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

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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

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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

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What’s on Offer Today? Reflections on the Annual Meeting of the Hemispheric Institute’s Graduate Student Initiative

In early October, I participated in the annual convergence of the Hemispheric Institute’s Graduate Student Initiative. Founded by Diana Taylor, Zeca Ligiéro, Javier Serna, and Luis Peirano, the Hemispheric Institute promotes critical exchange between artists, activists, and intellectuals working in the Americas. The organization’s Graduate Student Initiative (GSI) aims to facilitate these exchanges within the next generation of scholars working across the expanse of these two diverse, dynamic continents. This year’s meeting of the GSI was hosted by New York University.

I participated in a working group entitled “What’s on Offer Today: Entering the City in Performance”, co-convened by Sareh Afshar, Abigail Levine, and Pedro Bennaton. The group consisted of eleven artist-scholars, each of us working at the intersection of theory and practice. Our offerings to the group proposed different visions for the possibilities of urban intervention in performance, informed by the critical conditions of the places we were coming from. Our dialogue adopted an ethos of expansive inquiry. Rather than attempt to answer each other’s questions as informed by our own geo-political perspectives, we returned each other’s questions with further questions. An ethics of sensitivity permeated the space, the materiality of our words met with attentiveness, respect, and curiosity.

Here are some of the questions that are our working together engendered:

– How can we honor the poetic possibilities of the body in urban space – both in moments of pedestrianism, and moments of exceptional circumstance?

– How do we display affection outwardly in urban environments that are increasingly hostile to the force of affect as a means of conducting civic encounter?

– As activists and artists, how can we reconsider our approaches to futility, or seeming impossibility?

– What is the relationship of passion to action? Can we conceive of that former as an ethics of the latter?

I offer these questions to you, and look forward to our continued, ever-expanding dialogue.

 

– Macklin Kowal, 1st year PhD student

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The Outlet Dance Project

On October 4th, Temple’s students and faculty made a strong showing at The Outlet Dance Project’s 10th annual “Day of Dance” held at Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, NJ).  This event featuring women choreographers and filmmakers of all generations allowed audiences to experience dance within the beautiful 42-acre sculpture park. Consisting of both indoor gallery spaces and large outdoor sculptures, the park immerses visitors in a mixture of inspiring colors and forms.  The day began with an indoor performance featuring “you’re here at last”, a collaboration between Temple Dance alum Belle Alvarez and five current undergraduates.  A band of kirtan musicians then led the audience to site-specific dances situated around sculptures throughout the park.  Sarah Haviland’s “Trio” served as the backdrop for “Paths”, a trio created and performed by Jillian Harris, Laura Katz-Rizzo, and Rhonda Moore, all active faculty in Temple’s Department of Dance.  The dance developed from an investigation of the differences and commonalities within this diverse group of collaborators and the sculpture visually represented the intersections they established.  Overall, the event nurtured a sense of community and made visible the richness of women’s creative voices.   For more information, go to: http://www.theoutletdanceproject.com

– Jillian Harris, Associate Professor

dancers

by David Elwood

dancers

by David Elwood

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Alumni Dance Showcase

This year’s Alumni Dance Showcase featured three artists, Tanya Calamoneri (PhD 2012), Abby Zbikowski (BFA 2006) and Helen Hale (2019).  Each year the Dance Department’s “Production Committee” sends out a letter inviting alumni to submit a proposal for a dance to be included in our annual showcase. This committee is comprised of representatives from each degree program along with one faculty representative and me, as director of Conwell Dance Theater.  We read each proposal and watch video footage for each artist. Then we select a program that we feel reflects the best work in the most dynamic combination possible.  We are able to give each artist who is chosen, a stipend to pay for expenses, as well as provide for travel and accommodations for the week of the show. We also coordinate scheduling the guest artist into existing classes to teach and share with current students from their experiences after graduating.

For me personally, it is a wonderful treat to work with former students. Since I have been here for 35 years, I know almost every alumnus of the BFA and MFA programs. I coordinate the performance and handle the lighting and other technical needs. I get to see how far they have come as artists since they were here as students and to get caught up with them about their lives.

– Nanette Joyce, Conwell Dance Theater Director

A full review of the 2014 Alumni Dance Showcase is available on our tumblog here

Ain't No Swan Lake

Erin Cairns in Tanya Calamoneri’s “Ain’t No Swan Lake” by Adam Amengual

Performance photo

Tanya Calamoneri’s “Ain’t No Swan Lake” by Bill Hebert

 

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Leaving a Trace

Dance movements so often escape the opportunity to leave visual evidence of their trajectory and intentions. On September 11th, 2014 students from the Corporeal Improvisation course at Temple University’s Dance Department and students from the Creative Lab course at Moore College of Art and Design had the opportunity to collaborate and experience a workshop on the expression of flow in drawing and dancing. I had the pleasure to co- teach/facilitate this session with visual artist and muralist David Guinn (Moore’s art faculty). As if color was pouring out of the skin, visual artists and dancers alike experimented with full body-movement improvisation and the idea of leaving a trace; firm marks, light marks, continuous and interrupted flow emerged as ways of spontaneously defining the expressive qualities of their imaginary painting.At the end of the session we prepared the space for a group live painting in which all students inspired each other to make marks. At first the moving paint was lead by hands and brushes as extensions of the core of the body, eventually students used their whole body as the medium to create the painting and become the art itself. What was left was a visual and kinesthetic testimony of the character of their individual and collective movement impulses. It gave us all a rich experience and an entry point to continue our improvisational research and look forward to many interdisciplinary artistic opportunities.

Check out the video of this collaboration here!

Marion Ramirez, adjunct faculty and MFA alumna

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Writing on Dance In and Out of the University

I first came across thINKingDANCE when I read Jonathan Stein’s evocative review of Marion Ramirez’s (MFA, Temple University) thesis concert Musa Paradisiaca. Since then, I have been warmly welcomed on to its Board of Directors. thINKingDANCE was conceived by its Editor-In-Chief, Lisa Kraus in concert with Anna Drozdowski, current head of Education, and has evolved into a robust on-line journal that promotes and documents a rich array of dance performances in Philadelphia, and provides mentorship and training for emerging and experienced dance writers. Given the steady decline of dance coverage in the major national newspapers, thus depriving dance students and scholars of some outstanding critical writing, thINKingDANCE insures that the important art of dance criticism continues. Although the aims, contexts and styles of writing across dance criticism and scholarship often differ, I would argue that both are mutually supportive partners. As a PhD student, one of the ways in which I honed my writing skills was through working with some generous editors on British arts periodicals, such as Dance Theatre Journal, The Dancing Times and Film Waves. Across these publications, I worked hard to develop a writing voice that could appeal to the general reader, but which articulated the complexities that dance provokes. And here at Temple, we introduce students to different analytical lenses that will allow them to describe and interpret dance in nuanced ways. I am therefore reminded of the importance of dance writing in and out of the academy.

To subscribe to thINKingDANCE: http://thinkingdance.net/

– Professor Sherril Dodds, Chair of the Dance Department

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Dancing my way to Success

Whenever people ask me what I want to do with my dancing, I have always told them that my first dance career goal is to perform and travel with a company. My dream has forever been to perform onstage with talented professionals and get paid to do what I love most, however I never thought that this dream would come true so quickly.

This weekend, I experienced my first day as a professional dancer. On Saturday afternoon, butterflies raced through my stomach as I walked into the studio where I would spend endless hours this year. The rehearsal director and the other dancers welcomed me. Although I was the only new girl in the company, the others instantly made me feel comfortable. We immediately got to work, and we learned an entire show in four hours. My brain did not stop racing the entire rehearsal. I had to stay focused, pick up the choreography the first time it was given, and move onto the next piece, followed by the next piece. So many heads, arms, twists and turns moved through my body, and I had no time to get nervous about what was going on. All that I could do was focus and give it my all. After a full weekend of memorizing, sweating and dancing my heart out, I returned home, feeling more passionate about dance than I had ever felt. I successfully completed my first weekend as a professional dancer, and proved to myself that anything is possible with hard work, dedication and passion.

– Meghan McFerran, Dance  and Journalism double-major and Eleone Dance Theatre company member

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Afro-Colombian Dance

Imagine the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific coast and a city with an elevation of 10,000 feet and you are in the cities of Cartagena, Cali and Bogota in Colombia, South America. I received an invitation to participate in research project sponsored by the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano. The name of the project is “Hacia una cartografía del cuerpo en el arte contemporáneo”, “Towards a cartography of the body in contemporary arts”. It’s a group that is based in the Humanities Department headed by associate professor Carlos Sanabria and Ana Avila, a co-researcher. The event, “encuentro de investigación en historia y memoria de la danza”, ” Dance research meeting around dance history and memory” is a product of the group for this year.

I spent three intense weeks in Colombia teaching, lecturing and watching Afro-Colombian dance. Colombia is an interesting country with a complex history. The Afro-Colombian population is small (2.9%) but they have had a significant impact on Colombian culture. Dance is vibrant and pervasive in Colombia with an annual festival of traditional Afro-Colombian dance and music called the Petronio Alvarez Festival that attracts 80,000. It was an incredible sea of dancing bodies, many waving scarves in recognition of one of the most popular traditional dances: the currulao. Cumbia is another popular dance that has many layered meanings. It can be a seductive courting dance or it can be a dance of resistance. I saw all kinds of dance in Colombia. I watched the post-modern work of Lobadys Perez and his company Periferia at his studio, Ciudad Móvil in Cartagena. In Bogota, I was able to see a contemporary work based in the war between the guerillas and the Colombian government. The company is called Zajana! In Cartagena, there is the Afro-Colombian Company called Atabaques with a focus on neo-traditional dances. Permanencias is a young company in Cartagena doing innovative work, blending traditional dance forms with contemporary movements. I brought along Ebony Webster (Temple, 2014), a recent graduate of the dance department to demonstrate movements from the Umfundalai technique.

It was encouraging to see Afro-Colombian dance being researched, performed and taught in neo-traditional and contemporary styles. Colombian is rich with movement vocabulary that speaks to its African, Indian and Spanish heritage.

– Dr. Kariamu Welsh, Dance Professor

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