All of us dancers had an amazing time on this pilot program lead by Professor Kim Jones! We were able to look into the NYC dance scene by taking classes, watching company rehearsals, and meeting professional dancers and choreographers that we may not have had the chance to meet if it wasn’t for Professor Jones. We all would like to sincerely thank her for taking the time to plan all of these opportunities for us. Now with this experience under our belts, some of us students would like to return to the city after graduation to further our dancing there. Again, thank you Professor Jones for always inspiring us!
Our teacher Kim Jones was able to get our class to sit in a rehearsal with The Martha Graham Dance Company. There were working with Choreographer Richard Move on “Achilles Heel” for their New York season in February at the Joyce theater.
A short clip of Richard Move:
Today was an amazing second day in the city! The day started off with technique classes at the Graham studio and was followed by us getting to observe the Graham Company rehearse. The piece that they were rehearsing today was “Achilles Heel” choreographed by Richard Move.
“Move’s fascination with Achilles’ “unusual” personal life and his military derring-do form the basis for his narrative.”
This piece is not in the typical Graham style, but uses Graham movements as the center of most of the choreography. Since we have had training in the Graham technique at school, we were able to recognize the Graham movements in the choreography. This gave us a sense as to what other types of choreography uses Graham technique as a source other than repertory pieces that are restated.
After observing rehearsal we headed to the Metropolitan Opera to take a backstage tour. Professor Jones worked at the Opera many years ago, so she was able to show us the dancer’s dressing room and dance studio where they learn their choreography. We had the opportunity to meet John Fritz, the director of dancers at the Met who at the time danced with Kim, and he showed us the back stage of the theater. We learned that the Metropolitan stage is made up of five individual stages that rotates sets, and were able to see the stage crew setting up for tonight’s performance of Aida. The Met holds 4,000 audience members, so being in the theater was an unbelievable experience!
We all had a unforgettable day and look forward to tomorrow when we take class with Ron Brown and have the opportunity to watch the Limon Company rehearse.
Friday morning we took class with Principal Dancer Tadej Brdnik from the Martha Graham Dance Company. The incredible accompanist was Scott Morehouse. All of the students really enjoyed Tadje’s class and getting his perspective of the movements. He spent a lot of time in class talking about how the back of the body is more important than the front in the Graham technique because every movement is initiated from the pelvis or spine. This was a new way of explaining things and we all found everything he said to be very helpful. All of us are now going to be applying all of the knowledge he shared with us in our class at UNC Charlotte. Following our dance class we met with the artistic director, Johnathan Hollander, of the Battery Dance Company. Celebrating it’s 37th year, in local and international community outreach, and performances. We all found everything Mr. Hollander said to be inspirational. Please view the link for more info. Truly inspiring!
Thursday was another jammed packed day of dancing! The students all started out their morning with a modern class at Peridance taught by Ron Brown, the founder of Evidence Dance Company. His Brooklyn based company integrates contemporary choreography and traditional African dances, so this was a new fusion for most of us. After class some of the students headed back over to Broadway Dance Center to get their jazz fill, and took Sheila Barker’s class again. All of the girls that took her class loved her very traditional jazz style and how she pushes all of the students to the best of their ability during that class time.
Later in the day the students had the opportunity to observe a second professional company’s rehearsal. Thanks to Carla Maxwell, the artistic director of the Limon Company, we were lucky to watch Sarah Stackhouse rehearse them in Limon’s mazurkas.
All of us recognized the familar face of company member Pablo. A few years ago we were able to see him perform with Professor Jones in Ye Faculty Dance Concert at UNCC.
This was a very neat experience to watch someone we have seen perform before at our school, there in his comfortable environment of the Limon company. Also the dancers found it was very helpful to be able to see two professional companies rehearse and observe how different their own individual processes are. With this opportunity to observe professional dancers and the expectations for their rehearsals, us as dancers have to raise the expectation within our own department rehearsals at UNCC.
After watching the Limon rehearsal, Professor Jones took us to visit the office of the dance company Urban Bush Women. There we were able to meet the director and founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, along with some of the company members. Next month Jawole and some of these company members are coming to UNC Charlotte to do a week long residency, and to set a reconstruction of “Walking With Pearl: Africa Diaries” on a group of students for the Spring Dance Concert. Meeting Jawole and the company members was very exciting for some of the students on the trip that were casted in the piece.Check out the link below for more information on their residency and other events that they will be holding during that time in Charlotte.
After having the chance to meet everyone, the dancers then went and helped set up a birthday bash for Jawole. That evening the dancers partook in a class lead by Jawole that brought us through the progressions of different social dances through her eyes while growing up in Kansas City. All of the dances represented how her vision for Urban Bush Women came about and is evolving. Our students all really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the class and truly had a good time.
After a long day, the students are exhausted, but are excited for what Friday has in store!