Dance in Quarantine: Responses and Resources

Dance in Quarantine: Responses and Resources

Education Frame | Work Links We Like News & Updates

I don’t need to tell you that we as a society have gone through massive and abrupt changes in recent months. I would like to take this opportunity to notice and celebrate the ways that dancers and choreographers – always nimble, always flexible – have created, discovered, expanded, adapted, worked and reworked formats for creating and sharing dance in this time of uncertainty. In the role of artist, dancers and choreographers both lead and reflect our responses to events and our shifting perspectives. The art of dance has held an important place in quarantine culture since it began, becoming uniquely popular as we stay home to stay safe. 

 

By the end of March, publications like the LA Times and Vanity Fair were reporting on online dance classes and dance parties, while industry journals like Dance Enthusiast had designated space for social distance dance content. Dance companies responded with choreography and editing that allowed dancers to dance alone together. On March 29, the Martha Graham Dance Company posted “Sharing the Light,” excerpts from Graham’s dance Acts of Light performed by company members in domestic and outdoor spaces. In format, “Sharing the Light” is reminiscent of the gorgeous dance films of Mitchell Rose, specifically 2016’s “Exquisite Corps” and 2019’s “And So Say All of Us,” where dancer-choreographers are connected by movement, music, and editing while dancing worlds apart. It is an adaptable format. For example, it is used adorably and with feeling by YouTubers Dylan Arredando in a series of Quarantine Movement Chain Letters, and Prischepov TV to present the Quarantango.

 

Dance educators were quick to adapt to virtual dance. Within days of cities declaring lockdown, studios big and small moved their classes online, and we all found the most Zoom-able corner of our house and turned it into a dance studio. Suddenly, anyone with an internet connection could study dance with the schools of Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Gibney Dance, and the aforementioned Martha Graham. Smaller local and regional studios without the resources of these legends have not had to navigate digital dance instruction alone. The wonderful people at the National Dance Education Organization began sharing resources for on-line dance education on March 24 and, as of today, have produced and shared fifteen free webinars on the subject. Luna Dance Institute in Berkeley, CA, hosts weekly practitioner exchanges that gather dance leadership from around the country to discuss concerns and solutions in virtual dance education. 

 

Our dance community has not missed a step (pun intended!) in it’s goal to provide quality dance training, and has even found exciting new possibilities in the online format. Student dancers are having a crash course in dance-for-camera as they consider framing, space, and editing as part of their “digital studio” skills. Pre-recorded classes give dancers a chance to look carefully, to slow down the movement, and to revisit it at will. Holding classes in the home allows the entire family to participate in dance education, and interacting with studios via social media provides a different, sometimes broader, sometimes deeper relationship between a dancer’s family and their instructors. The domestic/public spheres are being broken down and renegotiated, as are so many parts of the larger culture, offering new possibilities as old practices are eliminated or put on hold. We are learning together, and together we are remaking our world. That’s not hyperbole. That’s bodies, in motion, making choices.

Please share online dance resources – instructional and/or just fun to watch – in the comments. Show us part of your world!

Experienced or Exploring, We Support You!

Experienced or Exploring, We Support You!

Education Frame | Work News & Updates

Week-long summer camps are the perfect chance for kids to do two things: spend focused time on something they already like, or try on something new, something shiny that catches their curiosity but that they might not know much about. One week of focused exploration gives your child a greater understanding of and hands-on experience in a subject. That knowledge might make them hungry for more, or it might satisfy their desire for that particular dish; in either case they come away knowing a little more about their world and about their own appetites, which is great information to have!

 

Day camps in Houston are also an opportunity to learn more about local organizations that are eager to engage your family throughout the year. Museums, theaters, studios, and other institutions offer behind-the-scenes experiences with professionals in their field. These relationships and experiences are enriching and inspiring for kids, and make meaningful connections that enhance school-year studies and can be continued throughout the year.

 

Frame Dance appreciates the chance that summer camps provide to deepen our relationship with current and former dancers, and to meet new dancers (bring your friends!) as we share our inclusive, smart, and supportive approach to dance. We have just one camp available for each age group, so sign up quick

 

July 6-10 Ashley Horn and Lydia Hance teach our Wiggle Worms: A Bug’s Life camp. Creative movement, music, and mural-making for age 3 to 5 years. 

 

July 13-17 Ashley, Lydia, and educator Kerri Neimeyer (that’s me!) present Leaping Lizards camp for ages 6 to 8 years. Our theme is Sheroes and Heroes, and includes modern dance, ballet, music creation, costume design and visual arts practices.

 

July 20-24 Ashley, Lydia, Kerri, and Alli Villines present Formers and Framers for 9 to 13 year-olds, featuring training in dance, choreography, costume design and poetry/songwriting. We are making makers!

 

Whether your child is looking to dabble in dance or go deeper, we welcome and support them in their dance experiences and explorations.

 

Do you have any favorite summer camp memories? Recommendations? Surprising or niche summer camps in the area? Share them here with #FramerNation. 

Making Dance Makers

Making Dance Makers

Education Frame | Work

Good Dance Makes Good People: Frame Dance Production’s Youth Ensemble

Mini Framers (ages 3.5-5), Little Framers (ages 5-7), and Junior Framers (ages 8-13) comprise the Frame Dance Youth Ensemble, a training and performing group for developing dance makers. 

Dance makers are artists who learn to communicate through dance. They learn to use dance as a way to understand themselves and the world around them. They learn to use that understanding to develop an idea, and they learn to use movement, space, lighting, costume, and music to present that idea to an audience. They learn to communicate through dance, and to do so with integrity and intention.

Dance makers learn skills in the studio that profoundly improve other areas of their lives. Youth Ensemble dancers develop body knowledge, both in the sense of knowing what their body can do and in their understanding of themselves and their world through the immediacy of physical action and reaction. Dancers develop an innate sense of physics through movement. Dance making builds students’ planning and decision-making skills in deep, considered ways as they create and learn choreography, and on the fly as they learn to dance improvisationally. For all ages (but with implications that change over time), physical communication helps dancers understand body boundaries. The communication skills of negotiation, connection, and articulation of ideas are routinely practiced in ensemble dance and move smoothly from the studio setting to any arena where your child works as part of a team. For all of these reasons and more, good dance makes good people, and both are found in abundance in the Frame Dance Youth Ensemble.  

Registration is (still) open! Mini Framers starts Wednesday, September 4 at 3:30 PM. Little Framers starts Thursday, September 5 at 4:15. Junior Framers have options that begin tomorrow, Tuesday, September 3 at 4:15. All classes meet at our studios on Shepherd at Westheimer. Please use the links above to register and for more class details.

See you amazing students in the studio!

 

Relaunch of Frame|Work [Blog]

Relaunch of Frame|Work [Blog]

News & Updates

Hello, and welcome to Frame|Work, the revamped blog representing Frame Dance Productions. I am Kerri Lyons Neimeyer, and I sit on the board and dance in the Multi-Generational Ensemble. I am also involved in the new blog formatting. We intend this blog to be a connection and a frame (get it?!) of reference for content on modern dance, dance education, arts events in Houston, and other topics that uplift us here at Frame Dance.

Let me tell you why I am involved with this dance company, and give you an idea of the work we wish to share with our community.

In 2006 Kurt Vonnegut declined a request to speak at a New York high school by sending a letter of thanks that included the message he would have delivered in person. “To wit,” writes Vonnegut, “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or how badly, not to get money or fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

Executive and Artistic Director of Frame Dance Productions Lydia Hance is of the Vonnegut school of arts practice. In her interview for the initial post of Frame|Work, Lydia says:

I want to help people get their heart back in their bodies, and use that to move, and to find out more about themselves, about who they were made to be, about understanding each other, with the understanding and the belief that they don’t need to change who they are to be better dancers. I mean, technically we want to grow and everything, but dance is this gift, and I want everyone to experience it. I think that in a lot of ways dance has become for a select few, and that makes me really sad because we find out so much about who we are and the world that we live in through moving and through dancing. This is how we are on earth; we are in a body. The capacity for the body to move, and do incredible things, small or big, changes how we think, changes how we see each other, and it changes how we feel about ourselves (emphasis added).

Lydia is more generous than Kurt Vonnegut. I am not. I practice arts because I discovered that these practices enrich and satisfy me; they make my soul grow. And, for the most part, I practice arts as an amateur, which is to say that I do it for love of the practice or field, not for mastery of the practice or field. Lydia, on the other hand, is a degree-holding, working dance artist who is respected, celebrated, and promoted by her peers. She created a professional company to realize her vision of artistic production, and then, seeing a need, she developed curricula for dance education with the same open yet specific spirit as her performance practice. Do you see in the quotes above how Lydia took the idea of practising art for self-discovery, for soul-growing, and expanded it to include community, the connection and interaction of souls, and the kind of understanding about oneself and one’s world that can only come from practices that are communal? Dance is a gift, and it can grow souls, and it can grow communities. This is what Frame Dance Productions offers its dancers, professional and amateur. This is what I get out of being a Framer. I hope you will join us; in classes, in audiences, and in our social media communications, which includes this re-imagined blog. Talk to us, here and anywhere. Be part of the community, part of the communication. Build this Frame|Work with us.

Looking ahead, Frame|Work will feature more interviews with Framers from the professional company, dance classes, youth and multi-generational ensembles, as well as behind-the-scenes folks and what I like to call Frame-adjacent creatives and professionals. There will be articles about the arts working in people, in education, and in the community. It will also offer a curated look at Houston-specific happenings, and some of our favorite places on the World Wide Web. Let us know what you like. Let us know what you need. We look forward to working with you.