Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes

“All choreographers think of the impact music will have on the movement they create,” stated in an article from The Kennedy Center.  Music can make us feel specific emotions or recall certain memories. It’s a powerful tool for dance; the absence of music can be equally strong.  Music creates atmosphere, dictates the flow and development of a dance, indicates struggle, and provides fodder for visualization.  At Frame Dance we prioritize music and work with composers to collaborate with all new music.
This article outlines how choreographers Alvin Ailey, Mark Morris, Robert Battle, and Larry Keigwin used music within their pieces. Check it out!

photo by Lena Silva of the Framers rehearsing
photo by Lena Silva of the Framers rehearsing

Dance Business Bootcamps

Blog

2015-Logo-HomepageWhile at the Dance/USA Conference, we attended a session called Business Bootcamp run by some of the great people at Fractured Atlas.  Here are my notes:

 

Mission Statements:

When writing your mission statement, you show answer the following questions.

What are you doing?

Who is going to benefit?

Why should I care?

Ours is:  Frame Dance empowers Houstonians to communicate, inspire, and connect to the world and others through movement, community and artistic collaboration, and technology. 

One sentence is almost always better.

(Name of company) –> active verb.

 

Making strategic decisions

What is our plan for success?

Intentional + Consistent = Strategy

LSD

1.  List everything your organization does; everything your organization is.  Start to group those, and start to find patterns and themes.

2. Strategic anchors.  Does it serve our mission?  Does it serve our members?

3. Decide

 

Crowdfunding Perks

Campaigns that offer giving perks receive 194% more funding.

How much to ask for and how many to have:

think about the size of your roster

The average donation amount is $75-80

Most common: $20-25

Assume 33% should be from your nearest and dearest–> is your goal attainable?  Can your close network reasonably give 33% of your goal?

How many perks to include?

7-10; try introducing perks a little at a time

Types of Perks:

1. Access; backstage pass, rehearsal videos, dinner with the artists

2. Products: tickets to shows, adding something onto what they are getting in exchange

3. Experience: something that is relevant to the work you are doing

4. Something Personal: personal video, product etc.

5. Thank You: how many free ways can you think to say thank-you

Tie your giving levels to your perks.

 

Team Assembly

Being thoughtful about how to attract and select great people to help you achieve your goals.

Typical Process

1. Be specific.  What do you need them to accomplish?

2. Bespoke Posting

3. Breadcrumbs, what are the benchmarks you are looking for in your candidates?

4. Structured Interview Process; this should look the same for all candidates

-how can I create a question that gets at what we really want in a hire

-ask them what our company does

-when has your set of skills saved the day?

-what everyday skill are you better at than anyone else?

 

Ready…Set…WAIT!

MFA Mondays

 

 

You have paid your money.

You have waited in line questioning, and re-questioning the decision you have just made.

You step out onto the platform until they call your number.

Sitting, waist bar pulled tight, pressing into your guts until you hear the click.

Your inner self screams, “WAIT! I’m not ready!”

No one is listening because the cart begins to glide forward and then up, and up, and… click, click, click! There is no escape. You only have two options. The first, close your eyes and scream or open them wide and take in the view on the way down.

I absolutely dislike roller coasters, but the adrenaline and anticipation has a way of reminding me that I am alive. A re-launch can feel similar. You have taken the time to re-flect and re-evaluate. Now you have two options:

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

1) blindly continue on into the next hoping you hit the bulls eye or

2) take all the information gathered and propel yourself into the unknown and unexpected with an opportunity to do better than you did before.

At some point, you just have to enjoy the ride or you may end up like me questioning why you started in the first place. Starting to sound a little cliché, right? Then why can such a concept seem so unacceptable? Does ‘enjoying the ride’ mean less work? Does it mean you have all the answers? Again, I profess that receiving my M.F.A did not leave me with a secret portal to all the answers, but it did provide a few profound AHA moments of wisdom that encourage me to continue to learn and grow not only as an artist, but as a member of a much larger community of creatives.

A creative process does not seem to be a linear path, but rather a circular one. Constantly in motion moving from one idea to the next, the RE-process may be what links them all together causing the path to appear linear. I find the one thing that AHA moments and the RE-process have in common is the risk involved. The duh! stick strikes, you have a choice to make and with each choice comes a risk of being right or wrong, good or bad, the best or not the best. No matter how scary a choice may be, I choose to walk into it with my eyes wide open and my hands trembling because the beginning is the best part.

When was the last time you took a personal or professional risk? Was it worth it?

 


 

Amy Elizabeth, named one of Houston’s 100 Creatives and Top 10 Choreographer in 2013, is currently an adjunct dance professor and artistic director for Aimed Dance since MFA rightreceiving her M.F.A from Sam Houston State University. Her work has been presented at DanceHouston, Dance Gallery Festival Texas, Houston Fringe Fest and venues throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. Additionally, she has had the privilege of setting works at Lone Star College, Rice University, Lamar High School and will be working with San Jacinto College Dance Ensemble this fall. Stay in touch at www.amyelizabethdance.com.

 

 

 

Why you should go see the Barn Storm Dance Fest

Links We Like Performances/Screenings

Houston!  I am really pumped– lemme tell you why.

barn storm2

I just watched the second weekend of Barn Storm Dance Fest, and last weekend I was able to see Program 1.  Barn Storm Dance Fest is a three-weekend dance festival produced by Dance Source Houston– Houston’s dance service organization.  Dance Source Houston has exploded in the last couple of years.  They have taken over The Barn (formerly Barnevelder Performing Arts Complex), and worked to raise the funding to subsidize rentals for artists and arts organizations; They have started an Artist in Residency Program (AIR) for three artists each year to use the space to develop new work; They now offer Micro Grants for production costs (Frame Dance is eternally thankful!); and they produce the Barn Storm Dance Festival to showcase dance from Houston and other Texas cities.

What strikes me (as someone who is not participating as an artist in this festival) is the importance for dancers and choreographers to convene.   It has been special to watch pieces from veteran and emerging choreographers on the same show.  This is very valuable for the health of dance in our city.  The shows have been running flawlessly, and lit beautifully.  I imagine you’ll have your favorites, some that don’t touch you as poignantly, and others that will push you a little as a viewer.  That’s the beauty of the festival format– you get to see so much.  I walk away from the first two programs proud of our city and all of the dance in it!  Thank you, Dance Source Houston, for bringing these artists together and producing such an extensive festival, and thank you to the artists for making dance.  You have two more chances to see it this weekend and a full weekend for Program 3.  Tickets and info here.

Are you ready to start a creative practice? (it’s not as scary as it sounds)

Frame Dance Classes

Does your mind feel jumbled?  Are you having a hard time identifying your emotions? Do you feel on edge or like your body has unspent energy?  Do you desire internal organization? Do you have something to say but not sure what it is?  I know exactly how that feels– not great.  We created a workshop that can help you find your realignment and leave you with tools for your own creative and physical practice.  Through dance, writing, and movement techniques, we want to help you find your voice, your stillness, and your power.

When I started the MultiGen Framers class, it was fairly new territory for me.  The very essence of this class is that it welcomes beginners to advanced dancers of any age.  So that’s pretty open!  Teaching the class this Spring was an incredibly exciting balancing act of allowing adult beginner bodies to venture into new territory, keep the energy and flow high enough for children to stay engaged in modern dance technique that is true to the form, minus the extraneous physicality to keep the students working safely.  I am compelled to engage the brain as much as the body, and with different developmental capacities, there was a new challenge to find out how to do this.  Teaching MultiGen Framers was like a dream– challenging in all of the best ways, and rewarding in all of the best ways.

image_34cc80edac69df4de48658ebf057535cSomething that did come up as I was teaching, was that due to the need to keep things moving along at a certain pace to keep the children connected to the work, I found myself wanting to spend more time than I could with the adults to help them journey into their bodies in a new way.  So… the Sunday Adult Workshops were born.  As someone who has always had an alternative somatic practice alongside my dance training, and desire to grow my spiritual self and investigate mindfulness, I wanted to offer this as a complete artistic experience for adults.  I believe in cultivating a creative practice alongside your dance classes because dance is more than exercise.  It is a means of connection between body, mind, and soul.  We must develop all three to be the artists that we are.

So these four workshops (take one, two, three or all four) involve a gentle, deep, and slow pace to experience two different somatic practices, modern dance technique, creative writing that will connect mind with body, and a beginning choreography class.    I hope you’ll join us!  This is also a great entry point into joining the MultiGen Framers in the Fall.

Register Here.  Sunday Adult Workshops are funded in part by the Houston Arts Alliance, capacity building initiatives.

multigen postcard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s the Easy Button?

MFA Mondays
photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Shortly after the big event in November 2013, I began telling inquirers that I would be taking a personal time out to rejuvenate personally and creatively. Much to my surprise, this idea did not go over well with others. I was met with resistance and warnings. New phrases began racing toward me such as ‘you can’t stop now,’ ‘don’t lose momentum,’ and my favorite ‘it will be so much harder to start again.’

Knowing that my pattern of plowing through from one project or idea to the next was no longer an option, I had to begin again. Most importantly, I had to become okay with the idea that what came before was not WRONG and what comes next may not be RIGHT. The duh! stick had knocked me all the way back to my graduate school AHA moments. However, this time the focus was not on a composition class or a movement study, but rather on me as a person and an artist.

Lets take a moment to review my graduate school AHA moments.

  1. What is your intention? How do you make that as clear as possible? 
  1. There are no right or wrong answers; only clearer choices.  

 

In retrospect, I can clearly see a subconscious three-step process that began with re-flecting. When all the lights, costumes, and applause get stripped away and the audience goes home, what is the artist left with? Often times after an event would close, I was left with a great sense of dissatisfaction. (That is a whole other blog) This particular performance left me questioning what it was all for in the first place.

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Why do I enjoy creating thought provoking, emotionally stirring works by sharing my life experiences with a bunch of strangers? The short answer… we are all connected to a much larger community and I want to make that connection clear and relevant. However, I was constantly ‘sharing’ yet not really taking the time to understand if it was valid or effective. Was I really making the connection I desired? And the biggest question of all, does the audience even want what I am offering?

Step two… re-evaluate! After understanding the Why, I began to ask the How. How do I make it clear that I want a connection between myself, the art, and the audience? I do not feel this understanding comes from the work itself, but rather the relationships that we create with our audience. This happens before the concert, during the concert, after the concert and through additional programs that engage and invite our audience into the process itself.

 I must let you in on a little secret. I am making this sound so easy by giving you a synopsis of the process. Steps One and Two have taken a total of eighteen months and to be honest, I am still re-flecting and re-evaluating as I move forward into step Three… re-launch.

Was there a time in your life that you had to stop and take inventory? What was your journey to re-launch like?

 


 

MFA rightAmy Elizabeth, named one of Houston’s 100 Creatives and Top 10 Choreographer in 2013, is currently an adjunct dance professor and artistic director for Aimed Dance since receiving her M.F.A from Sam Houston State University. Her work has been presented at DanceHouston, Dance Gallery Festival Texas, Houston Fringe Fest and venues throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. Additionally, she has had the privilege of setting works at Lone Star College, Rice University, Lamar High School and will be working with San Jacinto College Dance Ensemble this fall. Stay in touch at www.amyelizabethdance.com.

Frame Dance Audition

Frame Dance Classes Links We Like
photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

 

Frame Dance Audition, men and women

hiring for company and apprentice positions

July 12 2-4pm, 2808 Caroline St.

Frame Dance calls for smart, musical dancers with an open mind, a sense of adventure and professionalism, a willing spirit and an embracing strength from both men and women to partner and support their fellow Framers.  Dancers must have a desire to work in non-traditional spaces, experiment with new ideas, and a willingness to  be involved in the creative process and in the community.

 

Please bring a CV, and RSVP to Lydia.Hance@framedance.org.

photo by Lynn Lane Frame Dance ranges from athletic, to suspended, to subtle.
photo by Lynn Lane
Frame Dance ranges from athletic, to suspended, to subtle.
photo by Lynn Lane Frame Dance works with adults and children
photo by Lynn Lane
Frame Dance works with adults and children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

METRODances Frame Dance performs in alternative spaces
METRODances
Frame Dance performs in alternative spaces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo by David DeHoyos Frame Dance works with emerging composers and live music
photo by David DeHoyos
Frame Dance works with emerging composers and live music

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frame Dance explores audience connection and integration
Frame Dance explores audience connection and integration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have got to be kidding me!

MFA Mondays

MFA right

One of the most beautiful aspects of graduate school is being thrust into an environment with an endless supply of encouragement. I have a relentless passion for telling stories in what I consider to be a less conventional method. The unspoken language that we all subconsciously use to communicate fascinates me. The choreographic process allows me to take such a subtle form and exaggerate it into a living work of art.

The encouragement to explore was something that I did not take lightly. I set personal and professional goals to create at least one new work each semester. With ample amounts of rehearsal time and space at my disposal, I could not help but take advantage of my situation and found myself creating up to five new works in a single semester. I was producing work on and off campus allowing me to show my work as much as possible to many different audiences.

Each time a new work was completed and presented, I was met with the same question, “what is next?” The consistency of this question created a pattern. I would jump from one project to the next with little time to re-flect, re-evaluate, and then re-launch with a fresh mindset and perspective.

During the processes I would go back to my AHAs and frequently ask myself questions regarding the intention, the clarity of that intention, and how I could make clearer choices. However, once a work was presented there was no time to stop. Curtain up, curtain down, on to the next. I had become that single-minded student, but instead of being focused on that single grade at the end of the semester, I was focused on the next.

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Three years into my post-graduate career, I was still surfing that pattern. I had created enough momentum, in my opinion, to produce a full evening concert of my newest works. I can say that we sold out the venue. I can say that we received what I would consider a nice review. I can say that other persons raved of our success. I can also say that the duh! stick nailed me right in between the eyes.

As the curtain closed, before I could take a breath of resolution, the words roared in my ears, “what is next?” You have got to be kidding me! That night, after all the patrons had gone home, I stepped into the midnight air and without warning I stepped out of my pattern. AHA!! I knew I could not continue along this path in this way.

What are your processes like? Do you feel rushed or pressured to keep moving or producing even when you may not be truly ready?


Amy Elizabeth, named one of Houston’s 100 Creatives and Top 10 Choreographer in 2013, is currently an adjunct dance professor and artistic director for Aimed Dance since receiving her M.F.A from Sam Houston State University. Her work has been presented at DanceHouston, Dance Gallery Festival Texas, Houston Fringe Fest and venues throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. Additionally, she has had the privilege of setting works at Lone Star College, Rice University, Lamar High School and will be working with San Jacinto College Dance Ensemble this fall. Stay in touch at www.amyelizabethdance.com.

When was your last duh! moment?

MFA Mondays

 

MFA rightI feel confident in assuming that each and every one of us can recall a moment or time period in our lives that influenced the way we think about and approach not only our craft but our daily lives. I am not referring to the small whispers found throughout each day that allow for development or the evolution of the creative process, but the big ones. The AHA moments that come on suddenly and bring about a lasting change. The moments that shake you right down to your very core and make you see things, ideas, concepts in a new light. Most often these changes are recognized immediately as if being hit over the head with a duh! stick, but sometimes the AHA moment may become a process of its own.

I do not feel it would be a stretch to describe graduate school as a series of AHA moments. You are challenged daily to push yourself outside of your assumed abilities, to think in ways you dare not

photo by Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

explore on your own, and to constantly and consistently re-evaluate every decision and choice you make. Graduate school, by nature, produces lasting knowledge that may influence your approach to the craft and your personal life.

Graduate school did just that for me. Upon graduation, I did not walk out the front door with a secret portal to all the answers. I was not magically transformed into this all-knowing dance creature that held the power to full understanding. I simply carried with me a toolbox overflowing with ideas, techniques, approaches, and a new way of looking at two very important ideas.

 

  • What is your intention? How do you make that as clear as possible?
  • There are no right or wrong answers; only clearer choices.

At first glance, you might think these concepts to be automated. If you have taken a composition class, you may have heard these concepts yourself. Seems obvious, right? I not only base my composition course off these two ideas, but encourage my students to find a connection to them in technique class as well. However, I have found the most profound moments are when we take these basic concepts and apply them to our daily lives.

What are some AHA moments that you carry with you? Have you heard my AHA moment concepts before? If so, where?


 Amy Elizabeth, named one of Houston’s 100 Creatives and Top 10 Choreographer in 2013, is currently an adjunct dance professor and artistic director for Aimed Dance since receiving her M.F.A from Sam Houston State University. Her work has been presented at DanceHouston, Dance Gallery Festival Texas, Houston Fringe Fest and venues throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. Additionally, she has had the privilege of setting works at Lone Star College, Rice University, Lamar High School and will be working with San Jacinto College Dance Ensemble this fall. Stay in touch at www.amyelizabethdance.com.

Just Keep Swimming

MFA Mondays

 

photo by  Lynn Lane
photo by Lynn Lane

Hi, I am a small dancing fish in a big dance pond. I am discovering that in order to create a healthy “ecosystem” for that dance pond (or community), that pond must value support over competition; this is a necessary characteristic of a healthy, thriving dance community. Some competition is normal; its natural for an iridescent blue angel fish to be a little envious of the willowy fins of the beta fish and vise versa, but there is enough room in the big dance sea for all of us.

We are all, emerging or established, experiencing a time with little to no funding available for the arts, but like I said in my last blog, “just keep swimming.” We as artists have an opportunity to band together and move towards a self-supportive dance community. Regardless of funds available, we can support one another in the pursuit to create top-notch work. The more dance produced here in Houston will bring attention, and thus bring additional funding in the long run.

As I’ve been thinking, a certain level of competition is healthy, and necessary; in many ways it helps us be our best self. On my own artistic path, I am continually competing with myself through each project and creation to make it better than the one before. On the flip side, competition is unhealthy when it creates negative feelings between dancers or choreographers. How can we reframe this way of thinking to be less destructive and more constructive? How can we mentor one another? How can we allow the success of strong talented dancers or established companies to inspire us and not defeat us? How can we be of service to each other instead of ego-driven? In the words of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, she reminds us “… there is more than enough to go around…” If we so choose, the one thing that there will never be a shortage of is love and support.

 

photo by  Salted Heart Photography
photo by Salted Heart Photography

My drive to help build a strong dance community, or pond, comes from who I am as a person. I am a team player and my philosophy boils down to this: If “Company X” has a fantastic show with a packed house, while it may not affect me directly (i.e. I was not a participating choreographer), it does affect me indirectly. “Company X” having a successful show highlights the Houston dance scene, and I am a part that scene. It also means that if an audience member attends this show and has a positive experience, the likelihood of them attending another dance concert in the future grows; this future show could be your show, or my show, or a collaborative evening of works. This philosophy drives me to encourage all Houston artists. I strongly feel that we all need to share each other’s successes as if they were our own.

So, in order to practice what I preach, I have created a checklist of things that I do in order to help grow and strengthen my role in this community, and hopefully the community as a whole.

Mini Self-Guide to being a Community Grower

 

  1. Volunteer your time for performances. Not only does it help the presenter in a big way and build connections, it also usually means a free ticket to see the show.
  2.  

    Share on Facebook, it takes two seconds! We live in a time where that is one of the most effective ways to promote. If you are excited to see a concert, tell us; if you enjoyed a concert, tell us; if you know of upcoming events, tell us. You never know whom it might reach.

  3. Set a goal to attend at least 1 dance concert/event/class a month, if not more. I know scheduling is sometimes difficult, but make it a priority.
  4. Set aside $20 a month to browse online funding campaigns and donate! I’m not always successful with this one, money is tighter some months than others, but I’ve discovered that even $5 can make a difference in a funding campaign, and I continually strive to do this.
  5. Celebrate art, not just your art.

     

    There are several programs currently happening in Houston that I believe share the goal to thrive through community and not competition, and I truly hope they continue to blossom. Find your own ways to be a community builder, or try some of the things listed above! Also, don’t be too proud to take the support of others; it is not a sign of weakness. We need each other. The more we allow ourselves to give and receive support, the more we create a cycle of good karma and growth towards a stronger and more unified dance pond.


 

Laura Harrell is currently an adjunct professor at Houston Community College, Lone Star College, and San Jacinto College. Laura has presented choreography at The Dance Gallery Festival (Texas and New York City), the Fringe Festival (Houston), and most recently, in the first ever, Art Saves Lives: A Cultural Conversation performance and educational outreach program in Nice, France. Additionally, she has set work at Sam Houston State University, the American College Dance Festival, Booker T. Washington High School, Lone Star College, San Jacinto College, and was assistant choreographer for Recked Productions site-specific project, Up For Air. This past February, Harrell was a featured emerging artist by NobleMotion Dance, where she presented “Stuck Between a Rug and a Hard Place” in the first ever Next Step Series: HOMEgrown.