Wednesday, October 31, 2007


SO much fun.

Tin Man, Scarecrow, and me, Dorothy. We're quite a crew. And yes, I danced on a yellow brick road and carried Toto in his basket for the whole class :)

me and Vladimir, our amazing pianist!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

MEMORY: Anticipating Halloween

So I'm having yet another case of insomnia - where I cannot get to sleep because I'm thinking of all the work I should be doing, and instead of being productive while being awake I do things like go through old pictures and reread old blogs, etc.

I've been reminscing a lot lately, thinking back myself and talking to some (not so) old friends, and I've decided to start a new installment to this blog: MEMORIES. I'll post an old photo or two and write a bit about some experience or another. Not that I don't have plenty going on right now to write about, but I enjoy thinking back and I have tons of pictures from those times but little writing.

So here's MEMORY post #1 - Halloween.

I came across my pictures from last year's Halloween class and thought I'd put them on here for a laugh. Halloween and ballet have always gone together, for as long as I can remember. Wherever I happen to be in a given year we always dress up for class and attempt to dance in impossible costumes. It's tradition (my personal best costume for class was the fat clown suit, Rock 2004).

(Me and Victoria as clowns. Can't believe I actually just put this on here! May have to delete in the morning when I regain sanity...She may kill me when she sees this haha)

I'm definitely looking forward to Halloween this year, but I have to say last year was definitely one of the's hard to explain why so instead I'll just post some pictures. Enjoy!

Everyone at the studio.

Some of us before class.

The circle of trust.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

And the Nutcracker countdown begins...

I'm back from another lonnnnng weekend of Nutcracker rehearsals in Connecticut. After one last midterm exam Saturday morning I hopped on the bus and was there all weekend til now. Luckily this weekend went much smoother than last weekend.

A new girl just joined the cast last week, so Saturday night we spent most of the time teaching the choreography to her. It was a good review for me because I'm still not completely comfortable in it. It's hard to only see something once a week and have no prep time before jumping right into it full out (not even a warm up or moment to mark through it!). So we worked until pretty late with that. It's hard because there's no set finish time for those rehearsals because those of us staying over from the city are literally living at the studio, so they can keep us working til all hours of the night if they wanted! They don't, but it's still hard to pace yourself when you don't know just how long you'll be working.

Anyway after rehearsal we finally had some time to ourselves so we go to go out to eat and one of the dancers that lives there gave us a mini tour of Hartford. It's such a cute little city - more like a suburb actually. The houses are beautiful and it was cool because many had Halloween (!) decorations out. It reminded me of my small town back home, and it was refreshing to get some air outside the city.

Then today it was back to rehearsal. We worked a lot on Snow today. I think that music might be my favorite part of Nutcracker. I remember back in the day in Boston I used to LOVE listening to that music backstage - and also from the orchestra pit the few years I got to be in the chorus because I was in Act II. That was quite the experience, seeing the snow scene from the conductor's perspective. That's the one thing I really do miss about home...Boston's Nutcracker. I grew up with it like I grew up with my family. That production will always be the first that comes to mind with that music, even though I've done many other versions since then.

Anyways - I'm rambling. Rehearsal went fairly well, and then our bus back left right on time for once. It's a nice treat to get home a decent hour on a Sunday night so I can prepare for the week.

Since last week was midterms and I did a ton of work and everything I gave myself the weekend off from homework. Usually I carry massive amounts of books with me on the bus, but this weekend I brought just one book to read for enjoyment. I haven't read for enjoyment (besides my weekly NY Magazine reading) in sooo long. All this school work takes over and I lose the time and energy to just sit and read. So I took Tony Bentley's biography, "Winter Season." She was a dancer in NYCB and it's all about her experiences with Balanchine and so forth.

I'm such a ballet dork reading ballet books, but 1) I like to hear different accounts of people in the ballet world who have worked with some of the teachers I know etc and 2) I hope to wite these kinds of books some day. So it's multipurpose, haha. But I finished the entire book this weekend and it was great. Highly recommended if you're a dance fan :)

Anyways I'm off to prepare for yet another busy week. I'm looking forward to Halloween class on Wednesday ( to come). 3 days til that. 3 weekends til Thanksgiving. 3 months from yesterday I graduate!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beginnings...(Winger cross-post)

In case you haven't been keeping up, The Winger and the new dance social networking site, THE INTER MISSION, have been starting some very interesting conversations about dance. It's so wonderful how these topics are finally finding a place to be discussed effectively.

Anyways, one that I found amusing tonight was this question: How did you first discover dance?

Kind of relates to one of my previous posts. Here was my brief reply (if I had time I would write a book about my beginning):

My family actually owns a local studio in our small town back home, and I started there practically when I was born! My grandmother, aunt, and mom used to run it (now just my mom) and I was at the barre in ballet class with 8 year olds when I was, like, 3! I don't know what my family was thinking (haha) but that was the beginning to my inevitable future.

It wasn't really until I started at Boston Ballet when I was 7 (after seeing Nutcracker and being absolutely stunned) that I could really appreciate dance and start to understand the world around it. This was my first "real" dance class, and I was in love with the music and the movement.

It's fun to reminsce....
I would be the little chubby one on the end on the right hahaha


I'd love to hear how everyone else discovered dance...I want to start making this blog more interactive (so post comments please!!) since I've recently upped my page views...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

benefit performance

Tonight was the big benefit performance for the Tyler Dunne Foundation, with many of my friends and classmates (and teacher!) dancing in the show.

I was planning to help backstage but they didn't really need me. I ended up just watching dress rehearsal and then the actual performance. It was kind of a variety show of a bunch of different acts - ballet, jazz, modern, singing, musical theater....the works. Very entertaining. Everyone did beautifully! The audience (laregly made up of people from class) was definitely happy, and honestly it felt like a family, seeing so many familiar faces showing support to classmates.

Kat got a well-deserved standing ovation, of course. I was amazed. She looked like she was enjoying herself so much. Royce too!

The closing number was Jailhouse Rock (the one most people I know were in) and it was so cute! It was like ballet vs. musical theater. It looked like a blast!

I so would have loved to just didn't work out. Lately it's quite hard for me to sit and watch performances because I want to be up there! But I was so happy for everyone who was onstage. Congrats everyone!!! :)

This has been a tough week for various reasons...midterms, etc...I really just want the rest of the semester to fly by immediately. I'm ready for it all to be over.

Another set of my words to live by: what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dance Spirit letter to the editor, by me!!!

This is from the new November 2007 issue of Dance Spirit Magazine... it's my response to their Septemeber issue on college vs. dance. See page 38 of the issue. Another published clip :)

Click on the image to see it bigger so you can read it!

PS- the part about Ajkun Ballet Theater is no longer valid, but it was the plan at the time I wrote this. Other stuff has come up in it's place...

DAW interviews, part 3/3

Here's the last set of interviews I did for my piece in The Monitor about MMC's Dance Department showcase of Dancers At Work. See parts 1 and 2 also.

I'll be putting them all together later this week for the actual piece that will run in the paper, but I thought it was important to share everyone's full answers. Thanks again to all who took the time to speak to me :)



K- untitled for now, 5 dancers, exploration of women
T- ‘The Dilemma’, 3 dancers (double cast), different ways to cope with dilemma
L- ‘Occupational Hazard’, 7 dancers

TAYLOR- Can you tell me about what the process has been like?

L- It’s been exciting and nerve-racking.

K- The process is really strange because it’s like all of a sudden going from being a student in the not dominant position and suddenly being in a position of power and of authority. Standing up in front of all, what is 100 something dance majors and directing them. That was strange right off the bat. But also it’s hard because it’s not just who you want in your dance but who fits the schedule. It’s more complicated than desired.

T- I remember after the audition so many people came up to me [and were] like, ‘Did you write my name down?’ ‘I don’t remember!’ [laughs] Actually my dancers, my dancers that are in my piece, asked me that same question. ‘I don’t remember actually!’ [laughs] It’s totally based on schedule, mostly.
Movements on my body look totally different from movement on their bodies. Because my dancers are chosen by the schedule, my vocabulary is not necessarily good on them.

K- I think I lucked out. I got some really great dancers. The great thing about it, the way that they do it, is that people will surprise you. They’ll change your movement but it’ll be something you didn’t expect or you didn’t know could happen and it makes it even better than I thought it would be.

T- I think I have both experiences. Sometimes I feel like the movement is not good on their bodies and sometimes it’s totally different but looks good. I think it has both aspects.

TAYLOR- Is it hard to work with people who are your peers? Like establishing control and setting yourself apart?

K- I just have to go into a mode, quickly going from being in class with these people to then just realizing that although I want it to be a great experience and everything, it’s still my work that’s going onstage. So I want to make sure that I really…I don’t know…I’m also a control freak, so it works out.

T- It is really hard because of my language problem. English is not my first language, so sometimes I feel like they don’t understand what I’m saying because of the language I’m speaking. But sometimes not, just what I’m saying is really abstract and a new idea for them, and they don’t get it right away. So I feel sorry for them constantly and that makes it hard for me to be the choreographer, the powerful person in the rehearsal.

L- For me it’s been okay because most of my dancers are freshmen and they don’t have any preconceived notions. But in the end it’s like, ‘You’re the ones dancing it.’

TAYLOR- What’s your first language?

T- Japanese.

TAYLOR- How much collaboration is there with the dancers? Do they help you create movements?

K- I’ve done some very structured improvisation. At the beginning I did a lot of improvisation based on the feelings in my piece, and that was more just to acclimate them to the different qualities that I’m looking for. In the end it’s my choreography. Because I don’t have a wealth of experience it’s really great to have that input. I ask them a lot, ‘How does that make you feel when you do it?’ just so I can get a grasp.

T- I don’t give my dancers the timing of the movements. It’s totally up to them. You can call it improvisation. Yeah, I’ve had them do improvisation a few times in rehearsal whenever I don’t have solid ideas of the movement.

TAYLOR- Can you talk a bit about your faculty mentors? Who are they?

K- I have Pat. She’s great. I took composition with her, so we already have a good rapport and an understanding of each other and the way we work. She’ll come in to the beginning of one of the rehearsals a week and she’ll basically just watch the piece and point out spots that stick out as awkward. She’ll give some ideas. She won’t necessarily tell me what to do but she’ll help me generate ideas.

T- I have Pat too. What she said [Kim] is what I have to say.

L- I also have Pat. It’s helpful to have another eye. Sometimes I’ll be thinking of something and then she’ll reassure it. She helps me challenge myself.

TAYLOR- Are there any outside choreographic influences besides your mentors? Any outside choreographers…

K- I think you can’t help but be influenced by your teachers and the people you’ve worked with. Even just all the pieces I’ve been in in the department, whether it’s deciding I don’t want to choreograph anything like that, or picking not necessarily the steps or the movements but spatial formations. How can I do something similar to that? I don’t know.

T- I am definitely influenced by my teacher from Japan. That’s one of the challenges: to break the vocabulary from her. It’s frustrating. Whatever I do I feel like I’m doing her stuff.

K- I constantly feel like, ‘Wait. Did I see that somewhere before?’

T- Yeah!

L- I would say the same thing. You’re always influenced by whoever you dance with. And even when I go and see performances I’m like, ‘Oh, I like that movement,’ and then it will spark something else. Not necessarily doing the same thing, but it’s giving you an idea and it’s like, ‘Oh, I never thought of that before.’

TAYLOR- What else inspires you creatively? Is it music or anything else besides choreographers?

K- I’m personally inspired by improvisation. In my improvisation classes I’ve really discovered a way that I like to move and that makes me creative. Also I’m really interested in visual art. Music inspires me - not necessarily in that it’s a piece of music I’ll use - but I’ll take rhythms from other pieces of music and use it as a rhythm in my dance that goes against the music of my piece. I’m really inspired my literature too, because I’m a dork and I like to read.

T- People in public. I love gesture and movement. I cannot stop watching people. That’s good you know, just shaking hands.

L- I would just say music. I’m always listening to my iPod on, and even if it’s music that I would normally listen to and I’ll find little phrases that I like.

TAYLOR- What’s been the biggest challenge for you in the whole process of choreographing?

T- Time. We don’t really have time to finish the piece. We have the deadline, clear deadline, that’s coming soon. Choreography is not like if you try, you can make something. It’s not like that. You have to be creative. That creativity doesn’t come because you want it. So it’s really hard.

L- Yeah sometimes I’m like, ‘I’m not motivated right now. I’m not going to.’

T- But you still have rehearsal.

L- Yeah, you still have your rehearsal. You have to walk in with something because you have that time to do it.

K- My biggest challenge is self-judgment. Making something and being like, ‘Okay, that’s good because I made it.’ Not worrying about it being unique or mind boggling or earth shattering, but just being like, ’It’s good because I made it.’ That’s the hardest part.

L- And finding new ways to choreograph, too. I always find myself with my old habits and it gets monotonous. I have to try to find new ways to do everything.

TAYLOR- What’s been the best part?

K- Watching something when it works. Putting on the music and having the dancers go and it actually working. It might not have been what I thought it was going to be but ah, if it works…

T- When what I picture in my brain becomes reality, it’s the greatest moment ever.

L- Just putting everything together. We tweak everything and work on it so many times, and when we finally put the music on and put everything together, it works.

TAYLOR- Do you all want to choreograph in the future, like after you graduate?

K- This has definitely been an experience that I will rethink any future choreography. I will not jump in to any major projects. I’d probably approach it a lot differently.

L- It’s a different setting here, with all the deadlines, and this is exactly when you have to do it. It’s like all eyes on you. You’re not just doing it for fun. Maybe I’ll finish it - no, I don’t like that part. You have to progressively go.

K- There’s also the problem that for some people, this is the only performance of the whole semester. You feel like you have a responsibility to give them they want to perform. You have to consider their opinion.

TAYLOR- Do you have any advice for future choreographers for DAW?

L- You have to just figure it out for yourself.

K- Come in with as many ideas as possible.

T- You have to sit somewhere and picture how it looks onstage and not in the studio. Sometimes you lose the original picture and you have to think of how it’s going to be on stage.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Since I can't sing it to her in person (except maybe via phone, but I can't sing haha) I figured it would be best to wish her happy birthday on here!

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Mom
Happy Birthday to you

Miss you Mom! Love you :)

DAW Interviews, part 2

Another set of interviews I did for The Monitor. See part 1 from last week...more to come soon.



H-“Of the Earth,” 5 dancers, 2nd time DAW
E- “Conversely Tangled,” 9 dancers, 3rd time DAW

TAYLOR- What has the DAW process been like?

E- The process for me was a bit rocky at the beginning because I was actually injured, like the 3rd day of school. So I was on crutches for a while, so to choreograph was very super hard. I have really good dancers and they’re very perceptive and they’re very fast so it makes things a lot easier. But as far as working with the dancers it’s always a really good experience because everyone in the program is really on top of things. They’ll dance for you like they’ll dance for a faculty member. I really don’t have any problems with it.

H- You try and make it systematic so that dancers can pick things up well, but things choreographically don’t work that way. The creative process can’t be systematic. You can’t plan it sometimes. What you think in your head doesn’t always work in real life. Some of the best stuff comes through improve or having a simple idea and testing it out on the dancers and seeing the trials and errors. It’s a really fun, frustrating, and rewarding process.

E- All at the same time!

H- All at the same time.

TAYLOR- Is it hard to work with the dancers in the sense that they’re your peers?

E- In some ways yeah, because you’re automatically in a position of authority but at the same time they’re your peers, so it’s a little bit a conflict of interest sometimes. Overall there’s not any issues with respect or anything like that, so it’s pretty good.

H- For me it’s been really fun. It hasn’t been stressful at all to have my peers. Everyone respects each other very much.

E- Yeah.

H- Because..I don’t know, we just all do.

E- They understand what you’re trying to do. And a lot of them are like, ‘Well I wouldn’t want to do that anyway.’

H- It’s hard to stay focused sometimes because we have so much fun and we get into side conversations.

E- Yeah that is a downfall.

TAYLOR- How much collaboration is there with the dancers? Do they help you make up steps and stuff?

E- Yes. I usually come in with a set phrase I want to work on or a set minute or chunk of the piece I want to work on, and then once the movement is on the dancers I feel like it automatically just tweaks itself because it’s on a different body; it’s not on yourself. So if automatically shifts itself. In general I feel like working with your dancers is a very very valuable tool because you can come up with possibilities you didn’t think of on your own, or like your body doesn’t allow you to do. Especially when I was on crutches trying to choreograph, I’m like “Oh yeah, that can actually work because you can actually dance.”

TAYLOR- I bet that was hard.

E- Yeah it was crazy, but all better now!

H- The dancers definitely help me out. Especially for this piece I had them improvise a lot where they travel in space. Actually yesterday I gave them something very specific I wanted them to do, and somehow everyone started the same phrase at a different time, and it was awesome! So I told them to keep it. A mistake can be a blessing.

E- I love when stuff like that happens!

H- It’s awesome. They felt so bad and I’m like ‘Do it again! It was so good.’

TAYLOR- Can you talk a little bit about your faculty mentors? Who are they and how do they work with you?

E- Mine is Nancy. She’s very very perceptive. She actually hasn’t come too much to my rehearsals, but the ones that she does come to she definitely helps me out a lot. She always has something valuable to say. It’s not so much like, ‘Oh change this.’ It’s more like, ‘What do you think about this section,’ or ‘What are you trying to say with this.’ It’s in a very constructive way I think.

H- Mine is Pat. She’s actually great. I had her a year ago when I was choreographing and she saved me. This year has been harder because I know what I’m doing now. There are times when you want your piece to be your piece, and they want it to be what they think your piece is. It’s kind of like having someone coming in and you’re trying to paint a picture and you’re on a little corner. You know what the whole thing looks like but they only see that corner. They’re like, ‘No, that’s not what it is.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, yes it is! Leave me alone.’ So that can be frustrating.

E- It’s a little bit of a balance. But at the same time I always have to remember they’ve seen more dance than I have, they have way more experience than I have. So at the same time you have to just remember that I’m still new at this, so I do have to keep that in the back of my mind.

H- They do have good advice. It’s good to think about.

E- Take it in stride.

TAYLOR- Besides your mentors, are there any other choreographic influences you have? Any outside choreographers?

E- I would say, for me, this piece, I saw a choreographer last year named Susan Marshall. She does a lot of work at DTW. Just in the way that she uses gesture, I think that’s a very big part of my piece this year. And integrating that with dance and making dance and gesture one in the same. So she was a very big influence to me this year.

H- This year I’ve tried not to think about technique at all, about other people’s choreography, about my own typical choreography. I’ve tried to create from a place of what everything feels like. In that I haven’t thought of anyone else, of any technique, of any choreographer. Just seeing what comes out.

TAYLOR- Has that been difficult to totally ignore everything?

H- It’s actually been very rewarding. It’s been difficult because every time I have to create I have to come from that place. To get there sometimes I have to always forget what happened that day, that week, if there’s anything bothering me. I have to feel completely centered and remember what it is that I’m creating about. So I have to come from that physical and emotional place, which is hard to get to sometimes, but the end result is great.

TAYLOR- Is there anything else that inspires you creatively, like music?

E- Just because the music this semester was created specifically created for me, that in itself I think really inspired me because I had to – before I even started creating movement I had to think of a structure of what this music is going to sound like. That really drove my piece forward and definitely shifted the way that I worked. Normally I would go ABCD, but since I knew the structure of the music already I kind of knew the structure of the piece, so I could go ADB, I can kind of pick and choose sections because I knew in the end how it would all fit together. Definitely the music inspired me.

H- I was very inspired by African and Australian wildlife and living out in the bush, just in general. My piece is very much about that. I’ve studied a lot of animals and their movements, and just nature in general. [I] have read books on Australia and Africa and just the hard life and about what it’s like to be so connected to nature and to rely on it completely for your well being. And the people that really do that have a totally different sense of sensuality and embodiment. It’s so focused and it’s not at all like we have here. Everyone’s like [makes gesture] or totally in their own world. My piece is about connecting back to that original place and that inner animal. I guess.

TAYLOR- Elena, what’s been your relationship with your composer?

E- Funny story. It’s actually been pretty good. He is a friend of a friend. He has a band. It’s a very strong rock influence. He’s extremely extremely talented but doesn’t adhere to deadlines. And that’s all I’m going to say! [Laughs] No, it’s just hard when you want to be in control of all these different components of your piece and then you have to wait. Like I was saying to Heather, I still don’t have the final cut of my music yet so I’m kind of stressing about that. He gave me a rough cut of it he did on the computer, but it sounds very synthesized and very techno right now. But he did everything. The main instrumentation is guitar, piano, drums, base. Extremely rock and roll heavy influence. It’s kind of a ticking time bomb right now.

TAYLOR- Well that leads to my next question. What’s been the biggest challenge for you so far?

H- When your whole goal is to create from an inspired state, and you’re not inspired.

TAYLOR- Does that happen a lot?

H- Not too often. But when it does happen you feel like you’ve wasted so much time and it’s really depressing. Those are the hardest moments. But they don’t last.

E- If you have good dancers, yeah.

H- Yeah.

E- I’ve had a few [challenges], but really I think it’s staying true to instincts, because a lot of times you find yourself kind of going off course and you question yourself and you’re like, ‘Is that cool? Is it not? I don’t know, I’ve seen it so many times. I’m kind of bored of it now.’

H- That happens to me all the time.

E- I’m like, ‘I don’t know, is this boring? I don’t know if this is interesting.’ So it’s trying to find that balance between trusting it. It also helps to get a fresh pair of eyes to see it.

TAYLOR- What’s been the best part?

E- That’s a hard question. I think for me, it’s like this is my vision that I put into movement. It’s really hard to articulate because you have this idea in your head and it starts out as this little thing. Then eventually when you see it with lights and music and costumes and you see everything come together, it kind of just makes you want to cry because really it’s like your baby. You gave birth to this thing and it’s such a satisfying feeling.

TAYLOR- It’s funny that you say that because I was talking to Meghan [Pilling] the other day and she said the exact same thing about it being like a baby.

E- That is funny. Same analogy! But it’s true!

H- For me, I do love that moment. I really do. The best part is when you have your concept and you dig and dig really deep to understand it yourself. You find all sorts of things that you never thought about. Your dancers reveal things for you, and the movement reveals things for you. You get a really awesome understanding of what it is that you’re studying, and so do you dancers. For this dance I’ve had to dig really deep. I feel like a different person [laughs]. I’ve learned a lot and I feel like it’s translated into my other classes, and just in everyday life too. It’s cool when your dancers go on the same journey.

TAYLOR- Do both of you want to choreograph after you graduate?

H- Perhaps. I always thought I’d never be a choreographer and do choreography but I just switched my concentration to choreography, so who knows.

E- My concentration is choreography. I would like to continue to pursue it, maybe not on a huge scale, but I do like the idea of working with dancers and going through this process of creating something. I feel like it’s really important, as a dancer too, to really find what makes you, you. You’re expressions and everything.

TAYLOR- My last question. Do you have any advice for future choreographers or those coming through the DAW experience?

E- Woo, future choreographers of America! Get your music rights in the summer [jokes].

H- There’s so much you could say.

E- There is so much. To really be open to the idea that your piece may no end up what you originally thought it was going to be. I remember the first time I choreographed I was hell-bent on this one thing, and I would not change my mind. ‘This is what I want.’ And yeah, that’s good, but at the same time you restrict yourself so much by doing that. So just be open to possibilities. Don’t be so straight and narrow like I was.

H- I would say probably the same thing. Just don’t be discouraged. Take every opportunity in your choreography to grow and learn from everything that you can. The best part is when things don’t turn out they way you thought they would and it ends up being so much better.
E- Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

casual update on some things

After a full weekend of Nutcracker rehearsals in Connecticut I don't have the time or energy to write all I have to say about a bunch of different this quick update will have to suffice:

-Bloch video Friday went well. It wasn't all that big of a thing, but I guess it was fun.

-Nutcracker rehearsals are going okay...I missed last weekend so this weekend was a bit rough for various usual, not going into detail, but I'm amazed at certain aspects of the dance world and how things get by...

-I wrote a letter to the editor of Dance Spirit Magazine in response to their September issue on college vs. dance, and they printed it! Go pick up the November issue and turn to the Dear DS blurb is there! (Only, the part about Ajkun Ballet Theater is no longer valid...)

-Last week a new iphone commercial debuted on national tv starring Kristin Sloan, founder of The Winger, the other dance blog I contribute to. In kind of a joint advertisement for the iphone and The Winger, we got 24 times the amount of normal page views in one day! It's unbelievable...

On that note, she has also started a new social networking site for the dance . Go join it immediately and friend me! It's a great extension of the discourse on dance...

-I have midterms this week, so I am crazy stressed with work and such.

-Many of my friends and classmates are performing in a benefit show this Wednesday at John Jay College. If you're around, get tickets now! I wish them all the best of luck and will be cheering in the audience.

More to come later this week...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DAW Interviews part 1

For the next issue of our school paper, The Monitor, I'm doing a series of interviews with student choreographers in the Dance Department who are involved in Dancers At Work (DAW), a showcase in November for student work. There are 9 of them, and by press time I will have spoken to all of them in depth but will have eliminated many important details due to print space.

Going along with my general thesis musings about dance writing moving to the internet I thought it would be fitting for me to post my full interviews with them on here. I am amazed at what they have to say and the depth of their work and I want to share everything that won't make it to the Monitor article.

So here is the first interview transcribed. It is with Meghan (M) and Bianca (B). Last names have been eliminated for privacy purposes. It starts with a few notes describing DAW and then goes into my questions.

My personal and editorial commentary have been left out for the moment until the article comes together at deadline next week.

DAW INTERVIEWS FOR MONITOR - part 1 - 10/17/07

Meghan(2nd time DAW)
Bianca(1st time DAW)

M- Reach Me, 9 dancers, composed by Chris Lancaster (electric cello)
B- (untitled to date), 5 dancers, music: Finnish Symphony, about sexual abuse and interconnected

-started rehearsals 2nd week of school, for all BFA dancers
-they give audition phrase (approved by faculty the week before) and get 20 mins to see dancers
-they make list of their choice dancers, faculty makes choices, final cast determined by combination of both and schedules
-mentors come once a week

TAYLOR: What’s the rehearsal process like?

M- It’s been easy this year. You know, if you get a great group of dancers and there’s no drama, nobody misses rehearsals, everyone works together then it goes smoothly.

TAYLOR: What is your choreographic process like?

M- We are totally different [Bianca and me]. I’m neurotic. I have to come in with something prepared. I come in on weekends to rehearse.

B- And I’m the exact opposite. I come in with nothing prepared, no set ideas, and I like to experiment with the dancers.

M- It works well for both of us.

B- I mean, I had my dancers improve the whole first rehearsal just to see how they move. I like to experiment on the spot.

M- And I experiment within the limits of what I’ve already come up with.

TAYLOR: How much influence do the dancers have on your choreography?

M- I don’t think either of us actually let anyone actually come up with steps, but I do ask them, you know, what is comfortable, what happens naturally. I’m working with partnering for the first time, so if we’re having a problem the dancers either solve it and I use what they’ve done or that makes me think of something else that would work.

B- Yeah, they help with the quality of movement.

TAYLOR: Who are your faculty mentors and what is it like to work with them?

M- Mine is Pat C. She was my mentor last year (for DAW) and I’ve had her as a teacher, so I have a very strong relationship with her. She give critiques for what she thinks doesn’t fit or looks awkward, or the opposite, what does work. But she also likes to just throw ideas around, even if she knows they’re something I won’t use. They’re usually crazy ideas.

B- Mine is Nancy L. She was my modern teacher freshman year. She’s very helpful. She asks me questions about my intentions for every movement and from there I investigate the movement.

TAYLOR: What’s your inspiration? Is there any outside choreographer you admire?

M- I always like to go see concerts. Watching other dancers outside of class, outside of rehearsal, outside of being in or watching someone else’s rehearsal – just being in the audience to sit back and observe is great.

B- For me I think it’s socially what’s happening in the world.

M- And taking time to think too. I think a lot, and at the weirdest times! Like when I’m brushing my teeth…or when I go home on the bus. It consumes your thoughts. And before I go to bed.

B- I have dreams about it.

TAYLOR: What has been your biggest challenge thus far with these pieces?

M- I think this year pacing myself has been hardest. My piece is twice as long as the one I did last year. Last year it was 6 minutes, this year it’s 12. So setting the pace definitely now that we’re getting to crunch time.

B- Beginning and ending. I can do all the in between, but I like to tell stories with my dances.

TAYLOR: Have you choreographed before DAW?

B- Yes, at New World School of Performing Arts. I was a big part of that.

M- At one of my old schools I used to dance at my teacher was really good about letting us help out with that. It started with just working with my friends and moved to doing some opening acts for shows and then some solo works in high school. I’m also big into theater so I’ve worked with some musical theater choreography.

B- I also choreographed this summer at a festival in Italy. Every summer they have a big festival with all the companies, and I was with ProDanca. We had a performance in Florence and…

M- I want to go to Italy!

TAYLOR: What’s been the best part about DAW?

M- The whole thing! It truly is a great experience and process to be part of. I mean most schools don’t give student choreographers as much leeway as they do here. It’s absolutely 100% student run, from the auditions, choosing the dancers, the costumes the lighting, everything! Even things like designing the postcard.

B- I’m like a kid in a candy store. It’s extremely exciting. It’s rejuvenating. It’s spiritual. It’s a way to have your voice heard.

M- And it’s so different from class. It’s like raising a baby: it starts out as an idea in your head over the summer, which grows to a phrase, which grows to a dance, which grows to a performance, and then you send your work out into the world and hope it doesn’t screw up too badly.

TAYLOR: Do you want to choreograph after you graduate?

M- I can see myself doing it. I don’t know about it as a career because I want to perform, but I can definitely see myself doing it.

B- Yes. I want to start my own company and tour the world. I want to take my choreography to Africa, South America…

TAYLOR: Do you have any advice for future choreographers?

M- Give it a try. I meet a lot of people with ideas about pieces they want to do but they’re not sure. Just go for it.

B- Yeah, don’t be scared. Everyone has something to say, that’s why we’re artists, and it’s just a great way to have your voice heard.

copyright (2007) Taylor Gordon

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

one school, two opinions a world apart

Recently I came in contact with someone who now attends a place (that shall remain nameless) where I used to dance that I do not hold to much esteem anymore.

She is a bit younger than me, but knows many of the same people I knew from said place. Obviously she is working with most of the same teachers I worked with. Yet, in discussing this place, we have 2 drastically different opinions on our experiences.

I tend to keep my (rather harsh) opinions of some things to myself (and my very close friends who put up with and/or share my complaints) because I know that not everyone agrees with me, but I do have justifcations for my opinions. I'm not going into detail here, but it's really difficult for me to imagine this place in the light that my new-found friend describes it in.

In place of my descriptions (that shall not be mentioned) she uses words like "loving." Not once in the long long time I spent there did I feel a "loving" quality. Quite the opposite, actually. And she is "lucky" to be there. I was "lucky" to leave.

How can one place provide such vastly different experiences for people? I have to wonder.

When the time is right I will share my honest opinions (and reasons). Nevermind that just now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bloch shoot, and movmnt magazine

New addition to my insane schedule:

I've been a "test dancer" for Bloch dancewear for a while now, and they've been creating a new beginner pointe shoe on my foot. I've been providing feedback on it for months and they've been reworking it and tailoring (no pun intended) it to create the best shoe for dancers just starting on pointe.

Now that the shoe creation process has finished, they are shooting a film for their annual sales conference so that their many retailers nationwide are informed about their new products and such. Being active in the process of everything, the asked me to be in the film to compare shoes and demonstrate some things wearing their new shoes.

So that's pretty cool...we're shooting on Friday. Not that it really matters for this kind of thing, but I haven't worked with film much. They did an episode of MTV's "MADE" on us back at The Rock School, but that's pretty much the extent of my experience. THAT is a story in guy always in the way in class...oh the memories. Anyways, I'll write more about the filming after it happens!

One more thing...everyone should go to Barnes and Noble and buy movmnt magazine. Yes, that's how it's spelled. It's a relatively new dance/pop culture/fashion magazine co-founded by Danny Tidwell (So You Think You Can Dance). The magazine itself is wonderful, but you should particularly buy the most recent issue that just came out because there is a big section on The Winger! It's really great that we as a general community are getting publicity, and it gives me another accredited source for my little senior thesis haha. Read it!

just one of those weeks

Ever have one of those days where just nothing seems to be going your way? Even if things seem to be going well from the outside...

It's been about a week of that.

I think the stress of midterms coming up (among other things) is starting to hit me...and I don't know which is my escape and which I'm escaping from: ballet or homework.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

mailing list, amusing comments, and internship update

There are 3 parts to this post...1) join new mailing list, 2)some amusing comments I've received recently about my dancing, and 2) an update on my new internship at Quick and Simple Magazine

I've you're a regular blog reader, PLEASE join my new mailing list to receive regular notifications when the blog has been updated. See the form at the right...take a second of your time and fill out your email address!

When I started this blog I made a vow not to get too personal with the stuff I write about here in regards to my dancing...believe me, I have much more inside of me I would love to scream out to be heard, but I know that isn't practical, necessary, or appropriate.

However I do feel the need to share 2 comments said to me recently about my dancing...though they are indeed highly personal (in some ways), I'm putting them here simply out of amusement. Lately I'm finding that teachers are really just other human beings, and not some untouchable force of perfection to be feared (as I still think of some). I'm finding amusement in the way certain people express themselves:

-"Ugly feet. Ugly hips. But she has talent. She can dance."

-"I notice you don't look very happy when you're dancing. Sometimes we can over train ourselves and lose the joy."

Make of those what you will. I shall add no more commentary.
I want Alessandra Ferri's feet. (took this from the wings at the Met @ her retirement about talent)


Though ballet still seems to be the aspect of my life that controls my mood (good class, good day, bad class, bad day), the other half of my life is going quite well (though busy) lately. I've now been at my internship in the Home Editorial department of Quick and Simple Magazine for a week and I'm really enjoying it. My 2 bosses are super nice, and I get my own little desk in the intern cubicle (where, to date, no other interns have shown I'm alone :). Getting to know the magazine is a really interesting process and it's fun to be back in an office environment (how much of a dork am I?).

Hearst Tower(pic from their website)...where all the magazines are...except ours haha. We're in another building, but this one is still pretty!

Similar to when I was at Pointe, I get to work pretty much independently and at my own pace, which I love love love. At another previous internship it was more of a collaborative environment, which definitely had its plusses, but I had to wait to find out my next task minute to minute. The way I work now, I can get much more done and have more creative freedom.

To that effect, today I got to start researching for the first story I'll be helping with. Though it's a weekly magazine, they work really far ahead in order to get issues out on time, so we're working on the Jan. 1 issue right now. The story: recycling Christmas materials, such as cards, gift wrap, etc. I spent the afternoon coming up with creative ways to use these things after the holidays using crafts and other ideas. How fun! If anyone has an idea for this let me could end up in the magazine ;)

Anyway, that's the scoop for now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Snooze or Lose in NY Magazine

Read this article from this week's New York Magazine.

Though they discuss younger kids, the loss of sleep definitely affects those of us a bit older!

A topic that's been on my mind lately...

Some interesting quotes:

"Half of all adolescents get less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights. By the time they are seniors in high school, according to studies by the University of Kentucky, they average only slightly more than 6.5 hours of sleep a night. Only 5 percent of high-school seniors average eight hours. Sure, we remember being tired when we went to school. But not like today’s kids."
[My note: by the time they are in college - average 4 hours of sleep. At least, for me...]

"...The result is that sleep-deprived people fail to recall pleasant memories yet recall gloomy memories just fine. In one experiment by Walker, sleep-deprived college students tried to memorize a list of words. They could remember 81 percent of the words with a negative connotation, like cancer. But they could remember only 41 percent of the words with a positive or neutral connotation, like sunshine or basket."

"Sleep is a biological imperative for every species on Earth. But humans alone try to resist its pull. Instead, we see sleep not as a physical need but a statement of character. It’s considered a sign of weakness to admit fatigue, and it’s a sign of strength to refuse to succumb to slumber. Sleep is for wusses."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Senior Thesis Topic: Dance Journalism in New Media

So this week I'm submitting my "prospectus" for my senior thesis due later this semester. Basically I just had to outline what I'll be writing about and list some questions to be explored in my research.

I thought I'd share it here to see if anyone has some other ideas to add or comments about what I'm thinking about. See what you think and TELL ME.

Dance Journalism and Criticism in New Media

For my paper I would like to explore the changes that the internet and new media are bringing to arts journalism, specifically dance criticism. With the invention of online communities, blogs, and social networks, the journalism and publishing industries have seen significant changes in recent years. I want to investigate these changes and see how they are leading us to the future of arts journalism.

Being passionate about both dance and writing, this topic has intrigued me for some time now. The culture of the dance world is extremely unique and they way this community fits in and interacts with the larger world has proven to be a special relationship. Concert dance is far removed from mainstream culture and the art form has always struggled to find a place in popular media. I personally want to find a way to integrate this sector of society and raise awareness of what’s going on in the dance world by communicating with the mainstream. In a culture that thrives on celebrity pitfalls like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton it seems as though true art is far underappreciated.

With that being said, the most powerful method of communication about dance, besides movement, has been in print media. Newspapers traditionally provide entertainment listings where dance performances are given brief blurbs of details and ticket information. Only the country’s largest papers allot space to dance criticism, and as a result only few dance companies are represented in the press.

The more important issue is that in recent years there has been a severe cutback in print space given to dance coverage. Magazines, such as New York Magazine, have completely eliminated the position of Chief Dance Critic and run stories on dance very rarely. Newspapers have also seen a shortage of staff on this beat due to funding. The New York Times, which is the largest print outlet serving the dance community, has drastically cut space for dance in the popular Arts section over the past 20 years.

Another major issue with dance journalism is the shift in dance magazines. In the past, the major monthly publication for the art form was Dance Magazine, owned by Macfadden Performing Arts Media. The other regular magazines dedicated to dance include Pointe Magazine (specifically for ballet), Dance Teacher (for educators), and Dance Spirit (for a younger, competition based sector). All of these were owned by Lifestyle Media, Inc, which ran a slew of other smaller magazines. In August of 2006, Dance Magazine bought out this company, thus merging all of the dance titles under Macfadden’s reign.

The issue that I see with this is that of media convergence. The larger society of American, and the world for that matter, has seen a surge in the power of the media giants. Ownership has become a great issue, with 5 or 6 major companies running the majority of society’s media outlets. Time Warner, News Corporation, Viacom, and others have been the key players in acquisitions and mergers across all types of media, from television to print.

If this is problem enough for the “real world” it is even more of an issue in the “dance world” because the community alone is so small. With all of the dance news coming from essentially a single source now, Macfadden Performing Arts media seems to have a monopoly of power. Only certain voices are being heard and few opinions are being expressed in print. The situation is a mirror image of what’s going on in the larger scheme of media.

What seems to have risen as a solution to these two major issues of coverage cutbacks and media convergence is dance criticism online. A number of message boards have been in existence for years, allowing dance enthusiasts and balletomanes to express their opinions on the goings-on of the performing world. But only recently have blogs begun to pop up which provide more in depth coverage of performances, news, and general issues relating to dance. These sites allow a bigger variety of perspectives to be exposed and are not limited to the restrictions of time and space as print outlets are.

The internet has allowed for a beneficial increase in dance writing and has allowed for a close connection to be developed among the community. There is now an outlet for public discourse around the art form that would be nearly impossible to have without new media. Especially with the New York Times rumors of eventually going out of print and being solely online, this could be the future of arts journalism and potentially publishing as a whole.

Questions to Explore:
-What other internet conventions could be used in the context of dance journalism? For example, would the Wiki platform be used to document records of past performances or choreographic notations?

-How have the websites of the various dance magazines taken advantage of new media, and how do they compare to independent websites?

-What sparked the decline of dance journalism in print, and how can that be prevented in the online context?

-What conventions of the “dance world” impact how the topic is covered in media? For example, funding is an extremely big problem and dance companies perhaps need to be represented in the best possible light to stay alive. Is this preventing some of the more controversial issues facing the dance world from being publicly exposed?

-How can the dance world gain exposure in other mediums besides the internet and print?

-In what ways is the industry of publishing changing which may affect the future of arts journalism?

(c) 2007 Taylor Gordon

Sunday, October 7, 2007

long weekend

This has been a super long weekend...and technically it's not even over since tomorrow is Columbus Day!

Our performance Friday night at NDG went well. Pretty big crowd for the relatively small space we were in. My Dad came down for the afternoon to watch, so that was nice.

I spent the rest of the weekend in Connecticut rehearsing for Nutcracker. We had 2 verrrry long sets of rehearsals over Saturday/Sunday, but it was really good. I finally finished learning all the choreography for Waltz of the Flowers and it's starting to mesh and make sense as a full dance. It's nice to arrive at that state of comfort after mind-racking rehearsals trying to catch up to people who already know it all.

The way we work in these rehearsals is very different from any way I've worked in the past. The director goes through steps extremely meticulously, explaining each detail thoroughly where many people would simply ignore or oversee. It takes a long time to finally get through a sequence, but once we do it's all "cleaned up" right away. It's an interesting method that I'm not used to but I'm starting to really appreciate. It's equally as challenging mentally as it is physically, which adds an interesting layer that, being an avid student, I like.

Anyways I'm exhausted tonight from the long bus ride, etc, but I'm going to try to post more often since I've been slacking off a bit (other stuff has come up as you know).

OH ONE MORE THING: As far as the internship thing goes...I ended up taking the job that they offered me right on the spot at Quick and Simple Magazine. I started there last Thursday and I think it's going to be a really great experience. The people seem really nice, and I get my own little desk and everything! I'll post more about that as I get into the swing of it :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Dance Group Teacher's Showcase

This Friday night is the Teacher's Showcase I'm performing in at New Dance Group (Oct. 5, 8pm, $5 tix at door).

I'm in a ballet piece by Irene Kent, with 6 other dancers. We had dress rehearsal today, which went well. We had it videotaped and they are supposed to film the performance as well, so maybe next week or so I can get it up online. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to performing. It's been a few months since I've been onstage and even though this is a pretty small, low-key scenario, I'm glad to have the opportunity to be in front of an audience.

You know the cliche "live every day as if it's your last"?

Well I live by: "Dance every performance as if it's your last."

I am so grateful for every chance I get to dance, whatever it may be, and I'm afraid some people take that for granted.