SFCD

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.

blog post1_1

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…

blog post1_2

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.

Advertisements

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

img_5873

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.

img_5768

Reflecting on Change

photo 1

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

 sfcd showcase kelvin

kids_december

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

 

Open House with Doug Letheren

open house banner flat

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.

Stop. Listen. Be Carried. (Guest post: Virginia Reinert)

Current Conservatory student Virginia Reinert reflects on Malinda Lavelle’s Jam class, which opens each week on Monday morning.

jam

Simple wisdom: we arrive where we are because of where we have been, and we go forward from where we are.

We all have things that we would rather forget. Things that we wish weren’t part of our story, part of where we have been. However, our bodies know. Our bodies remember. They remember fear. They remember joy. They remember laughing-tears, dancing-stillness, screaming-quiet. Our challenge is to listen.

When we listen, we are carried, held. We are transported to our brightest corners, our darkest clearings, and our quirkiest realities. We live.

When we block our “ears,” we almost cease to exist.

When I was twenty years, three months, and ten days old, my world was irrevocably altered. The initial event, and all those surrounding it, shut my ears to everything.  There was no sorrow; there was no joy. I functioned, compartmentalized. I survived, even appeared to thrive, until finally, hindered by nagging physical injury, I was forced to stop.

Stop. Listen. Be Carried.

I came to the Conservatory in the summer of 2012. Almost exactly two years after I stopped listening, I experienced my first Jam class with Malinda Lavelle. I cried.

For the first time in two years, I felt—and welcomed—joy. When she challenged the class to “imagine going home—that your body can feel like home” and reminded us “the things, the memories, that come to you can feel good,” I wept for overwhelming happiness. I had forgotten that I had the power to feel good, that being in my body could bring that sensation.

A few classes later, I wept again. This time, though, my tears were for the past. “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron and Wine opened class. I hadn’t heard it since destroying a CD I had been given two years earlier, the one I had called simply “Please, remember me,” on which “The Trapeze Singer” was the first song. The tears came unbidden: grief for loss, pain endured, grief for where I had come from, and for lost joy. I could not grieve until I felt joy; I could not feel joy until I stopped to listen.

Joy and Sorrow are the same.

I am now a student in the Conservatory’s year-round program. I already hold a degree in dance, but this journey, this process, this learning, this exploration is about so much more than physical movement. It is about listening. It is about trust. It is about my voice, who I am. It is about speaking.

Every Monday, we have Jam. I begin every week with a journey through my memories. I am carried through the worst moments of my life—and the best—by my joy. Sometimes, there are still tears; healing and reawakening are slow. Always, Malinda’s voice is there, reminding me “it’s ok to feel joy;” “your body can feel like home;” “trust that your body can feel experienced, old, and young at the same time;” “let your freak out;” and “let your two-year-old out!”—reminding me that the full spectrum of my being exists and is present in each moment. Reminding me that I have arrived where I am because of where I have been. All of the pieces are there; I am not a broken puzzle. I can speak because I can listen.

To Jam is to live Joy – in all its forms.

Words to Work By

sfcd showcase kelvin

A significant part of training at the Conservatory is not just working hard but, more importantly, improving how to work so that development and breakthroughs are simply the byproducts of a self-sustaining artistic practice.  At times, this meta-working process is quite heady and overwhelming.  When I feel neck deep, I find wisdom in these words to work by:

First, advice from poet Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day to the answer.”

Second, John Cage’s “10 Rules for Students and Teachers”

RULE 1: Find a place you trust, and then, try trusting it for a while.
RULE 2: (General duties as a student) Pull everything out of your teacher.  Pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE 3: (General duties as a teacher) Pull everything out of your students.
RULE 4: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE 5: Be self-disciplined.  This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them.  To be disciplined is to follow in a good way.  To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE 6: Follow the leader.  Nothing is a mistake.  There is no win and no fail.  There is only make.
RULE 7: The only rule is work.  If you work it will lead to something.  It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch onto things.  You can fool the fans–but not the players.
RULE 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time.  They are different processes.
RULE 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it.  Enjoy yourself.  It is lighter than you think.
RULE 10: We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules and how do we do that?  By leaving plenty of room for ‘x’ qualities.

HELPFUL HINTS:
Always be around.
Come or go to everything.
Always go to classes.
Read everything you can get your hands on.
Look at movies carefully and often.
SAVE EVERYTHING.  It may come in handy later.