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Relaxed Shapes

Moving Southwark by The Moving Cities Project reminds us of the beautiful shapes the body can make in a relaxed state. Not only is the piece beautiful in lyric and image- it includes dancers of all disciplines creating unique, sometimes awkward, and diverse shapes with their bodies while lying down across the city. The shapes swell and deflate in harmony with background sound and foreground poetry. It's intriguing yet calming and I suggest a watch. 

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Spoken Movement

We've all heard of spoken word - where a monologue, poem, or written passage is recited through rhythmic nuance and melodic speech. The images and emotion that can emanate from words are incredible. However, I'm a fan of taking spoken word a step further - into movement. 

I've not seen this effort executed better than the one women monologue/dance/performance titled "Snap Into It" by Jillian Meyers. Straddling the line between performance art, dance, spoken word, and acting, Jillian provides a window into the divergent quality of human thought, the unending spectrum of performative options, AND the choreography process. We listen to a stream of consciousness revolving around one phrase and how that stream of thought makes her feel and move. If that isn't enough, the piece is an excellent representation of the creative process for many choreographers - allowing the mind and body to wonder from one word or pose that feels great to the next. 

On top of the captivating content, the piece is masterfully filmed and edited. "Snap Into It" made me an instant fan of Jillian's and thrilled that creative movement without music is receiving the attention is deserves. 

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Swing Riots!

One of the most exciting elements in our contemporary dance culture is the fusion of techniques. Modern choreographers create pieces with traditionally trained ballet dancers, modern dancers collaborate with hip hop artists, and so forth. Most predominate choreographers or companies of our time pull influence from a variety of genres and meld dance techniques into a movement vocabulary of their own - as discussed in an earlier post. The possibilities are endless and the results are inspiring. 

Taking it a step further, The Montreal Swing Riots have caught my attention and pure excitement as they do just this in an unplanned and improvised setting. Swing, hip hop, funk, lindy hop, and more fuse seamlessly as we watch dancers from seemingly divergent dance styles meld movement, rhythm, and general swagger. As you watch, look for the way each dancer changes the musical cues they mimic depending on the style of dance per Round, the way they transition from a dropped weight aesthetic to lifted, and their general ability to crescendo their segment within the battle. 

I believe this is a must watch and is by far one of the more fascinating and exciting dance performances/battles I've seen in a while. The dance is fantastic, the energy is high, and the fusion of techniques is an electrified representation of where the world of dance is currently situated. We're in on big mash up and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

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Why Create?

"When I listen to a symphony I love, I don't get from it what the composer got. His "Yes" was different from mine. He could have no concern for mine and no exact conception of it. That answer is too personal to each man. But in giving himself what he wanted, he gave me a great experience." - The Fountainhead 

Each will derive something different from a work of art, speech, poem, or theatrical piece. Everyone's "yes" moment is unique to only them. I've recently encountered many people attempting to proclaim an artist's true intention. One will never know. Sometimes the "yes" is in the process and not the product. Creating for the enjoyment of the process and your own personal "yes" is a solid driving factor - a reminder of why we create. For me, the above is capitol in the creation and consumption of art.

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Dance Tasting

Wine and dance - dance and wine. They share one sad reality - many avoid discussing them. They fear they won't know correct terminology or recognize the good from the bad. They believe there is a right and a wrong - a better and a worse. 

But, I have a writer friend stepping into the unknown - researching and learning about concert dance for a feature story. He's asking questions and forming opinions. He's discussing dance for the first time, learning as he goes, and realizing it's all in the eye of the beholder.  

Inspired by my friend, this is my nudge - go see a dance show! If you've never seen one, even better reason to check it out! Once you've gone, discuss with a friend and stay true to whatever feeling it inspires - even if that's boredom. That's fine! Just try. Embark on a "dance tasting". Like wine, it's not about the expert opinion, it's about how it makes you feel and the conversation it sparks. Try a modern dance show but put it down if it's too dry. Try a tap show but move away if too sweet. Who knows, you might just find that perfect glass before that perfect show. 

New things - the only way to go. If you try dance, I'll try snowboarding. ;) 

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Capturing Movement

I was recently introduced to the work of Robert Longo and his "Men in Cities" series. The angles...the simplicity....the movement. From the business attire to the thrown contortions, he has succeeded in not only capturing movement but the emotive qualities associated. 

Photographing and filming dance is a difficult feat. Knowing which angles to shoot from, what positions of the dancers to highlight, and how to clearly document an entire staged piece can prove challenging for many photographers/videographers without performance or dance backgrounds. 

But, I enjoy this work because it moves beyond depicting formal "dance" and dance constructs. Instead, it captures raw and innate movement - movement that can't help but burst out and occur in authentic shape and form. While viewing predetermined choreography and shapes created with the body can be beautiful, Longo provides a window into the necessity of emotive movement. The breaking free. The everyday need for release. 

While over 30 years old, this work has kept me (and many) quite intrigued... 

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RUBBERBANDance Group

As the holiday Nutcracker ads flood our inboxes like clockwork, I've happily welcomed e mails leading me to budding modern dance companies and artists in recent weeks.  In particular, The Canadian based, RUBBERBANDance Group, has caught my attention.

Nowadays, it's all about blending movement styles and techniques. RUBBERBAND seems to do this flawlessly. Like no company I've seen thus far, they find a way to mesh the athleticism of break dancing with the fluidity and ease of a modern movement aesthetic. The choreography is intimate and nuanced. Like a Hollywood stage fight, the composition enhances tension while emphasizing flow. If that isn't enough, they produce wonderful 'dance on film'. They're the real deal and I can't get enough. Take a few minutes to view their rep reel. You'll "mmmmm" with me.  

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Drawing in Space

I once had a professor tell me dance was simply about "taking up space". Indulging in consuming, filling, and experiencing space becomes both contagious and addicting. While choreographing, like all modern choreographers, I view movement less in terms of shape and more in terms of utilizing space.

Heather Hansen, and her danced drawings, provide a beautiful visual of just this - carving, drawing, and designing in space.

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Inspiration: All Shapes and Sizes

As a choreographer, I am often asked "What Inspires You?"

My answer to this; anything and everything. If we're unable to be inspired by the small things, we're in for a pretty boring and bumpy road. Finding the fun, the interesting, the unique, or the humorous wherever and whenever possible is the name of the game. 

 

My goal for this blog is to do just that. As I do while creating a piece, I'll share different images, clips, or anecdotes that I, personally, find to be engaging or thought provoking.  You may agree or disagree and that's great! If you love something, let me know. If you hate something.. let me know that too! I'm always up for a good debate and discussion.

To staying inspired,

Katherine

 

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