“Jar of Hearts”

10 Dec

 

Peter Chu does it again!

One of the greatest choreographers of our generation is featured in a very popular music video for DANCING (YES, with artistic intention behind it!). I get chills! This is the dance world at its best people. Feast your eyes…

Jerome Robbins: Hit Maker

2 Dec

The American dance culture has been altered by many significant characters in its history. In the United States, dance became a hybrid of the ballet  and stage dance we learned from the European countries as well as the twist the American modern pioneers gave to it.  The man that fused all of these dance forms together to create some of the most highly respected works in American dance history was Jerome Robbins. Through critical acclaim from innovative modern ballets he set on some of the greatest ballet companies in America, Robbins was able to expand his career into the world of Hollywood and Broadway where his true stardom as a choreographer and producer came to be. Jerome Robbins became one of the most influential personalities of contemporary ballet and theater dance by creating works of American themes with diverse movement qualities the public and critics alike were enthralled by.

When Robbins started dancing in his late teens and early twenties, all the ballet in America came directly from Russian origin. Robbins along with several other choreographers of this period came to the realization that America needed its own reputation as a ballet capital. All the ballets being performed weren’t about realistic concepts; most centered on ethereal creatures and melodramatic gestures. He claimed, “I got tired of dancing a whole year in boots, bloomers, and a wig. I said ‘Why can’t we dance about American subjects? Why can’t we talk about the way we dance today and how we are now?”. Thus, the creation of his debut choreographic work, Fancy Free. Robbins proved himself as a theatrical humorist and provided a new wave of freshness in the realm of the theater. Many Modern Dance companies today are constantly trying to get as far away from ballet as possible. An example of this would be Pilobolus Dance Company. Pilobolus performances have long been characterized by a strong element of physical interaction between the bodies of the performers and exaggerations or contortions of the human form, often verging on gymnastics. The group was immediately acclaimed for its startling mix of humor and invention and Pilobolus soon became a self-sufficient organization, its members choreographing, dancing, managing, and publicizing their own programs.

In what seemed like overnight, Jerome Robbins became the hottest new name in Broadway and ballet. Professionals of all dance backgrounds came to know and respect him as a serious force in the industry. By not limiting himself to not only just ballet or musical theater but also to choreographing, directing, and producing, Robbins is continually hailed as an artistic and entertainment genius.

Jerome’s critically praised stage musical West Side Story was later turned into a Hollywood film that Robbins choreographed as well as directed. His direction brought the dance sequences to life by getting all the angles that flattered the choreography and told the story with shots he got.  The phenomenon that became West Side Story changed the way everyone in the world looked at Broadway musicals. It was the first time in a long time something new and modern was crashing into the Broadway world. Broadway could now be a serious realm for real life topics. It also changed the way the musical theater world cast its shows as well. After West Side Story no one in a musical could just sing, dance, or act. A performer had to have all three skills to even be considered. Not much has changed today, in fact, the concept has sky-rocketed. Dancers today that get their debuts on TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance? and Dancing with the Stars are constantly popping up in movies that require them to not only dance but act and sing as well. Kherington Payne made it to and in a role in the 2009 reinvention of the movie Fame and is currently a new member of the Pussycat Dolls. Julianne Hough started out on Dancing with the Stars and has since then released several Country albums and recently stared in the movie Burlesque where she danced, sang, and acted. Both of these women began their careers in dance and have since exploded into the entertainment industry by being triple threats.

Jerome Robbins altered American dance in a way no one else in history could have. Through his vast range of movement vocabulary arraying from contemporary ballet to musical theater he created a distinctly American style. It was him who made dancers realize you couldn’t just be one-dimensional anymore. Robbins made the dance world realize that, to be successful, one must be willing to try anything and everything. Jerome Robbins is undoubtedly the greatest American born choreographer and the dance industry as we know it today wouldn’t exist without him.

 

 

 

Ailey’s “Revelations”

19 Nov

Alvin Ailey once said that one of America’s richest treasures was the cultural heritage of the African-American – ”sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.”  This idea of the “African experience” reveals an enduring classic that is a tribute to that heritage and to Ailey’s genius. Ailey’s famous work “Revelations” explores a social progression from slavery to the celebration of freedom, taking the audience to places from the deepest grief to the holiest joy in the soul.

“Revelations” is composed of three main sections, each of these sections encompassing several pieces. The opening section of “Revelations” reveals Continue reading

Art & Fear

11 Nov

I recently came across a book that has really put my craft into a new perspective. Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, is a non-fiction book written by artists for artists. The point of the book is to help the young and struggling artist survive in the art world and to conquer the various difficulties, obstacles, and fears that the developing artist faces. These difficulties come in two ways: internal and external. Internal obstacles are those obstacles that the artist has within herself, such as fears about herself, fears of others, an inability of the artist to find her own work. External obstacles are the difficulties one faces in the world of art, such as managing art production, finding time to pursue one’s own work, teaching in the academy, interacting with the art community, managing one’s art network, and so on.

Continue reading

Dance Therapy: Art Has the Power

4 Nov
Dance is the most fundamental of the arts, involving direct expression through the body .
For this reason, it is an intimate and powerful medium for therapy. Movement therapy is the therapeutic use of movement to improve the mental and physical well-being of a person. It focuses on the connection between the mind and body to promote health and healing. Few scientific studies have been done to evaluate the effects of dance therapy on health, prevention, and recovery from illness. Clinical reports, though, suggest dance therapy may be effective in improving self-esteem and reducing stress. As a form of exercise, dance therapy can be useful for both physical and emotional aspects of quality of life. Since its beginnings, movement therapy has been an outlet for improving optimism, mental and physical health, and overall outlook on life for many people such as the elderly, people with cancer, and autistic children.
We all know that being elderly is no fun, especially if they are living alone with no family or friends close by. An elderly person can be very lonely under these circumstances and can become depressed. Just the fact that elderly people can touch their dance partners helps them to get over their feeling of loneliness and of being isolated from the rest of world. In addition, the dance movements help to ease their tension, keep them flexible and fit, while helping to improve the tone of their muscles. Dance provides an outlet for self expression and creativity, even if it’s only shuffling movements, because each individual shuffles their feet as they wish to. For centuries, dance has been a reason for getting people together. Unlike other activities, dance allows participants to concentrate on each other rather than play to an audience or strive to meet regimented skill specifications.

Dancebloggers.com: Connecting the Dance World

29 Oct

I recently discovered a great blog site where dance bloggers of all backgrounds and styles of dance can come together to discover, connect, and participate with dancers all over the world to discuss all things dance! What I love about dancebloggers.com is the fact that it connects dancers to educate each other which is exactly my goal with my blog. It is a portal where choreographers, dancers, scholars, critics, and just observers intrigued by the “Dance World” can discuss a series of topics and answer questions, as well as show dance in the media and news. The blog helps dance bloggers connect and follow the dance blogosphere; it also allows people interested in dance and blogging to learn more about the field. The blogs make a point to shed some light on the lengths dancers go to to book a gig, be successful in an audition, or even just get through a day without dancing. There are discussions about the passion dancers have for their craft through articles, books, reviews, photos, and videos to inspire and educate. Passion and dedication are two traits that are crucial to a dancer’s character because it is so easy to get burned out in this field of study. I even added my blog to this cite which is very encouraging that people will read my work and I could get feedback from it.

I found an entry on the blog that I have actually been looking for; really interesting dance photography. Richard Avedon is a fabulous and famous photographer who is known for photographing icons such as actors, singers, philanthropists, and some just plain ordinary people. In this entry, there are several photos of Avedon’s work with dance icons such as “The Mother of Modern Dance” Martha GrahamMikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, and others. These photos are so inspiring and capture such interesting moments with the dancers that have never been seen before.

A Master of Dance

22 Oct

“Process defines performance,

Movement improves life,

Breath inflates space,

Your presence ignites elegance”

-Peter Chu

 

These words have and will stick with me for quite possibly the rest of my life. I got the amazing pleasure of working with the new up-and-coming choreographer Peter Chu so many years ago in a concert piece in high school and was so inspired by his philosophy about teaching and the dance world. He has such a great way of seeing and creating dance it is truly inspiring. Here is a piece of his work that I love and I hope to emulate his passions and someday be where he is today.

1+1= tendu?

15 Oct

Here’s something for you dancers to think about… is it justifiable to give dancers grades because it’s in a college setting? It is clearly legitimate to give someone a grade for a math test because the material is very black and white. 1+1=2. This is a true statement; a fact. Dance, on the other hand, is an art form and a true craft for some people.

Dance is what gets me through the day most of the time, it isn’t just a hobby. In other words, because I have chosen an academic dance degree, my teachers are grading me every day on my skill level, performance, and overall progress. Since I came from a high school where I was also graded, I feel comfortable with the process and think it is justifiable given that it is done in a fair manner. Coming into a college setting though, my peers were shocked at the fact that we would be graded on how well we did in class and worried about their GPAs slipping due to strict grading.

Should they even be dance majors if they are so worried about getting a low grade? It is just as viable an option to skip an education and head right for the bright lights of Hollywood, get an agent and “see how it goes”. I, however, feel that it is so so so important to be an intellect above all things and get an education in this field and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. I have learned so much about what it is to be an artist as well as knowing about my body and how to take care of it. Many dancers that go straight into the commercial dance world not knowing anything about their limitations end up cutting their career in half.

On another note, I am also grateful for my opportunities in college to choreograph and educate others that may not be so lucky to have made it to college. I always encourage my dancer friends to at least give it a try. This past weekend I debuted my first piece at Chapman University. This is a video of one of the last rehearsals with some cast members missing but you get the point. Also, excuse the cursing. I’m very emotionally involved in this piece. I will have a better video of the performance up soon.

Truly inspired.

7 Oct

Jiri Kylian’s most famous work, “Falling Angels”, is a perfect example of the point I’m trying to get across about creating and performing dance with intention, especially because of how simple the piece is and difficult at the same time. 

Don’t just do something; stand there.

7 Oct

“Don’t just stand there! Do something!!!”

I can speak for the entire human race when I say that this is something we have been taught our whole lives. Do something, go somewhere, be somebody.

Does anyone ever just take a second to stop and enjoy life?!

The same theory goes for dance too. Sometimes we feel like we have to fit just about every trick in the book into a piece for it to be “impressive”, but sometimes it only takes one person to walk straight across the stage with such power and intention that it moves the audience to tears. It doesn’t matter if you can kick your face or do seven flawless leg hold turns; it’s the intention behind the movement that separates the amateurs from the professional artists.

So, I challenge you young dancers out there to take a moment to think about what you are really dancing for, the trophies or the fulfillment of a lifetime.

I challenge you…

Don’t just do something, stand there.