MFA Monday!

MFA Mondays

MFA rightI’ve been thinking a lot about what the MFA degree means for artists in our country right now. We’re living in a world so heavily driven by capitalism that any artist struggles with the effects of commercialism and mass production values. Is it really valuable to obtain a degree in the fine arts right now? Obviously, my answer is yes but it is worth recognizing the issues and struggles artists deal with on a daily basis. I’m going to approach this from the ways I’ve dealt with financing my own art, but please feel free to comment and add any advice you may have.

“Fine” art doesn’t necessarily (or hardly ever) generate a lot of cash 858671_563107497041148_2128003440_o-1[1]flow. Artists aren’t usually creating in order to fund an end result, we are looking for an outlet of expression. Some artists are very interested in words of our critics and ticket sales, and some are not. It just depends on what kind of work you are making and why you’re making the work. Certainly the MFA program will give you a good bit of help in both of those directions. The feedback I received from my peers and professors in my choreography classes pretty much spanned the entire spectrum, ranging from questions of how the eyes were directed to asking questions directly to the dance, not me the choreographer (thank you Larry Lavender!) I found that considering my work through these multiple lenses was extremely valuable and gave me much more information about what kind of artist I am.

However you do view your art, if you can find a position at a University that supports creative work as research, you will probably find that funding opportunities are available for travel to conferences, festivals, performances, or wherever it is you decide to take your art. Of course, value is placed on adjudicated works, so when you are competing against other faculty for travel grants, it is important to consider. If full-time faculty work isn’t your cup of tea, it is possible to receive grant money, but it is becoming increasingly more difficult. Individual artists are mostly ineligible to receive grants from most agencies nowadays, you must be affiliated with a nonprofit corporation and an element of community outreach is becoming almost a requirement, with a few exceptions. This is great news for our youth and our communities as it strengthens our audiences and community appreciation for what we do, though it adds one more thing that gets in the way of just making the art. For anyone considering the MFA (or any artists in the field) I would highly recommend taking coursework in arts administration, particularly covering grant writing and non-profits. It was a course I have used time and again in working to fund my own travels and productions since I’ve left school.

For those artists that do depend on ticket sales and contributions (commercial or otherwise) the issue of creating art that is “accepted” is a very real one. The internet has made things so readily available that people can make a few clicks and have world class dancers right in front of them for free. Television has commercialized dance in a way that is boosting support for dance in a positive way, but also in a way that is confusing and misleading for many. In competitive shows like So You Think You Can Dance, audiences see brilliant dancers perform short dances (2-3 minutes) that tell entire stories on high production budgets and they can understand them! It’s not really SYTYCD’s fault – its commercialism as a whole. We get blasted everyday the same – ads, music, tv shows. Its simplified and you understand exactly what you’re supposed to. This makes things incredibly difficult for the abstract artists who aren’t always making art specifically “about” something, thus causing problems when we do get people in seats and they expect to see what they saw on television. I’m not saying there isn’t merit to what the choreographers and dancers do on SYTYCD, because they truly are amazing at creating captivating, well performed, well rehearsed dances in one week for two minutes. It is making our jobs a little more difficult to feel that we have the freedom to say what we want to say in more time and with much less money.


Sarah Wildes Arnett is Founder/Artistic Director of SWADanceCollective and Assistant Professor of  Dance at Valdosta State University in Georgia. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2012 and a Bachelor of Arts in  American Studies from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Sarah’s interests are interdisciplinary as she enjoys integrating her talents  in film-making, photography and music composition into her choreography while also expanding boundaries of genre and style. She continues to perform professionally with various companies and artists in the southeast. Most recently, she has performed and shown work at the MAD Festival (Atlanta), Alabama Dance Festival (Birmingham), NC Dance Alliance Annual Event (Greensboro) and RE:Vision by Forward Motion Theatre (NYC). http://www.swadanceco.com/

So You Think You Can Dance

SYTYCD

SYTYCD_Google_Profile

So You Think You Can Dance

According to a non-dancer (Emily Pau)

 

I honestly have never watched an entire episode until this review so…don’t hurt me!  So, in case you all missed last week’s Top 14 performances, here is my take on the episode.

The Top 14 performed a beautiful opening number with all of the dancers dressed in gorgeous white flowing robes adorned with gold braces and crowns obviously paying tribute to the ancient Greeks. However, one of the dancers is dressed in a normal/ modern white outfit and the others perform their routine around him. The modern man is left standing in the middle with a gold-like paint on his pure white shirt as the others gather at his feet. This routine could be a symbolic tale of how the Greek gods blessed the human race with brilliant artistic skills and that this one man has been “artistically touched” by the gods.  All in all it was a very interesting piece.

Team Bridget and Emilio were the first to perform that night and I have to say their routine was a little odd at first–a couple of demons on a mission from Hell to steal someone’s soul. Ok. At first their choreography looked like something out of Black Swan especially since Bridget kind of resembled Mila Kunis and I wasn’t that impressed. It wasn’t until their final product was complete that their jazzy dance moves and flashy red 1920s garb made the theme a fun and exciting dance routine!

Team Rudy and Tanisha’s stunning routine was absolutely breathtaking from beginning to end. It was a gorgeous story of seduction; it was like watching a contemporary Argentinean Tango. Rudy was definitely right when he said that you really can’t tell who is seducing whom. They were equally talented in their dancing and were perfectly synced throughout their performance. Everyone was completely wowed by their powerful choreography. That truly was an amazing routine!

Zack and Jacque, well more like “Count Zack and Lady Jacque,” were sensational with their hot vampire-ish routine. It was a wonderful twist to the Spanish Paso Doble as the judges mentioned but also seemed to give a slight nod to the dramatic American Tango. “Count” Zack did a wonderful job of being the vampire who brings the beautiful “Lady” Jacque back to life who doesn’t give in to his commanding yet enticing presence.  Her striking twists and turns prove that she is just as powerful and is not easily won over by his devilish charm. Their constant battle of dominance was absolutely thrilling to watch to the point of not knowing who really “won” the battle.  Perhaps it was a respectful tie…

Teddy and Emily did a great job taking everyone down the road of Broadway.  Their opening moves were fantastic which wonderfully progressed to the tight leg work. It looked like it did a number on their thighs just from watching it. The couple tried their hardest to channel the flairs of Bob Fosse but considering this was a difficult routine to imitate I thought they did a decent job.

Jessica and Casey were the essence of perfection with their sweet country love story. A flawless routine that gave the judges chills with their “porch swing” turns and steady lifts. Casey did a wonderful job complimenting Jessica’s shy and gentle nature as the loving boyfriend who adores her very being. Their amazing chemistry spent “electro shocks” through the audience and judges. It was certainly a routine you would want to watch over and over again.

However, the Quick-Step styles of Carly and Serge undoubtedly possessed cat-like glides, slides and hops. Their little Charleston steps were so much fun to watch after seeing them practice so hard to perfect it. Serge and Carly were incredible as the flirty yet modest cats of the Quick-Step.

The final paring, Ricky and Valarie come together to create a slightly creepy story about a witch doctor bringing a voodoo doll to life. I was completely blown away by their insane hip-hop moves and I don’t really care for hip-hop. It was as if I could imagine puppet strings on Valarie’s arms and legs as Ricky perfectly controlled her gangling body throughout their marvelous routine.

I wasn’t too crazy about the solos except for one of two and they definitely should not have been in the bottom 6. However, I thought some of them were better dancers when they were with a partner instead of their solo. Without a doubt each of the dancers was amazingly talented, but like in anything some stand out more than others.

The seven ladies of the show performed a beautiful final routine in their fluid purple gowns. It was as if the choreographer was still using the Greek mythologies as a canvas for their stage drama. The ladies were breathtaking as they seemed to embody the world of the Muses. Even as a group, each dancer added her own special flair to the story. The seven dazzling “muses” constantly lifted each other up as if to symbolize the essence of sisterly love regardless of competition. It was a piece that could bring tears to your eyes.

Another tip of the hat to the Greeks was the final male group enactment of the seven lost souls of the sea. The men gave life to these isolate creatures of the sea with their wave-like upper body movements perfectly linked together similar to men in a row boat. Their flying jumps provided were just the right touch to give the audience the feel of a high-rolling tide sweeping them throughout the gloomy tale.

At first I really didn’t care for the show because I thought the stories were the typical “artsy” stories were everything had a meaning and unless you were a dancer you didn’t really get it. Also, I thought some of the dance routines were a little predictable in how the ladies would move their hips, thighs, bum and whatever else the choreographers wanted to emphasize.

I totally understand that dance is like that sometimes and I have to admit it’s a little fun to dance like that. But I’ve also seen dance routines where it is still sensual but respectful.

I did like how the girls were seen outside of the dance studio. They showed how many dancers led normal lives that are not constantly surrounded by dancing. One girl worked at a grocery store and another was a tomboy. I was very glad to see that!

The men were even stereotypical in the way they carried themselves because almost all of them seemed to have the same metro-sexual look. Not every male dancer is like that, that’s seems to be what Hollywood wants to portray. I know several guys who are professional dancers and who are very masculine in their dancing and stature. They are nothing like the guys on TV.

The costumes, however, were gorgeous! I wanted a couple of them but have no place to wear them.

All in all it was a fun show to watch. I didn’t like it that much after the opening number and even a little bit of the first routine but I quickly enjoyed watching the ups and downs of the show.

So You Think You Can Dance

Uncategorized
  Welcome back, Framers! Last night’s episode was even more eventful as we said goodbye to four dancers instead of two.
 

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 14

The show was kicked off with a group dance which was excellently choreographed by Stacey Tookey.  The 14 dancers performed gracefully and you could also sense a hint of darkness in their movements. After their  great performance, we welcomed guest judge Christina Applegate, and learned which six dancers were in danger  of elimination fans voted last week. These dancers were Casey Askew, Serge Onik, Teddy Coffey, Carly Blaney,  Emily James, and Jessica Richens. These six contestants would have to perform their solos throughout the night  in an attempt to please the judges one last time.

The first couple to perform were contestants Emilio and Bridget, with their fiery jazz routine. Their choreographer Ray Leeper described the dance as being a story of a demon on a mission from hell, trying to get someone to sell his soul.  Next up was Tanisha and Rudy with a contemporary dance choreographed by Mandy Moore.  The couple handles the demanding choreography excellently, even with the many challenging lifts and turns. Then it was time for Serge to perform his solo that could either save him, or send him home. His dance was full of energy, but it seemed like his technique was lacking. When we turned back to the couples, we watched Zack and Jacque‘s Paso Doble choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux. The dance tells the tale of  a vampire (Zack) bringing Jacque back to life, with extraordinary costumes. Mary Murphy claimed that it was “love at first bite,” and the judges all wore fake vampire fangs, giving the two dancers a laugh. (excuse me, what??) Carly‘s solo was graceful and perfectly accompanied by the song “Not About Angels” by the artist Birdy.

Giving the contestants a break, two SYTYCD finalists Cyrus and tWitch talk about their involvement in the new Step-Up movie, Step-Up All In. They also talk about going from TV to film. This is tWitch’s third Step-Up movie, but only Cyrus’s first.

 

When we get back to the dancing, we get to watch Emily and Teddy perform their jazz piece. For both dancers being in danger of being eliminated, the dance seemed uncoordinated and they certainly would need to make up for this dance in their solos. Speaking of a solo, then it was Casey‘s turn to dance for his spot on the show. His dance showed off his flexibility and he performed many turns in his routine. After Casey’s solo, it was then Emily‘s turn, she performed a charming modern ballet piece that proved that she really did have what it takes to remain on the show. Playing to his strengths, Teddy hit the stage with a hip hop solo, which proved to really be his dance style. Taking a break from the solos, we turned to watch Serge and Carly’s fun quick step. The last solo of the night was a modern ballet routine performed by Jessica, to a Beyonce song. The final couple dance happened to also be one of my favorites of the entire night. Valerie and Ricky’s hip hop routine was performed to the very popular song “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. Choreographed by ‘Pharside’ and ‘Phoenix’, the dance tells the story of a witch doctor and his voodoo doll. Their movements are sharp and remain on the music, and Valerie even manages to perform a leg wave while in a side split!

With the couple dances over, it was finally time to watch the top seven girls perform together in a contemporary routine choreographed by Mandy Moore. The girls were completely synced the entire time, and it made for a truly beautiful dance.

The dance crew Academy of Villians took the stage and completely smashed it. Choreographers ‘Pharside’ and ‘Phoenix’ are members of this dance crew, as we first learned here.

After the fantastic dance crew, we got to watch the also very fantastic and talented top seven guys take the stage with their routine by Travis Wall. This is one of my other favorite dances of the night, as it tells the story of lost souls at sea. Their movements are very wave-like and synchronized, the entire dance just proved that the men of SYTYCD can really bring it.

Once we watched all the exquisite dances of the night, we had to say goodbye to Teddy Coffey, Serge Onik, Carly Blaney, and Emily James. The judges chose to save dancers Casey Askew and Jessica Richens.

*written by our social media intern, Rachel Kaminski

So You Think You Can Dance

Uncategorized
 SYTYCD_Google_ProfileHey, Framers! Are you ready for another exciting recap of So You Think You Can Dance?
 

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 16!

Once again, this exciting episode was kicked off with a group dance choreographed by Mandy Moore. After their contemporary routine we discovered which six dancers were in danger of elimination. Those dancers were Bridget Whitman, Marcquet Hill, Brooklyn Fullmer, Serge Onik, Tanisha Belnap, and Zack Everhart.

The first couple routine of the night also happened to be the first Bollywood routine of the season. Valerie and Ricky’s high-energy routine was exhausting!  Bridget and Emilio hit the stage with a contemporary routine–my favorite. Their dance was choreographed by Travis Wall, telling the story of people moving from their pasts and memories and embracing change. It felt like Bridget and Emilio were truly connecting with the dance, and that made for a very moving piece.
The next pair of dancers made an impressive match for the last dance. Tanisha and Rudy took the stage with confidence and flexibility as they performed their hip hop routine which earned rave reviews from the judges.

Next up was Jessica and Marcquet with their foxtrot, that turned out to be less impressive than the previous performances. They looked awkward throughout the dance and judge Nigel Lythgoe even commented that it made him feel “uncomfortable.”
Afterwards, Carly and Serge took the stage with a contemporary dance about desire. It was simple, but it also required a lot of skill.

Emily and Teddy also displayed their talents in their colorful Salsa, demanding many challenging lifts.

My favorite choreographer (remember who?) was back with a jazz routine choreographed for Jacque and Zack about rekindling an old flame.

The last couple to dance was Brooklyn and Casey with their hip hop routine. Even with their high energy, there was obviously no connection or feeling from the dancers.

After the couples were finished with their routines,  they were split evenly into groups. The first group had Brooklyn, Casey, Emily, Emilio, Tanisha, Serge, Valerie and Zack. Sonya Tayeh choreographed a very intense dance for the first group. It was a story of wounds how they are expressed from us externally.

The next group’s dancers were Bridget, Marcquet, Carly, Ricky, Jacque, Rudy, Jessica and Teddy. The choreographer: Travis Wall. This dance successfully told the story of outlaws escaping the city, with the sharp movements and aggressive nature.


After the fantastic contemporary dances, the talented Lucy Hale performed her new song “Lie a Little Better.”  View the dancer’s profiles! View Dancer’s Profiles Here!

marcquet-hill-bio-374x452 brooklyn-fullmer-bio-374x452After the performance, we said goodbye to dancers Marcquet and Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*by Frame Dance social media intern Rachel Kaminski

 

So You Think You Can Dance

Uncategorized
Welcome back to our So You Think You Can Dance recap!  The Top 18 faced off to keep their spot on the show.
 

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 18 Eliminations

The top 18 took the stage as black and white chess pieces in a very futuristic dance choreographed by Academy of Villains dance crew members Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenix” Meraz.  We then learned which six dancers are in danger of elimination: Bridget Whitman, Emily James, Jourdan Epstein, Emilio Dosal, Teddy Coffey, and finally Stanley Glover. 

The first couple up was Jacque and Zack with a jazz routine. The two dancers seemed uncomfortable at the start of the dance, but their energy really built up throughout the the performance. Jourdan and Marquette took the stage with their contemporary piece about a couple that was trying to disappear. Choreographer Dee Caspary remarked that connection was important in the dance, even though that’s exactly what seemed to be lacking from the dancers. Finally the energy level was up again with Jessica and Stanley and their wild jazz routine. Their magic carpet ride inspired dance truly sent them flying through the air gracefully. Next up was Bridget and Emilio with a lively jive! This jive was seamless and impressive as it was accompanied by the popular song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Teddy and Emily took the stage with a passionate contemporary routine. Teddy, even with only a hip hop background. Hitting the stage next, was Brooklyn and Casey with their high school prom inspired jazz routine. It was cute and full of energy! The standard for grace and elegance was set with Valerie and Ricky’s waltz. The choreography for this dance was set by season 3 winner Lacy Schwimmer. Carly and Serge’s hip hop routine was full of suspense and drama with their sharp movements and skeleton costumes. Finally finishing up the couple’s dances was Tanisha and Rudy with an impressive  Broadway routine that incorporated canes that were twirled and spun by the dancers.

A Great Big World performed their hit song “Say Something” and after the performance we said goodbye to dancers Stanley and Jourdan.

* by Frame Dance Social Media Intern, Rachel Kaminski

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 20 Eliminations

Uncategorized
Hey, Framers! After America watched the top 20 So You Think You Can Dance contestants perform last week, every fan has waited to see the fates of the dancers in this new episode.
 

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 20 Eliminations

 

This new episode began as the top 20 took the stage with a broadway style dance choreographed by Emmy Winner, Josh Bergasse.

 

 

Last night SYTYCD was joined by guest judge Misty Copeland, a Soloist in the American Ballet Theater.

Cat announced the six dancers who were in danger of elimination: Brooklyn Fullmer, Casey Askew, Jourdan Epstein, Nick Garcia, Malene Ostergaard, and Serge Onik. They must dance for their “life.”

Last week, the contestants danced routines of their own styles, this week they were forced to switch it up! Every dancer received a new partner, and given choreography that was not what they are used to.

Our first new couple is Tanisha and Rudy, dancing a dramatic contemporary piece. My favorite choreographer, Sonya Tayeh, is back and she choreographed a cat and mouse chase with angst and aggression. Tanisha and Rudy’s talent was an excellent way to kick off the couple routines. Next up was Ricky and Valerie with an emotional dance, that seemed to be lacking emotion. The judges also agreed that the dancers needed to put more emotion in the dance.

Join the Dance Party!

As we took a break from the couple dancing, we got to see a clip of a few So You Think You Can Dance dancers at home! This season, SYTYCD is teaming up with the video sharing app called ‘Vyclone’, to allow fans their time in the spotlight alongside their favorite contestants! Get more info here Join the Dance Party!

When we came back to the couples, we got to watch Houstonian Emilio and Bridget perform a fun and fierce hip hop routine. Nigel remarked that Emilio looked like a dancing hobbit. Next up, we’re joined by an old friend: season 2 champion Benji Schwimmer, choreographed a west coast swing for Jessica and Nick. Mary and Misty were impressed by the performance, Nigel commented that it, “didn’t feel real.” (Say that aloud with the British accent.  Just do it.)

Sonya Tayeh’s choreography was up again as it challenged dancers Carly and Serge with a story of unbreakable love, with a very fitting song, Latch by singer Sam Smith. Misty Copeland was literally wowed and Mary was brought to tears by the emotional performance. Transitioning from emotional to cute, Emily and Teddy were next with their hip hop routine. The choreography by Dave Smith was enjoyed by all three of the judges.

A dance not so loved by the judges, was Malene and Stanley’s. Their unique Broadway styled dance used phones as props, and Nigel remarked that both dancers “got the wrong number.” Jourdan and Marcquet were also given a difficult time by the judges, Misty said that Marcquet needed be less serious and change it up.

An Argentine tango sure seemed to lighten the mood, though! Brooklyn and Casey’s hard work in their tango was awarded by all the judges. One of my favorite’s of the night was an African dance choreographed by Sean Cheesman and performed by Zack and Jacque.

 

Next, the SYNCOPATED LADIES, who are part of the Dance Crew contest, took the stage to Beyoncé.

Finally, we found out which two dancers would be leaving the show. We had to say goodbye to ballroom dancer Malene and Nick.

*by social media intern, Rachel Kaminski

MFA Monday: What is a Notochord?

MFA Mondays

MFA right

 

 

 

Monday is no longer as blah with awesome insights into holding a Master of Fine Arts!

 

Here is another installment by MFA student, Angela Falcone. Enjoy!

 

 

What is a “notochord”?

imgres

A former Kilgore College Rangerette and friend of mine, Carla Rudiger, came to our somatics class at Texas Woman’s University to introduce us to Body Mind Centering.  This ninety-minute introductory workshop changed the way I think, feel, and know my body.  Carla’s first request (before meeting) was to read “The Place of Space” (Interview with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen on the Embryological Embodiment of Space) by Nancy Stark Smith and Andrea Olsen.  Below is my reflection on the process of the class.

My experience with the Body Mind Centering class revealed how much I do not know about my own body.  One of the most basic principles of Body Mind Centering is this idea of “support precedes movement.”  With that, the class was structured into four sections: reading about the embryonic process (Smith and Olsen article), visualizing the embryonic process (from sperm to egg) on a sheet of paper, watching Carla’s embodiment of skeletal structures of the spine on a Pilates ball, and, finally, trying the embodiment ourselves.  In the skeletal structure, she revealed three layers of the spine: the notochord, the intermediate plates, and the lateral plates.  The notochord is the innermost part of the spine.  In more anatomical terms, the notochord is “a flexible rod-like structure that forms the main support of the body, from which the spinal column develops” (The Free Dictionary by Farflax).  As Carla began rolling on the Pilates ball, she placed her attention and focus on her notochord through visualization.  During this somatic practice, her movement shifted ever so slightly.  When Carla began to involve the other spinal structures (the intermediate and lateral plates), I could also see Carla’s movement becoming fuller and richer.  I wanted so badly to embody this quality.

imgres-1

This vulnerable demonstration opened my eyes to the importance of my own support system.  Her embodiment of the movement began with her deepest form of support, her spine and even more specifically her notochord.  Unlike most of my fellow classmates, I, personally, became less familiar with my connection the deeper we brought our attention to the notochord. (Perhaps this unfamiliarity stems from my training and upbringing, which lacks somatic practice in general.)  What I find ironic is the notochord layer is the most basic, deepest level of your body, but I quickly discovered that I am unable to embody this layer at this point in my life.  As Carla began taking us through more exercises, I found a lessened connection to my body. Which, frankly, scared me.  I began to tear up in class as I questioned my own support system, which then made me question my movement patterns.  I finally asked myself…have I been “faking it” my whole life?  If we choose to bring our attention and focus to our innermost layer of being, I believe our dancing can reflect that intellectual and physical connection.

All things considered, I am completely intrigued by this Body Mind Centering approach and want to take it a step further.  My future ambition is to begin taking classes this summer at Dallas Yoga Center to develop my own practice so that I may inform other dancers about this approach to embodiment.  I truly believe educators can begin at the core of the body (literally) to develop a more somatic approach for young dancers as well.  Let’s all jump on the bandwagon and preach finding the notochord!

For more information about Body Mind Centering, check out the website at www.bodymindcentering.com.

————————-

 

Falcone1

Angela Falcone, a Houston native, graduated from Friendswood High School in 2007.  She was a member of the drill team, the Friendswood Wranglerettes, where she held the title of Grand Marshal.  After graduating, she followed her dream and tried out for the Kilgore College Rangerettes. She had the honor of being chosen as the Freshmen Sergeant and Swingster her freshman year, and received the greatest honor of being chosen as Captain her sophomore year. Following graduation from Kilgore College with an Associate in Fine Arts, she was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin, where she holds a B.F.A. in Dance.  Angela currently attends Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas where she is pursuing her M.F.A. in Dance.  She is specifically interested in shifting the paradigm of high school drill team by reinvigorating the choreographic process and bringing a somatic awareness to high school dancers’ bodies.

Tuesday Tunes: Michael Flatley!

Tuesday Tunes

Tuesday Tunes

 

 Today is the final day of our St. Patrick’s Day

celebration and what better way to end it than with…

 

 

The Lord of the Dance: Michael Flatley!

 

 

I will be a dancer until the day I die

 

Flatley is a native of the South Side of Chicago.  He is of Irish American background, being born to Irish parents. He began dancing lessons at 12 and, in 1975, became the first non-European resident to win the World Championship for Irish dance. He is a trained amateur pugilist as well as a proficient flautist, having twice won the All-Ireland Competition. In dance, Flatley was taught by Dennis Dennehy at the Dennehy School of Irish Dance in Chicago, then went on to produce his own show. After graduating from Brother Rice High School, on Chicago’s Southwest Side, he opened a dance school.

Flatley created and choreographed the original Riverdance and led the show to great success as the intermission act in the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30, 1994. Flatley then starred in the full-length show that was developed from the seven-minute number.

After the show’s first run in London, Flatley left Riverdance in late 1995 due to problems over creative control. He then produced, directed, and choreographed Lord of the Dance, which played mostly in arenas and stadiums instead of theaters. He also put together a dance production called Feet of Flames in 1998. He later went on to produce another version of that show with around 50% different numbers from the 1998 show. Titled Feet of Flames: The Victory Tour, he toured Europe in 2000 and the U.S. in 2001.

In December 2001, Flatley became the first recipient of the Irish Dancing Commission Fellowship award, an honorary degree in Irish dance, and was simultaneously made a Fellow of the American Irish Dance Teachers’ Association. Irish America magazine named Flatley Irish American of the Year in March 2003. In 2004, Flatley received an honorary doctorate degree from University College Dublin, and that same year received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New York.

Flately’s latest Irish dance show is Celtic Tiger, which opened in July 2005. The show explores the history of the Irish people and Irish emigration to the U.S., fusing a wide range of dance styles, including jazz. The show also includes popular elements from his previous shows, such as Flatley’s flute solos and the line of dancers in the finale.

In 2007, The Freedom of the City of Cork was conferred on Flatley at a ceremony in Cork’s City Hall. In 2008, he was conferred with the Freedom of the Borough of Sligo at a ceremony in Sligo City Hall. The Variety Club of Ireland presented Flatley with their Entertainer of the Decade Award in 2008.

In the fall of 2007, Flatley and a troupe of male dancers performed on Dancing with the Stars in the U.S. In 2008, he appeared as a guest judge on an episode of the show, filling in for Len Goodman. Also in 2008, he performed the solo “Capone” from Celtic Tiger on the show. Flatley was also the host of the 2009 NBC series Superstars of Dance.

Flatley returned to the stage in 2009 for a limited run of the “Hyde Park” version of Feet of Flames in Taiwan. His return was met with multiple standing ovations and the run of shows had to be extended to meet the demand for tickets.

In 2010, he returned to headline the Lord of the Dance show, with performances in arenas across England and Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Lord of the Dance 3D, the film of the return tour, debuted in theaters worldwide in 2011.

Also in 2010, Flatley launched The Garden of Music and Memory in Culfadda, County Sligo, the village his father left to seek a new life in America. The ceremony included a speech and an impromptu performance of one of his father’s favorite tunes.

In 2011, he was inducted into Irish America magazine’s Irish America Hall of Fame.

Flatley released a flute album titled On A Different Note in 2011. The 25 tracks include airs and tunes he has played in his shows, other traditional tunes, and new compositions.

 

 

Rivedance! Seven minutes that started in all at the 1994 EuroVision Song Contest

 

Feet of Flames Solo 1998 London

 

Dancing with the Stars 2008

 

Fun Facts About Mr. Michael Flatley 

 

Flatley was the first American to win the World Irish Dance Championships and he also won numerous All-Ireland Flute Championships.

From 1978 to 1979 he toured with Green Fields of America, and in the 1980s he toured with The Chieftains.

He received the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship in 1988.

In May 1989, Flatley set a Guinness Book world record for tapping speed at 28 taps per second.

Flatley was named one of National Geographic Society’s Living Treasures in 1991 for mastery of a traditional art form by a living person – the youngest person at that time ever to receive this accolade.

Flatley broke his own record for tapping speed in February 1998, by achieving 35 taps per second.

Flatley also received Guinness Book recognition in both 1999 and 2000 for being the highest paid dancer, earning $1,600,000 per week and for having the highest insurance policy placed on a dancer’s legs at $40,000,000.

MFA Monday

MFA Mondays

                   Happy Monday Framers! 

      Enjoy reflections by Angela Falcone! 

 

 

A Critical Assessment of “Drill Team” vs. “Concert Dance” Culture
 
5126_1178914556797_4656605_n
 
 

“Drill team” is its own culture in the dance world; it has its own set of expectations, language, behaviors, and customs.  A drill team is a group of trained dancers that perform precision in various dance genres during football halftime shows, local parades, and dance competitions. Over the years, I have noticed a regimented trend within drill team choreography.  After experiencing collegiate dance making processes and developing my own personal process, I believe the process of generating high school drill team choreography can be expanded and explored to parallel the ideals of concert dance making.

Typically, drill team choreographers have a limited amount of time with their dancers, while a wide range of choreographers in concert dance have residencies that last from a couple of days to a number of weeks.  Both processes also pose different outcomes.  The drill team choreographic process is final product based, whereas the concert dance world is more interested in the actual process. In attempts to introduce the drill team industry to the processes of concert dance, I believe there are various avenues to generate choreography.  Some examples of these avenues stem from Tere O’Connor’s “lines of research,” which is taken from a workshop with Headlong Dance Theater’s choreographers and Larry Lavender’s “IDEA model,” which comes from his book about “facilitating the choreographic process.”

As previously stated, Tere O’Connor’s “lines of research” would be an essential attribute to drill team dance making.  “Lines of research” is an investigation of particular obsessions that can be as simple as a hand gesture.  Exploring this single movement can then become a process in and of itself.  What is “interesting, evocative, [or] curious” about this particular movement and how many different ways can you explore this hand gesture through timing, direction, and manipulation? By investigating this single gesture, a person can be provoked to make an entire work about that one move (if they so desired).  This “lines of research” idea allows the movement to evolve and develop, rather than dictating what the movement should be.  In Tere O’Connor’s “blook” (his version of a book and blog), he mentions that he wants to “make work as a method for processing a constellation of ideas.”  In drill team, the final product is the goal, but by exploring O’Connor’s method, I would hope to see a shift in the mentality by allowing the process to be the rich, driving force of the work.

Another intervention of drill team that could be implemented is Larry Lavender’s “IDEA model.”  This model serves as a way to approach, generate, and manipulate choreography. “IDEA” is an acronym that stands for Improvisation, Development, Evaluation, and Assimilation.  While I believe drill team choreographers use some of these modes, I do think there can be more involvement with each of these four modes to enrich every aspect of drill team choreography.  In the chapter of Lavender’s book Contemporary Choreography: a critical reader, he mentions that all of these IDEA modes should be present in the creative operation of dance making. 

The one mode that is not present in drill team is improvisation.  The mode of “Improvisation” is essentially what it sounds like, experimenting and improvising with different movements with different bodies.  Reflecting on my background of drill team, improvisation is unheard of and somewhat frowned upon in this industry. My intention with this method would be to develop a movement dialogue with the choreographer and dancers, while also making and inventing different movement through a more artistic, personal, and vulnerable place.

As explained above, there are numerous possibilities that are feasible for the drill team industry.  My ambition is to one day shift the paradigm of drill team choreography by infusing the principles of Larry Lavender and Tere O’Connor into the world of drill team by diving deeper into the work and creating richer developments and opportunities of movement in order to lead up to a process-based final product, instead of simply a final product.

 

 

IMG_0739Falcone3Falcone2 (1)

Angela Falcone, a Houston native, graduated from Friendswood High School in 2007.  She was a member of the drill team, the Friendswood Wranglerettes, where she held the title of Grand Marshal. After graduating, she followed her dream and tried out for the Kilgore College Rangerettes. She had the honor of being chosen as the Freshmen Sergeant and Swingster her freshman year, and received the greatest honor of being chosen as Captain her sophomore year. Following graduation from Kilgore College with an Associate in Fine Arts, she was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin, where she holds a B.F.A. in Dance.  Angela currently attends Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas where she is pursuing her M.F.A. in Dance.  She is specifically interested in shifting the paradigm of high school drill team by reinvigorating the choreographic process and bringing a somatic awareness to high school dancers’ bodies.  

MFA Monday!

MFA Mondays

MFA right

       Happy Monday, Framers!

 

For those of your who might not know…The “MFA Monday” series features the musings of local Master of Fine Arts holders. Enjoy their thoughts on the process of attaining an MFA!

 

 

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

 

In my two previous blogs I talked about things that I missed in my graduate school experience, due to either the limitations of my program or of my own imagination. In writing about these experiences, it is my hope that others will have the opportunity to take advantage of these powerful resources that are within reach but may be easy to miss. However, I certainly don’t intend to diminish my graduate school experience; indeed, they were some of best years of my life, both personally and creatively. To that end, here are some of the top things I gained from graduate school:

 

Not everyone likes my work and that is OK. For an artist, rejection is the pits. It is a massive blow to the ego the first time someone says something negative about one’s work. “How can they not like something that I poured my heart and soul into? I shall now crawl into a small hole and weep!” In graduate school, along with plenty of positive feedback from faculty and peers, I got a lot of honest constructive feedback about things that weren’t working. No one wants to hear that their work isn’t beloved by people they respect, but it helps you grow. I made a lot of good work in graduate school and I also made some real crap. Thanks in part to the criticism I received, I can now better distinguish between the two. Learning to take and give constructive feedback is essential to a choreographer. You do not have to take all suggestions that are given to you, but you should always listen. It is hard to be objective about your own work; it is your baby and your baby is beautiful, right? Be open to an outsider who may see something you are missing.

Don’t apologize for your work. Your work should express who you are. Will you be that same person in 5 years? Probably not, but that is not the point. Don’t change your work to suit someone else’s opinions. Everyone is my graduate program was very diverse and our aesthetics were wildly different. We had choreographers who believed in pure technical movement, work with a strong socio- political outlook, work that was fun and light, and everything in-between. It was easy to compare my work to my fellow classmates’ and feel like I didn’t stack up. My work has always run more towards the abstract side of things, and at times, I felt like my work lacked substance compared to that of my classmates. It needed to say more and be more. I needed to be an ARTIST!, not an artist. Eventually, I learned to embrace my own personal style and creative process. I learned to express my own voice and appreciate my own artistic sensibilities.

Surround yourself with a good support system. I would not have made it through graduate school without my fellow classmates. Graduate school is completely overwhelming at times. It can feel like a giant hamster wheel of rehearsals, papers, costume purchases, and job responsibilities. I was very lucky to find some terrific friends that became family to me. Lean on each other and you will make it to graduation day together.

If you love what you do, don’t give up! When I see acquaintances or classmates, they always ask if I am still dancing. Everyone seems pleasantly surprised that I am still “keeping the dream alive.” Here’s the bottom line: I have hated every non-dance job I have held. I hate sitting behind a desk; it makes me physically itchy. My body wants to move! I have never wanted to do anything else, so I keep plugging away. It has been a lean and hard life at times, but I never seriously consider giving it up. Being an artist requires resourcefulness, perseverance, and a willingness to sacrifice. You probably won’t be able to afford expensive gadgets, vacations, or a new car. You may have to take side jobs and hustle every skill you have into something that makes you employable. It is not the right life choice for everyone, but it has always been the right one for me. In graduate school, it is easier to maintain your focus, but in the real world the lack of money becomes a little more real. Remember why you love dancing and what you worked for in graduate school. Use that support system of fellow grad students. You will all be in a similar boat and can throw each other a life preserver when one of you falls overboard.

Go to school because you love dance and want to learn more. Graduate school is expensive and time consuming. Graduate school doesn’t guarantee you a job. Graduate school is extremely stressful and frustrating as hell at times. If you are lucky enough to get a TA (teaching assistant or any job on campus), your salary will be low and your work load will be significant. However, I have never regretted my choice to attend graduate school. I went to graduate school because I love choreographing and I was able to fully immerse myself in the art of creating dance for three wonderful and challenging years. If you choose to pursue an MFA, do it for the experience and you will be rewarded.

Don’t be afraid to start over. You can start a dance with a great idea, but sometimes it just doesn’t take shape. You can craft it and change phrases around, but it just doesn’t feel right. In graduate school, you learn to roll with the punches and start pieces a million times until they finally take shape. As an adult, change can be terrifying and pretty sucky, but it is sometimes necessary. This past fall, I moved to Texas to take my current job at Rice University. I loved my life in North Carolina, but professionally, I was stagnant. I knew it had to change. I decided to approach this move like the new section of a long work. I use those skills to start building a new work and a new beginning. I am excited to see how the next phrase develops.

 

———————————-

heatherHeather Nabors is the Assistant Director of Dance Programs at Rice University. Heather relocated to Houston this summer from North Carolina. Heather has been a teacher and freelance choreographer in NC since 2005. She served as an adjunct faculty member at Catawba College, Greensboro College, Elon University, and UNCG. In 2012, Heather founded ArtsMash, a collaborative arts concert in NC. Her work has been presented at ArtsMash, The Saturday Series, UNCG Dance Department Alumni Concert, Greensboro Fringe Festival and the American Dance Festival’s Acts to Follow. She has choreographed over 14 musicals in NC for community theaters and local high schools including RentOklahoma! ,The King & I, Legally Blonde, Little Shop of Horrors, and Children of Eden. Heather received her MFA in Choreography from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.