Guest Post: Preview of MOVEIUS’ Locally Grown

MOVEIUS Contemporary Dance

By Alexis M. Thomas

Progressive. Passionate. Evocative. Three of the many ways you can describe MOVEIUS Contemporary Ballet Company.

This is just a tease. A taste. Of what to expect from MOVEIUS in its production, “Locally Grown,” this upcoming Saturday, November 2nd, 2013, at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center. The Company, which has been performing to sold out shows in the D.C. area since 2010, has decided to make Montgomery County its permanent home. So the upcoming production is a housewarming party of sorts.

And there is plenty on the menu. For example, there is Big River, where a group of classically trained ballet dancers dance to Johnny Cash music. The juxtaposition between classical ballet and other contemporary art forms is clear from the start and instantly hooks the viewer. The light ascends as the dancers shake their hips to the earthiness of Cash’s voice.  And the surprises keep coming. The dancers, in blue jeans, perform classic ballet moves with perfect form and clean lines on pointe, but also repeatedly descend to the floor through hinges and rolls normally associated with modern dance forms. With creative groupings of dancers and canons of movement expertly placed throughout the piece, the dancers eat the space at all levels, continually keeping the viewer wanting more. This piece has wowed audiences in the past and is sure to do so again.

With Invisible Steps, which will have its debut on Saturday, the viewer cannot help but be affected by this thought-provoking piece. A lone female dancer begins to move to live guitar music and people speaking in French. A male dancer soon joins her. The merge of the easygoing melody of the guitar against the quiet intensity of the voices is not only unusual, but instantly captivating. As they dance there is a fluidity and subtle swaying quality to their movements that echoes the tranquil melody of the guitar. As they move together with grace and in perfect harmony, you get this sense of not only connection but of separateness, as they dance more apart than together. As other dancers begin to sporadically move across the space around the two dancers with the same gentle quality, the viewer is enveloped in a feeling of intimacy without actual touching. The fact that many will not understand what is being said in French only heightens the intensity of the piece, as the viewer is beckoned not only to think about how all of the elements of the piece work together, but of his or her connection to the piece itself. For me, the piece made me think of the invisible steps everyone must take to become more connected to others while maintaining one’s own voice. What would your perception be?

In addition to these pieces, the Company will premiere other works as well as re-stage the piece, Nocturne I, by Eric Hampton, a renowned Washingtonian ballet dancer and choreographer, who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2001. The piece has not been staged in the D.C. area since 2000.

In the face of political turbulence and fledgling economies, the need to support artists who will pursue their dreams with passionate conviction despite all of the odds is stronger than ever. The need to hold sacred the healing and transformative qualities of dance is stronger than ever. And this is what MOVEIUS provides – a space to enjoy beauty, take a breath, become restored through movement, and remember than anything that can be dreamed of is possible. So whether you are a Johnny Cash fan, a ballet fan, a contemporary dance fan, a lover of the arts in general, or simply an altruist who believes in supporting talent and passion, MOVEIUS has something to offer you.

With two shows being offered this upcoming Saturday, November 2nd, at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., there is no excuse not to be there. Come see for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

Drinking and Dancing In DC

Dancing is one of my interests, but I’m also a fan of a good beer or a fancy cocktail. I did, after all, go to Syracuse University which ranked #5 among the nation’s top party schools. That being said, I’d like to share some upcoming opportunities where you can drink to your heart’s content and also feel like you’re a cultured citizen who supports the performing arts. Feel free to share additional happy hour fundraisers and events with a comment!

Photo Credit: Jeff Watts

Photo Credit: Jeff Watts

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company Fundraising Happy Hour
Tuesday, September 24th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Black Whiskey, 1410 14th Street NE

Join dancers and supporters of DTSBDC September 24th for a Tuesday Happy Hour where we will have the 1st floor of Black Whiskey! A percentage of each sale will go to support our non-profit dance company! Try the signature cocktail!

 

 

Joy of Motion Dance CenterPlatinum Event: A Fashion Show & Cocktail Event to Benefit JOMDC
Thursday, September 26th, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie, 5300 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Purchase $50 tickets at joyofmotion.org by September 24th

Attend an exclusive runway-style fashion show of Neiman Marcus’ largest selection of designer gowns while enjoying complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Guest performance by Joy of Motion Dance Center’s Youth Dance Ensemble Company.

MOVEius Contemporary BalletMOVEIUS Contemporary Ballet Happy Hour
Thursday, October 3rd, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Mad Hatter, 1319 Connecticut Avenue NW
Tickets: $5 in advance, $8 at the door

Join MOVEIUS Contemporary Ballet for their first Happy Hour of the 2013-14 Season!
Your ticket is good for food and drink specials at Mad Hatter, plus the chance to bid in MOVEIUS’ silent auction!

Awards and Auditions

Bowen McCauley Dance Receives Board Leadership Award

Bowen McCauley Dance was recently recognized by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement as the 2013 winner of the Board Leadership Award. Bowen McCauley Dance will receive a $10,000 grant; communication exposure through print, radio, television and social media; and training and development opportunities for the board and CEO from BoardSource and through the Center’s Learning & Leadership Institute. The Award Selection Committee noted the board’s commitment to mission in management decisions, board training and financial practices in their award selection in the under $2 million budget category.

Taurus Broadhurst Dance Holds Auditions

Taurus Broadhurst Dance (TBD) is holding auditions for the 2013-2014 season.  TBD is seeking a multi-generational, multi-ethnic cast of male and female dancers, age 18 and older, who are highly proficient in African, hip hop, modern, and ballet.  Opportunities for paid performances will be available during the season. Auditions will be held on Saturday, September 7th at Joy of Motion Dance Center Atlas, 1333 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002.  Sign-in begins at 4:00 p.m., and auditions begin promptly at 4:30 p.m. By Thursday, September 5th, please submit your resume (with links to relevant footage) to sarah@taurusbroadhurstdance.com.

Taurus Broadhurst Dance combines the wide-ranging currents of African Diaspora cultures in order to create a contemporary African aesthetic. The choreography is grounded in traditional West African dance and fuses movement from modern dance, house, and hip hop to convey diverse, contemporary stories and to embody the griot tradition through movement. To get a feel for the movement and choreography, attend Taurus Broadhurst’s Contemporary African class, Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. at Joy of Motion Dance Center Atlas.

Taurus Broadhurst Dance

Teal Tides Celebrates Life Through Dance for Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

Local DC-based dance companies collaborate to present the dance performance fundraiser Teal Tides: With Dignity and Dance. This event, taking place on Saturday, June 29th at the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theater, will benefit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

June 29th - Teal Tides Image

Dancer: Alissa Wilson, Photo Credit: Anna Mecagni (courtesy of Sarah Guy)

Featuring Taurus Broadhurst Dance, Hollow Dance Project, and LillyVonn Dance, the event will support the Alliance’s national level advocacy efforts to increase research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices and life-saving treatment protocols. In addition, it empowers survivors through innovative programming, such as Survivors Teaching Students®.

Teal Tides is led by a young woman who is an ovarian cancer patient. “When I was diagnosed at 30 years old with stage III ovarian cancer, neither myself, my family, nor those in my community knew very much about the disease or its symptoms. I want to make sure that no other woman ever experiences that situation. When you know the symptoms and the risk factors, you can advocate for your health,” stated organizer Sarah Guy. Guy credits the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, the DC dance community, family, and friends for helping her cope with the diagnosis.

“Cancer can make you feel very isolated and alone, so it is really important to build a community around this cause. Community has enabled me to remain myself through this diagnosis and to keep a great quality of life. I want to honor, grow, and strengthen those communities through this event,” she said.

For Guy, who has taken dance classes at Joy of Motion Dance Center since 2007, dance classes have been a means of physical and emotional recovery for her. “With this disease, you feel like you are living in opposition; you are going against something. With dance, when you are connected and moving to the rhythm, you are going with the flow of life. I have found so much comfort in that process.”

The above information is adapted from a press release received Tuesday, June 11th.

The Deets

Guest Post: An Informal Introduction to MOVEiUS Ballets

By Helen Gineris

MOVEiUS Contemporary Ballet is forging a path and making a home for classically-trained talent in the Greater Metro DC area. On Saturday, May 18, the company extended an invitation to Meet MOVEiUS, a casual studio showing of five works comprising old, newer, and in-progress pieces by four choreographers. Hosted at Takoma Park’s infamous Dance Exchange, the audience sat in three rows of folding chairs and overstuffed pillows at the rear of a large, Marley-floor dance studio. The intimate evening flowed quickly with each production headlined with introductory commentary allowing for an insider perspective rarely offered to dance audiences.

Verge

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

Indicative that the casual studio setting is new to some, the immediate start of Florian Rouiller’s “Verge” (2013) is met with curious whispers observing the absence of “special” lighting. Soloist Kathleen Howard performs with adeptness, strength, and control, a dancer whose classical technique shines in graceful arm and leg extensions and fluid movement atop a supported frame. Contemporary contractions and body waves complement the classical style while turning leaps excite. On its own the composition is well-structured, uses the entire space and depth of the stage, and keeps the audience traveling along with the soloist. Musically speaking, set to nuevo tango “Santa Maria Del Buen Ayre” by GoTan Project, a song of passionate beats, sharp crescendos, and intricate electronica, a disconnect is present. Perhaps the casual studio atmosphere and absent stage-lighting contribute to the lost translation of musical strength and passion or presence of “verge;” the overall impression urges an embrace of the choreography with a reevaluation of musical choice or a definitive nose-dive into the multi-layered bounty of musical tensions, tones, and tempos until they emerge inseparable from the existing choreography.

SINS/Learning to Run

By contrast, “SINS,” alternately titled “The Sun is Not Sinking” (2013) proves captivating in the exquisite musicality present in the choreographic phraseology and internalization of it by the four dancers down to the last detail, from emotive facial expressions to head turns creating lines of sight that help the audience know exactly where to focus their attention throughout the piece. As a studio showing, the forced physical presence of the main character or trio on the sidelines, where they would normally be hidden in the wings, lends an even greater distinction to the relationships played out on stage. Throughout, the movements, at times deliciously subtle, mesmerize. Choreographed by MOVEiUS Associate Director Katya Vasilaky, who also performs in the piece, SINS is a collaborative work between four dancers who convey a graceful sense of trust, support, and closeness on stage.

MOVEiUS Founder/Executive Director and choreographer Diana Movius presented a preview of “Learning to Run” (2013) followed by “Legacy” (2011, restaged 2013). Set to minimalist modern music by Steve Reich, in “Learning to Run” Movius presents a fast, slow, fast mood-changing piece evoking the contradictions and motivations of modern-day life.

Legacy

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

Photo Credit: Matt Costanza

“Legacy,” which premiered at Dance Place in 2011, is well-traveled both in and out of state and debuting its first restaging on an entirely new cast at Meet MOVEiUS. As the choreographer, Movius reveals that restaging produces a new dance influenced by the capabilities and strengths of individual dancers; meanwhile, the music, structure, and “emotional core of what our relationships mean throughout our lives” remain the work’s constants. As the piece opens two dancers in child’s pose are approached by a counterpart who steps behind each to raise them up with the soft wave and rise of a hand and arm as if growing flowers out of a garden – budding, sprouting, and opening up to the light. Staccato rhythms of pointe shoes paired with outstretched arms and legs carve an “X” in the space inducing excitement as if to say “Hello! I’m here!” and so the relationships begin. Movius’ beautiful composition takes the audience on an intricate journey through relationship evolutions such as dependence, support, excitement, growing up, standing on one’s own, letting go, remembrance, and reverence. It’s easy to see why this is a repertory mainstay.

Big River

Closing the evening is a four-song preview of “Big River” (2013) performed to music sung by Johnny Cash. Inspired by Cash’s lifetime of music, choreographer Kimberly Parmer boldly attaches contemporary ballet to a well-known and loved, definitively iconic American figure whose artistic career spans 50 years and fan-base crosses generations. In choosing Cash, the ballet is no longer being performed to “dance-viewers,” but to dance-viewers who reside somewhere along a Johnny Cash fan continuum and whose level of fandom will undoubtedly affect one’s experience of the ballet. It has the potential to knock Johnny Cash fans out of their train cars as they uncover how their fandom is shaped with preconceived notions, already-established emotions and images attached to Cash’s musical work and revealed only in the process of seeing that work translated onto another artistic medium.

The ballet is set within a framework of values derived from Eric Erickson’s eight stages of psychosocial development. Parmer emphasizes that “Big River” is very much a work-in-progress in the rehearsal phases with dancers still trying on and internalizing the movements. The six-dancer ballet begins with the end in mind, at the end of Cash’s career, with the song “Unchained” (Jude Johnstone). Breaking from tradition, the tallest dancer leads the front adding depth to the stage while the group plays out the passage of time in waves of diagonal lines. Repetitive hip twists depart from the classical linear tradition and the sound of pointe shoes add a surprising beat on top of the music as the ballet turns to “Folsom Prison Blues” to explore the sentiment hope. The piece proves a disconcerting juxtaposition between exuberant leaps, lightness, and smiles (hope) and gritty, at times fatalistic lyrics, From the infamous “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” to “I know I had it comin’, I know I can’t be free.” It begs to know from what perspective hope is being explored. Is it inspired by the last stanza, the catchy, rhythmic tempo surrounding the lyrics, perhaps an absence of hope, or simply that Cash’s career is beginning? The highlight of the ballet is “Got Rhythm,” a refreshing, upbeat tap solo with sounds and contemporary moves not to be missed, performed en pointe by Shelley Siller. Typical of a work-in-progress, the preview arouses more questions before presenting a definitive piece. Provocative, “Big River,” centered on an American icon will undoubtedly ignite cocktail discussions on artistic choices, interpretation, focal elements, translation, and response. The reception that topped off Meet MOVEiUS was merely the beginning.

MOVEiUS Contemporary Dance presents a six-show run of Big River and Other Wayfaring Ballets at 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, July 12th – 27th at GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Tickets are on sale June 17th. Contribute to the completion of this project by making a donation at MOVEiUS’s Indiegogo online campaign.

@BMDCdance, #GladeGala and #EALS2013

I joined Twitter as @dance_DC around the same time I started this blog. I thought it would be a great way to promote my blog posts and build a following. Being active on Twitter has definitely helped drive traffic to danceDC; but more importantly, it has connected me to so many amazingly talented dancers, choreographers and arts administrators in the DC area. Twitter is an amazing way to network and I was reminded of its power this past weekend.

Bowen McCauley Dance at The Kennedy Center

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Photo courtesy of Bowen McCauley Dance

I first discovered Bowen McCauley Dance through Twitter. Although they don’t have the largest following and tweet only a few times a month, I somehow came across them and added them to my DANCE list. I saw them for the first time last Friday night at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater with my friend Angella Foster, Artistic Director of alight dance theater. The night started out with Before The Fall, a playful piece featuring students from the Maryland Youth Ballet. I thought there should have been some kind of program note so the audience was aware that the dancers were not company members, but luckily Amy Fitterer of Dance/USA came out after the piece to let us know. It didn’t bother me that the students performed. They were great, but I was upset at some of the audience members who left after the brief pause following the piece. I assume they were parents of the performers. If so, shame on you! If not, I apologize for silently judging you while you went for a bathroom break. But I digress… What I really want to talk about is the electrifying energy of Lucy Bowen McCauley, who performed the role of “Cleopatra” in Fire and Air. She was the most captivating part of the show, grabbing the audience’s attention with her fluid movement and passionate expressions. It takes a special person to make suicide look sultry, but somehow Lucy accomplished that. Angella was also a fan of McCauley’s Le Sacre Du Printemps which closed the show. It was choreographically the most interesting, according to Angella. For more information about Bowen McCauley Dance, please visit their website or read Sarah Halzack’s review in The Washington Post.

Glade Dance Collective’s Gala at The Goethe Institut

I was happy to support Glade Dance Collective at their gala Saturday night. The event featured live reggae music, a short performance from Glade dancers and an interactive “nook” where attendees could answer various questions. The answers, some of which were recorded on video, will be integrated into a future Glade piece. Although I would have eventually discovered Glade through my job at Joy of Motion Dance Center (they rehearse at our space and Artistic Director Sylvana Christopher teaches at JOMDC), I first found out about them through Emma Joan Dozier – an active tweeter and Glade dancer/marketer. Emma and company did a fabulous job promoting the event. They had an excellent turnout and threw a fantastic party. Plus, props for having Philippa Hughes of Pinkline Project introduce the company before your performance!

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Karen Brooks Hopkins of BAM was the opening keynote speaker of EALS 2013.

Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium at the Katzen Arts Center

This is the third year I’ve attended the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, an annual meeting for young professionals who work in the arts. The event is organized by students of American University’s Arts Management Program and features leaders in the industry like JR Russ of Class Acts Arts and Dance Place! I was live tweeting for most of the event on Sunday, so check out the conversation by searching #EALS2013. Below are some of my tweets/key takeaways from the day. I attended the opening keynote featuring Karen Brooks Hopkins of BAM, the Marketing Trends for Today’s Organization panel and the Audience Engagement panel.

  • From the Audience Engagement panel in regards to the importance of having a social media strategy: Point made again in this panel! “Don’t have an intern handle your social media.” – @allihouseworth #EALS2013
  • From the Marketing Trends panel in regards to the importance of community advocates: Research ur audience, find out where they are and find the leader of that group to help sell your service/program. – @jenbuzzell #EALS2013
  • From the Opening Keynote in regards to writing proposals: When writing a proposal, think about what makes the program great. That’s what you have to communicate. – KBH of BAM #EALS2013

Doonya: The Bollywood Workout DVD Launch Party

Doonya DVDThe co-founders of the hottest dance fitness program are returning to Washington, D.C. March 16-17 to celebrate the launch of their first-ever DVD, Doonya: The Bollywood Workout.

A program that started in Washington, D.C. in 2005 has garnered significant national attention, with appearances on The Today Show, the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Oprah Winfrey, the CBS Early Show, Dr. Oz. The Washington Post, Reuters, WTOP, and Voice of America, recently have written special features on Doonya.

Doonya co-founders Kajal Desai and Priya Pandya are returning from Los Angeles and New York, respectively, to the Washington area March 16-17 for the official Doonya DVD launch party and to hold a special master class.

On March 16, the Doonya DVD official launch party will take place from 7-10 pm at LOOK lounge, 1909 K St., NW, Washington, D.C. There will be an interactive session and special performances.

On March 17, Desai and Pandya will hold a special joint master Doonya class, at the YMCA in Arlington, 3422 N. 13th St from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $35 and includes an autographed DVD as well as a meet and greet with Doonya founders and the instruction team following class.

“We are excited to celebrate, dance, and teach right where Doonya began almost eight years ago,” Pandya said.

Desai added, “Priya and I have taught together countless times in New York, on the West Coast and at Sundance, but the March 17 class is the first time we’re teaching a joint class in D.C! It feels like a homecoming, and I can’t wait!”

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