CORD Conference Presenters from Dance Department

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CORD

The Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) http://www.cordance.org/ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for dance professionals from a broad range of specialties to exchange ideas, resources, and methodologies through publication, international and regional conferences, and workshops. The organization encourages research in all aspects of dance and related fields and promote the accessibility of research materials. This year, CORD celebrates its 50th anniversary!

 

CORD Conference Presenters from Dance Department

We have several Dance Department faculty members who will be presenting papers at CORD’s annual conference in November. Professors’ Sally Ann Ness, Sherril Dodds and Mark Franko will all be participating. The conference is held at a different location in the U.S. or abroad every year and this year the conference will take place at Pomona College in Claremont, California. This year’s conference title is: Beyond Authenticity and Appropriation: Bodies, Authorship and Choreographies of Transmission. Sherril Dodds will be presenting on a panel titled, Forever Contemporary: Pop Star Choreographies of Mediated “Authenticities.” Her paper will examine Michael Jackson’s facial choreography, in dialogue with black performance theory, to demonstrate how he resists, negotiates and challenges the limited framework of black masculinity provided by popular music. Sally Ann Ness’s will be presenting a paper titled, Encounters with Wild Bears: Trans-Species Relations in Yosemite National Park. Her presentation examines the history of human-bear encounters in Yosemite National Park illuminates choreographies of “the wild” in both public and private contexts of American culture and society. Bears and humans in Yosemite move each other into forms of action that are ritualistic as well as spontaneous and instinctive as well as intelligent. A case in point from a rock climbing excursion undertaken in 2012 demonstrates the trans-species character of choreographic meaning-making emblematic of visitor cultural performances in Yosemite. Acting in concert, bears and humans move together through an eco-semiotics of inter-habitation creating forms of spatial practice in which new embodiments of wildness emerge.

Bonding Through Improvisation

When I stepped into the room I didn’t know my professor. I barely knew anyone in the room.  It was the first full day of classes for my MFA program.  I had met a few of the dancers at orientation, where we had passed cursory greetings, but I wouldn’t have ventured to say that any of them were friends.  I was filled with anxious energy as so often happens during the first day of school.  My first day at Temple was a time full of opportunities but also with the unknown lurking in the shadows.  I was also nervous about the class because I was a novice at improv, or so I thought.  

 

Through that hour and a half, I’d come to realize that improv, when done with others, is form of communication and that my years of social dancing was the perfect preparation.  Even more importantly, I found real connection and friendship during my first class. Friendship wasn’t my express goal as I stepped into the classroom, but it was the most important aspect of the class for this San Francisco transplant.  
We meandered through Conwell Theater, freely exploring how our bodies move. I started timidly interacting and acknowledging other first year MFAs that I had met at orientation, but there was one girl standing in front of me that I did not know. She reached her hand out and I instinctively followed her movements. We clicked, we both moved with the same intensity and with a similar rhythm. I naturally trusted her until we were both throwing our full weight at each other like a fast and vigorous human seesaw.  It was magical to connect with someone so purely without the burden of words. It was then and there that I knew that I wanted to get to know her. Afterwards our conversation naturally flowed, but our bond had already been formed without words.  

 

-Alissa Elegant

1st Year M.F.A.

The Balancing Act of the MFA Dance Student

The Balancing Act of the MFA Dance Student

By Amanda Keller, First Year MFA Student

As a first year MFA student in the Dance Department at Temple, I’ve quickly found that a major component to this program is being able to balance the academic rigor of the seminar classes with the equally rigorous work of choreographing and making dance works. Even after only two weeks into this program, it has become apparent to my fellow MFAers that we are going to be pulled in various directions. There is equal importance placed on examining and discussing the theoretical dance research as there is on choreographing enlightening and engaging dance works. In a way, the strict line that exists between the theory and choreographing seems to fade away.

As someone who has a Master of Arts degree in Education, I’ve been able to compare my experiences in these different graduate programs and the major difference is that the MFA requires you to make the connection between the theoretical research we are reading and apply it in a performative and unique way to your choreography. The performative component in the MFA in Dance is what compelled me to return to graduate school. Having the opportunity to incorporate a theoretical framework by using research to inform your work and create a piece with multi-layers and a real depth to it is such a rewarding experience.

Finding the time to keep up with the readings and spend time in the studio rehearsing is tricky. I’ve found that playing music I’m thinking about using in my choreography while reading for my classes has helped with the integration of the theory into the dances I’m conjuring in my head. Another thing I’ve tried is jotting down notes in my notebook when something inspires me in the reading that I want to try out in the studio. I am looking forward to discovering additional techniques and tricks to balance the demands of the program.

Sophomore: A Whole New Journey

Sophomore: A Whole New Journey

My freshman year at Temple was nothing short of awesome, inspiring, and devastating. I travelled 1,467 miles across the country and from the moment that I stepped on campus and took the Temple air in, I knew that I was home. I jumped in headfirst.

The great thing about being in a new unknown place is that there is nothing to lose. I left my past dance experiences in Texas and came in with an open mind; I auditioned for everything that I could, I volunteered when people were looking to cast their pieces and attended as many shows as possible. Looking back on my freshman year, it was awesome. I learned a lot about myself and gained a new appreciation for dance. Often, dance training before college places dance in this small, biased bubble. Coming to Temple helped me break this bubble and opened my eyes to a much bigger and more diverse dance world than I ever imagined.Unfortunately, in the midst of all of my excitement, I ended up injuring my knee. It was second semester right before finals and I was absolutely devastated. I wanted to take good care of my body but I did not want to withdraw at the end of the year. With a bit of professional medical attention (and plenty of R.I.C.E.) I was lucky enough to complete my final dance exams. However, when summer came I had to quit cold turkey.

I spent my summer interning in my second major’s field and working closely with my physical therapist to get stronger. My goal was to come back to Temple and work harder than the year before.

Now, it is September and it is a few days into the semester. My body is in shock due to the fact that I wasn’t allowed to dance much over the summer. Even through the aches and pain in my hamstrings, I feel great. My main focus this year is to maintain a healthy body, improve accuracy in my movement, and to choreograph.

The 2015-2016 school year was about stepping out of my comfort zone, but this year is all about eliminating my comfort zone and encouraging others to do the same.

 

-Lexie Hairston

Second Year B.F.A.

 

 

A Student Perspective on Temple University Dance Department’s Study Abroad Program in Rome

Dancing in Italy

By: Meghan McFerran

On May 11, I embarked on my first journey traveling overseas to Europe to study abroad at Temple University’s campus in Rome, Italy! I was fortunate enough to have a very unique experience compared to the average student studying in a classroom setting. While most of my peers studying at Temple Rome packed textbooks and pencils in their backpacks in preparation for class abroad, I packed my Theraband, water bottle and a new leotard. I was going to spend the next six weeks studying dance in one of the most artistic and historic cities in the world.

As a dance major, my classroom was the dance studio at IALS, located just a few short blocks from Temple Rome’s main campus. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 am, after a quick Italian breakfast of a cappuccino and Nutella croissant at the café next door, nine of us dance majors walked into the cozy sized dance studio feeling energized and ready to move.

IALS (pronounced “yalls”) has a studio concept similar to Broadway Dance Center in New York City; you sign in at the front desk and pay to take one of the various genres of classes offered each day such as Latin, ballet, contemporary jazz, etc. Us dance majors at Temple were privileged to have our dance professor from Temple, Jillian Harris, come along on the trip with us and teach us a two-hour modern class.

Due to the small studio space, our class focused on stretching and strengthening exercises as a warm-up, and moved into floor-work, footwork and a center combination. The class focused on proper alignment, gestures, shape making, dynamics and timing. This was a nice change from our usual modern classes at Temple because we had to work with the resources that we had and be more aware of our spatial patterns. We were lucky to have Jillian’s husband, Chris Farrell, accompany us with live music, which made class more fun.

At 11:00 am, us dancers grabbed lunch at the small deli around the corner, walked a few blocks down the road to Temple Rome campus, and got ready for Creative Process. This course required us to create an original piece of choreography drawing inspiration from a piece of artwork that we saw at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. From this inspiration, we were to choose one theme to stick with throughout our creative process. The painting I chose was a piece called “Cielo e Mar” by Italian artist Baldo Diodato. I focused on the theme of pushing and pulling of gravity for my piece. Each class we developed our themes by creating phrases and variations of phrases, presenting our work and getting feedback from other students. For three hours, all nine of us worked in a different creative space, from the park in Villa Borghese to the small parking lot outside campus to the empty classrooms on the fourth floor. We each kept journals to document our process and to hold onto ideas that we may want to use in the future.

After a day of dancing and letting our creative juices flow, we grabbed our water bottles and journals and headed out to explore the beautiful city of Rome. Just a half mile down the street from campus was the popular Piazza del Popolo. Here you could find your way to famous hand pressed pizza, Gelateria Della Palma with over 150 flavors (my favorite was Bacio), explore the ancient ruins, stand in the forum of the Colosseum, and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain all in one day. Having class twice a week also enabled us to travel on weekends. I had the privilege of traveling to Croatia, Tuscany, Florence, Perugia, and Greece while abroad.

At the end of our six weeks in Rome, we presented our creative process pieces to the faculty and other students. The walls of Temple Rome were decorated with beautiful photos, sculptures and artwork that the other Temple students had created. Being able to share the artistic space with other students was a fulfilling experience, and each piece of art expressed our journey of growth, exploration and unforgettable moments in Italy.
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meghanmcferran.com

Temple Dance Participates in Sustainability Week

Last week, Temple Dance Department participated in Sustainability Week, Climate, Sustainability & the Arts video festival.

The festival opened Monday April 11 in the Science Education and Research building with Program 1, exhibited on the giant SERC Video Wall.

Program 1 included Professor Merián Soto’s One Year Wissahickon Park Project: Summer, which documents the summer cycle of the award-winning year-long project of 16 branch dance performances in Wissahickon Valley Park in 2007-08.

Te program also featured Professor Peter d’Agostino’s World-Wide-Walks / between earth & water / ICE, and Prof. Michael Kuetemeyer’s Spilled Light.

Program 2 also took place on April 11 in Annenberg Hall 14,  2020 N. 13th Street. It included Temple Water Dances, a compilation of student dance and video works created and presented in celebration of World Water Day (2015-16). Temple Water Dances included excerpts of works by BFA, MFA and PhD students Kristen Bashore, Bonita Bell, Long Cheng, Leslie Cornish, Morgaine DeLeonardis, Angeline Digiugno, Marina DiLoreto, Amanda DiLudovico, Jessica Halko, David Heller, Kaylie McCrudden, Tyler Ross, Blythe Smith, Angelica Spilis, and Muyu Yuan.

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Pictured: MFA student Muyu Yuan in Temple Water Dances

 

Also on the program was Fishing for the Future, by Dede Maitre, and Superfundland, by  Daniel Kurtz, Christina Betz, John Tarquinio, Jesse Roehrer

-Merián Soto, Professor

ACDA Experience

Ever since I found out about ACDA when I was a freshman in college, it was a personal goal to be accepted to attend the festival. Year after year, I was in works that were submitted but ultimately, not chosen. Finally, my senior year I was able to attend and I was pumped!
For those who don’t know, ACDA (American College Dance Association) is an organization geared towards supporting dance in higher education through providing national programs that provide a variety of classes, performance opportunities, lecture series, and networking events. Temple is a part of the Northeast Regional Conference which was held in SUNY-Brockport this year. The trek was long, but the studios were beautiful!!
The range and amount of classes provided offered variety and flexibility which was a nice change from regular, semester long classes. Some of the classes I took included partner stretch, intermediate ballet, choreographic voice and social justice, an ADF Audition class, Jamaican Dance Hall, modern dance with one of the graduate students who presented work, and advanced contemporary modern dance taught by one of the adjudicators- Ruben Graciani.
As a transfer student, I understood the differences in course structure within different dance departments at colleges and universities. From the hotel room, to classes on campus and attending the adjudication concerts, ACDA was a wonderful experience to network with other dancers in the northeast region and learn about their program and previous training.
If I had to choose my favorite aspect of the program, I would choose the final Gala performance. The three adjudicators chose the top 10 pieces out of all 5 previous concerts based on composition, musicality, aesthetic design, etc. The diversity of movement style and theme celebrated just how powerful, eclectic, and connected the art form of dance is to society. The audience was incredibly supportive of each piece which created an amazing atmosphere. At the end of the day, everyone at ACDA chose to major in dance to share our passion for movement performance and its connection to community which was reiterated in the Gala performance.
-Katie Moore
Senior, B.F.A Dance, Business Minor

Reflection: Response Choreographic Commission 2016

TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

Dance Department 

Reflection:Response Choreographic Commission 2016

The Temple University Dance Department is pleased to announce that our fifth choreographic commission under our Reflection:Response speaker and performance series has been awarded to:

Kathy Westwater

Westwater will create a new work, titled Anywhere, which will premiere on Sept 16 &17, 2016 in Conwell Theater at Temple University. The commission includes a cash award of $5,000 and access to rehearsal space at Temple University throughout summer 2016.  Past commission recipients include Laura Peterson, Charles O. Anderson, Tatyana Tennenbaum, and Jennifer Weber.

In Anywhere, Westwater asks how a dance might engage with, and itself be, a monument. Central concerns are permanent and impermanent cultural manifestations that register and record the impact upon us of time, war, and climate—economic and environmental—and how these manifestations are rendered and experienced in public and private space. Westwater seeks to choreographically manifest a contemporary heroism found in the everyday—anywhere. Without being about a specific historical time or event, there will be a remembering of something that was lost and something that wasn’t.

Anywhere will be performed by five dancers to Henryk Górecki’s “Symphony No. 3.” It will feature a unique relationship between movement and sound through a sound integration design by Architect Seung-Jae Lee.

Kathy Westwater has choreographically pursued experimental dance forms since 1996. Described by Dance Magazine as “bloodless and fascinating” and The Brooklyn Rail as “at the limits of the human,” her work responds to the societal landscape in which it manifests by reimagining the body’s movement potential. Her work has been presented extensively in NYC in spaces such as New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Performance Space 122, Dixon Place, and more. Westwater has received awards from Puffin Foundation, Franklin Furnace Fund, Meet the Composer, and New York Foundation for the Arts, and has been an Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi, Movement Research, and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College since 2001.

Photo Credit: A Hitzenberger

For more information contact:

Merián Soto, Curator

Reflection/Response Commission

msoto@temple.edu

Kathy Westwater: SHAKE/WALK Workshop at Temple University

Kathy Westwater: SHAKE/WALK Workshop at Temple University

On Friday, April 1, Kathy Westwater will teach her Shake/Walk Workshop at Temple University. The workshop is a platform for an aspect of her creative practice as a choreographic dance artist. What began as a therapeutic effort to alleviate strains that arose in the choreography she made, over time became compelling for the formal possibilities embedded in it. Shake/Walk was and has remained something that feels good to do.

Westwater will work with students during a one-week intensive Aug 22-26, and perform work in the Reflection/Response Concert on September 16-17, 2016.
The first Shake/Walk Workshop took place at Movement Research in NYC in 2012. Subsequent workshops took place at Gibney Dance Center in 2013 and 2014, and again at Movement Research in 2015. The last workshop at Movement Research also included a culminating performance with the students at Movement Research at Judson Church on November 9, 2015.

Westwater is eager to share this workshop with Temple dance students in anticipation of her Reflection:Response Commission and Premiere in September in the Cornwell Theater. This workshop will serve as an “audition” to participate in the concert.

Workshop Description

When: Friday April 1, 1:45-3:45PM

Where: Conwell Dance Theater

Taking two everyday forms of movement, we will allow these forms to disorganize within, and be disorganizing of, our bodies. As we explore in solo, duet, and ensemble improvisations, moving periodically in contact and/or with eyes closed, lines between states of order and disorder will be at times stark and at others blurred. The sensations that arise within this unstable and unbound matrix range from chaotic to cathartic, and from disorienting to freeing. We will shift our attention from sensation to function to composition as the workshop unfolds, delving deeper into the formal potential found within experiential states of disorder.

 

Photo Credit: Tod Steelie

 

Photo by Jonathan Gene

D2D: Dare to Dance Hosts Prelude Philadelphia 2016

This past Sunday, D2D: Dare to Dance, Temple University’s dance company, hosted Prelude, an urban dance competition and dance battle that tours to cities across the country to showcase regional dance groups and strengthen the dance community. The #90sandChill themed competition was filled with passion, artistry and fun.

The house was full at the Kurtz Center for the Arts at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia and radiated with positive energy. First in the competition was the dance battle, judged by Dinita “Princess Di” Clark, D2D’s co-founder Béa Martin, and Academy of Phresh’s leader, “Smart Mark.” Dancers circled the battle with shouts and leaps of encouragement for both battlers, while family and friends joined in from the audience, giving the battle an inviting feel. The battle advanced to the top 8, top 4 and then top 2 against So You Think You Can Dance’s Virgil Gadson and Kidd. From razor-sharp angulations to arms being pulled out of the socket to back flips, ticks and clicks, these battles gave dancers the chance to express themselves as a dancer and a creator.

Next was the dance competition, which consisted of about nine dance groups from the north coast that performed various styles of hip-hop. The diverse range of ages, gender and body types in the competition were pleasing to see. The crowd favorite was a local group called Academy of Phresh, who performed an entertaining routine that involved headlamps, a “Straight Outta Philly” sign, and young dancers grooving for their life. The dancer’s raw movement brought out their personalities that beamed with a love of dance.

Last in the program to perform was D2D themselves. The crew raced onstage with smiles, laughter and energy, looking like they just walked out of a 90’s fashion magazine. The 90’s theme continued as D2D danced to a mash-up of throwback hits featuring artists like Busta Rhymes and Notorious BIG. D2D danced with synchronicity, heart and a genuine family connection. The classic songs got the crowd up on their feet dancing and spreading the love.

Danzel Thompson-Stout and Béa Martin founded D2D in 2012 at Temple University. Now, both Temple graduates and working artists in Philly, they continue to serve as a father and mother figure for the crew.

D2D members completely ran the competition. Frankie Markocki, a third year D2D member and dance major, worked as stage manager for the competition. Other members worked tirelessly on piecing together the competition, from contacting the teams, acquiring a theater, deciding the creative design, all while managing their own performances. The smiles that beamed on every D2D member’s face clearly displayed Prelude’s success.

D2D members and alumni have recently been certified in Umfundalai, traveled to Florida for an event called The Thesis, and are working dancers and choreographers in the field. The 29 current members study a range of fields from business to communications to dance. Béa Martin recently graduated with a degree in neuroscience.

D2D has also competed at Battle on Broad, where they won 1st place, and World of Dance.

Mark your calendars for April 22 and 23 at 7:30pm, when D2D will host their Third Annual Showcase titled “Undefined” at Conwell Dance Theater.

D2D hosted Prelude Philly 2016 with grace, organization and sheer fun. Their level of professionalism is unmatched by any school organization, and their accomplishments have reached far outside of just the Temple community and into the professional dance world. D2D’s intentions of spreading the joy of dance and the love for the arts were clearly reflected during Prelude.

Photo by Jonathan Gene

 

-Meghan McFerran

B.F.A. Dance

B.A. Journalism

Meghanmcferran.com