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 d├ęcor 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSTuO5E9_1g
Dunham as Odette in 1948: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LASYzcH67F0

Summary:
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. 

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