As we move into a brand new dancing year, I want to share with you 10 articles that I truly enjoyed reading in 2015.
They are in no particular order and range from the announcement of Misty Copeland as a principal ballerina, to the strength that it takes to pursue your dream of becoming a dancer despite feeling that the odds may be stacked against you.
“A common theme: When you are having trouble, chances are it’s because you’re challenging yourself in a way that you never have before.” — I find this to be extremely true. I like to return to my original idea for the piece and the original phrases of choreography to see where I was and where I am now. I also find that journaling helps a lot. I write any words or thoughts as they come to me and see if they can influence the work. Lastly, I find that reviewing video can often reveal an answer that I was unable to see in the studio. What works for you?
“It’s not all tutus” — This article is based on the experience of one Juilliard Senior, Gemma Freitas, and her journey in the dance world thus-far. It is an interesting and honest read about how the dream to dance demands time, energy, and sacrifice, but can lead to many different career paths, not just one on the stage.
A quick, smart read! Making a great point as to why repetition is important. While students crave change, challenges, and a constant stream of new music, it is vital that they learn the basics and train their bodies to perform movements correctly before executing something too difficult resulting in an injury …. “When the setting of the pliés or tendus is always different, the students must focus their attention on the setting, the choreography. This leaves no room in their concentration to work on improving the movements themselves.”
Dance therapy is “based on the idea that (one) can use dance as a therapeutic intervention to help a patient integrate her functioning.” — As a therapist and a dancer, I am continually interested in the incredible healing powers of movement. This short (9 minute) video speaks to the power that movement possesses. Ted Ehrhardt, MS, BC-DMT, LCAT, CMA talks about how the movement is the language between himself and the patient. Ehrhardt also brings awareness to the need for a variety of methods to approach treating mental illness, which affects upwards of 1 in 5 Americans (the number of people using psychotropic (need definition) drugs). This is a well structured introduction to the power of dance/movement therapy.
“As a ballerina, you have something to improve every day. You are never perfect.” — In this witty interview with Boston Ballet Principal Dancer Misa Kuranaga, she talks about her favorite aspect of being a ballet dancer. Kuranga also speaks openly about the struggles she faced as a dancer with a body that does not meet the standardized definition of a ballet body. This article reminds dancers to be true to their dreams, embrace their differences, and live their passion.
“Forget breakdancing. Tap dance is the original street dance. In the 1930s, tap dancers would gather on city street corners to trade steps and challenge one another, in a precursor to the B-boy battles of later decades. “ — This article focuses on how one dancer, Andrew Nemr, is making it his mission to revive tap dance and make it accessible to the masses. In addition to a concise history of the dance form, you will become aware that tap dance is not just about Broadway and dancers such as Gene Kelly. The artform has a rich American-based history, which is continuing to grow and change as incredible talents such as Nemr insure tap dance’s future.
Bonus: Great original performance video including elements of the idyllic Shim Sham and BS Chorus!
“For parents, the chance for a child to participate in something so removed from regular Gaza life is both educational and psychologically uplifting.” — Growing up in the United States there are little girls everywhere running around in ballet skirts and pretty pink dance dresses. I have always found the dance studio to be a place of refuge, a safe space for me to have fun, express feelings, and make friends. This article speaks to the powerful nature of movement and the healing power that dance can have on people who have experienced trauma.
Legendary Choreographer Merce Cunningham on Life, Learning, and the Creative Experience by Maria Popova
In this interview about the creative habit, Merce Cunningham speaks about finding inspiration, creating work, and utilizing life as a catalyst for movement. This article is brilliantly written and encourages the reader to seek a copy of The Creative Experience: Why and How Do We Create? (which features this interview and many others) and devour it immediately.
“…when at your most tired, your brain’s filter tends to rest — leaving your brain filled with a large amount of loose thoughts.” — As a longtime insomniac, I found this article to really ring true. Sometimes when I head into the studio well rested, I can only see one path to making my movement work. I often find that when I am exhausted, I am open to experimenting with many different ideas. Read and see if this resonates with your creative tendencies.
Misty Copeland Is Officially The First Black Female Principal Dancer In American Ballet Theatre History by Priscilla Frank
‘”I never saw a ballerina who looked like me before,” Copeland has said. “And I’m here to be a vessel for all these brown ballerinas who have come before me.”’ — In June of 2015 Misty Copeland made history as the first black female principal dancer in ABT’s 75 year history. Copeland has proven to be a role model for young dancers around the world. She speaks candidly about her struggles and triumphs in the world of dance. Congratulations Misty, may you dance for many years to come!!
2015 was an incredible year in dance.
It was extremely difficult to pick just 10 of my favorite articles to share with you. I hope that you found them both interesting and stimulating.
I found that the themes of perseverance, being true to yourself, and embracing what makes you an individual were common in my choices.
As an artist, I am passionate about these values and feel that it can be difficult to maintain a clear focus that is true to your own individual voice.
As I look to the year ahead, I am excited to tackle teaching classes filled with new students, new choreographic ideas, and the culminating performances for my company’s second season.
I hope that these articles have inspired you as much as they have me. I invite your feedback and hope that we can have a conversation about any of the topics that struck you.
Cheers, and happy creating!