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/

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

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.

10912470_10204809531592200_1848817652_o10401357_10202385773200324_5566084870955678779_n

Meghan McFerran

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

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

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

 

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

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.

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

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/

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

Intricate Improvisation

As a first year Master of Arts student in the Dance Department here at Temple University, I take a Corporeal Improvisation class in the course of my degree. I am taking it this term with Marion Ramirez, and we have been working on our final projects as the end of the semester approaches. We were asked to select a non-studio setting to meet with our partner to improvise in a site-specific manner for a total of 4 hours. My partner, Tia, and I selected 30th Street Station in which to improvise twice for 2 hours over two weeks.

We were incredibly fascinated by the walls of this structure, as each wall of large stone blocks had their own unique cracks, colors, and patterns; we found from watching each other and watching videos of our duets that our dancing seemed to have a subtext related to surface due to our interactions with the walls. Additionally, having worked on head-tail connection and spirals in class with Marion, wild spirals and dramatic swings of weight rebounded our bodies off the walls of 30th Street Station. As seen in the video, this semester culmination in weighted spirals led us on an enjoyable whirlwind journey.

Click the link to see video footage!

E HENN blog post for 11 21 2014

-Erica Henn, 1st Year M.A.

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

Student Dance Concert Piece

By: Alana Yost

 

This is my first semester as a Temple MFA Dance student and as soon as I heard about the opportunity to present my work at The Student Dance Concert, I have been working towards realizing that goal. I found out my piece got in to the concert and I have been diligently working with my dancers to get it performance ready each Friday during our hour and a half rehearsal time slot.

This is my first time presenting a variation of this piece; first during the summer it debuted on a group of dancers whom I taught at a school where I grew up training, second at The Philly Fringe, and third now on Temple dancers for this showcase. The evolution of the piece has been truly remarkable. At times I have felt more of the witness than the choreographer and have blogged about my journey through this process and pushing myself artistically outside of my comfort zone.

Watching all of your hard work come to fruition is truly a remarkable feeling. I am so proud of this piece and all my dancers have accomplished. As I enter into this next chapter in my career and artistry, I walk into it confidently having achieved my first goal I set for myself in graduate school. Now I can just sit back this weekend and watch my piece like an audience member – ultimately being taken to another place – that is why I love so much being a part of dance.

 

***(Picture caption: Photo credit: Bill H. 2014 Choreography by: Alana Melene Yost Dancers: Temple BFA Students)

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

Summer Dance Research

A perk of being part of the Honors Program at Temple University is that my scholarship provides me with a $4,000 stipend every summer to partake in an internship or research project. I was able to attend two dance intensives, the Nathan Trice Summer Intensive and the Bates Dance Festival, with the intent of furthering my dance and choreographic research.

 

At the Nathan Trice Summer Intensive, I was able to study with choreographer Nathan Trice, who taught both his rigorous modern technique and three of his works. I had trained with him in high school, so it was really nice to reconnect with him and his flowy and qualitative movement style. I plan to attend the intensive again next summer. At Bates Dance Festival, I took four classes – contact improvisation with Chris Aiken, modern floorwork technique with Claudia Lavista of Delfos, modern technique with Jen Nugent, and yoga with Robbie Cook. It was three weeks of very hard work, yet I was able to meet dancers and teachers from all over the world. The Bates Dance Festival is a very cooperative and non-competitive environment in which students can study, perform and create new work. It was an extremely rewarding experience.

 

To finalize my summer, I got involved with The Rockaway Project, a documentary theater and photography exhibition about the spirit of Rockaway Beach in Queens, NY. Rockaway Beach was heavily devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and this production was a reminder of how well the small town pulled itself together. The director, Oona Roche, asked me to choreograph a short piece to go alongside a song that she wrote and sang about the ocean. We ended up performing the production at a small venue in Fort Tilden, a beautiful area of Rockaway. My summer experiences left me excited to bring my new kinesthetic understandings and choreographic outlook to the classroom environment.

-Elisa Hernandez, 2nd Year BFA Student

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

Paths

On Saturday, October 4th, I met up with two of my colleagues (Jillian Harris and Rhonda Moore) in the early morning on Temple University’s Main Campus for the 40 minute drive to the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey, where we would be performing a ten-minute structured improvisation entitled, “Paths,” at the site of “Trio,” a lovely sculpture by the artist Sarah Haviland.  Despite the fact that I overslept, and it was pouring rain, forcing me to both jump hazily out of bed early on the weekend and confront the possibility of dancing in the wet grass and mud, I began to perk up when I saw the faces of my two friends and fellow dancers as they climbed into my car.  We easily passed the ride from Philadelphia to Hamilton chatting, on and off hoping the rain would let up in time for the 2 pm showing of the co-choreographed work  we were showing at this year’s Outlet Dance Project.  The dance, based on our connections and differences, proved a wonderful chance for the three of us to work together, allowing a dance to emerge from our shared connections, both good and bad. Over a summer dinner one night, we discussed the possibility of  dancing together, despite our major differences.  Eventually we decided that going into the studio together would give each of us needed inspiration to confront how we were changing as dancers and people. Working together, however, also allowed us to bolster one another offering extra strength and support for making individual choices. We had a lot of fun in the studio, holding, carrying and throwing one another, providing support and also propelling one another forward into the unknown, proceeding on our own distinct paths.  Luckily, once we arrived in New Jersey and our dance began that afternoon, the rain dissipated and the sun began to shine.  What a gift to be part of a community that values innovation, learning, acceptance and creativity over profit and beauty that only runs skin-deep.  How lucky I am to have found people who push me to continue growing and learning, and becoming the best person and dancer I can be each day!

– Dr. Laura Katz Rizzo, Assistant Professor and BFA Program Director

 

​Postcard Art: Priscilla Algava, Design by Stacia Murphy

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF

Dance Photo Shoot

After a long week of classes in the dance department at Temple, I set off for a dance photo shoot with photographer Juan Irizarry, the creator of Philadelphia Dance Photo Projects. I had heard positive feedback about him from another Temple dancer, so I decided to give it a shot even though I was a bit nervous because I had never done a real dance photo shoot before. I woke up that morning full of both anticipation and excitement, and packed up by pointe shoes, tights, and various skirts and leotards to choose from. After I got to the studio, located on Worth Street, I started to stretch and prepare for my shoot. Much to my relief, Juan and his wife Millie were very nice, helpful, and easy to work with. Once I got the hang of the process, I started to enjoy getting to do all kinds of dance poses while being photographed.  I began the shoot in pointe shoes and ballet shoes and then switched to bare feet to take some more contemporary and modern shots. I appreciated having the opportunity to expand my dancing into another very important form of art: photography.  My experience working with Juan for Philadelphia Dance Photo Projects is just another example of how living in a city with a very large and prominent arts community opens many doors for college dance students.

-Chelsey Hamilton, Dance and Journalism double major

Share or save
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Google Buzz
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • email
  • Print
  • PDF