Coming Full Circle

Coming Full Circle

At three years of age I fell in love with ballet. My story is not particularly unique except that I was enrolled based on a podiatrist’s suggestion to my mother that it would help my flat feet. Well, that’s not a great asset in our field is it!!!

Also unique, I suppose, was my desire to be a dance teacher very early on – age 11. The best part of every day was dancing and I continued in this ‘dance is essential in my life’ mode all the way through my doctoral program. I had to think about, watch, and learn about dance, and most importantly, dance my whole life. It was and continues to be both my work and my play. There was no choice – no discussion – it just was a part of me – like breathing.

What a surprise I had when a very well respected dance educator revealed to me that she believed that in reality (and said very covertly), not all children must dance to have a full life. Really?! REALLY?! Until this point I believed it WAS imperative – this unsettled me to the core. Soccer, swim team, baseball – sure these activities have movement, teach cooperation, teamwork, but, where’s expression, exploring the human condition, and celebrating life with one’s ‘everything’ (aka, spirit, mind, and body)?!

Being a deep thinker, I considered this new perspective and had a few years of questioning my life’s efforts and convictions. Despite this partially burst bubble, I have never wavered in my personal passion to everything dance. How can I help but stay connected to my initial impulse about dance when I see my students using every spare minute of their school day in the studio creating dances, practicing their dancing and shining bright on the stage? My heart is stirred when I see three year olds, teens, professionals, and seniors dance – it still moves me. I have come full circle. Dance is not optional – just as food is fuel for our body, dance is fuel for our living fully.

It’s not enough to fill our physiological needs – we have to dance – yes, everyone – really!!!

 

-Temple Dance Alumna Dr. Joy Friedlander

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Dance Studies Colloquium: Julie Malnig

Dance Studies Colloquium: Julie Malnig

On April 14, 2015 Julie Malnig presented Rock, Rebellion, and Race: Televised Teen Dance of the 1950s and Early 1960s at the final Dance Studies Colloquium of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Malnig’s talk ended the series on a high note, introducing Temple dance faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students to her forthcoming work on the emergence of televised dance programs in the 1950s. She demonstrated how these shows not only presented, but created the American teenager as an identity and a highly coveted demographic for television advertisers.

Though the nationally aired American Bandstand was the most popular, Malnig shed light on the locally aired programs, such as Baltimore’s Buddy Deane Show. It was on these shows where the intersections between racial discrimination and the development of an American youth culture were most prevalent. Though most televised performances were segregated, many of the dances were actually crafted by African American teens permitted to dance prior to filming or beyond the reach of the camera’s lens. Like the critiques of American rock and roll, televised dance was also a practice of undocumented borrowing from African American culture. Thus, the emergence of the All-American teen is further evidence of, as Brenda Dixon-Gottschild would argue, the Africanist presence embodied in U.S. social, cultural, and historical life.

 

-Amanda DiLodovico, Ph.D Fellow, Dance Studies

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Poise and Awareness

Poise and Awareness

Being injured as a dancer can be a very difficult journey, but it also can teach you a lot if you allow it. Technique classes turn into observations where you take notes; an opportunity for you to listen to what the teacher is conveying. I’ve noticed over the past week of being injured and observing classes that my ears pick up on things much more then if I were merely taking the class to learn the technique.

Being a dancer is really amazing in itself; when you think of the amount of body awareness, connection to the audience, each other and the music all require to reach a certain level of competence. There can also be many things that are overlooked in a class when we are sifting through what at times can be sensory overload.

One thing that resonated with me through observing is the beauty that can exist when dancers are listening to their bodies to teach them how to move. So many times we think our brains are controlling our bodies; but the body really has a depth of knowledge that we can access. It’s beautiful to witness the teacher imparting knowledge to the student that coexists with the dancer’s own body intelligence.

Professor Kun-Yang Lin is always very inspirational in class and watching that flow on to the students is a rewarding process. I will close with a quote from class he shared; “The space around you is quiet and you moving into it is what you say as an artist.” Let us, whether dancer or not, enter every space with poise and awareness.

Temple University dancer’s in Professor Kun-Yang Lin’s Modern class

– Alana Melene Yost, 1st year MFA

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Temple Water Dances

Temple Water Dances

 

On Sunday, March 22, dance students at Temple University presented Temple Water Dances, a  performance to raise awareness for water rights and sustainable practices. The event, a collaboration between graduate and undergraduate dance students at Temple University under the direction of Professor Merián Soto, was scheduled in observance of World Water Day, a United Nations holiday devoted to raising public attention for the critical water issues of our era. The event consisted of a series of dances and videos that responded to the theme “Hot Water-Water, Peace & War”, as well as presentations by environmental scientists from Temple University and the Philadelphia community, Fletcher Chmarra-Huff and Tony DiLudovico.

 

Temple Water Dances celebrated the spiritual and life giving properties of water. Water is an intrinsic part of our being; 70% of the adult body is water. In fact, the body’s structure and form reflect the fluid form of water and trace our evolution from water to land.  As such, the movement of water is a great teacher for dance.

 

Presentations also addressed the global water crisis and questioned the corporate view of water as a “resource” rather than an intrinsic right. Water has been privatized in many places around the globe with devastating consequences for the communities whose water is sold to large corporations.

 

Temple Water Dances explores and advocates for useful responses to a global crisis that threatens the stability and subsequent motility of all living bodies. “As improvisers we see the themes inherent to this crisis – flow, survival, sustainability, conservation, and freedom – as vital parts of our creative process. Rather than force water to a point of stagnation, we want to keep it moving. Rather than dictate its path, we consent to its liberated choosing.” Amanda Di Ludovico.

 

Temple Water Dances included works by Long Cheng, Brooke Frieling, David Heller, Leslies Cornish, Kailey McCrudden, Katie Adkins, Blythe Smith, Muyu Yuan, Angelica Spilis, Amanda DiLudovico, and Elisa Davis.

 

Check out Julia Davis’ review of Temple Water Dances in GreenPhillyBlog

http://www.greenphillyblog.com/philly-events/world-water-crisis/

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Life of a Dancer with an Injury

Life of a Dancer with an Injury

 

In the mind of a dance major, getting an injury that leaves you unable to dance for a period of time is the single worst thing that could possibly happen. My worst nightmare came true when I broke my foot a month and a half ago. After wallowing in self-pity at home for a week, I snapped myself out of it and forced myself to attend my daily classes, even though I was merely sitting on the side and watching in my cast and crutches.

 

While being injured, I had a lot of time to think during these classes. I soon realized that not only could I learn through the actual physical aspect of my classes, but I could also learn from observing the class and watching the other students move. While I’ve been out, my teachers have kindly found other ways to still engage me in their classes. For most, they have me participate in beginning warm-ups and exercises to still stretch and tone what I can on my body, but while sitting or laying down instead of standing. They also have me observe and learn from how the other students dance and then ask me to write papers on my observations, which helps me understand what I can personally improve on once I can start moving again. I’m thankful to be part of a dance department with staff that allows me to find other, innovative ways to continue with my dance education during a recovery.

-Chelsea Hamilton

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Autism Movement Therapy

When the Spring 2014 semester came to a close I was confronted by the long expanse that is “summer break.” With no required readings or writings in sight, I decided to use the summer months as an opportunity to engage in critical self-reflection, workshops, and seminars that could complement my research interests. This decision manifested in reading texts from my wish-list, acquiring some new improvisation skills at Movement Research’s MELT Workshops in New York City, and becoming certified in Autism Movement Therapy. Because my writing and thinking primarily exist at the intersections of dance and disability studies with a focus on autism and developmental disabilities, investigating a movement practice designed for and marketed to individuals with Autism seemed a worthy endeavor.

Autism Movement Therapy (AMT) was created by Joanna Lara, a former special education teacher in California and now an adjunct professor in Special Education at National University. Designed to exist as a 45-minute class, AMT intends to work on sensory integration using music, movement, and language as a conduit for processing information across the two hemispheres of the brain. For example, a primary component of the choreographed class asks participants to make a sound in relation to their movement, such as fluttering the lips while raising both arms. This and other exercises demonstrated throughout the class encourage multi-tasking and facilitate multiple forms of communication. Choreographically, the standard AMT exercises work within the sagittal plane of the body, as the limbs often reach across the space to signify the connection between the two halves of the brain.

What I found most exciting about AMT was its reliance on improvisation and composition in addition to existing as a set of choreographed therapeutic exercises. Within each section of an AMT class (a warm-up, moving across and around the room, working in groups, and crafting a final phrase), participants are encouraged to move outside of the given patterns. This can include asking a participant to come to the front of the room and lead a short movement pattern of their choosing, or having participants find ways to embody their names and teach that phrase to the rest of the class. These directives are not laced with movement expectations. Instead, they provide space for interpretations that range from isolating body parts to moments of stillness. What Lara calls “The Sense Poem” is an advanced exercise for participants who have attended several sessions. Each participant constructs a sentence about a specific object or subject in relation to one of the five senses and then develops movement in conjunction with those words. By teaching the sentence to others in the class, participants collaboratively craft a group dance.

The composition tools offered in the class encourage choreographers, not technical masters, to emerge. Thinking on one’s feet, interpreting ideas, and working with others are some of the many skills facilitated by AMT, all of which are made more vivid when situated within the epistemologies of dance.

The certification workshop I attended was held at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Lara offers workshops all over the world, and an upcoming workshop (February 21, 2015) will be held at my alma mater, Marymount Manhattan College. Obtaining a certification is costly, so I set up a fundraiser through a crowdsourcing website to help offset the cost. I have and will continue to share the information gleaned during the certification process with the donors, all of whom I thank again for allowing the experience to happen!

For more info, check out Lara’s site: http://autismmovementtherapy.com/site/

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Carols in Color 2014

Carols in Color 2014

This past weekend, I performed as a professional dancer for the first time in Eleone Dance Theatre’s Carols in Color. We danced at  The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware. Going into the performance, I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous but incredibly excited to finally display all of the pieces we had been working on since September.

As our company arrived at the theater, we were taken down to the dressing rooms, where we each got our own chair and a mirror with twinkling lights around it. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I took in a moment that I had been dreaming about since I was a child. My own mirror! I felt like a movie star as I started to prepare for my performance.

Because I was playing the part of an angel, I was put into a beautiful, long white dress. Everyone looked more angelic than I imagined. We stretched and warmed up backstage and ran a few numbers on stage.
Finally, the house was full and it was time to perform. The special element about Carols in Color is that there is a live choir accompanying our dancing. We hadn’t rehearsed with the singers prior to the show, so hearing their amazing voices along with our costumes and dancing made the show a perfect dream. I became engulfed in the story we were portraying, and I really felt like I was part of the nativity scene.

At the end of the show, all of the dancers came onstage and the choir sang “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” as we swung our skirts to the famous Christmas tune. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked out into the smiling, inspired audience and up at the shimmering lights shining down on me. I had completed my first show dancing professionally, and officially started my dancing career.

I am so blessed to be a part of the Eleone Dance family, and I cannot wait to continue performing for the rest of my life.

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Meghan McFerran

2nd Year B.F.A. Dance, B.A. Journalism

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Dancing Fools

fspaghetti“Dancing Fools”

 

Some people say that you can choose your own destiny. Others, that destiny is thrust upon us or chosen by some all encompassing factor. I’m not sure which I side with just yet, but I do know that I did not choose to become a dancer.

It most definitely was not a well thought out decision in which I weighed the pros and cons and decided that dance was the healthiest and most lucrative career choice for me. But I absolutely would not choose anything else.

I don’t think any dancer chooses purposefully and solely to dance. It is something that is inside of us from the very beginning and slowly, we uncover it and make it our own. It is an art form that we feel from the inside out and can express through our sweat, and let’s be honest, sometimes blood and tears, too… Actually, lots of blood and tears.

But if there is one thing we as dancers can all agree makes every bad rehearsal, every rejection, every emotionally exhausting day, every ache, pain, and bruise all worth it, is that feeling – you know the feeling – when you are sweating and hurt and tired, possibly with a face coated in foundation and dusted with shimmer, when you get it. And it is for you and only you, because only you know how much you need this.

I couldn’t survive without dance. I don’t know what else I would do with my life, but I do not choose to do anything else.

 

“We are fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”

 

Kristen Renee Bashore

Sophomore Undergraduate

Dance major; Communication, Science, and Disorders minor

 

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Center for the Arts at Temple

My name is Cindy Paul and I am a freshman at Temple.  One of the primary reasons I chose Temple University was because of its equal emphasis on both academics and the arts.  The vibrant Center for the Arts at Temple not only includes incredible standalone arts programs, but also encourages a crossover between its individual colleges.  Throughout this semester I have begun exploring and combining several types of art in pursuit of a rich, well-rounded arts education.

One of my main goals with a dance degree is to pursue a career in choreography for musical theatre.  Next semester I am enrolled in a Musical Theatre Dance Repertory course in which I will study original choreography from Broadway musicals along with musical theatre students.

Furthermore, this fall I took a Saturday morning metal arts course at the Tyler School of Art so I could further explore my passion for jewelry-making.  I began a jewelry collection inspired by modern dance techniques and movement qualities.  Currently, I am constructing a hair comb that incorporates the technical concept of naval radiation, in which energy emanates from the center of the body.  Additionally, I am working on a bronze cast piece that incorporates the idea of a spiral.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore several forms of art here at Temple, and I am excited to continue expanding my artistic practices throughout my college career.

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Kun-Yang Lin Dancers

As we head into the Holiday Season, I think of the many things for which I am grateful, including the opportunity to create new works through my company, Kun-Yang Lin Dancers.  Shortly after our performance at The Egg, an architecturally wondrous, 1,000-seat theatre in Albany, NY, KYL/D (which includes 3 Temple Dance alumni) began work on HOME, a new piece inspired by stories of the diverse residents of Southeast Philadelphia, where KYL/D’s research center is located.

Through HOME, we are working for the first time with methodologies adapted from the practices of the acclaimed Cornerstone Theater Company of LA.  Experimenting with new ways of creating, while inviting non-artist, immigrant members of our community to contribute to the creative process in ways that also are new to such folks — who typically are marginalized — is incredibly rewarding.  Over the next several months, KYL/D will be offering glimpses into our research through work-in-progress showings, including at the Temple Dance Faculty Concert in January.  There is nothing more exciting than creating and sharing works that spark conversations on timely issues and have the potential to foster new ways of seeing the world, and our relation to it.  That is what art is all about!

Kun-Yang Lin, Associate Professor

www.kunyanglin.org

Articles and reviews of Union College residency and The Egg Performance:

http://blog.timesunion.com/localarts/review-kun-yang-lindancers-the-egg-102414/35387/

http://www.concordy.com/section/article/a-streetcar-named-desire-performed-by-union/

http://www.concordy.com/section/article/kun-yang-lindancers-forge-connection-between-mind-body-and-spirit/

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