Friday, March 29, 2013

Choroegraphy? What's that? Choreographer? Who's that?

Dance Magazine titled April as "The Choreography Issue.ID (inveterate dancer) got to thinking-- What is choreography? Who is the choreographer? If you're a dancer choreography and is what the choreographer tells you to do, how to move. (often in collaboration, but still)
If you're a choreographer, you are making the dance, choreographing something out of an idea, a gesture in your body, or someone elses', something you see, or feel.

And for ID in the audience it’s a little bit of both. Choreography that I can feel, that's what I long for in performance.  It's like poetry where even as I read the words, I know what it means, not because the sentence makes sense but because it evokes something that I understand intensely and  purely. Martha Graham would say it has "necessity."

I have the great good fortune to have a friend  who teaches and choreographs at the College of  Marin. For the last 5 years I have watched Sandra Tanner Mack, and her ever changing groups of dancers, ping-pong, swirl, swoop and dive like birds, in and out of formation, while making pieces.Sandra calls herself a "choreography doctor, " and a few Saturday's ago I popped in to see the "good doctor" at work.

Sandra was there with her six dancers, five women and one man, and her cards.  She would periodically go and check her dance notes, at the front of the studio, addressing the dancers and the mirror. She would watch them, check the movement flow, correct, re-design, re-purpose, then apologize for "not taking a picture of myself doing this." She is reaching for her thread, what she had in her head, her body, when she made this piece, while still being here, now, in the studio with the dancers.

They want to get it "exactly." They want to take the steps into themselves, and make them more than phrases, sections. Sandra listens to their questions, answers a few, trying to give them confidence.

Then she stops, cues the music, "Lets run it."

They run it. Over and over. And then it happens. A world takes shape, its edges, its colors, the movements become a sensation surrounding and taking me in.  I'm seeing differently, my breathing in in tune with the sweeping arms, the swinging legs.

It has happened.It's a piece. Ready as any dance ever is, for opening night. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Injury as revelation, part one, Gryokinesis

4657983093 4f66dbe41a z [Pics] Flickr Spotlight #11 – Amazing Photos Of Dancers

It happens to us all—the regular body doing its everyday chores, the super body doing its extraordinary 
feats, one day it happens

What do we do? What is an Inveterate Dancer (ID) or an Intrepid Exerciser (IE) to do?
Injuries craft the body as much as exercise. The trick is to let the information come and then to incorporate it into the “healed” body. When we utilize all the body's material, the painful and pleasurable, we gain our truest, fullest moving body. This is the first of several pieces on Pilates and Gyrokinesis, two modalities that show us how we can uncover our own unique body of knowledge: the one that comes from both injury and athletic striving.  

Gyrokinesis founder Juliu Horvath  was an athlete and a dancer who suffered many injuries. For a well written in-depth history check out Kathy Van Patten’s article, history of Julio
He studied yoga, acupuncture, and a variety of other disciplines and developed a new way of looking at the body. It all stemmed from what he so eloquently stated, “I want music and poetry in my body, I want to be skillful without struggle.” 

What is so different for IE about Gyrokinesis is that it challenges the body and mind to think and move fluidly through all three dimensions.  See the below video for the opening exercises.

Class is taught in a circle on a stool for beginners.  They start by scooping the body forward and backward and then turn to one leg and dip the head. Then they begin to spiral, to the front, back and side. The breath feeds the fluidity, combining hollowing out breaths and small puffing ones.

As the class progresses you feel your body as a three dimensional tool, building a sense of what is behind you, above you, all around you. You begin to visualize and feel what is inside you and around you.

It is very natural not forced and simply comes upon one

Friday, March 8, 2013

permission to dance

Its more than a passing exercise trend when you read about it in Harper’s Bazaar from a senior, former NYT reporter, like Alex Kuczynski.  just dance--harpers bazaar

In her article Kuczynski tells us about the origins of Zumba. Alberto“Beto” Perez an aerobics teacher in the 90’s, forgot his usual tapes for class and instead taught with his salsa and merengue music. Aerobics and dance have never been the same.  

Alex gets it right when she says, “Sexy is what Zumba is all about.” Well, maybe that’s what we need a little more of. IE has had plenty of the“give me another 10 burpees”  or “another 30 seconds—“ of that inane interval, accompanied by the dreaded electronic disco beat, called out by the trainer with the biceps the size of my thighs. IE needs something else..Don’t you?

Wow!! What an immense release-- to just--dance. In Zumba there are no “corrections." Sometimes the teacher will break things down. (for just a little bit)  Or offer a Sunday “intensive” where you can really learn the moves. But now, in class, with the music and movement, it is just you and your body moving. Simple. And when you look around, everyone else is doing the same.

My favorite part about Zumba is that IE has nooo idea what the music is saying, but the older Latina ladies do. I love it when they have this sly smile on their lips and they shake their hips, leaning over to you, telling you the lyrics,” he is saying…” and their eyes light up with a giggle.

zumba with tom mayock

San Francisco and Marin Bollywood dance teacher Satish Panchal

has an Eastern take on sexy dance. His class incorporates belly dancing, Indian dance and even some seventies disco stuff. IE can’t tell you where one line ends and the other begins. Just watch the video and you’ll see. He lip syncs the class, which is fun, and the music is divine, groovy and electric and so different you can’t help but just give over to it and give it your best shot.  And he brings a bag of “jiggle scarves” scarves with the gold coins that make the whole hip thing just that much more fun!