Archive for March, 2012

March 30, 2012

Artist Interrupted

by ashleyandersondances

Taken directly from Utah Artist, Interrupted (a chapter of the national organization Artist, Interrupted)  “is a group of local female dance artists aimed at providing experiences and resources to help women continue their artistic professional development while balancing responsibilities with home and family life.  As women who balance many areas in their lives, this organization is intended to support and provide short-term professional experiences that will offer performance opportunities, education, resources, and a supportive network for women artists to learn from local participants in their communities and continue to develop their artistic interests and talents.”

March 23rd and 24th marked the second conference for the group —  Friday night was the concert ARTiculate at Sugar Space and Saturday included a technique class taught by Robin Konie (play room for children included) followed with a luncheon and discussion with Jacque Bell, Sandy Brunvand, Laura Durham, and Eva Jorgensen.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend Saturday’s activities, but I will speak to the concert on Friday.

ARTiculate was unlike any dance concert I have been to.  First of all there were kids, and lots of them.  And these where real kids, so they squirmed and yelped and did other unpredictable things.  It was refreshing to infuse live performance with this new, raw, and even irreverent energy.  There were essentially 26 works, each taking their inspiration from a letter of the alphabet.  A ‘teacher’ opened the show with a quick lesson about the make-up and goals of Artist Interrupted, and later led the audience through jumps for ‘j’ and stretches for ‘s’.  The show included both live performance and dance films.

There was a strict time limit of one minute thirty seconds for each piece, so while of course no piece could really develop in the way that discerning modern dance viewers expect but this too could be seen as refreshing.  The concert was about providing ‘interrupted’ women with an opportunity to express themselves through movement, and perhaps once again connect to the power, freedom, and joy of the moving body.  While watching, I found myself being able to turn off (or at least turn way down) my inner critic and appreciate a collective of women moving and expressing themselves through a wide range of aesthetics.  Kristine Ward danced a solo (choreographed by Molly Heller), to a soundscore of her young family at dinnertime, all while with her nine week old son snoozed peacefully in a Baby Bjorn attached to her chest.  Elizabeth Hansen performed an upbeat musical theatreish piece with a kite, a huge smile, and an infectious child-like energy and wonder.  Sara Pickett, dressed in an oversized black hoodie seamlessly combined the truncated beat and articulated body parts of hip-hop with the ease and neutral performance quality of post-modern dance.  Kelley Glenn, with strong, specific, yet at times wilting and broken choreography, dressed in a costume and headpiece made entirely of newspapers (that seemed as if it would unravel at any moment), communicated a beautiful,  yet fleeting fragility.

This concert provided dancers, many who do not get to experience dance, choreography and performance on a regular basis, with an opportunity to do all three in a low commitment, low intimidation setting.  Utah Artist, Interrupted is a much needed organization in this state where so many of us still feel, or want to feel, like the dancers we once where, but work, family, or just the logistical practicalities of life are leaving us, well, interrupted.

Erica Womack teaches at SLCC and makes dances. She holds her MFA from the University of Utah.


March 27, 2012

coming up and links

by ashleyandersondances

Don’t forget to visit to pre-order the Utah films! The choreographers and film-makers working together are near the end of their process.
Use the discount code LOVE12 to get the three films for only $8. That’s a great deal and most of the cash goes to the artists so check it out.

For those of you that saw Passage last weekend and read the review on the blog also check out Kathy Adams’ take — the print version was heavily editedso check out the full length version here.  

Also upcoming are many fundraisers but also a kids show this weekend. Tanner Dance has always been committed to sharing modern dance traditions with children.
They have their show this weekend and you can read about it here.

If a children’s fairy-tale isn’t cutting it check out this Snow White review in the LA Times to see how narrative ballets may have shifted in the current moment.

Last but not least you can read about our board prez Ishmael Houston-Jones whose Parallels series continues to get press in NYC 




March 23, 2012

RDT’s Passage

by ashleyandersondances

In a recent review I mentioned the difficulty of locating a beginning while writing about a singular artist. Today, I eat my words and find it more difficult to write about a four-artist evening. So I ask, in advance, for forgiveness about the length of this review or its meandering path but I want to talk about each work on its own terms and also on the terms of the program which, true to the title, is a passage. The journey begins with the crispness and clarity of history, continues with comfort of recent classics, and concludes with questions from new investigations.

Passage was dedicated to the memory of Utah dance figure Susan McLain and the reconstruction of Karyo was a worthy tribute. The abstract forms and articulate phrasing remind me what draws many of us to dance in the first place – dancers can move through space in ways that echo daily life while simultaneously deepening the experience through the ever-expanding artistry of their bodies.

From this place of history there are the more immediate memories of Songs I Wanna Sing (to you) and Ghost Ship choreographed by Satu Hummasti and Eric Handman respectively. I confess that I did not see either premiere and I can’t speak to them as a true second viewing. What I can say is that they feel like reconstructions because each choreographer has gone on to deepen some of the idioms they explored in these earlier works. Just a few weeks ago, on a University of Utah program, Satu continued an exploration of text as it relates to music and performance while Eric dealt again with constructing situations designed to reveal virtuosity. Songs… and Ghost Ship also feel like reconstructions because unlike McLain’s work fixed in historical context, both of dances appear to be beginnings and as such they showcase curiosity about how much to edit and how to represent their choreographers’ own shifting identities.

In Songs… it is clear that despite the second performance some of the dancers are beyond their comfort zone. For a general audience maybe this discomfort wouldn’t read well but, in my opinion, it was a good thing. After seasons of attending RDT and feeling like I know what to expect, this piece left me with intrigue into directions the company could go. The technical range of the performers viewed alongside the vulnerable act of singing was satisfying, to put it simply, and I went along for the ride. While the oscillation between song and dance was a comfortable way to keep me engaged, the vast genres of singing illuminated the real lack of diversity within the company. While the company makeup is an immutable fact it was something I could not escape and my longing to watch diverse performers alongside the range of songs still resonates.

In Ghost Ship I have an inverse experience: the performers are deep within their comfort zone of intensive partnering and intricate yet full-bodied dancing but the structure comes into question. For example, I’m faced with the conundrum of choosing to watch rice do a dance from the rafters rather than watching the sheer physical feats before me. I’m also faced with the mystery of what exactly is printed on those costumes…in the Blackbox it seems like I should be able to tell but I can’t. Neither is a bad thing, they make me reflect on whether dance is enough and what, if anything, layered visual images can contribute to what I see on stage.

From these recent and not as recent histories there is a premiere by the collaborative team of RawMoves (Nic Cendese & Natosha Washington). What You Leave Behind is a true passage as it draws choreography from one of RDT’s own company members and features at least a handful performers that regularly perform with the choreographic duo. Seeing them in context of the program reveals the ways in which their relationships with RDT have fostered their choreographic identity – they know the strengths of the performers and cast them into new situations. For example, watching Nathan and Aaron partner one another was a rare joy and Toni and Sarah were both give precise and strong material that I feel they aren’t always given.

The criticism I levy however is that this interpersonal strength can, at times, become a dialogue that I’m left out of. There is a type of dance I’ve come to know as BOSWWIP which stands for “based on secret words written in private”. What You Leave Behind is one of those dances. The text, written by the performers obviously has weight and impact for each of them and perhaps to select audience members. But to me it’s a puzzle that I’m missing a key piece of. Maybe this is the choreographic point Nic and Natosha are trying to make but I’m not so sure; I think the goal is to have me find myself within the act of weaving of the narrative and that is something I hope happens more clearly in a future iteration of the work.

At the end of the evening it’s ironic that the most historical work appears the most fresh but it makes sense because it’s the most composed. The remainder leave me asking questions of how they are seen differently in relationship to one another and how they could be seen differently if I imagine them moving on their own historical path.

I close my eyes to imagine…
…how Satu’s work could translate to different performing spaces or dancers, how the songs she wants to sing (to someone) could change by the day…
…how Eric’s physical strengths appeared so close in the Black Box and how they persist in my memory even without rice, even without painted costumes….
…how Nic & Natosha struggle valiantly to create collective voice, a journey in democracy many have taken before and a journey without end…

March 19, 2012

tonight tonight

by ashleyandersondances

After tonight we will return to the regular posting of links and reviews and everything else.
Until then click on this link and accept the invitation to watch some dance tonight, for free.

March 17, 2012

okay it’s that time

by ashleyandersondances

where nothing exciting goes on this blog because it is dedicated solely to telling you to support the choreographers of mudson and the writers of the performance journal.

you can see both this coming monday the 19th. at the masonic temple. for free.
the journal is beautifully designed by matthew hall and features some interesting writing by the likes of k.j. holmes, brenda daniels, dawn springer and yvonne meier/lindsey drury.

mudson features elizabeth stich, efren corado/norianna diesel, nell suttles and molly heller.
it’s free and they want you to see their works-in-progress.

questions about these programs? e-mail or write your comments here so we can get back to you.

March 15, 2012

so much is happening

by ashleyandersondances

Please remember to sign up for Dances Made to Order, the Salt Lake edition. Voting ends so soon. You can subscribe after the fact but what fun is it to not vote for the themes that will inspire Sam Hanson, Aniko Safran/Wyn Pottratz & Josie Patterson-Halford/Scott Halford. These are dedicate film and dance artists, their work is sure to be interesting. Also you never know if DMTO will come back to Salt Lake city for another year. Support the event now and guarantee yourself a continued platform to share what SLC has to offer. While you are subscribing check out the blog for interviews with Ashley Anderson (the curator) and Sam Hanson (one of the participants).

Also don’t forget to RSVP to Mudson. It’s this coming Monday at 7:30. It’s free. Molly Heller will dance to Ludacris and lip sync some tunes. Elizabeth Stich has about a million dancers from WSU and really wants feedback. Nell Suttles is reprising her work-in-progress from the Sugar Show and Efren Corado & Nori Diesel? Who knows what they’ll do. They made it up in a parking lot and I hear it’s awesome. So Monday the 19th get over to the Masonic Temple to check it out. We’ll even have new performance journals to give you that feature an amazing new host of writers and topics.

March 13, 2012

Problems with Peer Reviews (some thoughts, in process)

by ashleyandersondances

So recent comments reveal that the dynamic between peer reviewers and performers is not getting less complicated over time.

The problem with peer reviews is that it’s all fine and good to be hyper-critical until it’s about your dance. Up until that moment it’s really revelatory what people are finally saying (admitting) about the dances they see each weekend. Then when it’s about your dance, suddenly, these revelations don’t take into account choreographic agency, new aesthetics, or more simply, how hard you worked.

The problem with peer reviews is that they are somewhat best kept secret. If you don’t like someone’s dance all that well but do like taking their dance class or having snacks with them at Eva, what’s the point of offering criticism — it damages a perfectly good dinner date.

But peer reviewing (since the beginning of this small blog project) has also come a long way and has a host of other advantages.

The great thing about peer reviewing is that we are working all this anxiety out together.
So someone is still figuring out their critical voice…I’m glad they are doing it here and not at a major newspaper in some other small city where they are the only person willing to write about dance in a
150 mile radius. So someone else has never actually had a review before and doesn’t know how to feel about it….I’m glad it’s their peer who they could, hopefully, talk to about it in depth rather than crying over their breakfast that their one review they will ever get is not favorable.

No one is heralded as the ultimate dance critic in a peer review system. This is a problem and an advantage. It’s a problem because ultimate dance critics carry with them the ability to be distanced and perhaps more objective. It’s an advantage because there are a multitude of voices that not only have the option to dislike your work but actually the option to really, really like it as it grows over time.

Here’s another obvious advantage. Before mass peer reviews dance got some excellent reviews in Salt Lake’s papers (it still does) but it’s mostly about mainstay companies because that’s what the public has been interested in the past several decades. Also the paper is dedicated to previewing arts for their audience and not as much reflecting on each individual artist career. The paper does it’s job, so we should do ours.

Only peer reviews can address the deficit between current papers and what’s happening in concert dance because there is no stake in what an editor says. Only a calendar of every performance that is happening in concert dance and the option to say what you think for the record. With a print journal companion (coming out next week) the history books of Salt Lake dance no longer reflect repertory companies, classical ballets and some commercial enterprise – they reflect an ever-changing territory of emerging artists, new collaborations and national guests.

If you read the blog, which I’m guessing you do, you’ll know the writer bylines only puts writers in context of the rest of the community. Readers can gather where they come from and maybe what contributes to their thought process. This should open up the dialogue in an interesting way where everyone in the audience becomes a critic. And critic doesn’t always mean one who criticizes, critic also means one who sees what is spectacularly engaging about some work.

So yes. You’ve got me. Peer reviews are complicated and that’s what you can charge me with. But complicated also comes with the possibility to reveal important facets of the community that might not otherwise exist. And my advice for disgruntled review readers is not simply to comment with their disgruntledness (which is a fine response on some level) but also to write their own reviews. This writing is one of the few traces left behind of our work together so why not all contribute.

March 13, 2012

huge surprise

by ashleyandersondances

we all know that all of our friends getting reviewed in the nytimes or getting constant press coverage in ever local papers all have to work other jobs and live in completely bizarre situations to continue dancing.

March 12, 2012

just in case

by ashleyandersondances

you needed another format in which to view our spring events: click on this link for all the details you could ever dream on Mudson next Monday, the new performance journal edition and Dances Made to Order.

if those aren’t enough dance events for you there are three class offerings this week: master class at rw on weds and fri (weds is with efren corado) and tuesday class at sugar space with molly heller. check out the rw and sugar space websites for more info on these programs.

if that wasn’t enough read about this tribute to donald mckayle who was here last fall as part of udeo:

March 11, 2012

one week til Mudson!

by ashleyandersondances

mark your calendars because next Monday Mudson is back. spring break will be over, you’ll be done with ACDFA, you’ll be ready to go watch your friends show dances in process.

Monday March 19th
Masonic Temple (650 E. South Temple)
Admission is always free and so is the performance journal that will be waiting for you.

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