choreography

ENLIVEN dance cardio: Adele & Basement Jaxx

Here’s what’s happening in my dance classes this week! Now, you get to do it at home too. 😉 I adore this remix with Adele (how can you not love this talented soulful woman!?) and Basement Jaxx!

 

Big news is that there are more chances to dance:

Tuesdays 8:30am FIERCE @ Pure Yoga East

Tuesdays 6:30pm ENLIVEN @ Physical Equilibrium*

Fridays 8:30am ENLIVEN @ Physical Equilibrium*

Saturdays 8am FIERCE @ Pure Yoga West

 

*Classes starting in October.

FREE EVENT on September 28th at Physical Equilibrium – ENLIVEN @ 5:45pm. RSVP to save your spot and also score discounts on class packages!

Full Body Dance – Full Body Workout

Enjoy this full body dance workout – guaranteed to get your heart pumping and body toned!

“You Must Believe In Spring”

“You Must Believe in Spring” is a piece that stemmed from a concept Mario Spinetti (the musical genius on vocals and keyboard here…) brought to me to bring to life with movement. It expresses what it’s like to feel alone and depressed, like there’s no way out, and then the complete opposite side of that coin – what it’s like to be around others who help you see the light. It’s amazing how being close to others and feeling supported can make all the difference in the world in terms of perspective.

 

There’s always a way out of darkness, but sometimes we just can’t see.

 

I’m so very grateful also to Rocco Contini who brought this vision to life with his videography talents. Collaboration is a beautiful thing! Thank you!!

“High Hopes”

This fun dance to Mario Spinetti’s “High Hopes” kicked off “Reveal Realign Rejoice,” hosted at Athleta.

When it comes to your body and movement goals, you have to have “high hopes and big dreams” that yes, you can achieve what it is you are after, and yes, you can actually love your body. Sounds cheesy and potentially juvenile, but that is simply step one in the journey, without a doubt. I can’t even tell you how many journals I have with my hopes and dreams written all over them; and that’s always the start of putting a big fat check mark signifying a “nailed it” right along side of it. Allow yourself to picture your happiest, healthiest body being yours.

Enjoy this ditty! Let me know what you think!

“You Must Believe In Spring”

I am collaborating with dear friend and vocalist extraordinaire, Mario Spinetti. He came to me with a concept for a dance film and here’s my work-in-progress that starts to bring his vision to life with movement.

I’m feeling a bit vulnerable and scared to share something that isn’t a finished product or performance, but alas, choosing to do as I preach and go towards my scary place rather than shy away from it!

Check out more gems from Mario here on Facebook. And I must mention, he is an extraordinary vocal coach – which is how I was blessed enough to meet him in the first place!

Step Small and Dream Big…and Dance!

You have to dream big, and then dream bigger yet again, if you crave that ideal juicy life, bod, job, lover, what-have-you! Yet simultaneously, fight overwhelm with one small step a day. And celebrate those small wins – because they are magnificent!

Here’s a small clip of original choreography, choreographed with the help my dear friend Whitney G-Bowley. Check out the debut, in real time, on Dec 10th at 4:30pm at Pure Yoga on the Upper West Side. It’s FREE!

Enjoy listening to Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra jam out “My Pretty Girl.”

This is my small step to a much larger production I’m dreaming up in full 1920s glamour and fanfare! : )

What’s the baby step you’re taking?? Leave a message below and let me know!

Multitasking: is it taking over your dancing and life?!

Multitasking is our modern-day nature and pride.  Technology is continuously coming up with ways to make it easier to do anything and everything with such ease, and subsequently at the same time.  We can finally conquer all we desire each waking day because we have immediate access to the world at our fingertips (and now even our eyeballs:  google glass hitting Diane Von Furstenberg’s runway)!  False!  The readiness to multitask is a curse.  To multitask by definition reads, “Often used of humans in the same meaning it has for computers, to describe a person doing several things at once.”  Is this really something we want to do?  Do we want to operate the way a computer does?  Those machines burn out for crying out loud, and now, operating like them, so do we!  When we divide our attention we are not doing one thing well.  I find my ability to finish a blog post, get to class early to go over those moves I’ve been dying to perfect, choreograph that piece I’ve dreamt about starting, and pick up choreography swiftly all gets sucked away, minute by minute, to my quietly nagging iPhone that never lurks too far from my side.  And worse yet if it isn’t the technology itself, it’s my brain that now almost seems hard-wired to operate on over-drive mode, my mind constantly bobbing from thought to thought comparable to the Internet I have grown to adopt so openly.  My attention span and patience to sit with one idea sucks.  And why is “turning off” so damn hard?  When we dance, we strive for efficiency of movement – the only way we developpé our leg to our ear is if we only use the muscles we need and let the ones that prohibit our wishful concussion a back seat.  What is our potential for efficiency if we can streamline our thoughts, and release our “mental” hip flexors? …in the studio and in our lives?

Let’s start in the studio before we take on our lives, shall we?

How many times are we at barré and doing the combination with the teacher, except we don’t know what they are going to do?   We move our body and play mind-reader with someone we don’t know.  How effective is that?  Or worse yet, we move our hands when the exercise is ultimately done with our feet, while we also predict what this stranger will do.  Or my personal favorite – how often do we stretch our hamstrings, think about the rotation of our inner thighs from the exercise prior, concern ourselves about our weak something-or-other, our PT appointment that we have to run to directly after class, and contemplate our life’s purpose, all while our favorite teacher just gave a tendue combination?  Then we arrive in first position with our left hand on the barré and we think, “How the hell does this start?”  Maybe if we do one thing, say, listen and absorb the combination only, we will actually get the combo.  Then when we have a second later we can devote all our attention to stretching our hamstrings, rather than just hanging over a dead-leg thrown on a barré.  It is impossible to stretch effectively while  simultaneously learning movement.  It is impossible to get to PT while we do tendues.  It is stupid to concern ourselves with our next career move while we attempt mastery of our degaggé.  Our productiveness in all of these areas significantly improves if we absorb one piece of information at a time.

We  are looking at teacher without seeing teacher.  

Looking is not enough.  Seeing, focusing our undivided attention, brings our level of productivity up another notch.  We are capable of digesting a combination after seeing it demonstrated the first time.  Why not?  It’s just a series of tendues and pliés in a more or less predictable pattern that we’ve practiced for the majority of our lives.  The more we see, the quicker we absorb the combination.  Then when the teacher does it the second time (for those poor souls who were doing their to-do lists in their head the first time), we add a layer of artistry that takes our dancing to the next level.

Now when I play teacher, I do a similar version of this mental multitasking.  I can be teaching and simultaneously distracted with multiple thoughts.  “Is that how that next combination starts?  Is this musical selection working? Are people comprehending what I intended?”  This all takes me away from seeing each one of my dancers more clearly;  understanding how they work, what motivates them, what challenges them and why, what their tendencies are, and where their bodies hold tension.  Seeing my students allows me to help more on an individualized level.  One thought at a time brings forth a more articulate, perceptive, and productive teaching methodology.

And going a step further, when we learn choreography, how much do we see?   How much can we focus our attention on what is solely important at that moment to the person leading the room?  I can distract myself with thoughts of sequencing when I should take a step back and see that the choreographer isn’t stressing the exactness of steps at all.  Their vagueness shouldn’t be a source of frustration but something I can see, and then adopt in my learning style and subsequently my execution, to better suit the purpose before they give that correction.  And vice versa, as a choreographer, can we see how dancers learn the movement and guide them to see the integral essence being created?  If we distract our mind, there is no way we can possibly juggle this level of thought.  If we can’t get to this level of thought, we are missing out on a beautiful layer of depth and therefore, productivity and creativity.

Now if we aren’t already dying to get to this level of efficiency and attention in the studio, we should at least crave it to streamline our lives. Just think about how much time we can earn when we fully devote ourselves to work effectively on one thing at a time.   Limit distractions, delineate time to focus solely on one idea to see if it works before bouncing to the next one and not getting one solid thing accomplished.  We don’t need our iPhones, Gmail, or Facebook to write that term paper.   We can’t research new dance companies holding auditions and talk to our loved ones on the phone.  Odds are we yes them absent-mindedly or end up buying shoes off of Gilt instead.  It is virtually impossible to walk and text successfully.  I typically look like a drunkard.  It is more time efficient to stop, send a text, and then continue on walking.  Instead I insist on spilling my tea on myself, take about 5 blocks to text 3 words, and nearly break a toe while navigating uneven New York pavement.  (Hell, we need those toes!)  I can sit in front of the T.V. and eat dinner and then finish everything on my plate, and feel completely unsatisfied;  I didn’t taste my meal.  How many times do I have to re-read the same paragraph over and over again because I didn’t digest a lick of it?  I am too busy jumping thoughts, or paying attention to the cutie who just got on the bus.  How many times do I attempt to go to bed, but then keep checking my iPhone when the light goes off just to wake in the morning craving an extra half hour of sleep?  And for crying out loud, I don’t need my brain when I do the dishes.  Let’s turn off when we can so we can be refreshed when we do need our minds to work for us.

Let’s use technology when we need it and designate time for it, rather than have it cloud our lives at large.  We don’t need to respond to that text immediately.  Set new standards.  Spend time well, doing one thing at a time.  If we do one thing only, we feel more satisfaction from completing it whole-heartedly.  In turn, we gain some precious time to conquer those dreams that lie in our journals untouched.  We gain a deeper level of artistry.  We gain beautiful, unadulterated moments with our friends and lovers, granting them the full attention we all deserve.  Check out less and stay tuned-in more.   Look less and see more.   Kill mental and physical multitasking once and for all!!!

I attempted to check my iPhone 18 times while I wrote this.

I have 33 pending drafts of articles saved to my computer that I started to write but never finished.

Inspiration from a Dear Friend: Conquer Choreographic Fears

Those you surround yourself with have such an impact on your actions and thoughts.  My dear friend Kate Griffler serves as a constant motivating force.  In between gigs and rehearsal processes, I need to keep close with friends who will plow through the disconnected feeling these NYC summer months create right alongside me.  The summer months are notoriously slow for dance here – a tell-tale sign is always the lack of significant auditions.  “Oh great they’re looking for dancers!  Oh, there’s only three rehearsals…  Oh, no pay.  Lunch and video provided! How accommodating….”  Sigh.  A career in dance can readily feel like a hobby with someone’s mother packing your lunch box and your youthful studio video taping your culminating recital.  All wonderful moments; just not when you’re trying to pay rent.   For a positive spin, the slower dance months are a great opportunity to hone other aspect of your craft, otherwise neglected.

So these challenges aside and this positive spin in full force, Kate works so doggedly at her passion of dancing and choreographing.  She never relinquishes when the harshness of the industry (measly paychecks, attempting to produce your own work with limited funds, advertising creatively in an over-saturated world to name a few more, with no intentions of dampening your spirit of course!) get the best of her.

Last week I had the privilege of finally seeing “Un Duet Noir,” a piece she has been working on throughout these past few months taking on various final versions throughout its development.  Kate’s work displayed the dark emotions underlying an intimate relationship and the progression of emotions over time.  She had a set consisting of a black cloak, a mailbox, and about one hundred letters.   Kate’s props advanced and morphed with the development of the piece, taking on new meaning as the relationship between her and fellow dancer McCay Montz shifted and intensified; the cloak once something revered and cherished later masked and blinded her from reality, and the letters once scattered about the space later were packed into the mailbox.

© Paolo Ferraris

Although Kate’s props were rather basic for our overly visual society to accept, I view sets as another layer of choreography added to an already challenging creative environment and generally react pitifully tame and steer clear despite audiences’ ready capacity for visual stimulation.  Yes, now acknowledging this small fear, I will have to push myself to explore this with my next creative endeavor!  (This blog is going to be the death of me, holding me accountable in writing!)

Why this reaction from myself?  Props and video instantly add 1) an additional financial burden – even if its slight, 2) a physical burden – carrying them around town to various spaces and setting them up for each rehearsal, and 3) an artistic challenge – this being the most significant deterring factor for me because the prop/video needs to be integral to the piece and be used creatively throughout for it to be an enhancement.  Instead of smelling fear, Kate finds it easier to create once a tangible scene has been set on the stage.  Automatically now, the characters/dancers have objects to relate and respond to based on their own isms.  It serves as an aid to generate movement rather than an additional burden.  (One potential solution to conquering my hesitation!)

In similar vein to weaving sets compellingly into work, Kate also exemplified the intermingling between technically oriented movement and more theatrical/pedestrian gestures within her piece.  This is also a direction I am interested in heading choreographically.  My previous works in college and there after have been primarily movement based.  The theatrical moments Kate utilized throughout “Un Duet Noir” were dispersed within dance-oriented sections so it never felt uncharacteristically jolting.  How did she successfully strike this balance?  My deductive reasoning after chatting and engaging in the work is her character development.  The letters in the work are letters she wrote to those she had a complicated relationship with in her life.  However, she not only wrote them but mailed them to herself and reread them as they were delivered back to her apartment.  She wrote multiple letters to one person in varying tones and improvised different scenarios to question the reactions and motives of those she was investigating.  When she was creating, she knew her characters inside and out.  When solidifying the vocabulary she wasn’t setting choreography on dancers; she was embodying the gestures and body language of these depicted characters.  This allowed for the dance movement to be an extension of the pedestrian language and exist in this fluid cohesion.

© Paolo Ferraris

Anyone can string together a series of interesting (or not so interesting!) movement. A valid choreographer is capable of stringing these thoughts together and sculpting a scene in an inventive and intelligible pathway.  This brings a weight to the work elevating it from moving limbs to moving art.  One sign of a well-crafted piece is when you can sense the audience is with you.  (How I hate the shuffling and coughing of an audience as a struggling performer!) At the very end of the work, there is a playful moment between Kate and McCay where he jabs a note on her chest and she just peers back at him, a glimmer of a smirk on her lips, holding the heir of utter understanding only two people with a deep history can share.  There was a collective chuckle released from the audience who finally exhaled after traveling committedly through the dark drama prior.

© Paolo Ferraris

“Un Duet Noir” is a deeply personal expression of a relationship in Kate’s life.  (Ironically with this last performance, the relationship in actuality has somewhat withered away.)  She plans on leaving the personal to dive into the play of random objects, imposing a connection externally rather than from a deeply internal origin for her next work.

“Un Duet Noir” was presented at The Rover on 41 Wooster Street: A new venue launching various dance artists.  It also holds affordable rehearsal space ($10/hr) and classes – check it out!

Here’s Kate’s company website, 121 Dance Project, if your further interested in her work.

The Hatch, a choreographic baby born…

So after much back and forth action, I decided to plug forward and present a brief solo at The Hatch to be performed today!

My hesitations were mostly due to wearing myself too thin and mere procrastination of propelling my choreography further, although the latter was much harder to admit to myself.  Since procrastination and a jam-packed schedule never stopped me in the past, I really have no reason not to do it.  (Particularly, because pulling out from the performance would cost me $100!)  I’ve been having a tough time working in the studio on a solo for myself with no set of outside eyes on it so I gratefully recruited my friend Kate Griffler, dancer/choreographer/producer extraordinaire, to be my lovely canvas (you can see her work as part of the Reverb festival where she curates and choreographs).

I choreographed some of this movement prior – some of it originates from the 60×60 choreographic festival, which morphed into the collaboration with the International Street Cannibals (a duet with the always fabulous Rebecca Rainey), which soon morphed into a group piece for my residency at the Fine and Performing Arts Center in Howell, HS.  All this material has been slowly developing into this solo work.  I chose the melodic music of Michael Galasso’s Scene IV which ideally leads into a group piece I choreographed while at college, Naked Branches, to another track on his same album.  Ideally, after I stitch this solo together I would love to recreate the group piece and perform them both as a larger work.  Perhaps even create more solos for different tracks from the album for all my friends and create a full program! Ohhh getting ahead of myself like usual.  Time will tell…

Today is performance day so come down to the Hatch for an 8pm show to catch this world premiere! Very official, haha.

Stay tuned for some video footage of rehearsals and the performance.  I’m a little slow on the technical, editing aspect!