Grounded, but lifted

Belle (n.) - Out of her head full of curls there is always one that rests on her forehead like an upside down question mark-as if it were a coy suggestion of her inquisitive mind.


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In Defense of the Dance Major

Several months ago, I heard two interesting reports from NPR’s Planet Money team that focused on college majors and jobs - why people decide to pursue particular tracks of studies and the careers they hold as a result.

Dancers, we’re in this together…

What a year it has been! I can’t wait to show my last piece in Conwell Dance Theater as an undergrad! 

What a year it has been! I can’t wait to show my last piece in Conwell Dance Theater as an undergrad! 

Bono: Who Is Jesus?

philamuseum:

In celebration of Palm Sunday, here’s one of our favorite artworks that depicts Christ entering Jerusalem.”Procession through Jerusalem,” date unknown, Justin McCarthy (1892–1977)

philamuseum:

In celebration of Palm Sunday, here’s one of our favorite artworks that depicts Christ entering Jerusalem.

Procession through Jerusalem,” date unknown, Justin McCarthy (1892–1977)

Yes, and yes…

Date a Girl Who Dances

tutuandtea:

Date a Girl Who Dances

"I’ve reposted this work from my old blog. It was inspired by “Date a Girl Who Reads” and “Date a Girl Who Writes,” so be sure to check those two out as well!”

Date a girl who dances. She won’t be easy to find because she’s always busy learning, teaching, preparing. She won’t be like the other girls you’ve dated. You won’t find her in the weary squalor of a bar. You won’t find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of a nightclub. And, if you do find her, she won’t be engaged by your unsentimental trivialities. Your pick-up lines and inward laugh will not amuse her.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself in her studio. You’ll know when you see her. She’ll be standing there — watching, observing, absorbing — always listening to the cadence of song, practicing a new routine, immersed in the scene of it all. And because she’s so immersed, she’s always occupied, and why, even if you notice her, she may not notice you.

If you see her looking at you, look back and wait. If she looks away, it’s ok; keep looking at her. She’s a performer and, at the very least, will enjoy the attention. But, if you can get her to look at you and not look away, she wants to get to know you. She’s targeted you, pursuing you, inviting you. Once she catches your eye, once she hears your voice that first time, she begins her profile. She’s the one who will have your character in 10 seconds and have you completely profiled in 10 minutes. She doesn’t need to hear your story because she’s a dancer; she can follow your body language, hear changes in your voice’s tempo, and see the emotions hidden in your gaze. She’ll listen to what you have to say but is really looking for the nonverbal cues that will tell her who you really are.

After two weeks she’ll know you better than you know yourself.

Date a girl who dances because she’ll complement you perfectly. She dedicates weeks, if not months, for a few fleeting moments of success. She has an unwavering belief in her ability to be exceptional. And, if she chooses you as a partner, she’ll share that dedication and belief with you. Date a girl who dances because she’ll gracefully follow. But more importantly because, when life’s tempo becomes irregular, she’ll willingly lead.

Do it because a girl who dances understands syntax. Rhythm has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who dances knows that life’s arrangements are not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who dances, who truly understands the story — no, syntax — ever present in her choreography, understands irregular pauses — the hesitation of breath, the look in your eyes, the inflection in your voice — that often take place prior to mustering up the courage to speak an “I love you” for the first time.

If you’re really lucky, she’ll say it first. She’ll respond “I love you too” and you’ll smile knowing that she can always sense exactly what’s on your mind without you having to utter a word. You’ll come to cherish these moments of silent communication.

Date a girl who dances because it’ll be an adventure. She’ll want to salsa after a day of chasing bulls in Barcelona, tango after cliff jumping in Rio, and relax after a day at the beach in Cinque Terra — not because it’s some dance haven, just because it would be romantic. Or maybe she won’t. But, the fact that you think she’ll enjoy those things and are willing to make it happen will change both of your lives forever.

Your love will grow, sometimes uncontrollably, as the days turn to months and the months to years. You’ll find that the girl who dances makes your heart oscillate with a significant passion. And although the traveling will have made for great photo albums, the best memories will be the simple time your spent together. After all, who you travel with can be more important than the destination.

You’ll decide you want to spend the rest of your life with her and a short love story, inspired by your charming proposal, will be written.

She’ll expect you to make the wedding invitations, create a budget, arrange the catering, and coordinate vows. All the planning she’ll leave to you will, at times, seem overwhelming. But it won’t matter because she’ll choose the venue — one with a grand ballroom — she’ll choreograph a romantic first dance that will bring the audience to tears, she’ll wear a stunning dress, and she will be the most beautiful bride that anyone has ever seen.

You, the girl who dances, make me want to be better. Your fervency is simply inspiring. You will accept nothing less than a rich performance, an intriguing partner, and a life worthy of an audience. I date the girl who dances because she gives me the most riveting life imaginable.

I couldn’t resist reblogging this!

siminiblocker:

Happy Spring! Well. Supposedly spring. I’m sitting here in several layers plus a blanket, but spring approaches.
Dress drawn from this dress. Related, omgthatdress is a fantastic reference/inspiration blog. I want to draw it all!

siminiblocker:

Happy Spring! Well. Supposedly spring. I’m sitting here in several layers plus a blanket, but spring approaches.

Dress drawn from this dress. Related, omgthatdress is a fantastic reference/inspiration blog. I want to draw it all!

Some choreographers have a way of bringing things out of you that you’ve never tried before. And sometimes you find a dance partner that complements you well. #connection #dance #duet #rehearsal #bboy @the_one_the_only_mr_mike

Some choreographers have a way of bringing things out of you that you’ve never tried before. And sometimes you find a dance partner that complements you well. #connection #dance #duet #rehearsal #bboy @the_one_the_only_mr_mike

Yes Manifesto (tribute to Yvonne Rainer)

  • Yes to sweat.
  • Yes to sore legs and backs.
  • Yes to floor burns, bruises, and torn calluses.
  • Yes to sports bras and layers of dance/athletic attire.
  • Yes to stretching, cross training, and good nutrition.
  • Yes to inviting the audience into our world.
  • Yes to celebrating strength, beauty, and identity on stage.
  • Yes to connecting with the audience through movement, text, multimedia, and the things that make us human.
  • Yes to musical collaboration.
  • Yes to honoring all mediums of art.
  • Yes to that moment of pure joy in rehearsal where you create exactly what was envisioned in your head.
  • Yes to auditions (because at the very least it’s a free class).
  • Yes to that single fleeting moment when you feel alive (Cunningham).

Rough thoughts on dance

templeuniversitydancedept:

sarah-anne:

templeuniversitydancedept:

sarah-anne:

Modern dance found a home in research universities in the mid-twentieth century. That’s the time when many dance programs were established outside the umbrella of physical education.

Today, adjunct faculty account for nearly 70 percent of the faculty providing instruction nationwideAdjunct faculty members must juggle multiple classes and the related grading, emailing, and meeting with students just to make a decent living. This leaves little time for writing, research, or, in the case of dancers, choreographing.

On top of this there’s the push for STEM education and more career/vocation-oriented programs.

I wonder how, and where, dance will survive as a profession and academic pursuit

This is a great question that I/we can’t not try to answer.

Temple may be an exception in that we have a larger proportion of full-time faculty than most other higher ed dance departments (about 50% full-time).  However, we are still aware of and affected by the financial crunch facing the arts and higher ed during these times.  We are one of only four schools in the country with a PhD program in Dance and have become one of the most esteemed homes of dance scholars.  Although it is a competitive area, from where we sit, dance academia is very much alive!  The funding/resources point is a real problem, though.

Personally, as an arts administration scholar (of sorts), I think that the field has been learning that we need to make more obvious connections between professional accomplishments (return on invested resources) and arts education.  I think all of the programs that are surviving are doing this, and arts advocacy as a whole is doing this.  The emphasis on STEM is needed, but the English/Liberal Arts/Humanities departments won’t die out because of it, because they are recognizably important too.  We only need to keep reminding the world that the arts are just as important, and we do that by educating dancers who go on to truly accomplish things.  That’s a philosophy that our department truly believes in: make our dance students as well-rounded as possible while molding them into solid performers and choreographers, so that they are prepared for a variety of careers.  That way they can each go on to find the place where they are most likely to make their mark as dance artist-scholars.

There is also something to be said about dance’s recent popularization in the media.  Although this entertainment-oriented segment of the dance world is pretty far from most higher ed dance department foci, it provides an opportunity for the field to grab the public’s attention and to capitalize on the offering of recreational and introductory classes as well as an opportunity to grow audiences.

Lastly, I think it depends what we mean by “survive.”  I think we all want more than mere survival, which means we do have our work cut out for us, but we always knew dance wasn’t for the faint of heart ;)

Thanks to the Temple University Dance Department for their thoughts. I appreciate the comment on dance in popular culture (So You Think You Can Dance/Dancing With the Stars/Dance Moms*). That might get people into Arthur Murray, but I’m curious how that continues - to supporting local dance companies through performance attendance/donations, to participating in arts advocacy, to sitting on a board of an arts organization.

I also wonder how the thriving dance academia scene’s relationship with with popular dance. The research and discoveries must filter down, in some way, to a Dancing with the Stars number. But as this awesome graphic shows, any academic pursuit is very small and specific, and keeping “the big picture” in mind is important. And the dance big picture is pretty freaking BIG. 

I’d love to know more about how the Temple University Dance Dept. (or any other school) MFA/PhD program students keep “the big picture” in mind. I’d like to know because all of us dance doers/lovers/supporters/watchers are one big community - how can we best support one another, whether that’s in a university or the neighborhood after-school dance program?

*I have an elaborate theory that the studio head from Dance Moms is just Mia Michaels in very sophisticated prosthetics. We’ll get into it another time.

Sorry for the delay - busy season here!

Ooh, this is a great topic for us.  Our Department Chair specializes in studies of popular dance.  See http://www.temple.edu/boyer/about/people/sherrildodds.asp

I believe it’s Dancing on the Canon: Embodiments of Value in Popular Dance (Palgrave, 2011) which addresses burlesque.  Her current/recent project involves the choreography of dancers’ faces in hip hop battles.  We hope to have a incoming PhD student advised by her to do research on raves too.  

Having extremely diverse faculty and course offerings means that this is an unusually open-minded dance setting, where the entire landscape of serious dance study is respected.  That being said, we want to see much more than just entertaining tricks and references to SYTYCD at people’s auditions (please!)!

I don’t know whether anything can ever “trickle down” into mainstream media, but popular culture certainly trickles up into various scholarly inquiries into those pop phenomena.

I think I should find someone with more dance theory studies experience to further comment…

Students?  Anyone want to jump in?

Hello Sarah Anne and Temple Dance! Sarah, as you can guess by now, at Temple (in the undergrad program as well as the grad programs) we love talking about how dance relates to the world. In our undergrad theory based classes we analyze different dancing communities, dance in historical contexts, and the values/issues that emerge from dance as discourse.

We ask ourselves questions of how dance is valued in general society and how we can advocate for the art form. One of the things I love about the community at Temple is our diversity of dance backgrounds. There isn’t a singular agreement on what dance is, so we are constantly expanding our palate as choreographers, performers, and audience members. We are used to learning about what each of our dance genres have to say to each other and what dance as an art has to say to the rest of society.

We’ve discussed the division between “art dance” and “entertainment dance” in a number of our classes. In my opinion, we do ourselves a disservice by creating those impermeable boundaries and insisting that one part of the dance spectrum can’t learn from the other or that one is irrelevant to the other. The beauty of dance is that it is a continuum and when we take a look at the bigger picture we can see how much embodied knowledge we hold. The study of dance is just as beneficial as the study of literature or anthropology and we utilize many of those same skills.

One notable example of how “high art” trickled into mainstream pop culture is Countdown by Beyonce, which features choreography inspired by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Without Beyonce’s platform and the various levels of contention after the video’s release, I’m not sure De Keersmaeker would have received as much recognition.

If anything, media and entertainment have great methods of beginning to introduce society to different dance genres. As performers and choreographers, we can learn many things from media and entertainment. One thing dancers can do is gain fluency in different uses of technology so that populations outside of the concert dance theater venue can access our work. Television and film frame dance in exciting and innovative ways.

Jenna, a current MFA student, put it this way: “Any time any dance is seen, it’s valuable.” Dance manifests in many remarkable ways and it has a lot to say about our identities and values. As scholars and advocates of dance I think we can and should be ready to create opportunities for interested dance audiences to support local dance companies and artists. We can offer classes, workshops, and help audiences to understand our heritage of classical work as well as contemporary work that can often seem conceptually elusive. 

I would say that the future of dance in academia is promising. In order for our work to thrive, we need thoughtful and self-sufficient dancers who can advocate for the validity of dance and the way it has served as a cultural emblem throughout history. Dance is a remarkable art form in the way it incorporates music, aspects of theater, and other interdisciplinary mediums while adapting to all sorts of indoor, outdoor, and/or social venues and continuing to draw people in with its riveting kinesthetic appeal. Dance unites people into a communal, kinetically stimulating experience in captivating ways.

Academia certainly has the potential to develop a relationship with pop culture dance and social dance forms. One of the things I appreciated about having Dr. Dodds as a professor last semester is that her class helped me prepare to engage with any form of dance wherever I see it.

As I conclude my time as an undergrad at Temple, I’m looking forward to learning more about the ways I can help my surrounding communities access dance not just for entertainment based consumption, but for educational purposes as well. Over time, hopefully universities will respond to the momentum of its dancing communities in favorable ways.