CSULB Modern IV/V – Week 12: Reflections on this weekend’s concert ‘In Collaboration’, Improvisation in technique class and “peeling the onion”

On Monday we will look at how guided improvisations, structures and scores can exist in technique class. We will create and learn a phrase together and play with it ‘improvisationally’. And, on Wednesday, we will do a little restorative practice/bodywork that releases tension, balances energy and melts tension around the rotators, gluteus muscles, lumbar and hips. We call it ‘peeling the onion’… should feel grounding and will send you into your Thanksgiving weekend in a more relaxed state. Bring your matts on Wednesday.

Please write your thoughts about the weekend’s concert. And, if you were able to see the Stephen Petronio Company, please share your comments here as well.



11 thoughts on “CSULB Modern IV/V – Week 12: Reflections on this weekend’s concert ‘In Collaboration’, Improvisation in technique class and “peeling the onion”

  1. I want to congratulate every dancer who performed in the concert this weekend! Fantastic job! I see it as a joy and honor that I get the pleasure of dancing next to such passionate and stunning movers.

    Sitting in the audience was a difficult thing for me to do as the deep desire to be on stage performing kept biting at my heels and manifesting itself as jealousy. However, as soon as the first act started I was overwhelmed with pride and joy to watch each dancer, many of my close friends, doing exactly what they love to do. I wish I had something more eloquent and articulate to describe my response to the concert as a whole but words don’t suffice. The only thing I can say is thank you to each one of you who performed and read this post. Your individual performance was a integral part to a bigger picture that reminded me, and I image many more people, why I love to be on stage and what a true gift it is to the audience to witness dancers who are talented and passionate about their practice.

  2. I attended both Stephen Petronio and In Collaboration last week, so here goes:

    Stephen Petronio

    Petronio presented us with two very different acts in this performance. I didn’t very much enjoy the first part of the show, with its frequent costume changes and a performance quality that, albeit was consistent in most of the dancers, made the performers appear as if they were taking a technique class, and they weren’t enjoying it either. What I noticed in this half of the concert was one female performer who stood out from the rest in every moment. Her ease of movement and clear strength (made quite clear in her tutu and bra ensemble…I believe that was the circus section of the work) were fascinating. In one moment, she would push into the air, one leg beautifully drawn out to her side, all with long lines and clarity, and the next moment she would release what appeared to be all the muscles in her body, melting into the floor softly. When she was dancing, I was watching her, and becoming inspired with each movement she made.

    The second half presented a more unified composition, one of touching rawness. The telescoping floral-like trilogy of images upstage created the illusion of passing time, and the intimate way the dancers partnered added to a sense of vulnerability that countered some of the energy and force in much of the movement choreography. I was sad when it ended.

    In Collaboration

    This was the most professional concert I’ve seen at CSULB, and, for that matter, on any college stage. The first three pieces were absolutely satisfying to experience. Each work seemed to have a clear focus and intent, a skillfull use of spatial composition, and a well-crafted coupling of audio and visual elements. The consistency of seeing large group pieces (in which all of the dancers are costumed very similarly), has a tendency to become boring. But, I had no such feeling watching this show. Each piece had a clear identity and those who performed in the show were professionals in every way. In fact, this was the first show I’ve attended in quite a while that did not bring out the critic in me. I just enjoyed the whole thing. Granted, I know and love many of the people onstage, but that wasn’t the reason for my lack of cynicism.

    I’m so proud of everyone for their hard work and focus. It paid off big time.

    There are too many things to say about the Bill T Jones piece, but I will limit myself to two things: 1. Bill T. Jones and Leah Cox (because I know her work with the cast influence this version of the piece) are geniuses. I have never seen a work that so perfectly layers elements to make each piece magnify the other in very specific ways, without oversimplifying anything. and 2. I am in awe of the Bill T Jones cast…you guys made me cry for a long time. And, even though, like Jenn, I’m totally jealous that I couldn’t be up there, it was a absolute gift to be able to watch what you guys did. 🙂

  3. I performed in the In Collaboration concert this weekend, but I had the great opportunity to watch my fellow dance majors perform during the dress rehearsal. In complete sum, I am so proud to be a part of this department. The concert highlighted the great diversity and skill level of the dancers here at CSULB. Pointe, Modern, Jazz, Bill T, we honed in on several different choreographic styles and mastered them all. Sophie’s piece, as per usual, demonstrated mastery in spatial organization and musicality. The dancers showed a great sense of length and line through their entire bodies as well as a connection to the floor through fluid movement. Andy’s piece also used a great organization of space and dynamics as 18 people filled the stage with sculptural lifts and directed movement. And how to even begin with the Bill T. Jones piece? I am so proud of all my friends and peers that got up on that stage and performed that piece so beautifully. The movement was so complex and allowed the viewer to enter the work of Flannery O’Connor through a real physical response. I especially enjoyed that the personality of each dancer was readily apparent through their portrayal of all the characters on stage, and each dancer added to the complexity of those characters. Overall, I think this was a great accomplishment by our department.

  4. Its hard to really being to write about my feelings with the Bill T Jones project. Preparing for the dance for me started before rehearsals even began. Its been a real experience. I’m amazed at how much actually can get done in a really short amount of time. Its been such a privilege to work with this cast of individuals and of course with Bill, Leah, Stuart and Shayla. One of the biggest parts for me is to be an element within a larger work of art. This piece is a real work of art. It has articulate structure, innovative movement vocabulary and is interesting mix of narrative and post modern. I feel like I got to the point when I felt aware of the material enough and wanted to find more nuance as characters. There is a lot of depth in a variety of concepts and connected to this dance. Greater issues of race and gender but also performance quality and variation when dancing. I feel like a part of dance history. Its a real triumph.

  5. I was lucky enough to see both Stephen Petronio at the Barclay and In Collaboration at the Carpenter Center last week….an amazing week to be an audience member! Below are some of my thoughts from both concerts:

    Petronio: This concert was a fantastic example (for me as a choreographer as well as a dancer) of shaping strong group choreography that has lots happening onstage, yet has clear structure and motifs. It was fun to see onstage some of the same movement vocabulary and concepts Gerald has shared with us this semester, given his lineage from the Petronio company!

    To be honest, about three-fourths of the way through the first half of the show, I got a bit bored with the movement vocab: I know I got a little spacey as an audience member because my mind wandered, then would come back into the piece. Perhaps this happened because the first half was several exerpts, whereas the second half was one full piece with a more cohesive approach? However, once we came back post-intermission, I was fully re-invested in viewing the work, and the changing multimedia projections were a captivating part of the work for me. I also had two ‘favorite’ stand-out dancers, the two shorter women (one with a blonde bun, the other with short brown curly hair). They captivated me with their energy and dynamic range in performing the Petronio vocabulary.

    In Collaboration: This concert was truly amazing–a huge congratulations to all the dancers involved in the show!! The diversity of choreography was great, and it was fun to be sitting in the audience surrounded by a variety of people–parents of performers, friends, 101 students, etc–and hearing their thoughts as the show went on!

    As we discussed in our grad comp class, I particularly appreciated Gerald’s piece for the use of no wings. It made me focus in on the dancers and Tim upstage more than I thought it would, and seeing the legs and lighting equipment really fit with the edgy vibe of the costumes, choreography and the dancer’s relationships to one another.

    The Bill T. Jones piece absolutely blew me out of the water–I was on the edge of my seat the entire piece! I was glad I attended Colleen’s pre-show talk on Friday evening, as it gave me some insight that was helpful when viewing the work. I especially appreciated the duet work that happened throughout the piece–the relationships, energy, and breath between partners was tangible to me in the audience. The piece was athletic, exciting, sad, joyful, and really took me on a journey all at once. A truly phenomenal piece of art, and I felt very lucky to be able to watch it here in Long Beach.

  6. I enjoyed the first section of Andy Vaca’s piece, but I didnt quite understand the second section. The use of song with words juxtaposed with the instrumental beating of drum from the first. What were your guys’ thoughts?

  7. First of all, I really enjoyed class on Monday. It was nice to wind down after the concert and before Thanksgiving break with improvisational practices. I was fully entertained executing improv, as well as observing my classmates.

    I am honored to have been a part of ‘In Collaboration’ and continue to hear many great things about how professional of a production it was. I felt like I grew in many ways during the whole experience of Gerald’s piece, “Proxima”. I have never been a part of a piece for a formal concert where I, as the dancer, was being asked what I thought the intent and notions of the piece were. I have grown up with choreographers always knowing the ways they wanted a piece to be presented. It was a freeing feeling to allow the art to unfold without expectations. This allowed me to consistently be present in the piece. I was able to create new and different performance choices every time we performed, which was very satisfying!

    I appreciated the variety of dance styles performed at ‘In Collaboration’. There was something for everyone to have an interest in watching. “Handel Dances” displayed strong dancers in technique and performance. I understand it’s not easy to keep a constant feeling of vitality, while wearing pointe shoes! There were clean lines, nice control, and an attention to musicality.

    I feel like “Clearing the Sensation of Darkness” was successful in organizing formations, transitions, and movement that complemented the size of the large group of dancers. That is quite an undertaking. I also really loved seeing a jazz piece onstage and a song with lyrics being used. 🙂

    The Bill T. Jones piece was a pleasure to watch. I saw it two times from two different distances and angles, so it gave me the opportunity for two different experiences. I was honestly ready for a nap the first time I watched the piece during dress rehearsal, so I was not as invested in the piece as I wanted to be. I gained much more from seeing it a second time. I was able to absorb the construction of Bill T.’s choreography, with the use of motifs, gestures, theme & variation, repetition, etc…

    Bill T. has an unexplainable way of presenting exactly the right movement to paint the feelings and emotions the narration had on me. I kept thinking the movement impacted me as feelings more than images. It is such a bizarre thing to wrap my mind around and I’m not sure if it even makes sense when I try to explain myself…I don’t think I know of any other choreographer more able to impact me in a human way than Bill T. Jones. I also believe the Bill T. project brought out things in my fellow classmates that I had never seen in them before. What an amazing thing to be able to do!

    I could go on longer about the concert, but I’ll end this by saying that I’ve been inspired and affected in the most positive ways. It’s one of the many things I’m thankful for.

  8. Even though Reading, Mercy and the Artificial Nigger was forty-five minutes long, it held my attention the entire time. One of my favorite things about this piece was the casting. There were many different heights and individualities that were shining through in Bill T Jones’s work. Each duet brought out different qualities in the dancers and when danced with the emotional words, was breathtaking. The substance of the dialogue added an incredibly emotional level to this piece. As soon as the actors began to speak, I was drawn into their world. I felt like I was watching a movie! Although music can be extremely moving, these words took the physicality and performance to a new level, one that would not have been as strong if this piece was performed solely to music.

    Reading, Mercy and the Artificial Nigger was a very layered creation. There was a beautiful mixture of bigger movement as well as small intricate gestures. The words in relationship to the movement made perfect sense. It looked as though the movement was mimicking the words and decoding the meaning of the story.

    The set design was probably my favorite set design out of any work I have ever seen. With the big, beautiful moon and its projections, to the classy suits and wooden chairs, the stage created a genuine and private world that we were able to experience. The moon created a different environment and emotion each time it changed colors. I thought it was very interesting that at one point the moon was lime green and then also turned to hot pink, both being colors that were more radical and not colors that a moon would naturally be.

    Overall, I thought the faculty concert was extremely successful!! The dances were so beautifully crafted and entertaining. I enjoyed every piece in this concert and I’m so proud to have been apart of it 🙂 GO US!

  9. I really enjoyed being a part of the faculty concert this semester and I really enjoyed every piece that performed on that stage. Wow, how awesome it is to have a chance to be on he performing side of that theater. It was wonderful for me to see Gerald’s work as a new faculty member in our department and get to know him better through his creative movement.

    I loved the energy in Andy’s piece, even though I agree with Joey; I felt that the second song didn’t really mesh well with the first, even though I understood the difference between dark and light that he was trying to show. I enjoyed dancing in Sophie’s piece and having a second opportunity to work with her, but I have to be honest…I’m thankful that I don’t have to wear my pointe shoes as often anymore!!! =P

    Everyone in the Bill T. Jones piece did a fabulous job and I am so thankful that all of you had the opportunity to be involved in the resetting of his work and that you had to chance to work with the man himself. I felt blessed by your hard work and dedication. I know it was a long and difficult process at times, but your hard wok paid off in your beautiful performance! Congratulations!

  10. The improvisation that we did in class on Monday was a nice break from the usual rigorous rehearsal and class taking processes I had been experiencing all semester. It was great to be able to use my body in a different mental and physical way to solve different kinds of movement problems. The improvisation also allowed me to focus on the people around me in class, rather than just myself, by observing my partner and attempting to accomplish an improv score with a group.

  11. I’ve also been meaning to respond to connection I felt between the In Collaboration Performance and class; the somatic work we have done in this class complemented nicely with the ways that Leah Cox asked us to work in performance. It was lovely to train and perform in a cohesive manner. Leah would take the cast through a developmental pattern-based improvisation for warm ups. These warm-ups were easier to kinesthetically understand because of the work that we do in class. Also, the practice of moving with complete attention in class yielded a richly rewarding performance experience. I could feel completely myself while engaging with, seeing, and experiencing the other dancers simultaneously. Feeling vibrant and connected is amazing.

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