This week I began working and/or training under both Corina Kinnear and Miguel Perez. Each of these artists I have a great deal of respect for, which largely branches from their individual backgrounds and training. Corina was involved in Alonzo King’s BFA Program in San Francisco; I for one really value the knowledge that comes out of schooling in dance. As well as the fact that I am completely enamored by the work that Alonzo’s LINES Ballet puts out into the world. I have always felt a special connection to him in my training over the years, starting at the young age of fifteen. Miguel’s work is more recent to me, while it also contains the essence of contemporary ballet that I love. He dances for an outbreak company called BODYTRAFFIC that I have recently been researching more about myself. In fact, I plan to study with them in an intensive program this summer. Miguel went to college and has danced for the acclaimed: River North Dance Company and Hubbard Street, in Chicago. He has done a lot of commercial work as well. While I am pretty obsessed with concert dance and live performance, I definitely value both the commercial and concert dance worlds; aiming to be involved and maintaining a balance of both in my own career.
Gosh It’s only Wednesday and I already feel like I have so much more insight than before. I’ve been thinking a lot about WHY I do what I do.
There are so many aspects of dance and movement to explore, it almost seems impossible to get to them all. However it is important that we as performing artists do touch on everything. A lot of the time I think we get stuck in trying to execute something perfectly (well I know I do). Although what is perfect? Is it a codified technical step that we are trying to achieve? Once we get there, then what? You can always push something further in movement and really take it to the extreme.
You know I think there is such thing as going too far. Now I love taking risks. I’m all about that! Hell I think ‘falling’ is really interesting. A lot of the time I really like being in control and sustaining and holding things. Truly you will never know how far you can go until you’ve gone over the edge. Okay so now I sound like I’m totally contradicting myself. Let me clarify:
My thoughts are that you can go a little too far with the expressivity behind the movement. This seems to happen often in contemporary dance. Your intention that you wish to portray has to be REAL. I mean honestly people have to relate and feel like they are experiencing this feeling too. Nothing can be cheesy or over the top about it, unless of course this is your attention (possibly for comedic relief).
So then this brings me to the importance of theatrics in dance. Often dancers can get lost in the movement and they completely forget about their FACE. Hello this is one of the most expressive parts of our bodies! Every single person on this planet can connect with a story being told from the mouth and the eyes. Now I don’t mean that cheesy jazz competition grin, and occasional wink towards the judges. No… I’m talking about the organic expressive features that really make us human.
What is rather fascinating, is the investigation and possibilities of simply moving the face. This week Ms. Corina (connecting back) had us incorporate this into our improvisation. Oh boy does this open up a whole new dynamic of gestural features. I think the face is rather vulnerable (similar to our hands), so sometimes this can be scary. As dancers though, we are asked to do a lot of ‘silly’ things so really this shouldn’t be too unusual. It only can get us deeper into our stories. Eventually she had us really play with our breathing: not just the breathing we use to enhance the way we move by making things more efficient and fluid, but the loss of breath. Interesting eh?
[ From a recent Silent Movie Shoot going along with StyLis’ Music Video: Blame Game }
There are so many hundreds of different scenarios we can play with. Some can be quite literal. Even more so, not everything has to be so ‘dancey’ per say. Back to the idea of falling: What is so difficult about that? If you think about it we’ve probably all fallen a lot, especially in the first stages of human life. I for one was having a tough time doing this naturally. Recently I was thinking too much about how it should look, rather than just letting it organically happen without force. Yea I was rather frustrated. How can I manage to do all of this crazy elaborate stuff and then this simple act is fooling me? Ugh.
So I have something to work on. We all do. I believe one of the most important things in dance to be: bridging the gap between natural human movement and expression, and what we are trained to do. This all leads back to the audience being able to relate. Of course they want to see the unnatural quirkiness that we can bring, but it’s nice to see a familiar pedestrian movement as well. There really is so much to be said in a small gesture. Simplicity can be so beautiful. Clarity and emphasis in a step can change it entirely. A pedestrian movement is nowhere near bland. All of this can be saying so much! Even stillness can create a thousand words.
Daily I try to remind myself of these features. Lately I have been focusing on:
Opening my eyes
Feeling tactile with my hands
Playing with the space above and behind me
The best thing I have heard in a long time came from the lovely Alex Little, as we sat after class chatting about the industry and not getting lost within it. She said to me:
Lately I’ve really noticed you dancing more from your heart and your eyes.
This is exactly what I’ve been trying to do and just what I needed to hear! I can do it. Sometimes those small things are all you need to hear. Improvement is improvement and I always want to add more depth to my movement and expression. Yay!
Tomorrow is going to be one crazy day for me! A day full of audition after audition.
As a reminder: Take Alex’s Escape Artist class on Tuesday afternoons. Come to LACDC open class on Wednesday night. Buy tickets for Talia’s show on April 5th and stay tuned for Ricky’s (and others) work to be showcased in May.
Sending love and good vibes!