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!

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).

Monday, January 21, 2013


COME SEE MY NEW PIECE! Space-Time created on UW-Milwaukee dancers for UW-Milwaukee's Winterdances 2013
January 24-27, 2013 in the Mainstage Theatre, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd. Milwaukee, WI 53211
7:30pm Thurs-Sat; 2pm Sun

Featuring choreography from fourth New Work Award winner Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, exploring Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings;” Dance Faculty Luc Vanier choreographing to Bela Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin” performed live by Kamil Tokarski and alumn Johanna Schilling; Katie Sopoci-Drake presents “Space Time"; Simone Ferro reconstructing “Magnetic Field” with ex-Pilobolus company member Edwin Olvera and Milwaukee Ballet choreographer Petr Zahradn√≠cek represents "Fall to Rise" both from FALL(ing).

About Space-Time
The title section of a larger suite of dances, Space-Time explores the notion of Rudolf von Laban’s theories on Flow and its relationship to the 4th dimension known as space-time, the movement of celestial bodies, human relationships and the surprising connections we found between them. 

This final group work, which was developed with and tailored to the UWM dance students, is focused on representing the motion and energy of four dimensions within a three-dimensional perspective.  We’ve played with detailed material that collapses down on itself and is constantly being drawn back in to the body versus free-flowing material that wants to reach out, larger, and wants to drift away.  How these scientific inspirations seem to mimic human interaction is no coincidence.  Take an image from your memory of a group of people and how they physically reacted during a time of excitement or sorrow, of triumph or defeat. Then watch our little creation and see what happens. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tech Time

It's that time of year again! The winter show. It's also the reason my posts are scarce. Once my piece has been performed by my fabulous students at UW-Milwaukee next weekend, I'll breathe easier and be back at it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Life as a Modern Dancer

Yours Truly has been featured in the blog Life as a Modern Dancer, A Blog with a Mission and Passion to Support Future Generations of Dancers with Their Career Paths and Dreams.  Read all about I got to where I am today (scintillating, right?) and stay to read other inspiring stories of Modern Dancers from around the country.

Here's an excerpt:
"There is this unspoken rule within the modern dance world that once you’re into your 30s, you should be moving into the role of choreographer or collaborator. I’m still learning and growing as a dancer and a choreographer and I still have the time and energy to do both, but the truth is that it gets a little harder to get hired in your 30s. I’ve gotten passed over more than once by directors who have assumed..."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Day and letting go

Finally. After dancing for Wild Space Dance Company from 2005-2009, working and visiting out at Wild Space Farm, I made it to Deb Loewen's famous New Year's Day bonfire.

Dancers, neighbors, family and friends make the trek each year out to Wild Space Farm to eat, drink, be merry, and burn an ENORMOUS pile of wood. It's not just a pile of wood, however. Everyone is encouraged to bring something from the previous year that they want to purge from their existence. Hence the huge bonfire. It's simply the most cathartic experience I can imagine. Take something you'd rather not remember anymore and not just burn it, but obliviate it in a fire so huge that 3 people standing on each other's shoulders couldn't reach the top of the flames.

I wish I could've brought a lot more of 2012 to burn.

Even the bonfire itself makes me think about why we keep creating art. The firewood had been collected over a long period of time. She even puts the Christmas tree on top every year. Then it goes up over a series of hours one weekend to live on in the memories of those who were there. Just like our efforts in the studio burn brightly over a short weekend run.

Next year I'm going to bring a few costumes with me to the bonfire.

Wild Space Alumn and Deb (second to the right)

Deb, stoking the fire

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why I, As an Artist, Left Miami

Edward Villella.  A name any dancer should know.  He founded Miami City Ballet, among other amazing achievements and made me, as a devout modern dancer, stop sneering at ballet.  (Well, Eddie and the incomparable Sylvie.)

So, what does this have to do with me leaving Miami for the cold city of Chicago?  A little over a year ago, my husband and I were faced with a choice whether to stay in Miami while he searched for a job or to start fresh in a new community where there were more opportunities for him.  The ultimate choice was up to me because I was gainfully employed and it would be quite a sacrifice for me to leave my company and my teaching.  I decided we would take the chance.

There were many and varied reasons why we chose to move (big city, more museums for him, closer family for both of us, the challenge of a new city, and several more financial reasons) but there is one reason, that as an artist I kept coming back to:  Miami just doesn't get it yet, and my career as a dancer is finite.

All right, all right, simmer down there.  Many artists and choreographers in Miami that ABSOLUTELY DO get it, but they are in the minority and they do not fund companies and seasons.  Board members and the general public steer that ship.  And, I'm sorry (not sorry), but Miami, you have some growing up to do.  Stay crazy, young and fun, but please take down those awful plastic-surgery-for-moms-and-teens and billboards, and grow and artistic soul.

Edward Villella GOT IT.  He did.  He got it and then he founded Miami City Ballet.  People came, saw, and then a few more people were able to "get it" too.  Then Miami just had to stamp it's little 8-inch, platform stripper-heels all over it.  If you aren't familiar with the story of Villella's premature departure from MCB, read all about it in the Miami Herald's tell-all with there many helpful links to emails and subscriber letters.

I was reminded all about this in this month's Dance Teacher Magazine article with Eddie's first major interview since the whole rotten deal went down. Mr. Vallella has this fabulous quote that typifies his struggle with Miami:
"I came from knowledge and awareness, so when I was asked to start a ballet in Miami ... [w]hat I fully didn’t realize is there’s a New York manner and a Florida manner. So for over a quarter of a century I have been trying to educate and bring Miami up to or near the level of cultural understanding of a city such as New York. It’s not an easy thing to do.
... [B]ut when you are dealing with a community that doesn’t fully have enough exposure, interest and support, it’s a little exasperating, and you feel like you have not fully done what you started out to do."

And then after being asked what he'll do next, he just kills me with this one:
"What I want to do first of all is to return to a place where they speak my language. Miami does not speak my language."

Honey, I hear you and my bags are packed.