Monday, December 22, 2014

December Dance Blog

Monthly Goals:
classwork/choreography: We've been working on a fast dance and it's been hard trying to figure out how to do it correct and in time. So my goal is to try to practice it once in a while over break so when we come back to class I'll remember the dance. 
technique and performance: I've been doing much better with pirouettes, I've been managing to do doubles much more often lately. I think I need to work on flexibility a lot more because I've been losing hamstring flexibility which is really important. 

Dance article:
Roslyn Sulcas wrote an article for the New York time's dance review section about "The Nutcracker" at the Paris Opera Ballet. According to her the ballet felt very impersonal and not extremely festive although everything seem to be fairly traditional. However, Clara and fritz are danced by adults who fail to capture how a child dances. Another change is that drosselmeyer is transformed into a prince, not the nutcracker, and there is no kingdom of the sweets and the sugarplum fairy variation is danced by Clara. The writer also criticizes the costume and décor calling it "stultifyingly dull". The dancing is also heavily critiqued, being called awkward and strange, the dancers were off the beat due to the extreme difficulty level of the choreography credited to Nureyev. In contrast, the company did better as an ensemble than they have in the past, the corps de ballet was attentive and engaged. Sadly, those who could follow along with the hard choreography, we're too dull and didn't manage to bring dynamic into their dancing. The usual magic that comes with the nutcracker just seemed to be lacking for the Paris Opera Ballet. The way the author of the article portrayed this performance made me really not inclined to see it, I appreciate that the company wanted to stray from the traditional Nutcracker performed year after year across the world, but this particular approach just didn't seem to work out. 

Dance history: Katherine Dunham
Important facts about Katherine Dunham

  •  She was not only a dancer and choreographer but also an author and social activist against racial discrimination
  • Taught young black dancers about their heritage and culture through dance
  • Her company went all over the world, around 33 countries 
  • Lived in Japan for a year almost totally isolated to write autobiographies about her childhood
  • Was a cultural ambassador to Senegal, she sometimes scouted for talent there 
Youtube videos:

Dunham and her company performing in London in 1952:
Dunham as Odette in 1948:

Katherine Dunham emphasized the importance of maintaining African culture through dance and her various trips to the West Indies changed her technique to focus on flexibility, isolation, and rhythmic movements. What's unique about her dance school is it also provided classes on philosophy, language, speech etc. Dunham was quite the activist, as she fiercely fought against segregation all over the world. She never gave up on the fight, even at age 82 she went on a 47 day hunger strike. Dunham was inspirational in the way used her fame that came with her remarkable dancing and choreography to fight against racism all over the world. 

What's going on in class:
We've continued with Ms. Savage's dance and we've reviewed cake walk a few times trying to work out the kinks and we've hardly worked on I see fire so I think it'd be nice to work on that some more. I really like Ms. Savage's dance and as I said as part of my goals I'm going to try to work on it over the break so I don't forget it. I think I'm continuing to try my hardest in class. I've been improving at pirouettes and I think I should begin to focus on flexibility because I don't regularly stretch and I've been losing some flexibility. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

November Dance Blog

Monthly Goals:
classwork/choreography- We've begun to choreograph a dance to I See Fire by Ed Sheeran and I think it's been going really well. I would like to work on being more comfortable with improv and making mistakes and being open to experimenting with different things (it's something I really struggle with as a dancer). My goal is to try improv at home and not get so caught up in whether something is good or bad, or looks awkward.
technique and performance- I have been practicing pirouettes at home and getting a little better but my goal for this next coming week is to actually go in during consultation one day and work on pirouettes.

Dance article:
An article in the New York Times Dance section talks about Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, a duo who performed as the lovers Kitri and Basilio from Don Quixote last Thursday. The writer of the article said that while there were sparks between the pair, Ms. Osipova is beginning to outshine Mr. Vasiliev. However, Mr. Vasiliev knows how to engage an audience very well. Because Don Quixote mixes humor and over the top movement and emotions with ballet, it requires a talented performer. Unfortunately the author thought Mr. Vasiliev's "lack of refinement" and exhaustion after a difficult piece outweighed his comedic talents. In contrast, Ms. Osipova is quick yet graceful, executing difficult dances with precision and enthusiasm, proving to be the highlight of the performance in the critic's opinion. The show interests me because I've never really seen a comedic ballet, so I think it would be really interesting and exciting to experience. However, the way the author describes Mr. Vasiliev's lack of endurance, discourages my interest in seeing this particular production.

Dance history: Bella Lewitzky
Important facts about Bella Lewitzky

  •  She is a modern dance choreographer from California
  • Founded Dance Theater of Los Angeles with Lester Horton
  • Found ballet too restrictive, which is why she pursued Modern
  • Has received over 6 awards for both her dancing and her human rights awareness/involvement
Youtube videos:

Special guest speaker:
Lewitzky teaching a dance she choreographed with Horton:

Bella Lewitzky has changed modern dance because of her involvement with the development of the Horton Technique, which instructs dancers on how to strengthen their bodies broaden their ability to be expressive everywhere on their body. What's very impressive is the way she was able to take the events occurring in the world around her and express those events through her choreography. She focused heavily on pushing the limits of artistic freedom. Her motivation is also quite inspiring, she created at minimum one new production per year, conveying her passion and love for dance. For Lewitzky, gaining government support for the arts was especially important, so she devoted a lot of time towards gaining that essential support. I think its incredible the way Lewitzky showed not only a story but showed real events and conveyed opinions on these events through her complex choreography.

What's going on in class:
Currently we're choreographing a dance which has been going smoothly, there haven't been any conflicts yet. But I'm definitely feeling a little awkward when attempting to improvise, which is why it's my goal to start experimenting at home. In addition, Ms. Savage taught us a dance to some Latin music which is very fun because we haven't done anything like that yet. I believe I'm working up to my full potential, I just need to work on my endurance and flexibility more outside of class. I have worked on my pirouettes so I did meet my goal for this month somewhat, but I also need to go in to the dance room and practice because obviously the floors are very different from the ones at my house.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Dance Blog

Monthly goals: 
classwork/choreography- We learned a new dance today that I find pretty confusing because of the timing, so it's important that I practice the counts as well as the dance, to make sure I don't get flabbergasted when we dance as a group. 
technique and performance- I really need to work on my pirouettes and the pirouette exercise. To help with pirouette, I think I'll start wearing my toe pads to class, and working on my turns. 

Dance article:
The article I found was on the American Ballet Theater's performances yesterday in the New York Times dance section of their website. The author discussed three pieces with opinions ranging from praise to dissatisfaction. The writer of the article, said their rendition of "Bach Partita" required many dancers, including 3 couples, 7 more pairs and a corps of 16 women. All the dancers choreography layered onto one another, overlapping creating a canon-esque look. Everything was crisp and executed with precision and the movements were symmetrical, which enchanted the audience. However, when they performed "Raymonda Divertissements", the author generally enjoyed the piece, but found that the dancers were either too forceful or too reserved. In contrast, "Gaîté Parisienne" was "too polite" and "lacks the gusto to match the Offenbach score". The author was clearly not a fan of the way the American Ballet Theater approached this piece of work, he found the lovers waltz lacking in depth and maturity. Because of the negativity towards the second and last pieces, I don't feel very inclined to see the show; although having heard these opinions, I'd like to watch it and compare the authors opinions to my own. The article didn't particularly compel me to want to look into the performance further, but I definitely will start looking at aspects of a show I haven't considered before (such as, maturity, forcefulness, and politeness or reservations). 

Dance history assignments: Anna Pavlova
Important facts about Anna Pavlova

  • Russian ballerina, who's signature role was The Dying Swan
  • She was so talented that she went immediately into dancing in small groups as opposed to dancing in the corps 
  • Invited to dance with Ballet Russe in 1909
  • Made her own ballet company and therefore had total control over the choreography, the creative aspect of dance etc. 
  • Teachers immediately recognized her immense skill 
  • Her technique was very classical but she was influenced by different types of cultures 
YouTube videos:
The Dying Swan:
More dancing clips:

Anna Pavlova was a renowned classical Russian ballet dancer. She's a very important person because her legacy of grace and emotion, influenced ballet today. She was always extremely passionate about dance from a very young age and that passion only blossomed as she became more and more involved with the ballet world. She was not only known for her impeccable talent, but also for being incredibly dedicated and hard working. The way she danced was a pouring of emotions only able to be expressed through movement, she used feelings to enhance her performances. Researching Pavlova is very inspirational, especially after seeing videos of the graceful way she dances. I think she is a beautiful dancer who exemplifies what ballet, and dance in general should be.

What's happening in class:
We've just started a new dance with hats that's actually an add on in the beginning of an old dance. The timing is very tricky, but as I said I'll be working on it. It's really unfortunate that Emily hurt her wrist and it makes the dance a little more difficult but I'm sure with practice we'll both feel more confident with how to work with her injury. I'm feeling a little frustrated with my pirouettes and I really need to start working on those because I used to be much better at them. The way we do pirouettes is also different for me so I need to practice them so it becomes more comfortable. I think I've been working in dane and staying engaged. As for my goals from last month, I think I've improved on the favorite son dance, but I haven't been practicing outside of class as much as I should. In light of the fact that we have a performance on Tuesday, I'll definitely be practicing more this weekend. My strength/endurance I think may be improving but my flexibility isn't because I haven't been working on it. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September Dance Blog

Monthly goals:
classwork/choreography- I will work on favorite son outside of class so I remember the moves we learn in class
technique and performance- I will remember what Maggie told me when I met with her that one day, about the pirouette exercise.

Dance article:
I read an SF gate article about the Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble. The author  admires Morris's work and thinks that Morris picked the perfect music to go along with the choreography. The way people inevitably pair off into duets or trios for dances enchants the author of this article. They thought the way the dancers moved their bodies portrayed the emotions brewing in their lovers quarrel. The writer thinks that the group did a really great job and that Morris knew exactly what he was doing when picking the music. It seems like a great production and I would love to see it because I found this article sort of confusing and I'd like to be able to get a better sense of what went on. After reading this article, I was intrigued by what the Morris Dance Group had to offer but not so intrigued that I sought more information about the group or the performance.

Dance history assignments: Bob Fosse 
Important facts about Fosse
  • used a lot of jazz hands, turned in knees, rolled shoulders, snapping, usage of hats etc
  • was an actor, dancer, choreographer, director etc.
  • acted, director or choreographed over 30 shows 
  • very structured, exact, demanding and detailed 
Youtube videos
Mini clips of Fosse dancing:
A taste of Fosse's choreography:
Fosse's choreography from Cabaret:

Fosse's work is important because it combined sexual and vaudevillian movements to create a really unique style of dance. Fosse communicated pain and amplified emotions through his very technical work. After having researched his work, it's become apparent to me the difference in the various forms of dance in certain musicals and how that affects the overall message of the dance or the show. I think at first one might not like Fosse's work because of the strangeness of it but when you recognize the power of weird movements, his work becomes very intriguing. 

What's happening in class:
Currently we are learning favorite son, I think our class is catching on to very quickly but I feel like because some people already know the dance, we're moving a little fast. Which means I need to rehearse outside of class more so I don't forget it, which is my goal for this next month. 
I hope I'm working up to my potential, and I try to stay engaged in every class. I think because I'm used to a classical ballet class and in dance 1 the requirements are much lower than dance 3, I'm missing some of the expectations taught in dance 2. I don't think my strength, flexibility or endurance are improving because I haven't been working on them, I've gotten really caught up in school and I  get overwhelmed and forget to work on strength, flexibility and endurance.