“Some Brand of Crazy” – Katie Florez

“Some Brand of Crazy”

By the lovely Katie Florez (year-round program)

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Auditions. Auditions!

What feels like an out of body experience becomes real when I wake to a line-up of texts from friends, dancers and non-dancers. A techy barrage of good lucks, merdes, and kick some ass from at least 3 different time zones. And I spring out of bed and say, “Time to make dreams come true!” And then I immediately get a job and everyone cheers and I’m amazing all the time.

SIKE.

The texts are real. Everything else is just the juicy sweetness of ‘success’ that I’ve imagined the taste of a million times. I don’t really feel like talking about auditions straight so I’m going to talk around them and toss them a coy look over my shoulder. And bring you two positive insights that I’ve wrested from the entire process thus far.

For me, dance is a very social endeavor. It’s why I jumped the tracks on a professional piano career. Being locked up in a practice room for 8 hours a day would quite literally drive me mad. Unfortunately (fortunately?), going on auditions and being on planes alone, and getting lost without Google Maps has made me equally as insane. Audition season brings on a whole new brand of crazy.

This brings me to my first audition insight: hanging out with yourself. Being alone is such an incredibly scary and important skill to develop. A wise mentor explained the importance of feeding your passion and making sure that how you stoke your fire isn’t dependent on the environment that you are in. I know what feeling the butterflies of learning a phrase in 60 seconds is and being called by a number and forgetting that my name is Kathryn, not Katie, during important formal events. Over the past year of travel in and out of the states, I’ve realized that I have a lot more practice dealing with being a dancer than I do dealing with being by myself. And how beautiful is it when we can learn to be ourselves by being by ourselves?

As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy the social aspects of dance and life. I could sit down on a bus, train, sidewalk, plane, bench, or barstool and talk to just about anyone. I’ve found that being alone is a rare experience for me, mostly by choice. But, as my wise mentor explained, you have to figure out how to maintain what you are regardless of what or who is around you. My increased comfort in being alone, although I have a long way to go, has brought me much satisfaction. The frame that it provides for ‘dancer me’ as it grows stronger, undoubtedly enhances my ability to present myself in any studio in the company of both familiar and unfamiliar dancers.

With my penchant for sociability and passion for moving, the question has never been why do I dance. That has a long, obvious, universally understood answer. And if you’re reading this blog post you probably are a dancer or know a dancer, and you ‘get it’ to some extent. The question is how do I keep dancing. I’ve heard rejection via poorly written emails with generic greetings, firmly spoken ‘no thank you’s’, and even snail mail ‘we hope you find your ways.’ I also get thumbs up emojis, let me know how it goes, and you’re gonna kill it texts before an audition and it’s like bread and water in a desert. There’s something so sweet and pure and untainted in people’s well wishes for you from outside of the war zone. Their words seep in through your eyes and ears and turn into a chanting audience surrounding a passion that you continue to feed and hold internally ever closer.

My other insight: support. When I step into an audition I know that what I am doing alone was crafted and enabled by so many others. I always feel such a sense of generosity when I can share my dancing. It fascinates me how bottomless that reservoir can feel. The support that I receive from people outside of the ring encourages me to be fearless about diving deeper and deeper. There’s something about this art form that feels dangerous as if we’re living on the edge of ecstasy and suffocation and it’s truly immense. And you kind of just keep going because you know that you have this fan section in the back of your head that will always save you if you need saving.

What I’m realizing is that auditions haven’t taught me much about dancing. I rarely take away any revelations from being in a stressed out room of men and women who are grasping for that juicy bite of success. However, I often feel a sense of personal achievement when I return home. Don’t underestimate the feat of being happy being alone and risking yourself out into the universe as a dancer and more importantly, a person. Auditions are practice for the extreme times in your life when you are expected to be amazing in unrealistic situations and you are alone. And after all of that if you can come out on top, I am convinced that your potential to be magnificent is limitless.

Reflecting on Change

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I know that time flies when you’re having fun – but y’all, time has soared by me in the past few months!

To say that there have been some major adjustments made to my life recently would be a blatant understatement.  There has been a ton of change.  I graduated in May from the University of Texas with my BFA in Dance (Hook ‘Em!), packed up my life, moved to San Francisco, and am now attempting to redefine what “home” means to me.  I keep busy.  I am rehearsing  with The Foundry directed by Alex Ketley, coaching gymnastics, doing administrative work for Liss Fain Dance Company, and attending the SFCD’s year-round program.  I have always managed to over-commit myself, and obviously that has not changed in the least.  But I’ll be honest with you; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

As this fall semester at the Conservatory rolls to a close, I realize that I have learned more about myself through all this change than I could have ever expected.  I’ve learned that distance actually can make the heart grow fonder, but it can also amplify small doubts into echoing aches.  I’ve always known that I love to travel, but didn’t know that it could fill your soul up in a way that nothing else can.  I’ve learned that home really is a constantly shifting concept.  I’ve learned that there is bravery in discovering how to trust your own instinct.  I’ve learned that the fear in loneliness can be quieted by a simple nod of acknowledgement.  I’ve learned that people change at searing speeds, and also that I’m changing just as rapidly.  I’ve learned that there are beautifully inspiring people everywhere and if you’re open to them, they can kick your happiness level up a few good notches.

I’ve come to know and appreciate the unique joy of being independent, hopeful, young, experienced, and comfortably lost all the while.  It has all been quite humbling.

If I had to pick one thing that has been most helpful and difficult at the same time, it would be the idea of balance.  Finding the balance among various aspects of my life has proved to be the hardest and most rewarding challenge that I’ve faced.  From a balanced diet to a balanced relationship between my work time commitments and my personal downtime… it’s not easy.  But it’s a type of stamina that I am happy to develop.  To consistently remember to equally stimulate all corners of my own private universe requires strategy and dedication.  Personally it helps me to read at least one thing a day that is positive, motivating, or purely for fun.  It doesn’t have to be an entire novel, but a simple article in the paper or a quote from a peer can really turn my day around.  The balance between being a student and a working professional is demanding physically and mentally, but staggeringly worthwhile.  I have been working on how the two branches of my dancing can inform each other, how I can be better in both situations; and I feel like I’ve grown tremendously from both commitments.

Earlier on in this semester, Summer Lee Rhatigan said something along the lines of: “extreme energy has never been beaten out by extreme chaos.”  First of all, whoa.  Secondly, I think that idea has been beneficial and relevant not only in the way that I go about taking dance classes, but also in the way that I tackle all kinds of life’s obstacles.  I’ve never regretted vigor or perseverance… I’ve only ever regretted letting my effort yield to my turmoil.

Graduating college and leaving home was complex and intimidating, but since then I feel like I have lived more lifetimes than what is normally allotted for 5 months of life.  I can cheerfully say that I trust in the thought that my hard work will carry me onward, and I am grateful to the Conservatory and my Bay Area friends for being so welcoming and inspiring.  Now that I am on my own, navigating my way through the world – I feel small, bright, and humming with possibilities.

Best Wishes and Happy Holidays!

Upcoming Events – December!

Students:

Student Showcase – San Francisco Conservatory of Dance

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An informal, in-studio showing of selections from our advanced students’ work during the Fall semester, to be followed by light refreshments.  We will also share the work of our youngest students led by Kaitlin Parks, who teaches our Children’s Classes.

Saturday Dec 14, 12 noon to 1pm.  San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, 301 Eighth St.  sfconservatoryofdance.org

Free!

Spring Semester Announcement!
We are excited to announce that in the upcoming spring semester, the year-round students will be working with both Azsure Barton and Doug Letheren!  Stand by for opportunities to participate – open class, workshops, etc.  We do not have the dates set quite yet, but we will be sure to post them as soon as they are available.

Faculty:

the metrics of intimacy – Hope Mohr and Christian Burns

Photo credit: Parker Murphy

Photo credit: Parker Murphy

The metrics of intimacy offers a unique window into the creative relationship between Hope Mohr and Christian Burns, which has developed over time through an intimate studio practice of improvisation.  Acclaimed performers Mohr and Burns draw on their different dance lineages: Mohr is anchored in modern and post-modern dance; Burns in ballet.  Their shared attention to being in the moment allows the emergence of a visceral and thoughtful portrait of intimacy. Presented as a part of the Footloose monthly series.

Dec 4-5 at 8pm, The Garage, 715 Bryant St, SF, hopemohr.org, burnswork.org.

Tickets are $10-20, brownpapertickets.com or 1-800-838-3006.

Alumni:

Geneva Boredom – Joy Prendergast

Photo: Joy Prendergast

Photo credit: Joy Prendergast

First created for the Garage RAW residency program, Geneva Boredom has now been reset as an art installation/amateur light show specifically for SFCD studio 270. The idea is to bring the atmosphere of the piece to new locations, giving the audience a closer look at, and into, our fantasy worlds. Choreographed by Joy Prendergast.  Performed by Dee Gooding, Rachel Prendergast, and Joy Prendergast

Saturday Dec 7, at 7:30pm.  San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, 301 Eighth St, Studio 270.  sfconservatoryofdance.org

Queen of Knives – Sharp & Fine

Photo credit: Shannon Kurashige

Photo credit: Shannon Kurashige

Based on a poem by beloved and internationally celebrated author Neil Gaiman and choreographed and directed by Megan and Shannon Kurashige, Queen of Knives is an evening-length dance piece that examines love, loss, and regret through the mysterious, transformative lens of magic. Created in collaboration with the dancers of Sharp & Fine, Queen of Knives pushes the boundaries between classical ballet technique and contemporary experience to bring the audience into a story filled with visceral, surprising, and beautiful images.

Dec 12-14 at 8pm, Dec 15 at 2pm.  Z Space Theater, 450 Florida Street.  sharpandfine.com

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door.  General seating.  zspace.org

Conservatory:

2014 New Year’s Workshop

Summer Showcase '13

December 28, 29, 30 & 31, 2013
10am-4pm

This 4-day workshop will include daily Gaga classes taught by Doug Letheren, Ballet with Summer Lee Rhatigan, and choreographic exploration and coaching with Alex Ketley. Doug will also teach and coach the repertory of Sharon Eyal. This workshop is for advanced dancers.

Cost $325

For more information contact Megan Kurashige,
Email: Megan@SFconservatoryofDance.org
Telephone: 415-640-7009

 

2013 SFCD Summer Dance Series

Starting next week! The 2013 SFCD Summer Dance Series

2013 SFCD Summer Dance Series

photo credit: Jubal Battisti

SFCD is delighted to announce the fourth annual SFCD Summer Dance Series. This year, we will present three world premieres and dance artists from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Tel Aviv. Three of SFCD’s resident companies–Project Thrust, Sharp & Fine, and burnsWORK–will perform, as well as Danielle Agami’s Los Angeles-based dance company, Ate9. The final program in the series will be a piece created by Bobbi Jene Smith, a dancer with the Batsheva Dance Company.

The SFCD Summer Dance Series was launched in 2010 as a way to present dance works by choreographers and dance companies engaged in the creation of compelling and groundbreaking work.
Project Thrust in Kingdom
July 1, 8 PM
July 29, 8 PM
SFCD company in-residence Project Thrust will perform Kingdom, an evening-length work of dance-theater choreographed by the company’s artistic director Malinda LaVelle that muses on miscommunication, the isolated worlds we build around ourselves, and the illusions that fuel our perception of self. (Advisory: this work contains a few moments of rear nudity).
Tickets: $20; available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/381903 or at the theater box office.
Sharp & Fine and burnsWORK
July 2, 8 PM
July 30, 8 PM
SFCD companies in-residence Sharp & Fine and burnsWORK will perform, respectively,Love Songs and sonorous figuresLove Songs is a collaboration by choreographers Megan and Shannon Kurashige, opera singer Ina Rae, and the dancers of Sharp & Fine. sonorous figures, co-created by choreographer Christian Burns and musician Donald White, investigates underlying connections between sound and movement, classicism, improvisation, and narration.
Tickets: $20; available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/381917 or at the theater box office.
Ate9 in Sally Meets Stu
July 3, 8 PM
Los Angeles-based guest company ate9 will perform Sally Meets Stu, choreographed by company artistic director Danielle Agami (formerly a dancer with the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company). This work envisions a meeting between a man and a woman, opening questions that allow the audience to lean back and enjoy the unpredictable.
Tickets: $20; available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/381922 or at the theater box office.
Bobbi Jene Smith in Arrowed
July 31, 8 PM
Guest artists Bobbi Jene Smith (currently a dancer with Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company) and Christian Burns will perform Arrowed, a work Bobbi created which is an interpretation of an ongoing interview between two people.
Tickets: $20; available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/381926  or at the theater box office.
Photo credits: Project Thrust, Brian Henderson; Sharp & Fine, Shannon Kurashige; Bobbi Jene Smith, JB Photography.

Bay Area Dance Week events at SFCD

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SFCD cordially invites you to join us on Sunday, April 28, and Tuesday, April 30, for some FREE events in celebration of Bay Area Dance Week.

Come by on Sunday at any time between 10 AM and 8 PM to see what two of our resident companies are working on. Sharp & Fine, directed by Megan and Shannon Kurashige, will be working from 10 AM-5 PM. They are currently developing Love Songs, a collaboration with opera singer Ina Rae that will premiere in July as part of the SFCD Summer Dance Series.

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Sharp & Fine: Shannon Leypoldt and Carson Stein

Project Thrust, directed by Malinda LaVelle, will be working from 5 PM-8 PM. They will be rehearsing Kingdom, a piece premiered at The Garage earlier this year, which is being developed and remounted for performances during the Summer Dance series.

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Project Thrust: Madelyn Biven (photo credit: Rob Kunkle)

On Tuesday, April 30, join SFCD for an open house and two free Gaga classes. Come and meet some of the artists who are a part of the SFCD community.

  • 10 AM-11:15 AM: FREE open Gaga/Dancers class with James Graham
  • 12:30 PM-3:30 PM: Open rehearsal with Liss Fain Dance
  • 3:30 PM-4:00 PM: Work-in-Progress showing with Christian Burns
  • 6:15 PM-7:15 PM: FREE open Gaga/People class with Hallie Dalsimer

Gaga teacher James Graham was recently profiled by the San Francisco Chronicle. Both James and Hallie are eager to develop their Gaga classes within the San Francisco community and have been reaching out to a broad audience of both dancers and non-dancers.

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James Graham (photo credit: Lance Iverson)

Liss Fain Dance is a San Francisco-based contemporary dance company that often rehearses in the Conservatory studios. They are currently rehearsing The Water is Clear and Still, an installation piece that will be performed at the YBCA Forum in May.

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Liss Fain Dance (photo credit: RJ Muna)

Christian Burns is a SFCD faculty member. He is also a choreographer/improvisation artist whose company burns-work is one of the resident companies at SFCD. He will be showing an excerpt from a piece he is developing in collaboration with pianist Don White for performances during the SFCD Summer Dance Series.

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Christian Burns (photo credit: Andrea Basile)

Words to Work By, Part 2

UT Austin senior and Conservatory summer program alumna Courtney Mazeika brings us this week’s words to work by.

When I get caught up in the whirlwind of life, this prose poem helps me to find the ground.

Desiderata
By: Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in
silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the
ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare
yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career,
however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let
this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and
everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in
the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress
yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the
universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever
your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be
cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Open House with Doug Letheren

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Please join us for an open house on Thursday, February 28, from 2:00-3:00 PM. The fantastic Doug Letheren has been a guest teacher at the Conservatory during the month of February. He has been teaching Gaga and introducing students to the work of Sharon Eyal. On Thursday, dancers from the SFCD year-round program will show excerpts of choreography by Sharon Eyal. The showing will be followed by a Q&A and refreshments. This is a free event, so don’t hesitate to join in the fun!

OPEN HOUSE at SFCD (FREE!):

Thursday, February 28, 2:00-3:00 PM at the SFCD studios, located at 301 Eighth Street #270. 

For those of you so inclined, the Facebook event is HERE.