Dancing on Roofs to Radiolab

I’ve been spending most of the past week or so at City Center Studios learning and rehearsing Merce Cunningham repertory, which by the way, is a physical tongue twister and an equation and a calve killer and a dance history lesson all at the same time (one might even say we are im-Merce-d *knee slap*). I’m really excited to show what we’ve been working on at the showing on Friday (there will be a live stream too, so check the Cunningham Trust streaming page at 4:30pm!)

But last Friday night, I took my dancing back downtown for a different sort of performance experience, improvising at a rooftop showcase organized by Artery, alongside three other captivating musicians and dancers.

When planning for this show, I was in the process of moving apartments and didn’t have the wifi access to do my usual music search. I considered just dancing to whatever was on my phone–and then realized that mostly included a bunch of NPR Radiolab episodes (I’ve been commuting a lot lately).

My friends immediately told me to go with it, and I did–smashing a few episodes together and throwing in some Gwen Stefani and some of my own sound effects.

Here’s what resulted: let’s call it a little study on curiosity, words, and fear.

A Straightforward Update Post: Nadia Does Things

I’ve recently crossed the post-grad threshold between “nothing is happening” and “why is everything happening at the same time?” and thought I was due for a standard life update blog post. This feels much more straightforward and somewhat more self-promotional than what I normally do here, but hey, I promise I’ll be back with the rambly feel-pieces you know and tolerate soon enough.

As usual, the news page on my website will have all the self-promotional deets.

Right now:

  • I’m in my last weekend of performances of “Genesis 22” with the Woolgatherers Theater Group on Governor’s Island. It’s an immersive piece with six directors showing their various re-interpretations (theater, dance, funny, serious, and everything in-between) of a biblical story. I’m a dancey version of Isaac who finds myself some crazy partnering and ends up with audience members covering me in candles.
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Photo by Nathan Luttrull and Jan Paulo Musni. Choreography by Caedra Scott-Flaherty.

One of the most challenging things about immersive theater, I’m realizing, is repetition. We repeat our 20 minute piece four times during each performance, as audience members explore and cycle through the different rooms. Not only is this physically demanding, but it also requires that we bring a similar focus and energy to each run–whether it happens to be in a near-empty room or filled with vocal group of 8-year-olds from a summer camp on the island. However, it’s also a chance to really dig into one piece of material and discover new things each time.

More Dancey Things Coming Up That Have Me Pumped:

  • The day after our last show on the island, I’m jumping right in to a performance workshop with the Merce Cunningham Trust. We’ll be training in Cunningham technique and re-staging Cunningham’s 1973 work “Changing Steps” for a performance on August 11.
  • The week after that, on August 18 I’ll be performing in a piece with Trainor Dance at the Battery Dance Festival.

New things starting up:

  • I recently joined Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee, a group of young professionals with various roles in the dance field who come together to discuss relevant social and economic issues. I’m one of the communications coordinators, and we’re looking for ways to use our blog and social media to expand give these discussions a public platform and wider visibility.

Particularly as I am primarily pursuing performance right now, I want to reject the expectation that performers are just silent, voiceless bodies to be used. I’m clearly too opinionated for that, so I’m excited to have a space where I can have a voice and create platforms for more voices in the dance community to be heard.

  • I’m just starting writing for Reductress.com, my favorite source of ironically faux-feminist satire! I always thought that puns and sarcasm would end up being my marketable skills.

Stuff that keeps going:

  • I continue to be a dance class junky and love meeting other dance class junkies of various persuasions, so I’m having a great time taking class in a variety of styles through Mark Morris Dance Center’s work-study program.
  • Generating income is hard. I’m looking for tutoring demand to start picking up as kiddos head back to school.

Between the profesh stuff…

  • As you may have noticed from the previous picture, I have significantly less hair now, and I love it!

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  • My sister popped in last weekend to go to a Mashrou’ Leila concert with me (if you don’t know them, they are a socially-concious Lebanese alt-rock group with dope music videos that you should check out). It was both amazing and perhaps the gayrab-est thing I have been to. I tried really hard to get them to sign my shoe and barely failed.
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So close though.

  • I’m trying to move apartments at the end of this month! Fortunately, I don’t have that much stuff (it’s not “minimalism,” it’s just not having much stuff).

On my personal project back-burner: 

  • A dance film called “Neutral Pelvis” (Can pelvises really be neutral though, ya know?)
  • A sorta-historical essay about the role of White Jesus in legal race construction

 

Halloween Costume Ideas for the Contemporary Dancer

Contemporary dancers: there are many factors that draw us to what we do–the physicality, the creativity, the theatricality–but perhaps what we crave the most is the perpetual feeling of being misunderstood by everyone around us.

Now you can extend that feeling to Halloween: just put together one of these costumes inspired by conversations with my dancer friends! About two people at the party will think you’re brilliant and you’ll strike up some great three-line conversations (beginning with “what are you?” and ending with “oh, okay”) with the rest of them.

  • Early American Modern Dance Pioneers (group costume): Respect your roots, prove you took a dance history class, and avoid wearing! Slip yourself into an abnormally large tube scarf and voila–Martha Graham! A bed sheet and a rope should be enough to tie together a decent Izzie Duncan. And Ruth St. Dennis and Ted Shawn* make the perfect coordinated costumes for that odd couple (and don’t require much fabric). Whoever shows up last has to wear the Merce unitard (and keep a neutral face all night).

*May put you at increased risk for cultural appropriation.

Still not as bad as some of the prepackaged Halloween costumes I saw this week…

  • Images From Gaga Class: You love your Gaga class: when embodied in improvisation, the surreal images connect you to a sense of pleasure and unlocks movement potential. But in costume form, some of them seems pretty darn spooky. Spikes piercing through your body? Flesh dripping off your bones? This movement language has plenty of ideas for costumes that will awaken some traveling stuff in everyone’s body.
  • The Fourth Wall: Tape a piece of cardboard to yourself, but first, punch a big hole in it. Now you can get really up close and personal on the dance floor.
  • Up To Interpretation: Recreate the conversations that follow many a dance performance. Throw together various costume pieces based on aesthetic interests, dice rolls, primal instincts, the motion pathways of your pet fish, the urges of your deep unconscious, or the current location of Saturn. When someone asks what you are, respond with one of the following:
    • “What am I to you?”
    • “Does anything really have inherent meaning outside of interpretation?”
    • “Seriously, how could you not know?”

(At least one person will swear that you are a character from a Young Adult SciFi series.)