus far, whether good or bad, has taught us so much about ourselves, the business, and the show we want to make.



The Dancers of Fighting Gravity

- What was your journey to becoming a professional dancer?
"Taking a chance and risking it all by moving to NYC with only a dream."
        -Leo Reyes

"I've been training my whole life to become a professional dancer. I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I'm from NJ so it was easy to access amazing classes and inspiration in a close by NYC."
        -Matthew Tiberi 

"I am from a competition studio growing up, and moved to New York City for college and for the amazing dance classes and training that the city had to offer while I was in school. Really trying to get the best of both the collegiate and dance worlds. I ended up auditioning and dancing for the television show on FOX, "So You Think You Can Dance," that propelled my professional dancing career into overdrive and I have been working professionally since then."
      - Melanie Moore

- Do you feel certain cities support dancers more? 
     Yes, dance and the arts in general are strongly supported in some cities and states, whereas that interest is almost non existent in other parts of the US. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Miami, Boulder, and Boston are among those we think are highly supportive.

- What are the challenges that an original show like Fighting Gravity present?
      Creating a full length, 75 minute, production out of some 90 second ideas has been a daunting, yet exciting task! Also, working with the various elements of the show like black light, illusions, multimedia, and audience interaction has been a challenge to create the precision and depth that we hope to achieve. 

- How long would a project like this run for you? Are you already looking for the next project?

       We are all hoping this show will take off, be HUGE, and run indefinitely! However, a smart dancer knows and as the saying goes, "You shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket." A dancer should always have something in the works, just in case their first choice doesn't follow through. (Even though we have a feeling this one will!!) In other words, we NEVER stop auditioning! 

The Fighting Gravity Company
photos by Caleb Sharp
 Cat Cogliandro, Reed Luplau, Jenn Freeman, Michael Ramos Sandy Shelton and company


photos by Caleb Sharp
 Michael ramos, Kourtni Lind, Ehizoje Azeke, Reed Luplau, Matthew Tiberi


photos by Caleb Sharp

Visit Fighting Gravity at www.Fightingravity.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Am I Doing Here With 20 Year Olds? (Aging and Dance)

This lovely little piece recently came out in the Post about what Liz Lerman, that seminal figure in dance  known for mixing generations in her company and works, is doing lately and more specifically, how she's changing as a dancer and choreographer whose body doesn't spring right off the floor as readily as it once did.  Read the piece here.

This subject has been on my mind as I jump in and out of class and auditions in my new city of Washington D.C.  As always, I keep getting older, but the dancers in auditions stay the same age.  In my last audition, I was with one other dancer who approached my age and 9 others who were straight out of college.  This was the same in Chicago.  No judgement, just an observation.

As I interact with my fellow dancers around D.C., I learn that there "isn't much of a culture of taking class" among the working dancers here.  I found this to be largely true when I lived in Minneapolis back in the early 2000's.  I wonder if it has to do with the size of the city or, as my new friend intimated, a culture that has been created, or that dancers have fallen into.  I am reminded of what Zenon Dance Company Founding Artistic Director Linda Z. Andrews once told me about company member Greg Waletski: The reason he's been around so long (Andrews is not shy about releasing dancers who aren't up to snuff) and is so talented is because he takes class every day (company members got free class).  The way I remember him from my time in Minneapolis was that he had no ego about the day to day work it took to keep up technique and the humility it takes to do that work in public.  I really started paying attention to Greg and noticed a definite difference in the grounded and settled quality of his dancing.  This was a dancer you could trust to catch you.

This sense of consistency has been a mantra, a thread, a theme of my personal development over the last 4 or 5 years.  It's only been the last 4 or 5 years, because I battled against that culture of inconsistency.  That idea of "I've made it, now I can stop", or "I have rehearsal every day so I don't need class".  I've said it before and I'll say it again, rehearsal is not the same as class.  I really had to struggle with my own personal habits to find consistency in my movement practice, but once I did, low and behold, most of my chronic injuries fell away.  

Now, I don't make it to dance class every day.  I'm unemployed at the moment and my credit card has a limit that is looming near.  But, I move every day.  I take a free trial at a yoga studio, I find workshops, I give myself class, I try a new form of movement.  This consistency is what I use to keep my body moving.  If I take a few days off, I can't get off the ground.  I will keep dancing.  A long time.  This will be my fountain of youth.  

I refuse to stop.  Liz mentioned that "'the boomers are never going to let other people be on stage'",  they're saying "'No, this is my world'".  This won't be exclusive to boomers.  It won't.  This is the new cultural shift.  Just ask anyone in generation X, Y, or whatever the new one is called.  It's a little victory against ageism.  I look forward to being the next dancer to say, "I'm staying in the limelight.  So we're all just going to have to keep working together." 

I'm still interested in crazy physical feats, I'm still interested in subtlety, I hope to keep choreographing towards both ends and learning to teach towards both ends.  

The last musing that takes me into the rest of my day is this idea from Liz: "I have three dancers in their 50s, and I don’t think of them as older. I think of them as absolutely let’s-go-to-work. I am not treating them specially because they are older, the way I would have treated older dancers before." 

This I bet I'm guilty of treating older dancers "specially" (in that slightly patronizing way, as opposed to the "special because of the wisdom they hold" kind of way) because of their age.  I'm definitely going to take a look at this in my teaching and my dancing and see where it goes.


That's all.  Peace out.  I've got to walk the dog.






Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dance Classes and Auditions... Again

So, I just moved.  Again.  This time to Washington D.C. and I am starting once again to figure out where the dance is, who is doing it, how they're doing it, and why they might think I could be a good fit for their company.

I, of course, tapped all of my Chicago sources before my move to see if they had any advice.  They mentioned Dance Place, Dance Exchange, Danny Burkholder, and checking out what Baltimore might have in store.  Baltimore?  Isn't that, like, in a whole different state?  This was my first lesson about the DC area.  I'm not in the midwest anymore.  Going from state to state is really nothing when they're only a few miles apart.

So, I headed on over to the Dance Exchange for Friday class with one of the rotating cast of company members.  This Friday, it was Sarah Levitt and her gentle, body-psyche-friendly style of teaching.  We started with a partner exchange of skin/muscle/bone-level touch from stillness into movement, warmed up further with a unison phrase mobilizing the spine and some undercurves, traveled across the floor in a simple structured improvisation (which always makes me work the hardest) and ended with a more complicated unison phrase which you can see below (yes, I am the one in black... I wish they would've shown Sarah just a bit to the left, then you'd see what the phrase should ACTUALLY look like ;-)

This was a lovely way to end a week full of unpacking heavy boxes.  Another bonus was that the class was mixed ages, so I was able to see a variety of takes on the improvisation work.

Next up was an audition for The Collective, a Baltimore based dance company whose members work collaboratively to create dances.  The drive took me about an hour and twenty minutes, but it was my first time driving out of DC, and I am especially cautious when approaching an interview or audition.  Well, I got there in the knick of time, which was a miracle considering that The Collective is based in The Bryn Mawr School which is tucked into a residential neighborhood whose dance studio is wickedly difficult to locate.

The Collective's audition process was a Bartenieff-based class filled with structured improvisations.  I'm starting to see a trend here in this area.  I'm not complaining one bit, since I'm improv-trained, and I'm interested to see how many other classes are going to feel like this.

Overall, the process was pretty darn painless considering the hatchet cuts and cattle calls I got used to in Chicago.  The audition was populated with The Collective company members which helped give you an idea of what kind of mover they were looking for and it helped make the 10 of us auditioning feel the flow of a company class. Then they wrapped it up with a personal interview with the company and away we went!  I'll get an email next week sometime.

Up Next: Audition at the Dance Exchange on June 18th.  Hopefully I'll be dancing again soon!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chicago/Washington D.C. Dance Exchange

I am proud to announce a new project!

I miss my old city already and am setting up a dance exchange between my new city and my old one to encourage the flow of ideas from the east coast to the third coast.

Check out my website for new information updated regularly or if you would like to participate.
Chicago/DC Dance Exchange


Monday, May 13, 2013

Chicago Re-Cap and Moving to D.C.

Ugh!  I've been so busy wrapping up my last semester teaching at UW-Milwuakee, winding down my time at The Dance Center of Columbia College, and preparing for my last show (before I move) with Mordine and Company.  I'm happy to say that I only had to fail ONE student this semester, my beautiful co-workers at The Dance Center gave me a lovely send of with oodles of cake, and this last show is going to be a snap.  So I'm happy.

So, in prep for my move, I'll get dance-nostalgic:

UWM - You crazy kids, you.  My Modern 1 students were so inspiring.  I had a student tell me that I changed their life.  These are the moments teachers live for.  Seriously.  And this was coming from a non-dance major who looked like they had been stuck in a desk for about 20 years.  My Body Sense students... well, they were a bit less inspiring, but let me tell you, I learned a TON, and I mean a TON from reading the papers of my 2 Army vets.  It alllllllmost makes me want that extra degree in Dance Movement Therapy, but I have enough debt so...

The Dance Center - You crazy artists, you.  I will never look at Rupaul's Drag Race in the same way again and you all win the award for the most dry humor executed in a lighting booth.  I will also miss tripping over the 20 odd foam rollers in the hallways.  My thighs thank you for all the rolling out I did over the year and a half.

Visceral Dance Center - You were my go-to spot for dance classes.  I cheated on you with Lou Conte, Links Hall, Dance Center Evanston, Hamlin Park, and the Ruth Page Center, but you were the one I came home to.  That being said, I will miss all the fabulous teachers I was able to experience in such a short time.  If you're thinking of Chicago as a place to study, there are so many top-notch teachers here that will whip you into concert shape in no time.  My modern favorites include Mikey Rioux, Kristina Fluty, Melinda Myers, and Molly Shanahan (whenever she comes home). Keep dancing.

I also saw so much dance.  I'm frequently recommending summer programs and companies as their event announcements come to me on Facebook, so check out my public page at :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Sopoci-Drake-ChoreographerTeacher/170769856789

NOW, one more show this Thursday and Friday at Hamlin Park with Mordine and Company and then I get in my station wagon and drive to DC.  I'm excited (mostly because I haven't seen my husband in a month) to get going out there and figuring out what the scene is like in my new city.

Oh, and I'm moving less than a mile away from the ZOO!  The ZOO!  I'll be able to hear their big cats growling or roaring or whatever they do.  Can't wait.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Rehearsing For What's NEXT

Today was our first day back to rehearsal with Mordine and Company after about a month off.  Whew!  One month off feels like 6.  Trying to replace 8 hours of rehearsal per week with other forms of movement is not easy.  I always come back just a little winded, but pick up speed by the second week.

Side note:  Over the break, I got to see Delfos Danza at The Dance Center. Some of the pieces were arrestingly beautiful and they all had astonishing lights.  Go Mexico!

Back to NEXT...
So our next show is called NEXT and is at Hamlin Park on May 16-17th, 2013.  Then I move to Washington D.C. like, the next day.  It's going to drive me a little crazy, but I did it in Miami, I can do it in Chicago.

NEXT is all about up and coming choreographers in Chicago being mentored by our own Artistic Director, Shirley Mordine.  So, the show will be a dance film by company member, Monica Thomas, a group work by Shirley, and 2 trios by the "mentees".  I can tell you that so far, one is about organic food and the other is about health care.  Very timely.

So, we're now shuffling around our schedules (outside of our regular rehearsal times: Mon/Wed/Fri 10am to about 2pm) and seeing who is available when to rehearse where with what mentee and then, away we go!  Thank goodness it's all paid rehearsal because extra rehearsal time means less regular day-job-y work.  Or in my case, a turned-down teaching gig here or a turned down extra shift at The Dance Center there.

Which brings me to another side note: When possible, gravitate towards companies that pay hourly for rehearsal rather than a big chunk of money for a performance.  Rehearsal is like sleep.  It takes up a BIG chunk of your working hours and you need to get paid for that.  Some (not all, but many) choreographers who just pay for the show waste lots and lots of rehearsal time.  They're also the ones who usually get free/cheap space.  If you do work for a choreographer that prefers to pay on a show day, make sure they have a rehearsal schedule set up before-hand (get that shit in writing) and then divide the final pay by the hours you are scheduled to rehearse.  If you're not making minimum wage, you either better be just starting out and building your resume, truly enamored of the choreography, or doing the choreographer a favor so that they'll dance in your piece for free too.

The end.

Oh, wait.  I'm also totally coming back to Chicago for Mordine's big show with Mucca Pazza at The Dance Center in October, 2013.  Just click on the link and TRY to tell me that's not rad.  So, if you're from the area, I'll be around September in the teens through the show and I'm available to teach masterclasses.  Hit me up.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Know Your Local Mid-Level Dance Companies

Know them and love them.

I move around a lot.  It's something I'm trying to change, but in this economy... you've got to be flexible or you might have to change careers.  That being said, the FIRST thing I do when moving into a new dance scene is familiarize myself with the local mid-level dance companies.

What is a local mid-level dance company?  Otherwise known as a regional, salon, boutique, or a limited-contract dance company, these local companies can range in talent and budget from newly-formed and relying on regular Kick-starter campaigns to a 40-year-old company that has a budget of at least $250,000 a year and makes one national or international tour a year.

Chicago is one of the best cities to find an ample supply of mid-level companies for dancers at any point in their career.  I find my perfect fit (for dancing or viewing) by dividing them into 3 categories:
1) For the young dancer just out of college.
2) For the dancers that don't want to leave the city, don't fit neatly into a large company here, and are forced to make or collaborate to make their own 'awesome'.
3) For the dancer that was tired of their demanding nationally/internationally-known touring company and transitioned into the role of choreographer so they could be their own boss.

These are surprisingly easy to figure out.  Just skim the artistic director and dancer bios: Where'd the director from?  How'd they get their start?  What's their mission?  How old are their dancers?  How'd their dancers end up in the city?  Then find your ideal company and start taking classes with them or see their next show.

For those of you interested in Chicago dance, these are the local companies I've seen in the last week:   I just caught Striding Lion Performance Group at Links Hall last weekend when they shared a show with Enid Smith Dance (former Cunningham dancer), this weekend I peeked into the Chicago Moving Company's 40th Anniversary Show at The Dance Center and regrettably missed THAW: A Night of Hot Ballyhoo, Link's big-ole' party and fundraiser.  But you take a look at their programs and you'll not only find dancers, but each of these events are populated with dancers who have their own scintillating side projects worth checking into.

If I weren't heading to Milwaukee to rehearse for my own side-project MKE FOLLIES taking place next Saturday, March 30th at Carte Blanche in Milwaukee, WI, I'd definitely go see the inimitable Canadian Compagnie Marie Chouinard at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Petronio at The Dance Center, Chicago

Okay, It's a little late... the show was last Saturday, but life happened.  Well, preparing to torture my students with Midterms happened, anyway.

So Petronio's Underland is the new top bar for my husband.  I've been dragging him to shows since 2006 and this is his favorite so far, although he did take issue with the music choice.

Nick Cave was the soundtrack for our journey through Underland and although I liked the music throughout the piece, my husband thought he just had too previous knowledge about Nick Cave to free himself of the spectre of it.

The thing that struck me hardest about Underland was how much the self masochistic perfectionism we imagine happens in rehearsal shows through in this particular performance.  It's magical.  You can imagine Petronio is the off-stage Hades, god of the Underworld, making his minions do his bidding whether they want to or not.  This compulsion to fall in line, the decision that is not ours to make, the idea that we are slaves to the dark world around us is illustrated in each song, each scene, each tightly regimented and belligerent phrase of movement.

I came out of the spell for "Stagger Lee".  That one didn't work for me (just too obvious).  But the rest... captivating.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Petronio

I have 2 tickets to the Petronio's Underland for tomorrow.  Now, as we all know, I don't do pointed feet, but every once and a while I make an exception for a well crafted show.

I happen to work at The Dance Center (big season and place for dance in Chi-town) and get my tickets for free in exchange for being the bright and smiling face full of snarky remarks every Tues-Thurs evening.  So I got a little preview since I'm putting in my hours this evening.

Let me tell you, there were screams and yells at curtain.  I guess Chicago approves.  See ya tomorrow, dancers.  I'll be in heels, so you know I think you're worth it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Show Is Finished, But The Biggest Show Is Yet To Come...

So the show I performed in this weekend with Mordine and Company is over.  Thank you, thank you, I worked very hard, went on a cleanse (no booze, no candy - it's very complicated), and bitched to my husband 2 or 3 times about how stressed out I was.  All signs of a typical show weekend.  And I think it went well.  Actually, I'm quite pleased with myself.  I didn't fall on my ass once.  Now there's a hallmark of a successful run.

I did slip and slide a few times, but thankfully I'm like a freaking cat.  Not everyone knows this, but it's actually quite miraculous that modern dancers make it through a whole weekend of shows without stepping on someone, getting kicked in the head, falling down, or falling off of something.  I mean, have you seen us?  We're like, throwing ourselves all over the place at about 10 miles an hour.

Anyhoo, my fellow dancers danced so well, and we were told that we really looked cohesive and evenly matched (which is difficult in a regional dance company where turn-over can sometimes be high).  Clinard Dance Theater and Deeply Rooted Productions  were lovely too and we all enjoyed sneaking out of the dressing room to see them.

This Friday, I'm having a discussion with Shirley (our Artistic Director) about what's up next for me.  Here's the big news... I'm moving (AGAIN!?) to Washington D.C. with my husband for his job.  It's a good enough job where he's just got to take it.  It's the equivalent of me getting into Bill T. Jones.  I'd drop whatever I was doing and would leave so quick, your head would spin.

Washington D.C. will be my next big thing (or slightly smaller thing because the dance scene ain't so large) starting in late May.  I'm super creative, smart, and fun to be around, so tell your D.C. friends I'm a-comin' and to roll out the marley floor.  We'll tear it up once I get there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

All At Once

So this weekend I'm seeing myself onstage.  I'm sure I'll give you a glowing review after the weekend.

I'll be performing with Mordine and Company at Stage 773 Feb. 28-March 3.  You can even get $5 off tickets for Thursday and Sunday HERE.  We've got guest artists, an oldie and a newie that I took part in creating.  Those of you who know my moves will see my signature style in there.  :-)

I'm all a twitter about it because it'll be my first big performance in Chicago and I collect performances in different cities like Girl Scout badges.  It's a little like collecting states you've driven through, or countries you've vacationed in, but with career benefits.  You get bragging rights, but you also get a little more clout in the dance world because if you've danced in one more city, it means that someone wanted you to dance there.  It's a little ego stroke for you and a little reputation builder for your resume.

Now, I'm not touring with Petronio or anything 'cause that's not in the cards for me... but I do the best with what I've got and dammit, I'm proud of it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Zoe/Juniper

Last night I saw Zoe/Juniper at The Dance Center of Columbia College.  65 minutes of dark, strange and intriguing visuals.  My husband didn't care for it, but he's no dancer, so I pulled rank on him and told him although he's normally free to have his own opinion, he'll have to agree with me on this one.

Were there lulls in the action? Yes.  Especially during the quiet moments when we could all hear percussion practice going on in the Sherwood Music School next door.  Someone should really make sure that on performance nights, no one practices the drums after 8pm.  Seriously.

There were also some Greek-chorus/baroque court dancing sections that went on a bit long with unending repetition.  This is where I would have cut at least 2 minutes off the end of each "chorus" section.

Some other comments I got from fellow patrons were that the scenes seemed disjointed and the piece was not cohesive.  I didn't mind the separate "scenes".  It felt like wandering through a gallery and looking at the individual pieces in a visual art show.  My only beef was that I wanted more of the fantastic video that appeared in the first third of the show.  Ghostly mirrored video images haunted each of the dancers as they appeared and disappeared from the stage.  The human-sized images danced as much as the real dancers and I wanted more.  I rarely feel such a connection from video in dance.

The vocabulary of the piece was low, feral, and glitchy.  You felt like you were watching a grainy video feed that intermittently skipped frames.  It was technically very difficult and quite unique.   Yes, legs went up to the ceiling and toes pointed (you should know that these things are loath to me), but all for the sake of attaining the praying-mantis/scorpion/gollum feel of the movement.  The dancers all embodied this so well, and then Zoe entered the scene and blew them all away.  Insect-dancing is clearly her specialty.  Entirely made of long limbs that are evidently able to rotate at least 270 degrees (yes, I had to look up the rotation of an owl's neck to get an accurate figure), Zoe is able to go anywhere and stop momentum to change direction at breakneck speed.

Did I mention the shiny floor that made each dancer look like they were avatars because of the light that seemingly shone up on them from the floor?  It's hard to describe, but it looked like a very specific follow-spot on each dancer... coming from underneath the floor.  Cool.  Cool, cool, cool.  Besides that, it made their footsteps sound completely different from any regular dance floor.

To wrap it all up, despite some quibbles on the editing, a desire for more of Juniper, and the drummers next door, I thoroughly enjoyed the collaboration of Zoe/Juniper.

I'd see them again.  For sure.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Miguel Gutierrez and The Powerful People

Last weekend I saw Miguel Gutierrez and The Powerful People at the MCA.  They performed And Lose the Name of Action to a bemused, stunned and sage crowd.  As I sat there with my old Milwaukee friend that just moved to something like 30 different states and then to Chicago within a year, I pointed out no less than 10 Chicago dance makers that I could name.  There were more dancers that I recognized from classes, but you get it.  Sage crowd.

Then I read this review by Laura Molzahn for See Chicago Dance... that was less than enthusiastic.  I was instantly reminded of the kerfuffle over Macaulay's review of Tere O'Connor.  Why do things have to "develop", have to elicit emotion?

I thought the piece was brilliant and that the performers were so amazing I kept staring at each of them in turn and re-reading their bios because their performances were so unaffected.  And for this reason alone I could call the performance brilliant, but there was much more.

Yes, it was 10 minutes too long, but that could've been because I was on a completely unforgiving metal chair.  The rest of the experience was a breath of fresh air in a town full of high legs and pointed toes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Moonlighting

I'm moonlighting on the blog of the company I dance for.  Read my latest entry, all about what it's like to be a newbie in a new company:
http://mordinedance.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thank Goodness for Company Class

I'm back in the land of the frigid north.

My 33-year-old dancing body doesn't warm up as well in Chicago as it did in Miami.  There's no way around that.  Yes, I know that's still young in human years, but dance-years are like dog-years: not as kind.  You try pirouetting into a jump that lands on top of your feet/shins in a cross-legged position and hops into side lunge after walking 5 blocks in -13 degree windchill.  It's a bit shocking.

Whatever.  My point is that once the actual winter hit (not this global-warming-induced bathwater we were calling December) it suddenly became a huge chore to get myself to any class outside of the one I teach twice a week and company class.  I am thoroughly convinced that all studio classes must suffer immensely when the cold hits, because I do.  If it weren't for company class, I'd be losing ankle-strength faster than I lose my willpower in the Warm Ups section on DiscountDance.com.

If you're a dancer, you've been there.  You get a couple of weeks off for Christmas and before you know it, you can't releve on one foot any more (not to mention that putting on a leotard and tights is a little harrowing after all that eggnog).

So here's to company class!  You and I will always be best friends.  You have saved me from myself many a Christmas season, and may you continue to do so for many a year to come.  And I pledge, if I ever start my own company, I will arrange company class before every rehearsal.  Amen.






Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's the Day of the Show, Y'all!

OMG, it's here, it's here!
Winterdances 2013 at UW-Milwaukee's Peck School of the Arts!
http://www4.uwm.edu/psoa/dance/performances/winterdances.cfm

I'm nervous because it's my students and I'm like a mama gritting my teeth and hoping my baby up there doesn't fall down and hurt her tushie.

Yes, I'm talking both about my students and my piece.  I want both of them to soar and fly.

There's this strange little thing that happens when you choreograph on your students that's different than choreographing on a company.  When you choreograph on a company, it's their job to make it look good.  When you choreograph on your students, they must work like the dickens to make the piece succeed, but you are also watching them blossom.  You're at once greedy about the conquering triumph of your piece as well as nurturing towards the growth of your little charges (little... well, they are college students).  This is the teeter-totter I'm on today.  I've got to find the right balance of my first instinct: "don't fuck it up" and my second: "fly, little birdie".  Let's be honest, I'm a little more of a martinet than a mother.

I also have to find a little humility about the piece as well.  I happened to give almost every step in my piece over to my students to create.  This was nerve-wracking.  I was determined to give them as much ownership of it as I comfortably could (picture me with my tight little pincers grasping my choreography with a vice grip telling them "this is yours, make it your own, go ahead, create this entire section by yourselves") as a test to myself and to see how much I could let go of while still steering the ship.  I didn't give as much control as I could have, but "baby steps, baby steps", right?.

It really will be all about them today... as much as I want to hold onto it.

Good luck my little birdies!!!  (And don't fuck it up).