First impressions

Please write what your first impressions were from today’s (Jan 4) class. Can you describe specific moments in class that resonated with you? And please describe why. If you have taken this class before, what felt different? What will you be working on this quarter?


28 thoughts on “First impressions

  1. Observing my body in motion after a long winter break, I noticed a strong desire within for dynamic movement. As a perennial movement practitioner, within diverse martial art disciplines, juggling, poi-spinning, and now dancing, I have long cherished experiencing my body moving through space is a well-connected, coherent manner. I feel this class will give me the appropriate tools to tune my body into a more efficient vehicle for complex maneuvers.

    I immediately feel into a propioceptive state during your warm-up period. Reminded me of the 26, if memory serves me well, bones in each of my feet, helped ground my body for the full-body movements we later performed. The subtle pointers of the positioning of our occipital bone, our teeth, neck and jaw, helped me stay loose and responsive to your direction.

    I must confess, however, that I am nervous about mastering some of the complex movements we will be required to perform towards the latter part of the quarter. I took notice of my body struggling to perform a substantial range of motion, especially with movements originating from the pelvis area. I have a tremendously small, light, and sharp-angled skeletal structure. Even after receiving a degree in kinesiology, and performing comprehensive stretching routines for over a decade, acute pain shoots through my body when I perform skilled movements, especially on a hardwood floor. I am 33 years old, and have not been able to solve this problem yet, but will not give up, and continue to try to improve the fluidity of my movement, even with ‘boney butt’.

    That being said, the central focus of this quarter for me, will be finding ways to make my body more resilient with floor routines. I also strongly desire to make my transitions more seamless and fluidly interconnected with the sum-total operation of any given performance. I want to be able to soar like a bird!

    I look forward to a deeply challenging course, and greater connection to my favorite play tool, my body.

  2. I am beyond excited for this course. Having taken Gerald’s THEA136 Dance Choreography course in the Fall, I was pretty in tune with the majority of the warm up and how Gerald operates the class. However, I can already tell that this quarter, the course material is going to be far more technical than the exploratory creative environment of the previous class, which both excites and concerns me. Excites me in the sense that I have not taken a technical dance oriented class in some time, and concerns me for the same reason. On a more specific note, my body aches today from yesterday’s class having moved minimally over the winter break. Getting back into the swing of things (quite literally with the swinging exercise we did) is going to take some time and patience, but I am ready for the challenge physically and mentally, and look forward to the growth that will come from yet another phenomenal course with Gerald.

  3. This first class made me even more excited for the class than I thought was possible. I used to train in ballet very intensely throughout high school but this was my first class back since stopping when I came to college. What really resonated with me from this class was the combination where we moved through our whole bodies in what I felt like a port de bras combination. I woke up the next day sore but that only means I was working hard. I definitely want to work on letting go more in my dance movements (yet still have control), like you mentioned in class I have to get out of the habits from ballet that are so trained in my brain, and let loose. Overall I can’t wait to start dancing again this quarter.

    • There is a delicate balance between coordinating your body to move effectively, seamlessly and allowing your analytical mind to ‘take a back seat’ while trying to master techniques. Deeply tuning in to where your body is at the time of practicing techniques is so important while trying to learn new moves. I hope you gracefully learn to let go of analytical control for a more integrated relationship with the whole of your body, while conditioning yourself in expanding your dance repertoire this quarter.

  4. This is my first dance class in three years and I am beyond excited to get back into dance. The part of the class that involved us running, swinging, and posing to the music really resonated with me. Having been part of competing dance teams in the past, I rarely had the chance to improvising and commit to my own movements since I was always following the choreography of others. Even such small things as hitting hard poses for two eight-counts can be difficult for me as I constantly over think my movements. That is definitely something that I am striving to work through this quarter and I think that the positive energy from the other dancers and the live music will really help me grow!

  5. I must confess I have had very little luck in finding a modern teacher (besides Rita Riveria, who has not been teaching for the past year)) in the Santa Cruz area. This has left me quite rusty and out of practice. My impression of the first course was so positive I went home and kicked in all my resolutions for the upcoming year! The basic warm up & somatic integration I found to be incredibly viable in returning to the movement. Having little taste for showy/ complex contemporary style, I really enjoyed the simplicity of the correlating patterning. It allowed me to tap into my physical intelligence without overpowering my body and over complicating my brain. Due to injuries and age my body has limitations and therefor left me most grateful for the integrity of the course instruction.

    Another piece that resonated with me and has never been introduced into my practice is the sound element. I found this to be effective in finding breathe and fluidity. Quite a treat!

  6. The class on Tuesday felt like coming home. I am a transfer student, new this year. I was not able to take Gerald’s choreography class in the fall due to scheduling conflicts, and I noticed feeling somewhat lost on campus. Even though I am dedicated to my other course work, dance is my passion and my home. I came from Cabrillo’s dance program, which was wonderful and helped me to be ready to grow into a new program and dance community. I took a workshop last spring with Gerald and that swayed my choice to come to UCSC over Berkeley, even though they have an amazing dance program as well. Then, also last spring, I was honored to receive the Tandy Beal scholarship award from Cabrillo’ Dance department; this further solidified that I made the right choice with UCSC.
    Gerald’s somatic approach to modern dance thoroughly resonates with me. I danced as a child, but left it for some years until discovering yoga as a teenager and falling back in love with my body and with movement. The somatic approach to modern feels like yoga and dance made a love child, full of awareness, precision, and intention. The Bartinieff warm up harkens literally back to infant-like movements and reminds me that movement is natural and that often we try too hard. This remembering of how to move freely has to be relearned as we have been conditioned through the trials of life to straighten, harden, hide, and conform.
    I appreciated the comment that Gerald gave to a couple of students to not habitually move, but rather to be free to make the choice of how to move. I took this comment to heart as I often feel I go into automatic movement, especially in improv, and have to remind myself to be challenged to be in the moment and let the movement arise rather than “just do something cool or complicated”.
    My goal for this quarter is to become a more honest dancer, to hide less, and give more when performing and practicing. I tend to be a private person, which is probably why dance is so important to me. However, I do feel like I need and want to grow into a more giving, honest and bold dancer. This class feels like the perfect place to do this growth, as I will be challenged with new technical material as well as getting to strip away the habitual layers and get to know my body through the somatic approach, and in a new community of dancers.

  7. Having this first class consist of an hour and 45 minute warm-up was the best thing that could have happened. Gerald’s movement always feels good on my body, so it made the transition from lazing around over break to dancing every day a lot smoother, as others mentioned earlier. I can’t wait to continue to grow and get to know my fellow dancers in these next 10 weeks. I’ll admit, there were a lot more people in class than I expected, which is always intimidating, but it does bring an uplifting energy to the space. I’m going to be spending so much time in rehearsals this quarter, so I really appreciate getting the time to take a technique class, also. Overall, I’m just really excited to be moving my body in a way I know that’s healthy for me. I’m so glad we spent so much time on the floor, too, because rolling around on the wood felt amazing on my whole body. It may be tough to move in a class with so many people at times, but I know we’ll make it work as a collective. This was a great start to the quarter and I’m looking forward to really focusing in on my body and giving it what it needs.

  8. I am very excited about this class. I took Teds Intro to Modern Dance class last quarter and really enjoyed it. I am looking forward to challenging myself further this quarter. The warm up that we did in class was like nothing I have ever done before. I am used to more jazz styled warms ups where we do kicks and turns across the dance floor. The warm in this class, however, reminded me a lot of yoga. I always had a hard time with yoga. I think the slow paced and very controlled aspect of it made it challenging for me. Although I struggled with this style in the past, I am looking forward to overcoming those challenges and to understanding how to use the muscles in my body properly and with control. The idea of breaking free from the corset struck me as well. Although I need to learn to move with control, I do not need to move as though I am trapped. My movement should still feel free and relaxed, which is something I definitely need to work on. In high school, I danced on my high schools dance team, and one thing that I think we lacked was emphasis on technique. I am excited that this class has a strong technical focus, because I feel like technique is often forgotten or overlooked. I am looking forward to brushing up on my technique, strengthening those skills, and learning even more.

  9. After the first class on Tuesday, I left A105 feeling different than how I felt when I woke up that morning. I felt more awake, energetic, and quite honestly, just in a much better mood. I think the power of dance is amazing. It literally has the power to transform my energy in some sort of magical therapeutic way.
    Being able to step in the studio again after three weeks of not dancing was just the best possible feeling. Moving my body in this class awakened not only my body, but my mind as well. Gerald’s warmup alone provided new, interesting movements I have never done before. This made me so excited for what else is in store! On top of that, his commentary and language is also unlike other dance teachers I’ve had. The way he phrases explanations/descriptions of movement makes me think and understand them in a much deeper way.
    I am tremendously excited for this 10-week journey. Gerald’s course is going to push our limits. It is going to be challenging, fun, and expressive and I think it will make every single person grow as a dancer.

  10. After taking Tuesday’s class, I can feel that it’ll be a challenge for me. Many of the movements were pretty fast, I felt like I was falling behind. Although, I did enjoy the whole body movements. Using our core strength is definitely something I didn’t expect we would do, but its great because that’s something that I want to work on. The warm up itself challenges my body, which is awesome because it helps me push my body to do more. I also enjoy the yoga movements because I am familiar with it and I haven’t done yoga for a while, so it felt refreshing to do it again. Something that I hope to work on is getting out of my comfort zone, since I tend to stick to what I feel comfortable and learning about technique. Overall, it seems like this class is going to require some quick learning, but hopefully fun.

  11. My first impression of Tuesday’s class was that the course as a whole would be a great one. I immediately felt not only the therapeutic component of dance, but overall positive vibes from Gerald and everyone in the class. This class is most definitely a laboratory to explore movement.
    A specific moment in class that resonated with me was the swinging exercise where we ran, swung around and posed. It resonated with me specifically because I can be a rather shy person in some contexts, especially when it involves portraying something with my entire body (which is also weird because I was also in Random with a Purpose one year); yet, I realized then and there that this class is most definitely about exploring one’s own body and just letting go, as is all of dance. Usually the antidote to this is rehearsing choreography over and over and perfecting it until I know it well enough and can carry it out afterwards with more emotion. However when I am learning something for the first time, I can get self-conscious every once in a while.
    Thus, one of my goals for this class is just letting go, and not being afraid to make mistakes, in addition to becoming a better dancer and mover. I remember this one moment in a previous dance class very vividly: It was Rena Cochran’s intermediate modern dance class offered through OPERS, during my sophomore year. We had just learned a long combination and were trying it out at different speeds using different songs. She decided to use “How It Ends” by DeVotcKa, which is a song I absolutely love. The tempo was a lot faster but I just got in an alternate state of being free and listening to the song I love so much and doing the choreography in a way where it just happened along with the song, and it flowed right through me and I didn’t think about the movement. I just did it. At the end, Rena told me what I did was really nice. My goal is for me to do this kind of dancing every time, and this class can help me get there after I master the technique and functionality of how I carry out movement.
    I am so excited for this class!

  12. My first impression on this week’s first classes was hugely impactful on my view towards dance performance. Consciously visualizing my skeletal structure as I was in motion or still, made me aware of the dynamic alignment that functions in the body. The coordination with one bone to another interweaved focus and direction to my body’s shape, and transformed the way I move, as well as how I examine movement. I explored the relationship with gravity and what it means to acknowledge gravity as a presence. I felt that the awareness of gravity and using imagery of bones turned to be an ‘aha’ moment towards dance, as well as being introduced to a wonderful harmonious experience with earth. My new practice at home will be visualizing my muscles as they move. For some reason, it’s more difficult to imagine my muscles versus bones, I have to pay attention and really zone in on what energy in my anatomy is being used by muscles. I will also practice focusing on energy, time, and space towards gravity. I am excited and ready to challenge myself as a conscious anatomical structure and dance artist this quarter.

  13. Coming into the studio after a long three weeks of not being active was the best way to begin my quarter. At times I did feel my mind slipping away from the present moment–the stresses of a new quarter occupying my concentration. For future classes I want to have the stronger intention of centering myself in class, and being able to relax and be focused. On Thursday, I was really excited by the across the floor exercise that was not set in even counts of eight. It was so dynamic and interesting, and also challenging, to try and get those steps in my body. One moment that really resonated with me was when Gerald demonstrated the difference between dancing on top of the floor and then dancing into the floor. That small shift in intention completely changed the dynamics in his movement, and the combination became ten times more exciting to watch! We then all tried the combination once more across the floor and it felt so much more engaging to dance in my own body. I will now try to focus on dancing into the floor in future classes!

  14. This dance class is the first dance class I’ve taken in a few quarters, so I really appreciated the extended warm up that was the first day of class. I found myself very tired, for my body is still getting used to dancing again. When we went into the side plank position, I found myself being very hard on myself and remembered the earlier talk about not doing so. I then made a point to not be as harsh on myself for the rest of the class. Doing so really improved how I felt about the rest of the class. This experience led me to want to work on being more positive toward myself. Thus, this quarter I will be working on only comparing myself to my past self and only working on doing my best.

  15. My first impression of the class on the first day was that the class was definitely going to be a challenge for me. I see that as a good thing, though, because I want something to challenge me and help me push myself as a better dancer. During the extended warm-up, I noticed that I have a very weak upper body strength when I did the side plank, and this is something I want to work on. I have never really worked out outside of the dance class before, always making excuses of being too busy to go to the gym and as I result, I have a very weak upper body strength. When being told that having a strong upper body is important as a dancer, I realized that I needed to stop making excuses and really work my way to having a stronger upper body.

  16. I was very excited and curious about this first day. Last quarter I took theatre 30 with Ted and I had a lot of fun! I was feeling really sluggish from the break and lack of dance for the past three(?!) weeks. But I thought the pace was really nice especially for a first class.
    While going through the movements I was a little confused, especially with drawing the figure eight (seriously where is the movement supposed to come from). But I think with time I will be able to follow the movements with more ease. I really hope to improve my arm strength throughout the quarter and overall strength.

  17. After our first class on Tuesday, I was very happy with the pace of the class. Even though we did an extended warm-up, I enjoyed that we were given several different movements and patterns to practice. I know this is something that is usually always done in a modern dance course; however, it was the first time I had been presented with this amount of movement. Typically, my first day of dance class consists of going over the syllabus and answering any questions we may have (which usually takes a big chunk of time) before moving onto the next thing on the agenda. I also appreciate this class’s ability to awaken me and bring me back to focus after having two classes previous to this one. I thought the level of my focus and enthusiasm would be an issue for me, but that is no longer a worry.

    Something I have been working on, and will continue to work on in this class is my ability to pick up choreography quickly. I realize part of this inability stems from the lack of coordination from my right hand and my left foot. These are limbs I consider to be my weaker parts. So, in order to improve on the picking up of choreography, I will be working with my left foot and right hand to work in sync with the rest of my body and vice versa.

  18. I am more than bubbly walking into a room with all these different narratives. I love hearing about the ‘aha’ moments when it comes to moving with gravity, understanding the structure of our bones, and breaking that corset as Gerald would say. It reminds me that we all are still kids navigating through the physics of this world with our child-like passion which is refreshing to me.

    I am honored to be in this class once again with Gerald and Aiden who bring a zing and a zang to the space. The way that Gerald structures the warm up and technical aspects of the class revives my 5-year old self that says anything is possible and to work hard! A little imagination goes a long way and the more I choose to come back to Gerald’s classes the more I realize how reworking the things I have seen before with some qwerky imagery allows me to be captivated and motivated in a whole new direction. Repetition is essential to progress and understanding how to see movements within space from different vantage points is essential for being a dynamic mover. That is why my goal in this class is to really unveil to myself my kid-like passion for dance in this well visited space. From that starting point I think my technique and strength will more effortlessly jump leaps and bounds as it would stem from a more fearless energy.

    Also I am so glad to hear Gerald say Greater trochanter at least five times in a class period! =)

  19. Before the first class I was extremely anxious, unsure as to what to expect out of this class. I had never taken a class with Gerald, so I knew I had to adapt to a new teacher and their teaching style. I was also worried about taking a technique class again. Let’s be honest people, a couple of years without regular technique classes could feel like a couple of centuries.
    After the first class my worries all seemed to wash away. I’m beyond excited to work, grow, and express myself through dance this quarter. I had that “good” sore feeling the next day that I haven’t had in a long, long time, so I’m excited to gain some of my strength back. I enjoyed the more anatomical approach Gerald took to explaining movements. For some reason this approach resonated with me and made it easier for me to make corrects to myself. Overall I’m thrilled to see how I grow as a dancer this quarter.

  20. Tuesdays class soothed my body. I did not dance much during the break (though I normally like to take class while home) because of multiple injuries that wouldn’t shut up! I was in a lot of pain at the end of last quarter. And though I was keeping off of my limbs during the break, I still felt achey. Moving: bad, Not moving: also bad. I was so frustrated. Tuesdays class made me realize, “OH! I should’ve been stretching and keeping up with gentle movement!” Physical therapy/recoup as well as rest. Tuesdays class was even better than physical therapy! I tuned in, and slowly awoke the previously dormant spaces between bones/bones, bones/muscle, etc! Those spaces that are easily forgettable are important too! I felt like I was giving myself a massage during class. A meditative 1hr 45min massage! It elevated my mood, and brought the clarity I needed. My body needs attention! Not just brain attention but movement attention! All the time! ahh the life of a dancer

    There were a few things that really resonated with me from Thursdays class. The first was the “remove the corset” moment we had. Growing up in my studio, multiple hours a week of ballet was mandatory. We learned to tie our ribs in, consciously engage the core, and not under any circumstances, let our torso just do whatever it wants. For the first time I experienced no anxiety about this torso consciousness. FOR THE FIRST TIME! It felt like I was floating on a cloud. Tendus never felt so natural and easy. I still was on my leg, and had control, which really surprised me but wow I’m hooked. Ok second thing that has come to mind often this week is that footwork combo. Oh how I loved that combo. Usually, I would be so frustrated with myself and my mind for not absorbing the material. It takes me longer than the average joe to pick up choreo. BUT I let my body and my mind work together in a way that made it infinitely easier. I wasn’t fighting anything with my mind, and had the right amount of control. I love working with the floor and falling and catching myself too so that was part of it for sure. The control mixed with the uncertainty of control/precision worked well with my brain! Very exciting.

    Too excited for the master classes and to continue with Gerald as well!

  21. Being familiar with Gerald’s teaching style through his show and choreography class, I felt both nervous and excited to throw myself into this technique driven class. Since I’ve had very few dance classes before college, I still held quite a few insecurities regarding dance technique, which was only further enforced by the first class. I recognized many of the talented faces, from past auditions and classes, filled with people with much more experience than me, which certainly kicked in the nerves! With that being said, Gerald has always been focused on creating a safe environment to work and experiment in, so I’m happy to further explore movement in this class!
    Besides putting myself in a non-comparative mindset, my other focus for the technique class obviously be improving my technique, and paying attention to intention. A while ago, Gerald pointed out that I had a habit of sickling my foot, and that should only be the case if it were purposeful (which… It wasn’t). Intention also played a key part in our across the floor– working into the floor, as opposed to on top of really changed the way I approached the choreography. By the end of the quarter, I hope to have achieved these set goals, and a lil’ more!

  22. My favorite part of this class so far is Gerald’s cognitive process when in comes to technique. I am completely fascinated with this very non traditional form of modern dance. It feel so innate and stripped of the rigidness other technique classes focus on. Even though some of the movements felt familiar, I was thinking about it in completely novel ways. I have never thought about movement in terms of my bones. I like the way we visualize each individual bone and muscle. It helps me build intention and attention to detail. I always take my movements for granted and forget how hard my body is working to sustain itself. The movement felt natural and organic. It felt like a child learning to walk and balance them self on different terrain. I enjoy the meditative nature of Gerald’s warmup. I felt my whole body and mind focusing on my movements instead of my schedule or what I need to do after class. It teaches me to never settle on my movement and always think of new ways to improve. The most subtle change can make a difference. As small as it is, thinking of putting your ring finger to your collarbone instead of your index finger can make the biggest difference.

  23. Beginning the first class with a long and luxurious warm-up was so necessary after a nice, relaxing, but, overall, lazy break. It felt incredible to loosen up the spine, crunch and utilize my feet, and roll my head endlessly. It was really just what I needed. The slow, embodied movement also reminded me that I often do not breath through movement, but bring it to a staggering halt when it is so important. This will be a main focus for the remainder of the quart- to breath, breath, breath and breath some more. To not restrict my chest, as I often do, but to let it expand fully. I fully enjoyed the first class, as it was a perfect introduction and gave me a great idea of how the rest of the quarter will proceed. I am excited to add to the warm-up, to move quickly, to move slowly, to find more breath in all movement, and to be fully present during my time in the studio.

  24. After winter break it felt great to come back and do this class’s warm-up, it was relaxing. It was slow, but simultaneously warmed up every muscle in my body, which was what I was looking forward to. The exercises that we did while laying down reminded me of Ted’s class, and there were some exercises that I had already done before. The live music made every exercise feel more efficient and mindful.

    I enjoyed when we started running randomly to the music’s beat and with that amount of students. At times I felt that I was going to keep aware of my space and surroundings. At this point my body felt ready again to start moving.

  25. Last Thursday (14th) in class we continued a choreography movement piece. I love that Gerald creates choreography on the spot, it heightens the energy and accentuates the flow of the studio in present time. It also reflects on students and myself, a shared moment of connectivity of everyone through exploration and refreshing existence awareness by discovery of the relation of body and gravity. It is hard to let go and concentrate on how I move with motion versus the right moves of the choreography’s motion. I get frustrated because I know if I practice with a lot of time, I can comfortably let go and notice the weight and flow of my body and its relationship with the environment through muscle memory, but this is great work for me to rewire/rethink how I develop and train as a performer – to examine the learning process in diverse/multiple ways – that are not (and possibly better) comfortable.

  26. Coming from a musical theatre background, dance has always been more about learning the steps correctly and quickly, with little time to really think about the natural movement of my body, or the way in which my bones are structured and how that affects my movement. This class will be a continuous challenge for me to stop worrying about every count and step, and instead observing my body and movement. I have never had a teacher who talks about dance the way Gerald does; it is extremely refreshing, and I already feel much more grounded, and connected to my body than I ever have before (and there is much more work to do). I also have a tendency to immediately become frustrated with myself when I don’t do something correctly, and in the last two classes I have tried to channel that frustration into a more constructive way by exploring the way my body wants to move, rather than worrying about what the exact steps are.

  27. Just after the first day of class, I can already tell that I am going to thoroughly enjoy dancing this quarter. After taking Choreography last quarter, I feel as though I have gotten a very good idea of college dance. Having grown up in studios and at dance competitions, the environment of this class is definitely more conducive to both learning and growing as a dancer. Being able to explore my body in movement while also maintaining my technical training is such a privilege. And on top of it, having live music accompaniment takes my dance experience to a whole other more mature level. One of the main things I love about the class is the range of levels of the dancers. There is no competition amongst us for we are all here to learn and grow together. It is a really great feeling to be able to turn to a fellow dancer and ask for help without feeling self conscious, and it is an even better feeling to be the person that others turn to in times of need during class. All together, this class is the exact environment I, as a dancer striving to reach a new levels on both a physical and emotional level, want to be in. I am excited to see where the quarter takes me!

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