Mich-Mash Productions Showcases DC Dance’s Next Generation of Choreographers

So you’re a recent graduate. Made it to the top of your university dance program. You’ve tossed your Gail Grant and your Anatomy text book and replaced it with your headshot and resume. There are stars in your eyes, and you’re ready to start living. Now what?

Only a handful of dance programs prepare dancers to answer this question. Some artists find their way through trial and error, and others give up all together. Micheline Heal, Artistic Director of Mich-Mash Productions, has found a way to fill this gap – to help dancers make the leap from college dance program to real life and take the loneliness out of the process.

The Young Choreographers Collective or YC2 (pronounced “why see squared”), a support network created by Heal, is designed to give recent grads the business skills necessary to ease the transition from diploma to dance scene, alleviating the mystery that holds back many potential dance artists.

Mich-Mash Productions presented YC2, an evening-length concert performed, choreographed and marketed by Heal and two YC2 choreographer-hopefuls – Matina Phillips and Elizabeth Odell. Held at The Jack Guidone Theater at Joy of Motion Dance Center Friendship Heights, Mich-Mash Productions experienced a nearly full house on Sunday, February 26th.

“There’s Something About Marriage” was Odell’s take on four marital situations and the common stigmas attached to each – arranged, same-sex, long distance and polygamous. In “Arranged,” the dancers often appeared forced together in awkward angles, portraying the uncomfortable resignation attached to such unions.

Seasons as a theme is a difficult task. It has been interpreted in movement since nearly the beginning of dance-making so making it new in some way would be a feat. In “Still Lifes: The Seasons,” Heal broke up the distinct four-part calendar year into four very similar pieces. Opening with the fall season, the dancers tumbled and sliced through the space in an unpredictable pattern, creating the look of leaves. Blackout. Winter. Blackout. Spring. Blackout. Enter shorts-clad dancer with sunglasses and beach towel to make sure the audience knows it’s the summer section.

In “Nightly Thoughts,” Phillips explored sleeplessness. The stripe-clad insomniac was manipulated by two nightly shadows. The piece shifted between boredom, discomfort, anguish, euphoria and yearning, eventually collapsing from sheer mental exhaustion. While the meaning is accessible to a wide audience, certain formation choices were unclear in how they contributed to the overall intention.

It takes guts to draw contemporary meaning from tap, but Phillips is an optimist. Her clean riffs and shuffles added percussion to the streaming music, constructing an image of a young woman making her own happiness, traveling through life and overcoming bumps and bridges with barrel turns and over-the-logs. For more information about Mich-Mash Productions and YC2, please visit www.mich-mash.com/yc2/.


Audition for Micheline Heal & Dancers Saturday, January 15th

Micheline HealMicheline Heal reached out to me after coming across danceDC on the Interwebs and asked me to post information about her upcoming dance audition on Saturday, January 15th at Joy of Motion/Friendship Heights. Please see the details below if you’re looking for an opportunity to dance in the New Year!

Choreographer Micheline Heal is looking for six dancers – four female, two male – for two separate dance projects this coming spring. The first project is a series of duets in the style of “So You Think You Can Dance?” for a public performance series in April and May. For this project Micheline is looking for one female and two male dancers with partnering and contact improvisation experience as well as a strong technical background in ballet and contemporary dance.

The second project is the revision of a piece titled The Garden for Wayward Girls, multimedia installation that explores how the lessons we learn fairy tales influence our adult perspectives. Micheline is looking for three petite female dancers with a strong technical background in ballet and contemporary dance, experience with floorwork and partnering are bonuses. The piece will be performed during a performance run at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in May. All dancers for both projects will be financially compensated for performances but not for rehearsals. Dancers will be selected based on skill, suitability for a given role, and availability.

Here is additional information Micheline provided regarding what she looks for in a dancer and what dancers can expect during the audition process:

I look for multifaceted dancers with strong technique that are also willing to experiment and play in the rehearsal room. I am willing to overlook technical finesse, however, in favor of strong performers with a voracious love of dance. The audition will consist of a short warm-up, an improvisation exercise, learning some phrasework (both vertical as well as some floorwork), a contact improv exercise and a creation exercise where dancers will be paired off to create short partnering duets. Because I’m casting for two very different projects, the dancers will be asked to do a lot of different things. I’m looking for dancers that are willing to push their comfort zones and just go for it because it inspires me to make better work.

The Deets

  • Audition for Micheline Heal & Dancers
  • Joy of Motion Dance Center/Friendship Heights – 5207 Wisconsin Avenue NW; Washington, DC 20015
  • Saturday, January 15th 4:45pm-6:45pm
  • Please email a resume and headshot prior to attending the audition to micheline@michelineheal.com.
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