Dance

SFCD Choreographic Residency 2017

Eric Garcia and the collaborative team of Sarah Woods-LaDue and Bob Woods-LaDue are the resident artists of SFCD’s 2017 Choreographic Residency. They have been working with the students of SFCD’s year-round program in weekly rehearsals since January. They recently shared some thoughts on their processes so far.

The works created by Eric, Sarah, and Bob will be shown on April 19, 20, and 21 in the April 2017 edition of Work Nights. Work Nights is a regular series of free, informal showings of work being developed at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. You can reserve seats in advance HERE.

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Eric Garcia with SFCD students

Eric Garcia:

I’ve given myself and the SFCD students somewhat of an impossible task. Inspired by recent theatrical roulette-escapades (Shotgun Players’ Hamlet directed by Mark Jackson and the San Francisco Neo Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind), I’ve decided to embark on my own chance-based performance adventure. Our goal is to create a suite of dances where both the roles of the performers and the order of sections are determined at random moments before the start.

The framework feels relevant to the concept we are digging into. We are steeped in (re)constructing dream cities and piecing together nostalgias of San Francisco. As such, we are experimenting with precarious choreographic structures and prompts that test our confidence in memory. For example, the 12 of us created a duet in the span of 1 hour, where the director and performers rotated every 5 minutes. Once the duet was crafted, everyone had to learn both parts knowing that during the final performance, two dancers would be selected at random to perform any given part.

The work parallels the infinite narratives that exist within a city, both told and untold. Each night of this performance — by virtue of in-the-moment decision making — reveals new arcs and through-lines. Part of the richness of this piece is the myriad of configurations and possibilities that will never come to be. One night may feature and highlight a particular character’s journey, while another night conjures a completely different experience and tone. Everything is a constellation of random events that are strung together. The meaning-making happens real time.

I’m excited to use this time as a director/choreographer to create a container for true risk-taking, both for myself and for the SFCD students. Comforts and mental capacities are certainly being stretched. This piece has the very real potential for failure: Never had a chance to rehearse the monologue that you have to now perform? Didn’t quite remember the movement in that highly-nuanced floor pattern? Not feeling super confident in belting a song about the Western frontier? We’ve clearly laid out the problem, now it’s time to figure out a solution. And considering there are nearly 40 million variations on the piece (both in the ordering of sections and the casting), we’ve got some work to do. Onward…

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Sarah Woods-LaDue & Bob Woods-LaDue

Sarah Woods-LaDue & Bob Woods-LaDue:

We are having a blast working with the students at SFCD. We’ve thrown some complex concepts and structures their way and their constant willingness to venture down the rabbit hole with us has been incredibly moving. We’ve experimented with using modular structures that are created in the moment by the actions and decisions of the dancers. Some of these structures require a strict rule-set to be established before relationships can be developed in the space. This process has taken more time than anticipated, but it feels like a fruitful venture and will hopefully be the frame for wherever we end up at the end of this residency. A main component of most everything we’ve been building together, includes an element of music. The dancers have been generating soundscapes as a byproduct of physicality, and more recently, looking at the inverse of that relationship. To say the least, we’re majorly excited.

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Some things don’t fit into a box – Angela Mazziotta

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During SFCD’s fall semester, Angela Mazziotta (a recent alum of SFCD’s Choreographic Residency program) joined the SFCD faculty to work with our year-round students on composition and dance-making. She wrote a brief reflection on her work with the students so far:

Some things don’t fit into a box. Some colors run outside the lines. Some moments cannot be described in words. Over the past few months I have worked with ten dancers (all of whom have names) in a studio (#270, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance) on something which is important work, but feels like play. The fall semester of the Year-Round Program at the Conservatory is nearing its end and I still don’t know what to call this important playtime. Hoping to step outside of myself, I loosely asked the dancers to ponder the class and write about their experience. Much like our time together, the following is a collaboration using their responses as a framework around which I’ve attempted to build a complete thought. [Note: one of the 10 dancers was unable to attend class this day, so Nathaniel’s contribution lives in a more subtle way – between the lines.] –Angela Mazziotta

The class feels like a space to explore “trial with no error” (Natalie) and discover creative avenues for dance composition by trusting a “human process” (Claire). This experimental composition (Isabella) involves digging into “real life” (Jennifer) and imaginary ideas or scenarios and asking “what if” (Morganne). We practice “freedom” (Sydney) and curiosity during tasks that lend easily to shifting perspectives, then recognize and celebrate “serendipity” (Mika) when something happens that is worth of repeating. This class is about “shedding” (Madison) layers of ourselves to get closer to our inner wild and capable “monsters” (Harlie). From this most pure and genuine place, the many facets of dance making and performing are readily at the surface, with plenty of room to try on – and fully embody – layers as they are dealt from various artistic directors, collaborators….or, ya know: life.

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“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