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AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL: JUNE JULY/2014

 

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It was so exciting to be at the American Dance Festival!  As a lover of dance and lover of learning, this place is pure bliss. From June 20-July 8, I studied as part of the Dance Professionals Workshop and an additional period of independent study. I appreciated the variety and scope of the faculty, the unfettered energy of the student body, the insightful films and discussions, beautiful repertory showings, and first-rate performances by visiting companies.

I tried to take at least one class with as many of the ADF faculty as I could and made it to Anjali Austin, Rodger Belman, Elizabeth Corbett, Teena Marie Custer, Brenda Daniels, Marjani Forte,Mark Haim, Ellen Hemphill, Gerri Houlihan, T. Lang, Nicholas Leichter, Nia Love, Jennifer Nugent, Kate Skarpetowska, James Sutton, Tom Weinberger, and Jesse Zaritt. Each teacher held their own unique frame of reference regarding movement. I loved the varied experiences each teacher created for us, resulting in a veritable panorama of dance theories and practices. These master teachers all share an outstanding dedication and passion to dance.

My schedule allowed me to spend a great deal of time in Nia Love’s wonderful modern class, in which I loved learning some fundamental Pan-African movement patterns. Nia is an elegant and joyful teacher, extremely clear in her sharing of dance forms from Ghana and Mali. I enjoyed her class structure, which begins with traveling across the floor and evolves into a longer phrase.

I also dedicated some time to Ellen Hemphill’s voice and gesture class, which I absolutely adored. I love how Ellen connects the voice to the body so powerfully. Ellen’s attention to nuance, truth and detail is revelatory. Ellen also taught my group some beautiful songs, which we loved to sing.

Gerri Houlihan’s class was another favorite of mine. A master teacher, her unique style blends elements of Jose Limon (whom she studied with at Juilliard) and Lar Lubovitch (whom she danced for) into what is lovingly called “flow and glow”! Gerri’s brilliant class structure and expertly crafted movement phrases are so challenging and satisfying to the body. I loved connecting breath to movement and feeling the weight of my limbs falling and floating in space. I can’t wait to take her class again someday!

Kate Skarpetowska’s class had a similar feeling to Gerri’s for me. I loved the class structure and the movement phrases, I hope to be able to study with her again. I admire her artistry and teaching.

I could probably write a page about each teacher I took class with, but the above four are the instructors I was able to spend the most time in class with at ADF.

Performances I attended included Ballet Hispanico, Pilobolus, Ishmael Houston-Jones/Emily Wexler, Adele Myers and Dancers, Cedar Lake Ballet, and John Jasperse. Each performance was outstanding. Particular highlights for me were Rosie Herrera’s thoughtful, fun, and beautiful Show.Girl for Ballet Hispanico, Pilobulus’s sensual and daring On the Nature of Things, Ishamael Houston-Jones’ dancing to You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling in haunting shadow, seeing Raphaelle Kessedjian dancing on the edge in Adele Myers new work The Dancing Room, Crystal Pite’s gorgeously aching Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue for Cedar Lake Ballet, and the mind-bending Within Between by the virtuosic John Jasperse dancers.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what the followings things mean: dance, performance, dance technique, american dance, form, function, dance history, audience, the future of dance, and so many other things. As an experience, ADF posed questions which sparked conversation, exploration, and further investigation in my mind. This was so rewarding and exciting. It was thrilling to be in a place where dance was so vital, and to take part in a celebration of movement.

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