Archive for August, 2012

August 30, 2012

MOFO audition notice!!

by ashleyandersondances

 

 

 

 

Salt Lake’s resident improvisation group, Movement Forum, is having auditions in September. Movement Forum does performances in both theater and non-traditional spaces and has done a lot since 2003. Most recently they received support as a loveDANCEmore residency project through the Utah Division of Arts and Museums for this audition process and current rehearsals. E-mail info@akamofo.com with any questions about the process or commitment.

 

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August 29, 2012

mark your calendars

by ashleyandersondances

loveDANCEmore begins fall events soon.

sept 17, oct 15 and nov 19th will host three mudson events with twelve choreographers and one film-maker.
the new journal is released on oct 15th and jan-mar will be a group show at the rio gallery.

click the tabs above for more details on each of these projects and how to be involved.

August 23, 2012

Nox Contemporary: Collaboration at its best.

by ashleyandersondances

Echo Smith wrote the review of last month’s performance at Nox Contemporary. While it’s a little late coming it’s a good reminder that documenting all performance projects is important and any patron of a performance who wishes to submit a review is welcome to do so via lovedancemore@gmail.com

With sentiments similar to that of the new film series, Screen Deep, the second Alternative Genres (August 27, 2012) show at Nox Contemporary provided Salt Lake with a chance to experience converging
forms of performance and film.  Upon entering the gallery, I was greeted by parallel rows of laptops screening a variety of video pieces from local artists.  As I put on the headphones to view one of Aniko
Safran’s pieces, I was able to leave the rest of the world of the gallery behind, creating instant intimacy.  In one work,  Safran explores the notion of time and space through the use of a metronome.  As I watched (and heard) the ticking of the metronome in its various settings, everywhere from a nondescript room to flourishing shrubs, I was forced to think and rethink about the way in which one feels and experiences time.  This idea was further exaggerated by my peripheral setting, where everyone else in the gallery existed in a separate time and place from myself.

I was then ushered into a larger, adjacent room, which was entirely bare in order to view the second live performance of the evening (having already missed the first).  As a contemporary piece, Samuel Hanson’s “Duet”, was flawless, which is to say that it was far from being perfect.  Hanson explored the process of creation by choosing two volunteers from the audience to help him construct the piece in
the moment.  Upon blindfolding them, he guided each to a separate corner of the room.  He then instructed them to simultaneously cross half the distance from one to the other, then repeat, and repeat, etc. After many back and forth attempts at this, the two individuals finally met somewhere near the middle.  At this point, Hanson asked them to interact with one another in various, simple ways, until they
were each lying on the ground, one massaging the other’s arm.  We, the rest of the audience, were invited to form a circle around the two of them and were then instructed to slowly back away while keeping in
mind that their figures were only getting further away and not actually shrinking as we would perceive.  Again a test of trial and error, as Hanson asked us to restart this process each time we lost
awareness of the fact that they were not actually getting smaller, all the while, the massage continued.  At the end of the piece, the two volunteers stumbled their way back to their original positions in
opposing corners, back to the beginning, as if nothing had happened yet.  While this piece made me hyper aware of the process rather than product, it left me asking the question: how much should the
performance be the choreographer’s vision and how much should be the artist’s contributions to it, as a consequence of Hanson’s intermittent statements of, “No, I actually want you do it more like
this” when things were not happening as he envisioned them.

Before the next performance began, I was able to view another video piece.  “Trent goes Bowling” by Jan Andrews consisted of a video showing the creation of shards of mirror which were now on display inside of a salmon suitcase.  The video showed the artist (and friends) rolling a brilliant pink bowling ball (also exhibited in the gallery) across the room in order to break various sizes of mirrors.  The lack of headphones coupled with the white noise of the rest of the gallery made it impossible to hear anything in the video except for the crisp shatter of glass.  Along with these, the artist had provided a statement in which she divulges that this piece was originally the preparatory work for another.  That is, she needed the glass shards and came up with a creative way to acquire them and the process ran away with her becoming something else entirely.  At this point, she knew she had created something that she wished to share.

Once again, I entered the bare room, this time equipped with a ballet barre and mirror.  Valerie Atkisson began what appeared to be a warm up routine, which she performed several times over with succinct rhythm.
Her  movements were also clearly in conversation with the music she had chosen, a classical piece.  Her elegant motions and perfect timing evinced this austere notion associated with such modes of music and dance.  At the end of her piece, Valerie removed a large white poster board which had gone unnoticed underneath her feet for the entirety of the performance and held it up to show a second piece which she had now created.  Upon closer inspection of this dance drawing, I was astounded by the beautiful lines she had created, which mimicked the fluidity of her entire piece.

The final performance of the evening was “The Windy Gap” choreographed by Ashley Anderson and performed with Efrén Corado.  Set to a series of slides, Anderson danced the first part of the piece solo, then Corado, and finally the two of them together.  Each time, to the same set of slides, with each individual performing the same routine.  The beauty of the piece came from its unfolding, watching the way each interacted with the photographs in their own way, Anderson incredibly aware of the details in the images behind her, and Corado mimicking formations and shapes in the stills.   In the end, the way in which their seemingly individual pieces came together was seamless, each in communication with different aspects of the photos, each in communication with one another, at one point Efren’s piercing slaps of his own thighs
dictated the movements of Anderson.  I found this performance in particular to be quite fitting for the gallery setting.  I could imagine this unending repetition of routines, much like Valerie’s, to recur again and again alongside others, installations, videos, stills, etc.

Echo Smith studies classics and literature at the University of Utah. She regularly attends dance, theater, and music performances in SLC.

August 23, 2012

tonight tonight

by ashleyandersondances

If you are interested in a collaborative model of dance-making, class taking and arts administration go to the co.da auditions at Sugar Space tonight (5pm, thesugarspace.com for more info).

Also at 7pm in the Main Library Auditorium you can see “2 Filmmakers 2 Shorts” featuring the Dances Made to Order project of Sam Hanson.

August 16, 2012

Arty Time

by ashleyandersondances

It’s that time of year again when City Weekly gets some voting underway for it’s annual Artys issue. In years past loveDANCEmore has been rewarded for the performance journal, being a dance start-up and Ashley Anderson’s performance with Regina Rocke at Sugar Space. The Artys regularly mention independent projects but they don’t always make it to the ballot and you should write some in!! If you do a write-in make sure you click “other” before typing and check the tally at the bottom so your voice is represented.

http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/artys 

On the link above some independent projects you might consider mentioning as write-ins include…..

Daughters of Mudson and it’s various choreographers and stand-out performers.
The films made for Dances Made to Order by Sam, Aniko and Josie.
Choreography and performance by local groups like My Turkey Sandwich, co.da, MOFO and the choreographers of Suite.
Performers and choreographers participating in the Nox Contemporary shows in July.
Tours like tEEth by Dance Theater Coalition.

and of course, learning to loveDANCEmore as a great multimedia publication!!

August 11, 2012

reviews on the way…send your own

by ashleyandersondances

Not too many options left to submit your reviews before the fall journal goes to press. Upcoming is a retroactive review of some of the video/performance works at Nox Contemporary, feel free to send your own.

General materials for the journal are also accepted via open/rolling submissions to lovedancemore@gmail.com. Send your varied thoughts on dance education (the theme is Back to School) but August 20th and your work could be printed 1,000 times, given to a bunch of dance friends and be archived forever and ever in libraries across the country.

Questions? E-mail lovedancemore@gmail.com

August 10, 2012

What’s Wrong With Dance (a reprise)

by ashleyandersondances

In June I posted the text below. It was about the problem of needing to label or identify performance rather than describe and enrich what is seen. I’m re-posting it because I wanted to add a link to it and figured people don’t regularly go through old posts enough to notice. Gia Kourlas in the NYTimes problematizes the same issue in context of the way in which the Bessie awards are labeled. I thought more about the issue myself while I ran a high school dance program at UArts this summer. The dancers there were really into describing what dance was or wasn’t but not so much at the ready to discuss the content of performances. Hopefully, the conversation continues on all levels. Read Gia’s article here, and my comments below.

I’ve written about this before, largely in the context of reviews where performers regularly bill themselves outside of the traditions of dance. In fact, it seems everyone, from major ballet companies to independent choreographers, eschew the notion that their work is “just” a dance performance. Whether it’s the expression “movement based” or “more like performance art” from where I sit it’s starting to get agonizing.

Is this happening because dance isn’t the most regarded of the arts (in terms of foundation funding, audience attendance and fees for it’s workers)? Is it happening because so many marketing conglomerates (dance television, competition studios) are marring what certain people imagine as dance? Is it happening because dance is too hard to pin down between the social experiences of salsa, touchdown dances, bad bars and the concert traditions as varied as the Ballet Russe and Josephine Baker?

Why it’s happening is probably all of those reasons and some I’m leaving out but it’s the implications that are potentially pretty damaging. If dance artists can agree that the name of dance is being tarnished from many directions why can’t we necessarily see that ignoring the term “dance” and pretending it’s not what you do will never address the very fundamental problems we face. Ignoring the histories and contexts that influences our art-making (whether in sync or a true departure) is allowing dance to vanish — in the history books, in the reviews and in our collective imaginations. Guess what? If you dance, with your body, or choreograph dances for the bodies of your peers and especially if those dances take place with music, on a stage of some variety before other people, it’s probably a dance. And maybe it’s a dance influenced by theater or that takes place on film or that has a collaborative design in new media or the visual arts. But what’s wrong with calling it dance and then mentioning it’s interdisciplinary components or angling it more specifically? What’s wrong with imagining dance can even be beyond those clear markers and calling it dance no matter what? Why can’t audiences reckon with dance on new terms or more importantly, why can’t we?

I know a lot of people, dancers and otherwise, disagree with what I’m getting at. This is largely because the value of markers is questionable to some and the purpose of identifying your work with a single word seems reductive whereas defining it on new terms seems important. But I have to say even the most specialty chemists might simply answer “chemistry” when asked what they study — business executives might respond with “accounting” or “finance” no matter how unique their position. And in the context of dance itself some groups buck the trend I’m mentioning. DV8 for example has existed for twenty-six years under the name “physical theater” but if you look at their biography they pretty directly say they’ve made 17 dances and a number of films. While the name physical theater remains, for some, the elusive draw to their work, they aren’t afraid to call a spade a spade and simply say the word dance; but a lot of people are, most of them my peers.

Recently the Huffington Post is ablaze with articles about dance and money. The newest is a response linked here. She makes a good point that deprecation is not historically a really successful marketing scheme and if dance artists are guilty of one thing it’s deprecation. Shame over the word “dance” is only one of the models of deprecation she’s mentioning.  But the writer also misses the boat that live performance has never been, and will probably never respond to the dynamics of capitalism in America. It is something that disappears before us whether in a stuffy opera house or in the foyer of a historic train station. Just because it’s value isn’t quantifiable in the way many goods or services are doesn’t mean I should change my marketing strategy, it means I should demand that the community I live in acknowledge the arts as a different kind of commodity, one that isn’t bought or sold on the same terms as my sleeper sofa. Our deprecation is linked to money but I can’t convince myself that the solution is to buy into the idea that something interdisciplinary will “sell better” or that any strategy other than honesty with my work and it’s history is acceptable.

The assumption of the article that setting up a non-profit assumes non-success obviously doesn’t understand the purpose of non-profits (Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a non-profit and we can all agree it would never be deemed unsuccessful on a broad scale) Non-profits, and many dance organizations, can certainly make money in the sense that they pay wages for full and part-time employees, it’s simply that beyond those expenses additional money rolls into their programming. And what an excellent thing that is because why use money designated by foundations or government agencies for anything other than public programs – there is a reason arts were designated as worthy of charitable status and it’s a way to protect that some funding be made available, even in the economic downturn seemingly endless on the horizon.

But okay okay, I’m getting ahead of myself and these topics are clearly more complex than a brief post will allow but here’s the breakdown.
Dance artists can (hopefully) agree that our opportunities right now, other than those we make ourselves, are pretty limited by various circumstance.
This lack of real support (financial and otherwise) create situations in which we all devise new creative strategies
One of those strategies is to pretend we aren’t actually dancers we are something else and that the things we make and do are really more important than dance could ever be.
BUT THAT STRATEGY JUST PUSHES US FURTHER FROM SUPPORT BECAUSE WE ARE ACTUALLY DANCING.

MAYBE WE GO TO DANCE CLASS. WE MOVE OUR BODIES & WE WARM THEM UP THEN THEY TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE. MAYBE WE RESIST DANCE CLASS AND STAND STILL WITH ONLY THE MEMORY OF THOSE THINGS BECAUSE THEY COMPRISED AN OTHERWISE CRIPPLING TRAINING. MAYBE WE DANCE TO FEEL FREE AND NEVER DO IT ON STAGE AGAIN. MAYBE WE ONLY MAKE DANCES BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO. MAYBE THEY ARE TO POPULAR MUSIC AND MAYBE THEY ARE TO A LIVE ORCHESTRA. MAYBE THEY GO ON YOUTUBE AND MAYBE THEY ARE AT THE ROSE WAGNER. MAYBE THEY ARE SOCIAL DANCES MEANT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY AND MAYBE THEY ARE CONCEPTUAL DANCES ALSO MEANT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. MAYBE I TAKE THEM TOO SERIOUSLY OR NOT SERIOUSLY ENOUGH. MAYBE I HATE YOUR KIND OF DANCE AND MAYBE YOU HATE MINE but maybe if we keep refusing to call them dance as a result they won’t be dance because they won’t be anything any more.

August 8, 2012

coming up coming up

by ashleyandersondances

MUDSON is happening in JUST ONE MONTH.

September, October and November play host to twelve works-in-progress on stage and an additional dance film.
The third Monday of every month catch four dances at the Masonic Temple, 7:30pm, for FREE.
You will be supporting the likes of Anne Marie Robson Smock, Josie Patterson Halford, Ashley Anderson, Sam Hanson, Molly Heller, Mike Watkiss, Movement Forum, Efren Corado, Karin Fenn, Nancy Carter, Aniko Safran and  loveDANCEmore intern Katherine Adler.

At the same time as October Mudson we’ll release Volume 5 of the journal (can you believe it’s been that many?). Submit your “Back To School” themed writing to loveDANCEmore@gmail.com (details on the journal tab above) and pick up a copy for the archived reviews as well.

In case, between now and then, you wanted to get depressed that the internet is rife about the monetary failures of art careers but not really successful at advancing the conversation or proposing alternatives (that aren’t completely capitalist dreams) read this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/jul/29/artists-day-job-feature?fb=optOut

August 8, 2012

Meet the Choreographer

by ashleyandersondances

Below Sam wrote about the debut of co.da’s recent performance. I was there too and was interested by (and aligned with) some of the questions he found stemming from the works of the dynamic women involved. My take was influenced greatly by somewhere I was mere moments before the performance, RW’s “Meet the Choreographer” with Ann Carlson.

I have found that those particular events are something I really look forward to because seeing RW in an intimate way (the Blackbox, still rehearsing) is stunning.
In other circles I dread those events because I often find choreographers discussing their work drift into this weird place of defense or pretension, not because of who they are, but because it’s hard to verbalize this form for a number of reasons, including that we don’t often do it.

But Ann really didn’t disappoint. She did not mince words. She was not elusive about the nature of her choreography. She was direct and succinct and looked to the audience for information about what we were seeing. And that information seemed to matter to her in the way she’ll continue to polish and hone the dancing we had watched together.

I didn’t really plan on writing about these exchanges for the blog but I figure that it might encourage more audiences to see the work later this year and also, there was one conversation that still has me stirring. There was a gentleman in the audience you took the mic to let Ann know he was “baffled” by the work and “didn’t know what to make of it.” For a piece that uses a dancer-vocalized-score and is historical in a way that’s definitely not Nikolais, this response was totally reasonable. But when he said it my inner monologue thought oh my god how will we get out of this.

Surprisingly, in a way that was not colored by passivity, Ann kept talking to this person about what she’d been thinking and whether or not that gave him a point of entry into the process.
After awhile of that, and awhile of the audience discussing the merits of knowing those things versus having a blank slate, the gentleman raised his hand again and mentioned that he had wondered one thing about the dance, “I did wonder whether the dancers controlled the action or if they were being manipulated by some external force.”

This question was so essential to what was seen that I started to realize, this person was not baffled by the dance they were baffled by that question, as was I. It wasn’t necessarily that he didn’t know what to make of it but more of an issue that what he made of it didn’t seem valid to him.

Maybe my memory of this conversation is my own projection on how I wish I could relate to my own audiences in certain situations. Maybe it is precisely as I remembered it. Either way, noting that, like it or not, the audience is crucial to infuse the dance with energy and ideas, is really important to the future of dance. After the conversation Ann, at one point, said, “that’s why you are here.”

I went to co.da with that revitalized idea of myself as an audience member. It didn’t make me naive to what I saw but more imaginative and curious on all counts.
It also cemented why I write for and created this blog…because the documentation of dance is pretty essential to the way dance continues to be seen over time and that all these dances make impressions on a miniature history of this area and of us.

August 3, 2012

coda’s starter kit at Sugar Space

by lovedancemoreguest

If you become a member of coda, Sugar Space’s new professional dance company, you’ll find yourself in a situation much like Repertory Dance Theatre is said to have been in its early days. You and your comrades make dances on each other and you pool your knowledge to provide each other classes and choose a guest artist. Every few months, there’s a new audition and the process repeats.

I just came home from watching the first iteration of this cycle. My initial takeaway is that it read like a real ensemble evening. Diverse interests were explored, but it didn’t feel like a grab bag where a half a dozen people had been chosen from a pool of random, opportunity starved dance artists applying by mail. Care had been taken in putting a show together, in a more than idiomatic sense.

Molly Heller’s work, which was split into three, provided a narrative scaffold for the rest of the evening. In these “acts”, placed between other dances, Heller explicated her relationship with husband Brad Heller. Each vignette was also a performance of (and to) Rod Stewart’s monster(ous) hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” [Rod’s spelling, not mine]. In part one, Heller (in golden stretch pants and a flouncy green top) gave her husband (purple tights, peasant ruffles up top) what might have been post modern prelude to a lap dance, while matter-of-factly telling him to periodically adjust the volume. Act II saw Brad and Molly coyly singing the song to each other while Molly slid herself across Brad’s passive form. She crept slowly, giving choice attention to certain curves, arriving in unison next to Brad just in time for the second or third chorus of “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy/ Come on honey tell me so/ If you really need me just reach out and touch me/Come on Molly let me know”. “No. It should be sugar.” Singing this line lying face down next to each other earned a healthy laugh from a crowd that had been gently giggling the whole time. The final number was a giddy romp through the space for Ms. Heller and non-dancer Brad. The song was finally playing at full blast, which was quite satisfying, when all of a sudden the dancing devolved into a slide show of Googled images of Rod himself on the back wall. The piece ended as choreographer, husband and technical director struggled in turns to disactivate of the projector and diminish the specter of Rod.

As light, fun and self-effacingly hip as this all sounds it did leave me with a few lingering questions. How was I supposed to feel about the relationship between “trained” wife and “untrained” husband? Was this just a big joke or is this really “their song” in some serious, if sentimental, way? If I am being invited into an inner joke space of their relationship, why and how? And if not, what was the aim of making it seem so?

Nancy Carter’s Hold me tight if I love you left me with many similar questions about form and content. The work was a modern dance trio, mostly, thought it began with each dancer choosing one audience member with whom to slow dance. They did this a few times at the very beginning, with a tender awkwardness that left me wishing they would make everyone in the audience dance at least once and then that would be that. What ensued instead was an exploration of formal themes such as how a trio  functions, how Shira Fagan could stay in unison with Jane Jackson with Anne Marie Robson Smock attached to her body etc. The varied musics, notably a spoken word piece about hearts “bruising but not breaking” provided an unexpected modicum of contrast.

I am pretty sure that the it in Everything is Nothing Without It was dance itself. Jane Jackson’s ensemble piece was a melange of fast paced dialogue and introspective group dancing. The six women fought over a cupcake (“That’s not really dancer food!”), went to a “showing” within the dance, and argued about the primacy of the left vs. the right brain in dance making. There was some serious unison dancing, and then we returned to the image the dance started with, the heart of the dance really, choreographer Jane Jackson trying to decide how to start dancing. Standing there twitching with indecision, is something everyone who makes dances (and probably everyone else as well) can identify with.

Particularly in Everything is Nothing, but in everything else I’ve discussed as well, I noticed one recurring issue. Though each was an excellent first draft, all of these pieces seemed to be looking for a kind of high drama, something surreal, possibly even operatic. And yet none couldn’t quite get there because they were held back by a commitment to a certain idea of dance-theater “realism”.  There’s nothing “actorly” or “real” about the way most dancers talk and emote on stage- and that’s fine- we’re not actors, at least not in the same sense. What would it look like if we embraced that and became the strange, unique creatures that we are? In doing so maybe we could learn a little bit more about ourselves than the fact that we’re afraid of food and that we don’t know our left from our right.

Guest artist Shannon Mockli demonstrated commitment to a ballsy idea in her solo A Space Between. A slow, contemplative solo, almost too dramatic, happens in front of a video where slipping focus is an obvious metaphor for the areas between states of consciousness, life and death. There’s a recorded text of Mockli discussing an ambiguous experience of “being between” that caused her to reflect on mortality and the life of the body, as it is and as it is imagined. In other hands, it could have been a tragic failure of a piece, yet Mockli is so committed to doing things because she feels them, that we feel them too. She transcends trend and conceit, working in a format that is reminiscent of a great essayist. She lays out several co-existent threads that can only be tied together by holding them inside ourselves all of them at the same time. Her dancing is so strong it can’t be overpowered by other the other media- and that’s rare.

Mockli’s group piece Vital Rein did similar things for each of its performers. Annie Robson Smock in particular danced in a way that I’ve never seen before, her length bridled and released with a sense of timing I didn’t know she was capable of. Mockli and dancers never lost interest in the realness of the task, nor in the responsibility of holding each moment’s metaphoric capacity.

Samuel Hanson writes in this blog often, makes dances, makes coffees and makes videos.

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