Making Dances

This past summer I was given an opportunity which still seems unreal: I received a grant to choreograph a piece.  In my time at Temple, I have been extremely grateful for the many opportunities to perform and grow as a dancer and choreographer.  I find myself so thankful to have found a space and mentors which have helped to foster my creativity as a choreographer, as well as numerous opportunities to showcase my work.

This wonderful opportunity was presented to me through a fellow dance student (now alumnus) who received the grant last year.  The Diamond Research Grant Program at Temple University gives undergraduate students the opportunity to spend the summer researching their proposed topics.  While most students’ final project is a paper, there are a few (this year myself and one jazz bassist) whose final output is a creative project.

I spent the summer conducting a survey and doing research around female body image, creating movement and compositional ideas based on survey results.  I am now in process of creating a work for myself and nine other dancers (eight Temple students and one alumnus).  The grant has allowed me to work with a composer, who is a music student in the Boyer College, as well as a costume designer from the theater department.  As a part of the Diamond Research program I also chose professor Jillian Harris as a mentor.  She has been a wonderful sounding board and has given me tremendous support throughout the entire process.

Stay tuned for the presentation of my piece in December!

 

- Kailey McCrudden, BFA Dance class of 2015

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“Really Dancing”

While I began my formal dance education at age 4, it’s been some time since I’ve put my own dance practice in the foreground of my professional work.  But who knows – with the encouragement of friends like Merián Soto, Teresa Benzwie, and Rhonda Moore, this could change! For this blog entry, I’m going to offer a few dance memories that popped up once I started thinking about what to write.

Memory 1:  I am six years old, holding my first leading role in an end-of-year dance recital.  I had been sewn into my beautiful orange tutu just that afternoon; I am a pumpkin fairy.  I’m so proud and sparkly. About halfway through the performance, I notice that ‘my’ dancers are not in their proper positions and I begin to correct them, just like Miss W does in class.  Oops.

Memory 2:  I’m a first year high school student, attending my first PE class.  We’re sitting in rows on the floor with legs crossed. I can still picture the teacher’s piercing eyes as she initiates us to a Graham contraction.  What?!!?  I have often quipped that with Miss B I discovered the ground and never looked back.

Memory 3:  Four years later I am in a Graham-based modern dance program at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.  My teacher, Virginia Northrop (1924-2011), shared her passionate empathy for Graham and told me I should have been born earlier, that my “natural dance” belonged with the early Expressionists.

Memory 4:  I am on sabbatical from my dance teaching position at the State College of Victoria (Kew, Australia), studying with Anna Halprin and others at San Francisco Dancers Workshop. A galaxy of humans, of which I am a part, is swirling around a small group of percussionists.  All of a sudden Anna is right next to me in the swirl, telling me, “you’re really dancing.”

Over the couple of decades since, I’ve been collecting “really dancing” stories from students and others. I have hundreds of these – a dance treasure.  Keep an eye out for my book on the subject!

To be continued…

 

Dr. Karen Bond, Dance Professor

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A very full and fulfilling summer

I decided to be adventurous this summer and explore all of the opportunities Philly has to offer, and after some quick research I was instantly overwhelmed. At first I was thinking of having a part time internship and commuting from my apartment at Temple to back at home in Montgomeryville. However, I soon realized that I wanted to become involved with as many opportunities as possible. So this has been my schedule: On Mondays and Wednesdays I intern with BalletX, Philadelphia’s premier contemporary ballet company, located at the Wilma Theater on Avenue of the Arts. I also took over Temple’s Undergraduate Admissions Instagram account for a week where I was able to illustrate a day at work with BalletX. On Tuesdays I work at a studio on Fairmount called Living Arts Dance and Fitness Studios and teach all day long as a part of their summer dance camp along with Camille Gamble. On Thursdays I take classes at Koresh and other studios, and on Fridays I intern with the Performance Garage on Brandywine St. All of what I just mentioned happens during the day. At night, I go to Philadanco from 7-11 because I am now a member of the second company, also known as D2. In short, I am spending my summer working all day and dancing all night with some weekends off but I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the dance world opportunities rarely come to you, you have to work for it, therefore I’m not taking any breaks with advancing my career. Philadelphia is a great place to experience the arts and I encourage anyone to uncover the prospects it holds.

- Katie Moore, BFA Dance major, Business minor, and Honors program student

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The Dance Student Life Cycle

Over 20 new undergraduate dance majors and 14 new graduate and students in dance will be joining Temple’s Dance Department this fall, and I am almost as excited as they are.  This is now my third year recruiting and admitting dance majors, but seeing these former prospective students come full circle never gets old.

I met some of these students over a year ago, when they were just beginning to explore their options.  Others were just an email contact until I finally met them at their audition/interview day.  For some long-distance video applicants, I am meeting them for the first time when they arrive for orientation this summer.  For most, these summer orientations are also their first time meeting each other and forming bonds that will develop over the next two, three, four, or five years and likely even longer into their careers.  Many of these students had teachers who graduated from a Temple dance program, and some will go on to continue the legacy by referring their future students back to us again.

The fact that this is my third year in admissions means I’ll be witnessing another kind of full-circle experience this year: For the first time, our graduating classes of BFA, MA, and MFA students will consist entirely of students that I’ve known since they arrived at Temple.  Hopefully some of them start the cycle again by applying for a master’s or PhD in the Dance Department!

 

-Mary Garcia Charumilind, Dance Admissions Manager, and Part-time MBA student at Temple’s Fox School of Business

 

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Summer Study NYC: A Contemporary Dance Intensive

4 weeks, 60 classes, 186 hours, and 6,840 minutes later, I am happy to say that I have recently completed the Summer Study NYC: A Contemporary Dance Intensive, at Steps on Broadway. I was given the incredible opportunity to study and perform under the guidance of some amazing artistic directors and choreographers working today. I knew this program was right for me because I still somehow managed to end my classes with a smile after a 5-7 hour day of dance technique and the creative process!

Since I get excited about meeting new people, I was beyond thrilled that our intensive group consisted of myself and seven other dancers, ranging from ages 19-32, lying somewhere between the pre-professional and professional dance world. I just love intimate class sizes! The smallness of the group gave me the chance to learn everybody’s name after just one day. Not bad for a girl who can’t even remember how old some of her family members are. Although I became fast friends with everyone, I ended up having a common bond with another dancer hailing from Munich, Germany. (Now I have an excuse to visit Europe again right?)

Besides sweating together in class, our little group loved to spend breaks in Central Park tanning and eating, chatting about life, and even hanging out on the weekend in Coney Island for a Mermaid Parade (yes those exist)! Not only did we bond socially, but we got to share our creative processes and learn collaborative approaches to movement creation and articulation. Our ultimate task was to create compositions in smaller groups that were to be shown at the end of the program. It was a huge hit! I feel so fortunate for this opportunity I’ve had here at Steps. The intensive was not only an excellent way to learn new skills, but we all agreed it was our key to getting one step closer to that dream we all share: being a professional dancer.

 

- Marina Di Loreto, BFA class of 2017

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Dissertation Research

This week, I traveled to New York City to interview Rochelle Slovin for my dissertation research. I am writing about dancers in Philadelphia and New York who were funded by the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) from 1974-82. During a period of high unemployment and inflation in the mid to late 1970s, CETA was a federal program designed to provide the unemployed with training and public service jobs. Slovin served as the Director for the New York City CETA Artists’ Project and she reflected on her experience with the 300 artists and performers funded by this program. Dancers and artists were chosen through a competitive selection process and they were paid by the government to perform public service and work on their creative projects. Slovin views CETA as an important program that helped many dancers at crucial points in their careers, and we are both curious to learn how dancers viewed their CETA participation. I will interview Temple’s own Merían Soto, Philadelphia Dance Project’s Terry Fox, Dance Theatre Etcetera Director Martha Bowers, and renowned tap dancer Jane Goldberg, among others. The next step in my process will be to transcribe the interviews word by word, and this will give me a chance to examine the themes and content of the interviews. Here’s to a hot and productive summer!

Colleen Hooper, PhD student and MFA alumna

colleen2

https://www.facebook.com/ColleenHooperPerformanceProjects

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Summer Professional Semester

Ten days ago, I packed up my balled up leotards, endless amount of socks and my foam roller and headed to the city that never sleeps, where I would begin my summer dancing journey at the Summer Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. As I excitedly walked through the red doors of the spacious five-studio heaven, forty-six excited students along with an inviting and encouraging staff who would soon become my new dance family greeted me. Although I was ready to show my passion on the dance floor, the administrators of the program sat us down and presented us with multiple seminars regarding professionalism. There I was guided through these presentations with tips for success in life and in dance.

More often than not, dancers look at other dancers with jealousy and envy. They wish for people’s failure only so that they can get ahead. Another common flaw of dancers is that they do not treat themselves with respect, let alone their peers. Dancers’ bodies are an instrument; therefore we need to keep it in the best shape possible, both mentally and physically. For all of those aspiring dancers out there, I am here to tell you that if you dream it, you can achieve it. The training and technique is the easy part; the most challenging aspect of making it as a successful dancer is staying positive and professional. Here are some key phrases and tips for ultimate success in the dance field:

  1. “Life is the Audition”: You could be holding the door for an agent coming to observe your dance class tomorrow; you never know who you will cross paths with that could change your life. So you better put that smile on and start spewing out those compliments.
  2. Be a well educated dancerTaking a class with a new ballet teacher? Indecisive about whether to take jazz or tap class? Research research research!
  3. Resilience is more important than talentIf you are ever tired, frustrated, or just plain want to leave class and go home to your bed, say to yourself, “I am happy to be here and ready to work!” Encourage other friends who are feeling the same way, or say it to at least five people before you walk into class. It will make class a much more positive and high-energy experience!
  4. Clap it up! Otherwise known as “clapter” (get it…laughter?) Clap, hoot and holler for your amazing peers when they get up to dance! Showing your support and love for them will make class much more exciting, fun and successful. Of course, hold on the clapter in ballet, please.
  5. Being perfect is boringYou are original; there is no one like you in this world. So flaunt it!  Accepting this and being eager to improve is one of the greatest qualities of a professional dancer. Perform with confidence and be happy to take corrections from teachers by actively responding with a “thank you” for their gift to you.
  6. Breakdown in a BreakthroughSlept through your alarm? Forgot to do your research? Late to class? Don’t blame the bus or your dog, no one in the professional world cares. Own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions! You will be treated with much more respect if you admit that it was your own fault that you were late and it will never happen again.
  7. Power StanceHere’s another positivity booster: body language is everything. Studies show that just doing a power stance makes you feel more dominant and in charge of your life. When you are feeling small, weak or doubtful, stand up, raise your hands in the air, open your chest and scream, “I am powerful and limitless!” Yes, you may look crazy, but that grumpy old man sitting next to you on the subway will wish he was you, and feel a lot smaller than you just felt ten seconds before.

So there ya have it, dancers. Yes, training is important, however not nearly as important as showing that you are a trustworthy, reliable and happy professional. I would hire a girl who can do one pirouette and shows that she is happy to be here and ready to work over a dancer who does thirty-two pirouettes without even a smile or a blink of passion any day.

My experience at Broadway Dance Center as been mind-blowing and truly incredible thanks to an amazing support system of loving and genuine (not to mention talented) dancers who are powerful and limitless in my mind. The dancing has only begun, and I cannot wait to share a summer of movement and memories at Broadway Dance Center.

Cheers!

Meghan McFerran, BFA class of 2017

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Summer hours

During the summer months our faculty are off doing research and our students are off doing a variety of exciting things.  Therefore we will only be putting up new posts every other week.  In the meantime, you can follow us on facebook, twitter, and tumblr for updates (see links to the right).

Thanks for reading!

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D2D Summer Dance Kickoff

D2D: Dare To Dance Company held its very first summer intensive in the Pearson Hall studios during the last week of May. D2D was founded by Temple University students Danzel Thompson-Stout, Bea Martin, Neha Sharma, and Robert Graves in 2012. Ebony Webster, D2D company member, suggested that the company host a 5 day intensive to focus on technique, body conditioning, and choreography within hip hop and contemporary dance forms. The aim of the intensive was to bring together local teachers and dancers to hone their skills and share their passion for dance with one another through interaction, personal expression, and rigorous physical training. Thompson-Stout expressed a passion for creating a space where dancers can network with one another regardless of their differences in academic or vocational pursuits. He said, “If I want to do something, I want to do it with the community in mind.” He emphasized the importance of learning from one another, cultivating teaching skills, and honoring the commitment of dancers who are hungry to train and perform. Instructors from the Philadelphia and New Jersey area taught locking, house, contemporary, commercial hip hop, and krump. Each day included time set apart for body conditioning and freestyle sessions. The intensive attracted participants from as far as Newark, Delaware, with an average number of 25 participants a day. I admire the success of D2D and I look forward to seeing how the intensive will model future training programs for hip hop and contemporary dancers in the community.

Belle Alvarez, BFA 2014

bell1

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Summer with Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

 

 

 

 

 

As we head into Summer, many exciting activities are percolating as my company, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers (KYL/D), prepares to take the stage — locally, nationally and internationally, bringing its MANDALA concept — of sharing, connecting, expanding — to different parts of the City and the world.

Here at home, we look forward to Come Together, a Summer Dance Festival at the majestic Suzanne Roberts Theater with KYL/D performances there on the evenings of July 24th and 26th.   It’s a great way to celebrate the vibrant Philadelphia dance scene with over 20 companies performing, including Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Koresh Dance Company and Rennie Harris.

KYL/D next heads to the Big Apple for a performance at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival on August 7th.  And just a few weeks later, we bring our artistry to Germany; KYL/D is one of just 3 American companies invited to perform at the Internationale Tanzmesse in Dusseldorf, one of Europe’s largest gatherings for contemporary dance.

It is particularly exciting for me to showcase Temple-made dance artists at each of these exciting engagements. Three of Temple’s Dance Department alumni, and one current student, will be performing as members of my company:  Jessica Warchal-King; Eiren Shuman; Rachael Hart; Brian Cordova and Wei Wei Ma.

And throughout the Summer, my superb dance artists and esteemed guests (our “CHI Artists”) offer an array of movement classes at my movement research center, CHI MAC, in South Philly.  Everyone is invited to participate with past, present and future Temple movers.  It’s going to be a very exciting Summer…

 

Professor Kun-Yang Lin

 

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