Copy, Create, Collaborate! – Choreography Challenge

Today’s addition to the growing 30 day choreography challenge was inspired by a phenomenal masterclass I just got to take with the Paul Taylor 2 dance company!!!

They are in residency at UNCC for three weeks while director Kim Jones resets Paul Taylor’s lost work TRACER.  The New York Times has featured the project this summer and I’m SO thrilled to get to see it when their done!  How Do You Reconstruct Lost Choreography?



So here’s my Choreography Challenge Day 5 – Copy, Create, Collaborate!

COPY – Pull up a YouTube clip of one of YOUR favorite choreographers works and learn a few phrases. Notice how they move, what makes their technique unique, expressive, and emotional. Try to COPY it!! 2-3 phrases tops.

CREATE – As soon as it’s solid in your brain and body, and without peaking at the video, create your own 2-3 phrases. Memorize your work but don’t take too long with it!!

COLLABORATE – Put them together!   And make a video 😀

Time: 30 minutes tops

Journal: How did you feel learning the choreographers phrases?  Did your piece look anything like his/her work? What was different? What was the same?  Was it fun?

(disclaimer: I am not advocating steeling another persons choreography for personal profit. If you blog your work be sure to give appropriate credit for the inspiration!)

Have fun!


Contemplation, inspiration – Are we observing art or interpreting the artist?

It seems like ages ago that I went to the Goodyear Arts exhibit, but the thoughts the experience left with me have not changed.  In such a naked exhibition you are truly seeing the artist in their entirety, often in their own workspace!  Drafts are strewn on the tables, wire cuttings and clay mar the floor, and what is UP on the walls could be a finished project or just an experiment. I had a different mental, emotional and physical reaction to EVERY new space in the exhibit, and it’s hard to go to a gallery like that and NOT find yourself wondering how to give all the artists equal appreciation.  Is every exhibit even deserving of equal appreciation?  How do you decide?  This prompted me to find a quiet corner to journal in and ask more questions, and at the center of these questions was the one that prompted my title.  

When we express a reaction to an artists work are we observing the art,

or actually interpreting the artist?

When you talk about Van Gogh is it because you studied him, or his art?

For the purpose of discussion, let’s get on the same page about what is meant by “interpretation” and “reaction” (I understand that these change in different context). 

Reaction: Everyone reacts to art initially. Even the absence of obvious reaction is a sign of a reaction, but only if we include ALL of our senses in the list of possibilities.  The way our brains work it is more likely that your BODY will react to a stimulus before you can form a conscious thought.

Interpretation: I’m thinking of interpretation as the relevant application of a thought that comes from an observation, like that of appreciating a piece of art. By the time you’ve made a decision about whether you “like it” “don’t like it” or “are not sure” you have already filtered your reaction, beginning with your body, to the point of a comprehensible sentence in your native language, and your filter is YOU. Your WorldView, Presuppositions, etc.,  That phrase will then be followed by what you will DO about it rather quickly. Will you move on? Will you include a friend in your observation? Will you buy the piece? Will you review the dance?  And each of those actions is the result of, you got it, an interpretation.

So, for me, I think I would answer yes to my first question. I DO think that there is a strong sense in which a person’s observation of a piece of art is actually also an interpretation of the artist herself in some degree.  How does that make you feel?  Would you LIKE to be “interpreted”?  With no rules? 

This is really where I begin to think. EVERY other academic discipline, the sciences, humanities and literature have very strict rules for interpretation, but it is often the arts which produce contrary or avant garde ideas that can change the rules.  In other words, the arts change PEOPLE.  They are formative.  This art exhibition changed me!  So, should art appreciation be governed by rules?  Would that restrict artistry, or make it more popular? 

If I’m honest, my observations in the business world, religious studies sphere and stay-at-home parenting circle would suggest that more people might turn their creative juices to something artistic if they knew there were rules to protect them from attacks and negative criticism.  Do you want people to behave according to the rules when they interpret YOU and observe YOU? Why? Why not? 

And it is here that everyone will have a different idea or opinion and I’d like to hear them!  What do you think of my questions? My interpretations? Why should I care? 

Reading Music, but not

I found this gem on Facebook today and HAD to write about it.  I have to write about it because given that I can’t read sheet music well at all, my melodic emoting is barely discernible if I try to put it on paper.

You see, THIS is my alphabet:  E, A, G, B, E

and then they get crazy on you and ask you to play in the Am, but don’t mistake the major notes in that scale for minor ones. Playing songs in the Am does not necessarily mean that the Bm or the Em will be present. Confused? Yeah me too.

Anyway, enjoy this diddy about something guitarists never use. May this enlighten you!

Art and Car Trouble

Wouldn’t you know that the day I get to go SOAK in a free art gallery and relish the delight of resting in the presence of inspiration, would also be the day I don’t get home till 1am and have my car towed?  Yes it was.  Fortunately I overheated near the heart of traffic for the Friday Panthers game, so it was safe to walk the 20 minutes to the gas station and back.  Two friendly cops directing traffic also proved excellent guardian angels and made sure my little VW Golf didn’t get towed to an impound.  Not so fortunate was the car itself. She has a blown head gasket and possibly more internal damage since the cops gave me a limited choice on parking places that were a few hundred feet from where I first stopped.

I maintain the grace and provision of God, however, since we’ve been offered the loan of TWO cars in the interim weeks, and friends from out of town were able to rescue me :D.

Enough about the car, let me tell you about the ART!!

I drove into Uptown Charlotte for the Goodyear Arts  July/August exhibition on Friday evening.  This arts center thrives on the truth that artists need “Space, Time, Money and Community” in order to do what they do.  Artists can reserve free studio space and enjoy the fellowship and critiques of fellow artists of all kinds!  There were no dancers or other performers at this month’s exhibition but I did find this ad 😉

I’m hoping to start something similar with the ArtsCharlotte Performing Arts group this coming year.  Since our group is a mix of dancers, actors and musicians our gatherings will be open places for people to move, improvise and create collaboratively.  Sound Fun? Sign up for our newsletter to stay tuned for updates!

The exhibition itself was very eclectic. You could easily tell that some of the painters and photographers were very new to their work, while others had a more defined aesthetic and talent in communicating it. For example, one artist had about 50 photographs on display of city bus stops.  I love the concept and instantly thought of a dirge of creative ways to tell that story! But the photographs were so identical in content and aspect that I felt bored, and didn’t return to the exhibit. Less wou
ld have been MORE in this scenario. By contrast, another artist used multiple spaces throughout the event center to treat her viewers to a multi-sensory experience of her art as you went from one to the next.  She used art, sculpture, enclosures, the written word, spoken word and sound to communicate her exploration of art and language.  It sensed a real flow from one portion of it to the next and walked through several times.

Could both have been better?  Yes. But isn’t that what we ALWAYS think about ourselves and our work?  The question is, did you take a risk?  Were you willing to let your self be seen through your art?  My constant effort in creativity, whether I’m writing a poem, setting a piece or writing school curriculum, is be excellent in my work and to LEARN something new.  It’s in communities like Goodyear Arts where the experienced and inexperienced can mix without fear, and we all help each other in the learning part of the process.  Overall, I enjoyed the whole adventure!

 During a video presentation I found a lit seat near the door to journal a few ideas about  art appreciation and interpretation, which I’ll go into more detail  on in my NEXT blog! 

Choreography Challenge – First Days

I must confess that I’ve bit off quite a bite trying to write and DO my own choreography challenge, but it’s coming along!  For those who don’t know yet, I’m creating a 30 day challenge of creativity for MOVERS.  At present it’s 30 days that can be in more or less days depending on the schedule of the Mover :), because if you’re like me you have a lot going on.

So I’ve written two days of challenges so far.  Day 1:  The first is to take photos or videos of creative movement inspired by your household chores! Everyone has them, we all loathe how they get in the way of our imagination, so USE IT.  While it might feel mundane, I found that trying to do dishes, play with my children and take these photos was a lot of fun and gave me a much broader perspective on the kids of creative inspirations in my own home.  I recommend repeating this one.

Day 2: This exercise is straight from the Intimate Act of Choreography with a slight adaptation.  Chapter 3 on Speaking Body isolates the specific movement of body parts in order to help the mover to be able to speak LOUDER and more poignantly with even the smallest appendage. How?  By experimentation of course!

Body Discovery (pg 17) Start with your hands, your non-dominant hand, and begin moving it.  Make small movements and gestures taking pains not to move any other part of your body.  This is where I deviated a bit. I started my improve while on a late night walk :).  Sometimes I just can’t sit still but I’ve done this improv both ways and they are both fantastic for different reasons.  Let your had become more animated, then let it start moving your arm joint by joint and JUST as you get to the shoulder, pass the movement over to your other hand.  Again, begin small.  Next try it with your toes and feet, then let your feet and arms dance together. “Com on, hand, try to ripple, spurt, stiffen, quiver, clench, scratch, hang, pulsate, drum, point….[Let it] show off a bit! It likes that…throw it away.”  Now do this with other body parts.

I recommend trying this for several days in a row, either for Days 3-5 or overlapping the next challenges.  Body discover is a lot like massage. The more you release the mental muscles the more parts of your “speaking body” you will discover.

That’s what I’ve got for today! I’ll create several more this week and post them over the weekend…Stay tuned :D.


Choreography Challenge

Oh what a beautiful morning! 

Except on the internet where there are dozens of writing challenges and photography challenges and fine art challenges for 30 days of inspiration and, SO FAR, the only dance and choreography challenges are simply to do it every day. AHHH!! 

I’m a busy mom and student. Coming up with my own inspirations on the fly for an entire month is daunting. Especially since I may never foot off our property in a given day  don’t money to visit expensive museums and galleries for inspiration.  
So while I’m at it I’m going to make a list of prompts, for dancers, choreographers and teachers, to get moving and creating in the daily spaces we have already.  These will be inspired by themes in The Intimate Act of Choreography (by Bloom and Chaplin), and I may use a few of their own projects as well because they are wonderful.  

I’m off to continue our homeschool day of chores and to start my creative scratching (See Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit) on this challenge! 

Can integrative arts include business and religion? – A part of my art journey

FINALLY!    Article of Inspiration:  Am I a Dancer Who Gave Up?

This article is a wonderfully articulate story about an artist whose passion couldn’t just be dance, and I can totally relate.  Am I a dancer? A theologian? A non-profit administrator? An early childhood educator?  A professional MOM? Every one of those titles takes work to combine with one of the others, and as someone who has always longed for a truly integrative arts journey, one is not enough.  Can “integrative arts” include people who professionally integrate their arts with traditionally non-artistic disciplines?

YES.2015-03-18 09.48.00

Shawn Lent, who writes the article, is a dancer and choreography, but she is also a business manager and does international diplomatic work for the U.S. Did I mention she’s working in some of my favorite countries too? Like Egypt!

For many years I have had friends and family as me if I’d given up on being a dancer. No, of course not! It’s a part of who I am and I take it with me anywhere. I believe Shawn says much the same thing as I have for all these years.  And why not?

We might not know what to call ourselves, but this is a demographic I can get behind. Dare I say it, a profession?

Enjoy all you artsy peoples!!