Lydia’s News from Quarantine

Lydia’s News from Quarantine

Frame | Work News & Updates

Hi Friends,

It feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve written to you. My world has turned upside down with the birth of my sweet daughter, Willa. She is truly something to get delightfully lost in during the emotional rollercoaster that is COVID and quarantine. I am not exhausted by my newborn. Oh, no. I am exhausted from feeling scared, peaceful, alone, claustrophobic, irritated, anxious, and frankly, thankful for my family’s protected time together. As one who already feels my feels big and intense, this time has amplified them even more. And I know I am not alone in that. You are exhausted. You are scared, alone, claustrophobic, irritated, anxious and maybe thankful, too. This experience has been one of extreme training for my thought-life, not allowing my thoughts to run away. I’ve been trying as hard as I can to literally count my blessings as a means to control my emotions and maintain perspective.

Another reason you haven’t heard from me as much as usual is because with businesses and people turning to social media platforms, there has been an abundance of content to digest. That’s great! There was no reason to compete. However, I did want to share a few ways to connect with me and Frame Dance moving forward. I’ll start with the first event:

Saturday, April 18

National Water Dance Performances

Tune into our social media channels (@framedance on IG) at 3pm CST to watch Framers dance together with people across the world in community and solidarity for caring for our planet, our home, our natural resources.

Ongoing

Online dance classes

For the children and for the families, we offer both live zoom classes and prerecorded creative movement and ballet classes. Our master teachers are continuing their semesters online. Even if you live too far to usually attend, you can join us virtually. I’ve been so pleased with how the classes have transitioned from classroom/studio to the computer. It truly is a time of connection and joy to inject into your quarantine.

Starting now, or when you’re ready

Coming This Summer

Book club with Lydia.

This summer I am reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life. If you consider yourself a creative person, or would like to be more creative, or are craving accountability and structure in your creative practice, I invite you to join me! We will meet online to discuss the book a little at a time this summer. If you’d like to get a jump start on the reading like me, go ahead and order it now and we will begin meeting in June for discussions. Email Bobbie.Hackett@framedance.org to let us know you’re reading with us.

Rescheduled

Soirée

Good question, glad you brought it up. Our smashing, dazzling, super fun annual bash is being rescheduled. We are celebrating 10 years! But we want to do it safe, and right, so stay tuned for a new date.

Virtual hugs, and stretches, and dances, and sweet thoughts to you.

 

Lydia

Performance Anxiety with Matthew Cumbie

Performance Anxiety with Matthew Cumbie

Frame | Work Interviews

Introducing Performance Anxiety, stories from the artistic trenches

Framers, we support you as dancers, as performers, as creators, and as risk-takers.  Toward that end, we asked some of our favorite creatives to share their risk-taking and anxiety-producing experiences, to give us a peek at their process through whatever they personally have to push through or float through or let wash over them to achieve their goals of art-making and art-sharing. We hope you find encouragement and recognition in their words.

First to share is Matthew Cumbie, a collaborative dance artist living and working in Washington, DC, originally from Houston, and an experienced multigenerational dance leader from his time in Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange. We are incredibly excited to welcome Matthew “home” this weekend as guest teacher at our MultiGen class on Saturday morning.  We are so excited to share Matthew’s considerable talents, in fact, that we are opening Saturday’s class to the public. Please contact Bobbie.Hackett@framedance.org to register.

Here is Matthew’s story.

About Performance Anxiety

I like to think that, by nature, I fall more on the introverted side of a spectrum. Which I find interesting, considering that my creative practice is rooted in working with people of all ages and backgrounds, and across ideas and disciplines. It takes a lot of energy and focus to step in front of a room and facilitate a process that will foster enough curiosity, generosity, and imagination to move the room, no matter the size; to perform- if you will- in such a way that will bring me and these ideas and people closer towards collaboration. 

 

This past fall, I was on residency in South Carolina, making a new work with the Moving Body Dance Company and teaching at the University of South Carolina. Before stepping into my first workshop, I sat down in an empty studio to breathe and collect my thoughts and energy. I was about to feel a rush I only find from collaboration, and the thrill of discovering things together. And I knew I needed this moment. It didn’t strike me until then, though, that this was my pre-performance practice. I sometimes imagine that the moment before stepping on stage, or starting a workshop, or leading a meeting- that this is what it must feel like to be launched out of a cannon or blasted into space. It’s exhilarating, terrifying, and kinetic. I have come to know that, wherever I am and whatever I am about to do, I need a moment to turn into myself before I share myself with others.

 

When I was asked to write something on performance anxiety, I immediately began to wonder what I would write about. The more I think about it now, the more I think that we can find examples of this in all parts of our life. Because isn’t this anxiety ultimately about sharing what we have with others, and doing the best we can with that? I’m reminded of one my favorite sayings by Liz Lerman: “The world is fragmented. I am not.” 

About Matthew

Matthew Cumbie (he/him/his) is a collaborative dancemaker and artist educator living in Washington, DC. His artistic research cultivates processes and experiences that are participatory and intergenerational, moving through known and unknown, and bring a poetic lens to a specifically queer experience. His choreography- considered “a blend of risk-taking with reliability, [and] a combination of uncertainty and wisdom,” by Kate Mattingly- weaves together a physical vocabulary of momentum and clarity, revelatory moments, and a belief in a body’s capacity to document and reflect back our lived experiences. 

 

He has danced in the companies of Christian von Howard, Keith Thompson|danceTactics Performance Group, jill sigman|thinkdance, Paloma McGregor|Angela’s Pulse, and Dance Exchange- an intergenerational dance organization founded by Liz Lerman- where he eventually became an Associate Artistic Director and the Director of Programs and Communications. Currently, he creates work with Annie Kloppenberg, Betsy Miller, and Tom Truss, and collaborates with a team of multidisciplinary artists through Matthew Cumbie Projects; Matthew also dances for Christopher K. Morgan & Artists. His work has been commissioned and supported by places like Dance Place, the Kennedy Center, and Harvard University, and by the National Endowment for the Arts, the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities, the Arcus Foundation, and the Somerville Arts Council. Originally from Houston, Texas, Matthew holds undergraduate degrees from Texas Lutheran University and Texas State University and an MFA in dance from Texas Woman’s University.

Photo Credits, top to bottom: Photo by Jesse Scroggins, featuring Darryl Pilate and Matthew in Growing Our Own Gardens: Reminiscin’ on Roots. Photo by Sarah Christine Nastoupil, featuring Matthew leading a workshop at the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival. Photo by Ben Carver, featuring Matthew and Thomas Dwyer in Dance Exchange’s “New Hampshire Ave: This Is a Place To…”

Let’s Talk About Women and Social Anxiety

Let’s Talk About Women and Social Anxiety

Frame | Work News & Updates

Considering Oh, I have to wash my hair In Terms of Cursorily Googled Research.

Yes, I am woman. Yes, I have (too much) experience with social anxiety. Yes, I am performing in Oh, I have to wash my hair this week. And yes, I did Google “women and social anxiety” to find authoritative sources for this blog post. Let’s talk about it. There is a place for comments, y’all. Use it.

 

First, let’s hear from a woman who has researched and experienced social anxiety. I found this personal and professional narrative on the website The Cut in an interview by Cari Romm with writer Andrea Petersen, science and health reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Peterson published the book On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety and in it she writes that “there is no greater risk factor for anxiety disorders than being born female.” Petersen continues,”women are about twice as likely as men to develop [an anxiety disorder], and women’s illnesses generally last longer, have more severe symptoms, and are more disabling.” 

 

Lydia Hance, choreographer and Frame Dance Founder and Artistic Director, has identified a very real phenomenon. She has also identified one of the insidious patterns of social anxiety, one that hides in the veil of “nature” and gender. It is the idea that girls and women need to prioritize the feelings and opinions of others, and the idea that girls and women are under threat and need be fearful and suspicious to ensure their survival. In On Edge, Peterson discusses research on parenting that shows both mothers and fathers, with their language and their behavior, discourage daughters from physically risky play while encouraging sons to take risks, projecting their assurance that boys are capable of either accomplishing the difficult task or of accepting the hurt they might suffer. 

 

“So, while this kind of parenting might protect girls physically, the research suggests that it also contributes to this feeling of vulnerability, that the world is a dangerous place. Because the message that it sends to girls – encouraging them to be very cautious and always highlighting safety and danger – is that the world is a dangerous place and that they can’t cope on their own. And that feeling of vulnerability of course is a core belief of anxiety as well.”

 

In the program Oh, I have to wash my hair, look for the generational, parental encouragement – or insistence – for girls to accept social discomfort and fear. Do you see messages that female safety depends on external approval, which depends on their presentation, which is expected to be inoffensive, congenial, pleasant, acquiescent? Where are these messages in the show? Do you find them in your life? How dated or contemporary are these ideas? How are they encouraged or challenged in society?

 

Peterson talks about a sense of vulnerability that is primarily physical when it comes to parents and young children, but she points to the idea that this fear becomes generalized, and in social anxiety the belief that one is threatened with damage or destruction is no less real than the risk of falling off the monkey bars. But it is endlessly more ambiguous and subtle.

 

Stephan G Hoffman is director of the Social Anxiety Program at Boston University and he says, in an interview with Olga Khazan on theatlantic.com, that “people are social animals, and we have a strong desire to be part of a group and to be accepted by the group. Social anxiety is a result of the fear of a possibility that we will not be accepted by our peers. It’s the fear of negative evaluation by others, and that is [part of] a very fundamental, biological need to be liked.”  Angela Chen of the website theverge.com interviewed clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen and about her work with social anxiety and about her book How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. Hendriksen, echoing Hoffman, says the “social anxiety is a perception that there is something embarrassing and deficient about us, and, unless we work hard to conceal or hide it, it will be revealed and we will be judged or rejected for it.”

 

What does this fear of “negative evaluation,” judgement, and rejection feel like for you? Are there certain kinds of environments or people where these feelings are stronger? How do you address these fears when you see or hear about them in other people, perhaps in your child? Can you identify these fears in any part of Oh, I have to wash my hair, perhaps in the music, a dance score or scene, or an individual gesture or action? 

 

Both Hendriksen and Hoffman describe socially anxious people as employing certain habits before, during, and after stressful situations. Says Hoffman, 

 

Initially, they will dread the event, going there, they will worry excessively about the upcoming social event. They will be predicting that the worst thing will come true. And they will be extremely worried for a long period of time. Once you bring them into the situation, when they have to face whatever social challenge there is, they will then often report that they have no control over their anxiety. They believe that a mishap would have disastrous, long-lasting, irreversible consequences. They will report that they are not in control of their body, of their anxiety response, that others will see how anxious they are, and then they will try to avoid, to get out of the situation and escape. Sometimes they try to use strategies that are more subtle, such as holding tight on a glass while they talk to someone so people don’t see them shake and tremble. They will maybe stare at the ground to avoid eye contact. After the event, they will often engage in post-event rumination. Even in ambiguous situations that weren’t that bad, they will interpret them in a negative way, and identify weaknesses that they showed. This establishes a vicious cycle, and the next time they have to go into a similar situation, they will expect things to be even worse.”

 

And Hendriksen:

 

“The vast majority of social anxiety is anticipatory. People who are socially anxious engage in ‘safety behaviors,’ which are simply behaviors that trying to help you tamp down anxiety in the moment. For example, if you’re at a party and feel anxious, you hover on the edge of the room or you scroll on your phone or you might rehearse what you plan to say beforehand to make sure it doesn’t sound stupid. These behaviors take up a lot of bandwidth. If you’re thinking about how you come across, and there is very little room left over to just be our authentic, friendly self.”

 

Did you notice anticipatory anxiety in the dances? Specific behaviors dancers used to convey their stress? Can you identify “safety behaviors” of your own, or that you’ve noticed in others? How about the bandwidth of calamitous thinking? Doesn’t the idea of all this wasted energy and unnecessary suffering just knock you over like a wave?

 

Ugh. Thanks, I guess, Lydia, for asking us to look at this morass.  

 

I will, though, leave you with a few notes of encouragement. First, notice the subtitle of Ellen Hendriksen’s book: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. This sounds like a call to be gentle with ourselves (although I’ve barely touched here on perfectionism and all of the ways it lives in the feminine psyche and feeds social anxiety, it is all over Oh, I have to wash my hair). Hendriksen isn’t saying that we must Silence our Inner Critic and Destroy Social Anxiety, but that there is the possibility of shushing the voice of fear and taking a distanced, more objective posture toward the experience of social anxiety. Hendriksen advises that we continue to engage with anxiety-producing social situation, because if we give up then we give in to “the two most fundamental lies about social anxiety:” first, the idea that the “worst-case scenario is a foregone conclusion.” If you don’t go to the Met Gala because you know that you’ll fall on the stairs and no one will ever respect you again, then you can never go to the Met Gala and not fall on the stairs. “And the second is that ‘I can’t deal.’ When we avoid experiences, we don’t get the evidence to disprove those two lies of social anxiety. We don’t see our own capabilities.” If you don’t go to the Met Gala because you know that you’ll fall on the stairs and no one will ever respect you again, then you can never go to the Met Gala and not fall on the stairs, or, go to the Met Gala, fall on the stairs, and find that people still respect you, and are in fact concerned for your well-being. 

 

Hendriksen even finds a positive perspective on being a woman with social anxiety. “The one thing I always like to add is that social anxiety is a package deal, and it often comes bundled with strengths like high standards and empathy and being helpful and altruistic. People who have social anxiety are often good listeners and conscientious and they work hard to get along with fellow humans. And those are all really amazing strengths that won’t go away even as people work on their social anxiety.” (I might have to buy this book. Women With Social Anxiety Book Club, anyone?) 

 

If you have social anxiety, you are not alone. If you are a woman with social anxiety, you are surely not alone and you may notice that these identities are connected by myriad strands. You may also notice that you can make compelling, brilliant art out of these identities and ensuing experiences. You may also notice that Lydia Hance’s art about those identities also gives us subtle encouragements and embedded choices. As I see the show, she suggests that engaging with anxiety-producing presentations and situations is a choice, so we can either accept or reject the opportunities and messages we are given. I also see that we can become bristly and defensive in our engagements, or we can become soft and find a power in that vulnerability. Mostly, I see that we as women are in this together, and that, again, there is a kind of vulnerability that is actually empowering, and that we as women can give each other the gift of empowered vulnerability in our social interactions. 

 

What did you see?

Getting to Know Dance on Film: Recommendations for #FramerNation

Getting to Know Dance on Film: Recommendations for #FramerNation

Frame | Work Links We Like

Houston is a dance town; readers of Frame Work know that. But do you know about the massive territory being explored at the intersection of dance and film? And are you aware that now, with the opening of the second annual Frame x Frame Film Fest on October 4-6, Houston is becoming a locus for the particular art of dance on film (also known as dance for film, dance film, and dance for camera)? #FramerNation, this is a new and exciting way to be involved with dance, and we encourage you to jump in as artists and audiences. To provide a head start on your education in this field, and/or to satisfy your deeper dive after viewing the films on offer, we have assembled recommendations from our FxFFF jurors and dance on film luminaries, Rosie Trump, Laura Gutierrez, and Lydia Hance. 

 

Frame Work: Film-making and film-viewing friends, can you tell me some of the dance films – outside of the ones in our festival – that you find really exciting?

 

Rosie Trump: My favorite feature length dance on film is Blush by Wim Vandekeybus.  I saw it screen at Dance Camera West in 2006 and it blew my mind.  I also love Rosas danst Rosas choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and directed by Thierry de Mey.

 

Laura Gutierrez: Dance Documentaries really excite me. Most recent ones are Restless Creature by Wendy Whelan, and Bobbi Jene and a non documentary is Girl (2018) by Lukas Dhont

 

Lydia Hance: Right now I am really excited about ANIMA, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and can be found on Netflix! I’ve always loved Pina. Feelings are Facts is a fantastic documentary about Yvonne Rainer, co-founder of the Judson Dance Theater who is a dancer and choreographer turned filmmaker.

 

FW: Can you recommend any books about dance or dance on film to help our readers explore the genre?

 

RT: I read a lot of books about dance history. Brenda Dixon Gottschild and Susan Foster are two dance theorists that completely changed how I think about dance. Misty Copeland’s biography is on the top of my reading list.

 

LG: Deborah Hay, My Body, The Buddhist is my favorite book about dance.

 

LH: I love books about community creativity and finding ways to engage people with dance in authentic and meaningful ways that validate all humans as artists. I love Liz Lerman’s book Hiking the Horizontal. Right now I’m reading Anna Halprin’s book Making Dances that Matter with the MultiGen Framers.

 

FW: Any other recommendations? Inspirations?

 

RT: The OA and Russian Doll.  These are not films, but the best small screen cinema I have seen in a while. I am currently reading Lucia Berlin‘s Evening in Paradise.  My last dance film was inspired by an essay in Kim Gordon’s Is it My Body? Selected Texts.

 

LG: seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees, a book by Robert Irwin.

 

LH: I’ve recently (finally) seen Junebug directed by Phil Morrison and i thought it was fantastic. I would recommend The Goldfinch (not a short read) for something fun and captivating, and I have been a fan of Virginia Woolf for many years. 

 

FW: Thank you, dance-on-film gurus, and we’ll see you in the theater!

 

Rosie Trump is a dance choreographer, filmmaker, and educator.  Her work is nostalgic in style, feminist, and deliberately understated.  Trump’s dance films have recently screened at ADFs Movies for Movers, San Souci Dance Film Festival, Extremely Short Shorts at the Aurora Picture Show, the Utah Dance Film Festival, the Philadelphia Dance Film Festival, RADfest, andDance Film Association’s Long Legs Short Films.  She is the founder and chief curator of the Third Coast Dance Film Festival. Trump is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Nevada, Reno. Rosie finds inspiration in pop culture, politics, and visual art.

Laura Gutierrez is a performing artist and choreographer and has been named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch”. Her most recent work “Center Aisle Blues” was named Best Placemaking of 2018 by Dance Magazine. She is a graduate of UNCSA and was on adjunct faculty at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts from 2011-2019 where she is also an Alum. Since 2014, she has toured with Jonah Bokaer Choreography. Laura’s inspiration comes from her family, politics, history, nature, traveling, architecture and art. 


Lydia Hance is the Founder Artistic Director of Frame Dance. She has been named an Emerging Leader by Dance/USA and has led Frame Dance in performances from the Galveston pier onto the METRO light rail, in the backs of U Haul trucks, downtown tunnels, and into museums, stages, and warehouses for the past ten years. A champion of new music composers, her work deepens interdisciplinary and multigenerational collaborations, and investigates the placement of dance in our lives. She is a choreographer, curator, filmmaker, educator, and dance writer. Her. She holds degrees in Dance Performance and English Literature from SMU and trained at the Taylor School, Graham School, Tisch School of the Arts, Limon Institute and SMU. Lydia is inspired by people’s stories, vulnerability, textures, the dessert, behavioral science, and new music.

 

I love you

I love you

Frame | Work Houston Hot Spots Links We Like

You’re my breathing castle

Gentle so gentle

We’ll live forever

Happy Mid-February, Framers! And happy love-celebration from myself and Richard Brautigan, whose poetry I’ve used to put you all in an endorphin-flooded brain state.* The images are mine, and they are potent reminders of the sweetness in my life (but, yes, I will have an overpriced truffle. Thank you so much). I invite you all to look for examples of couples of all kinds with strong connections – breathing, gentle, eternal, castle-building connections. It is a special kind of satisfying, and a reminder of the power of couples, duets, dyads. To slightly misquote an episode of Northern Exposure, one person can have a profound effect, but two people can change the world.

Find a second person. Do something together. Change the world.

Here are some suggestions for doing stuff in twos, threes, two twos, three twos and a one, you get it:

Tuesday February 12, 6:00 PM

Brazos Bookstore

Bullet Journal Workshop and Notebook Exchange

Tuesday February 12, 7:00-10:00 PM

Cafe Brasil – 2604 Dunlavy

Frida + Flowers: Galentines Craft and Movie Party

Wednesday February 13, 7:30-9:30 PM

Cafe Brasil – 2604 Dunlavy

BAD LOVE: A Dark Valentine’s Eve Reading and Open Mic

Hosted by Fuente Collective

Thursday February 14, 6:30-7:30 PM

Transitory Sound and Movement Collective presents

Abstraction in the Key of Yellow

Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston – 5216 Montrose

With choreography by Jen Mabus, TSMC member and Frame Dance Educator, this show features improvised music and choreography in the setting of feminist artist Cheryl Donegan’s printed and painted works currently on display the CAMH

Thursday February 14, 7:00-11:00 PM

Axelrad Beergarden – 1517 Alabama

Makeup to Breakup – Axelrad Valentine’s Party

First 50 single souls get Free Bubbly! (Hot Tip: my husband and I hooked up began our courtship at an Ain’t-Got-No-Valentine Valentine’s Day Party. You should go.)

Saturday February 16, 8:00 PM

Kaplan Theater, Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Houston – 5601 S Braeswood

Houston Choreographers X6 with Special Guest Uptown Dance Company

Featuring choreography by Frame Dance Educator Jen Mabus

Sunday February 17, 9:15-10:30 AM

Flatland Gallery – 1709 Westheimer

Yoga & Mimosas

First the yoga. Then the mimosas. You’ve earned it.

Friday February 22, 7:30 PM

Aurora Picture Show – 2422 Bartlett

Screening of Lynn Sach’s Film Tip of My Tongue

Filmmaker in attendance. Part of the Powerful Vulnerable Series.

Saturday, February 23, 7-10 PM

Cafe Brasil – 2604 Dunlavy

VIP Slam and Workshop

*This quote, while loverly, is from “Once Upon a Valley,” which is not a very romantic poem. For something with legit passion, try “Gee, You’re So Beautiful That It’s Starting to Rain.”