Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Well, I'm starting on the second leg of my journey... The spring 2011 semester has just begun and Lab Dancers just finished the run of their third evening-length concert.

It was difficult for me to be in school and taking part in the show and I was saddened that I had to make drastic cuts to the amount of time that I had available to spend rehearsing. I gave up attending class altogether and, consequently, I felt like I had no outlet for my stress.

I also had to take a backseat from any administrative work I was doing with the dance company. I realized that part of what had made being involved with them feel so rewarding was helping to shape the entire process. It's a little less satisfactory to attend 7 rehearsals over the course of 3 months, perform and head home.

I'm still convinced that in the long run, learning more about how the human body moves and how to help dancers heal through physical therapy is exactly the right thing for me, but I'm truly anxious for the day when I can devote more time to dancing. One class + one rehearsal a week isn't asking that much, right?

One good thing that has come out of this is that taking a step back made me really able to evaluate with open eyes what I liked and what I disliked about the show we just closed, both the manner in which it was presented and the actual content of the pieces. It gave me a chance to clarify what I value as a dancer and as an audience member. I also got to think about what an audience member who is unfamiliar with concert dance (my very favorite type of audience) would get out a show like ours. To be honest, I have never thought of myself as an artist. I am more interest in the actual process of movement and the exhilaration of an adrenaline rush caused by jumping, falling, running, flipping, spinning... Any artistic expression I exhibit comes only from allowing the physicality of a phrase take over my emotions as well. I want to move and I want others to move with me. But now, for the first time in my life, I feel that I have something to offer an audience (my target audience of dance virgins, specifically) and I am eager to share!

Unfortunately, this revelation comes at a point when I am unable to take precious time away from studying electric fields and solving stoichiometry problems. My body is stuck in a lab instead of sweating in 1804. I don't even have the good fortune this semester of studying something related to human movement, just writing reports and running t-tests. This may the one time in my life when I am almost completely removed from dancing. No immediate plans for rehearsals, no time for class, just school, work, school, work. Forgive the drama, but I only just made the realization as I was typing.

In any case, I will be elbow-deep in a cadaver come summer, so there's no reason to fret. I will just have to hold on to this little seed of inspiration until I can find time to give it an outlet...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something New

Well, I start a new adventure in a week. Starting on Monday, I will be back in school to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

It's going to be a long, hard road. I have one year of undergrad prerequisites to get under my belt before I can actually get in to a DPT program. Then I will have about 3.5 years before I graduate. But, when I do, I will be better equipped to support myself, meaning that the time I spend dancing can be more productive. I don't have to be exhausted and drained by the time I make it to rehearsal. I don't have to worry about getting fired because I need to take a Saturday off for performance. And, I will have gained even more knowledge about how my body functions and how to use it most efficiently and to greatest gain. I will be in a better place to act as a teacher, as well.

In the long run, though, I hope for my greatest achievement to be bringing a new perspective to PT for dancers. I have been to many PTs in my time and they have all been very helpful and knowledgeable. But I can't help but feel alienated when I have to demonstrate how exactly it was that I hurt myself because they don't know what "penchee" means. Or when the exercises that they give me don't work at first because they didn't realize exactly how flexible I am. I want to be a PT who specializes in a field of sports medicine that is incredibly important but doesn't have many specialists, and certainly doesn't have many specialists who went all the way through pre-professional training and have had performance careers themselves.

I have no intention of putting dance on the back burner, but I am really excited to be pursuing a fresh approach.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sweat Once A Day UPDATE

Well, I'm a week and a half away from completing my challenge and the results are awesome!

I have greatly improved my upper-body strength
My abs are (slightly) more defined
My flexibility is better
I'm in a better mood
I've been drinking more water
I am more comfortable in inversions

The best improvement I have noticed, however, is that I can now get up into headstand and hold it for one minute without using the wall. Spending a little time upside-down each day has been great and I'm seeing improved confidence and risk-taking in all my acrobatic skills.

I was expecting that it would be difficult for me to stick to a schedule of yoga/yoga & running 5 days a week. I found, much to my pleasure, that I counted that time as my "me time" every day. On days when I worked later, it got me moving first thing in the morning so that my day was productive. On days when I worked early, I had a yoga session that I knew would work out all my aches and pains at the end of the day. I ended my days feeling better and more productive. Not even my insanely erratic schedule could throw me off. In fact, the only week that I had trouble sticking to my yoga practice was the week that I focused on restorative and relaxing poses. In all honesty, that was the only week where I got lazy. I only did yoga 2 days that week.

What does this teach me about myself? Nothing I didn't already know. I don't like to take time to slow down. If I'm going to carve time out of my schedule I want to be doing fun things like handstands, backbends, and poses that make me sweat. Knowing this, I'm going to make certain that I include restorative poses in my daily practice once I start making my own series. I may not want to, but I do have to relax. I think that for me, the important thing is to relax in a way that I find engaging. Reclined Hero, Child's Pose, or even Supported Corpse are good options for me.

All in all, I couldn't be happier that I decided to do this. It was the easiest habit I've ever picked up and I don't see myself stopping any time soon. I'm looking forward to the freedom of creating my own series and mixing in more running and maybe even swimming now that summer's almost here. Now if only I could pick up better eating habits...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sweat Once A Day

Every dancer is familiar with the great relief that your body feels after the run of a strenuous show. Dancing with the Laboratory Dancers is always hard on the body, so even if I'm not happy to end the show my muscles certainly are. However, I didn't want to fall into the trap of resting for too long and letting my body get out of shape. I gave myself a nice, relaxing week off and then I began my own personal work out challenge.

The challenges I faced were simple and familiar: I'm broke, so I can't afford to join a gym or take very many classes and I have a chronic ankle injury, so whatever exercise I chose to do would have to be gentle enough to not aggravate that existing condition. Running, while free, is too hard on my ankle at this time of year. The Laboratory Dancers have weekly company class (soon to be bumped up to twice a week) but that wasn't enough. It seemed I had one answer: yoga at home.

Having spent the majority of my life taking classes in physical disciplines, I am an advocate of having a professional teacher and a mirror. However, that wasn't an option for me and I have been doing yoga for about 10 years now, so figure at least I have a general idea of what I'm doing.

Armed with a book featuring detailed instructions, plenty of photos and 8 weeks worth of yoga sequences (5 per week) I embarked on what I hope will be a habit-forming experiment. I've only complete one week so far but I feel positively about this choice. We'll see what the future holds.

Updates will follow...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hedwig Dances Preview

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of going to see Hedwig Dances give a preview showing of work that will be included in their 25th Anniversary Concert at the Dance Center this April.

The work shown included a work-in-progress showing of company member Alitra Cartman's piece Stones in the Locker, an excerpt of Andrea Miller's new work Dust, and several excerpts from Jan Bartoszek's new work Dance of Forgotten Steps.

This was my first time seeing Hedwig Dances. The money in my monthly dance budget goes largely to taking classes rather than seeing concerts, so there are an unfortunate number of local artists that are on my "To See" list. I took advantage of the fact that this was a free preview showing and decided to broaden my horizons a little. I was very pleased with what I saw.

The physicality and dynamics of Dust were very beautiful and the dancers made the movement look very masculine, which is always nice to see. Cartman's work showed her to be a powerhouse of a mover and she performed with true maturity, despite her relative youth. But the real standout of the afternoon was Bartoszek's work. The movement in Dance of Forgotten Steps is fluid, athletic, picturesque, and engaging. The choreography was drawn from memories that each cast member felt was integral to their identity. All of the dancers are dynamic and powerful, and watching them dance their memories added an intimate feeling to an exciting performance.

This performance was so satisfying to watch that I decided I had to go to their 25th Anniversary Concert. I'm already saving up for my ticket!

Hedwig Dances 25th Anniversary Concert April 1 - 3 at the Dance Center of Columbia College at 8pm.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Complexions Choreographs on SYTYCD Dancers

Okay, okay, I know I'm a few weeks behind the rest of world. Give me a break, I don't have cable.

I wanted to post this up here because I believe that this is a prime example of the ways in which reality TV dance shows are actually good for our pop culture. While the name Complexions may not be familiar to everyone, a huge amount of people who would probably never see that type of dancing just got introduced to concert dance on the professional, international level. And yes, Complexions is a very commercially accessible company, but what's wrong with that? Art needs all kinds of audiences to be rich and vibrant. There is nothing wrong with dancing that appeals to the masses, especially when it has the potential to inspire audiences to delve deeper into the art form and maybe explore some of the not-so-accessible work. I think it is amazing that there is a show that is so commercially successful that showcases work of this caliber.

Oh, The Places You'll Go

Of all the things I never thought I'd end up doing, rehearsing in the middle of a Starbucks was definitely one of them. Frankly, I didn't think anyone would ever end up doing that.

We all gathered around a table in the tiniest cafe in the South Loop and strained our ears to hear our new music so we could set different counts. Unfortunately, the smooth jazz playing over the PA drowned out the sound from the laptop speakers we had huddled up against. Barely breathing, we all clapped out separate rhythms, trying to visualize the movement we would eventually be doing at this new tempo. The 45 minute rehearsal ended with everyone marking the movement sitting in stools, everyone off beat with the music we couldn't hear. That was the last rehearsal we had before the company went on break for Christmas.

Now we're getting ready to go back, but there are some minor snags. We no longer have two rehearsal locations, we only have one. Will we have to change rehearsal times? Will we have to find a new second studio? Will it be possible to have longer rehearsals as our February show draws nearer? These are questions only the dance gods can answer.