My Writing and Updates

Audition for Site Specific in Austin

FUSEBOX FESTIVAL AUDITION NOTICE

What: Auditions for Bodies in Urban Spaces as part of the Fusebox
Festival in April 09
Who: Choreographer Willi Dorner presented by Fusebox and the Austrian
Cultural Trust
When: Auditions will be held from noon till 4pm on Sunday Feb 15th @
the Blue Theater (916 Springdale Rd, Austin TX).

The piece will be performed on
April 25-26th as part of the Fusebox festival

They are looking for about 20 to 25 dancers.  there will be a
simple rehearsal schedule (roughly the week of the performance) and
then a couple of performances that opening weekend of the festival.
Contact: Email ron@fuseboxfestival.com to schedule an audition

MORE INFO ON THE PERFORMANCE:

“bodies in urban spaces” is a moving trail, choreographed for a group
of dancers. The performers lead the audience through selected parts of
public and semi-public spaces. A chain of physical interventions set
up very quickly and only existing temporarily, allows the viewer to
perceive the same space or place in a new and different way – on the
run.

PAST PERFORMANCES:

01.06.2007           Baden (Austria); ‚Viertelfestival NÖ –
Industrieviertel 2007′ (1 perf.)

04.07.2007              Paris, ‚Festival Paris Quartier d’été’ (3
perf.)

28.07.2007           Chamarande (France), Festival ‚Urban
Connections’ (2 perf.)

29.09.2007           Opera Lille, France, “Happy Day” by Christian
Rizzo (3perf.)

11.-13.10.2007       Vienna (3 perf.)

25.07.2008               Regionale, Steiermark, Austria (2 perf.)

08., 9.10.2008,      Helsinki,URB 08, urban festival (2 perf.)

26., 27.08.2008       Stockholm, Dansens Hus (5 perf.)

05., 06.09.2008       Philadelphia, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival (2
perf.)

20.09.2008               Rouen, Les Dessous du Patrimoine (2 perf.)

23.-25.10.2008      Bern, Schweiz, Festival Tanz in.Bern (4 perf.)

REVIEW FROM PHILADELPHIA LIVE ARTS PERFORMANCE

” Bodies in Urban Spaces. Hats off to Live Arts for bringing Willi
Dorner from Austria to stage this spectacle. It was a delight,
inviting us to look closely at our city and at bodies in relation to
architecture. In a herdlike audience of roughly 500, one could
encounter friends by chance or share the playful experience with
strangers.

Starting at JFK Plaza and ending in Rittenhouse Square, the event
wound through walkways and plazas, buildings and alleys, like a live
Where’s Waldo?, always seeking out the next in a series of human
sculptures. Twenty-one dancers in colorful sweats and hoodies formed
and re-formed pileups. These were orderly – two sets of three in fetal
crouches, sneakers protruding – or sardinelike, or more random, draped
close or with angled limbs jutting out. By assisting one another, they
climbed high above doorways or low into tree wells, poured into tight
phone-boothlike enclosures or spread out in lines along the ground.

Bodies in Urban Spaces, besides being a wonder of organization and
stamina, was a model of public art: free, fun, and transformative.” –
Lisa Kraus

ARTIST BIO

Willi Dorner – born 1959 in Baden, Austria – studied dance, dance
pedagogy and dance therapy at the ‘Austrian Society for Dance Therapy’
and is a certified Alexander technique teacher. From 1983 until 1986
he was a student at the Vienna Conservatory for Music and the
Performing Arts. He studied at Erick Hawkins Studio in New York and at
the School for Body-Mind Centering in Developmental Movement. Further
work was with Andrew Harwood, Dani Lepkoff, Irene Hultman and Stephen
Petronio. Dorner was a member of Nina Martin’s company in New York and
I.D.A. – Mark Tompkins Company in Paris.

He started to choreograph his own productions in 1990: Alien (1990),
and now (1992), intertwining (1997), mazy (1999), back to return
(2000), threeseconds (videoroom installation 2001), […] (2003), the
not at all (2002), Hanging Gardens (interdisciplinary 2004), 404
(2005), Inbetween (2006),dance karaoke (club project 2006-2008),
bodies in urban spaces (2007)

Besides his international touring dance performances Willi Dorner is
keen on creating events that give the audience the opportunity for new
experiences, insights and a different perception of every day’s life.
Cie. Willi Dorner’s stage performances and side specific works are
presented in festivals and venues in Europe, Africa, North and South
America and China. He worked as guest choreographer for the Ballet of
the Vienna State- Opera, the Dance Theatre Ireland in Dublin, the
Transitions Dance Company London and the Scottish Dance Theatre.

Prizes: the Eurodans prize in 1998, the Tendances award in 1999, the
Austrian Dance Production award in 2000, Pearls07 for mazy the films
(best editing)2007.

Advertisements

Returning and Readjusting

Returning

While living in Waco I had little opportunity to perform and spent almost five years teaching dance at private studios, a community college, and other organizations. I am passionate about teaching but I missed the creative and physical challenge of dancing within a company.

We moved back to Houston while I was eight months pregnant. Needless to say, although I was happy to be back in the city and was looking forward to enjoying the dance scene here, my intense focus was on this new addition to our family. My new role is that of a stay-at-home mom and it is a “job” that I love. But, certainly in the beginning, it was a job that required much of my time day and night. Now that my son is over a year old (and I am no longer breastfeeding), responsibilities regarding my son are more equally shared between my husband and I. Therefore, I have taken on the challenge of returning to the performance aspect of my dance career.

Work in Contemporary Dance Art is rarely available as a full-time pursuit unless one is dancing with multiple organizations. At this moment in my life this is actually an advantage as my interest is currently in performing “part-time.” I have returned to dancing with Suchu Dance, a company I have worked with in the past. I enjoy the collaborative process of choreographer, Jennifer Wood, and I like being part of the creation of new, original work. So three evenings a week and on Saturdays I get to take a break from my suburban mommy lifestyle and address that little part of me that has been neglected for the past several years.

Readjusting

The return has not been easy. Teaching is certainly not the same as dancing and I found it difficult to maintain my athleticism while instructing full-time in Waco. Also, pregnancy and the resulting time away from dance certainly took its toll on my core, supporting muscles. I return to dance with a slightly different body – a little older, a bit less malleable, weaker in areas that I used to be very strong. It is an adjustment physically as I work in company class and within the choreography. However, the demands motivate me toward self-improvement. Unfortunately, the biggest hurdle in my return has been my confidence. It is something with which I’ve always struggled but moreso now that my body feels different than my younger, post-baby self. There are body image concerns that weren’t there before and I find I have to deal with these emotional barriers while overcoming new limitations in my movement.

Despite the difficulties and insecurities I am truly enjoying my participation in the creative process once again. Although perhaps not the most physically adept member of the company, I do feel my history and well-seasoned qualities offer something unique in this mix of individuals coming together to construct original movement art. Also, doing something “for myself” is rewarding and improves interaction with my family. I am a better mom for addressing and following my own interests and passions, even if it does take me out of the house for periods of time.

I hope to write more about my experiences, the process of creating dance art, and my roll as a dancing mama in this space. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts or experiences – encouragement is also most welcome! 🙂

Going to Bat for Boys in Ballet

The Pick-Me-Up

Not long ago, I had the “yipee!” moment of discovering a new dance blog. And within this blog, I found a great link to an audio interview with three male dancers in which they discussed their experiences growing up in dance, their thoughts on Billy Elliot, and more.

I found the interview very encouraging. Overall these men, who dance with Mark Morris Dance Group, began as children taking ballet and other dance styles, and received much support from not only their families but people (and other boys) around them. I’ve always felt strongly that boys must be offered a place and space in dance schools that would allow them to feel comfortable, thereby encouraging young men to dance. However, I believe my interest and concern about male dancers increased when I became the mother of a young son. He is still a toddler, having been born not long before I “birthed” this blog, and is therefore not old enough to even know what a dance class is, let alone participate in one. When he is old enough, I hope to find a dance program in which he can explore creative movement. Later, if he wants to continue in other dance styles or forms, I would of course be overjoyed but I have no desire to push my child into dance or any career, for that matter. And I would not refuse his desire to play sports, start a band, or be his own person.

Anyway, it is a great interview, and I highly recommend clicking here or downloading the mp3 to listen to this discourse. (The interview is over 20 minutes long, so you may want to finish reading this post first. Knowing the specifics of their discussion is not necessary in order to continue with this article, and you may need a lift after reading on… sorry).

The Buzzkill

In light of the above statements on motherhood, you might understand some of my dismay when I discovered this blog entry within the Houston Chronicle’s website. I’m not sure I’d even post the link if it weren’t important to see the original statements made. However, it gives me some comfort that this “author” has not posted since she released these thoughts for public consumption in November. Anyway, it is a short entry, so go ahead and read it then please come back.

Done? Now, at first I sort of brushed off what this woman had to say. Her views of dance were obviously limited. It was clear to me that she equated ballet as a pursuit not fit for a boy, and let’s be honest, I had some pretty good ideas about why (although she doesn’t state her reasoning here, her wording about “tights and leaps,” twirls, and pirouettes when accompanied by the picture she chose for her post, do offer some indication that she sees men in ballet as effeminate and possibly ridiculous). As I stated, though, I was prepared to just brush it off. Curiosity killed the cat, unfortunately, and I began reading through the comments. While reassuring that most of the responders were insenced by what they had just read, what flabbergasted and, I’ll admit, angered me were Ms. Randall’s comments to her comments!

When asked to clarify her fears about having her son enroll in ballet (after all it seems, according to her post, that having a daughter in ballet class would have been a dream come true), she replied she had no fears but went on to state that she could “love her child without loving what he does,” and that she did not intend to “facilitate a life of tights and codpieces.” Hmmm, a bit of denial there about any fears she might have. She later asserts her belief that ballet is a feminine pursuit: “I am tired of the whole concept that everything must be unisex for our children. Some avenues are more appropriate for females and others are better suited for males.” Yet, when these statements backfire and the responses are not very friendly, Ms. Randall claims that she has been misunderstood and begins backpedaling, as evidenced by the following:

“…dance is a very hard way to make a living – just like swimming or skateboarding or acting. As he gets older these decisions will fall to him, but at three years old I have the responsibility to guide his interests (to an extent) and I choose not to pay for ballet school just because he likes to twirl in front of the TV when the Wiggles sing.”

“My question was, how do you decide when to support an interest 100% and when do you politely dismiss it as a fad?”

“I stick by my assertion that at three, my son is too young to decide that he wants to take formal ballet lessons – I would be happy though to take him to see the Nutcracker.”

To anyone with reading comprehension skills, it is clear that Ms. Randall never asked or intended to ask in her original post if she should or should not support her son’s interest in dance at the tender age of three. Nor did she ever assert that this age was too young to do so. If this were truly the intent of this article, it would have been stated in some way, shape, or form. In fact, I believe the initial intent of the article was to point out that parents do not mean it when they say that all they want is their child’s happiness (a reasonable topic, perhaps, if the person delivering it did not wear her judgmental nature on her sleeve or in her writing style). Or, if she seemed to encourage independent thought within her family. (See, God help those who don’t like my food…)

It seems Ms. Randall would be happy for her son to be cultured where dance is concerned, as long as he didn’t have any notion of being a participant himself. Her reasons for this continued to reveal themselves in her responses to criticism, throughout which she consistently offered up a thought which she felt dissenters would find acceptable. For example:

I am not yet willing to enroll him in classes to satisfy every passing phase that he goes through. If at 9 he still is passionate I might reconsider and perhaps put him in ballet, tap, jazz; whatever he wants. But my kid is only 3.

…only to reveal some of her true fears and misgivings about pursuits that she would deem emasculating, in the next sentence:

If I give in to ballet now, what’s next? Am I stifling his inner make-up artist by not allowing him to put on my mascara?

…and then (again, in the next line) grasp at straws to find a “masculine” equivalent that, I can only imagine, she felt would “cover up” and make acceptable her irrational fears and stereotypical views.

Or preventing him from becoming the next famous sumo wrestler by not giving him all the junk food he desires? As parents we have to guide them, and not give into their every whim.

Speaking of food and healthy eating, this is Ms. Randall’s topic of choice for her blog and she often implores parents to do the right thing regarding their children. I have no doubt that she loves her son and that part of her fears stem from wanting to protect him from scrutiny or even others who share her narrow-minded views. Her writing is not eloquent, she perhaps does not always think her philosophies through before she posts them publicly (her post on breastfeeding might be a good example of this). I could simply dismiss what she has to say. In fact, posting this rebuttal is possibly a waste of my time and a tad unfair. If I thought Ms. Randall was presenting her views merely for shock value, I would not even bother. However, in a classic example of bigotry, she doesn’t seem to know she is bigoted and is either attempting to be funny or thinks she is helping others.

It is an encouraging thought that many, many readers felt strongly enough to take Ms. Randall to task on her views (some, like trainer, numbersdontlie, yabullar, among others offer clear and relatively compassionate responses). I couldn’t help but feel disheartened and a bit in need of a rant, however, that this line of thinking about ment in dance comes from someone who is likely an educated member of society, and who in many ways probably sees herself as a progressive and enlightened mom. It illustrates, I think, that no matter how many encouraging steps forward we seem to have taken in the U.S. regarding male dancers (and a whole host of gender issues), there is still quite a distance to travel.

It is common for female dancers to feel a twinge of jealousy toward their male counterparts, as it is a common belief that the limited amount of males in dance makes competition for work or opportunities less intense for men. However, it is clear that the pathway to a life or career in dance is not easy for anyone, regardless of gender. What a shame that it is made particularly and unnecessarily difficult for boys and men by prejudices and misconceptions rooted so deeply that parents, neighbors, or bystanders would discourage a three-year-old boy from any type of formal movement experience out of fear that he may want to investigate further, that it might lead to homosexuality, might be seen as effeminate, or be the gateway to a “hard life.”

Dance Advantage

The writing I do at Dance Advantage keeps me quite busy. Between blogging and promoting the blog, keeping up with family and friends, dancing, and engaging in playtime with my 15-month-old, I fear I’ve neglected this site a bit.
However, I do want to share that I have been very encouraged by an interest in my writing skills and ideas by some lovely people that I have been fortunate to encounter online. Not only are they lovely people, in fact, they are also owners and editors of their own websites and businesses. With such support and encouragement from others, I have become more confident in my writing ability and hope to branch out to more freelance work. I am really just getting started, but would like to share a few links to my work elsewhere on the web: