Queer Ballet 9/2 Wow Cafe Theater 7-9 pm

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Teaching this class at Wow tomorrow (Monday)- Queer Ballet. With our bodies and minds we’re gonna untangle what draws us to ballet and what makes us cringe with a thousand creased foreheads and turned in feet. (come.) https://www.facebook.com/events/672229376138382/

So I reached out to some awesome people asking what needs to be queered about ballet? How is ballet oppressive? folks have a shit ton to say about this subject and I asked some of them if they would share. This is how some friends (of varying levels of exposure to ballet and experience dancing) wanna queer ballet…

Mikell:I think the place to start is in the pas de deux, or sure- maybe switch up who-lifts-who? I feel women are always the pas de deux focus as objects of desire w/ men doing all the heavy lifting. Switch it up? Or remove the whole dynamic with same-gender partners or non-binary partners? 

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Hazel:
oppression:

– turn out.

– pointe shoes.

– weightism

– the concept that if it’s not uncomfortable, you’re doing it wrong

– not being allowed to show that it’s hard

– alignment/being upright

Julia: to be honest with you, i can’t think of a part of ballet class that can’t be in some way construed as oppressive–the entire posture and conceit of ballet contorts and controls the human form. which is not to say that i don’t deeply love moving my body in these specific, unnatural ways, or watching others do so, but–nothing about turnout, “soft” arms, tucking in your belly and your ass, lifting your ribcage off your diaphragm, and generally acting like that is not crazy, but in fact, easy and painless, seems normal to me. 

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Lynne: ballet class. well size of body, but the first ballet class i ever took was with an awesome plus sized ballet diva who played the velvet underground during class, so i haven’t really experienced that in a negative way. But why even be plus sized, why not just do your thing?  uh language. i respect having a vocabulary for something but all that french scared me. mirrors, is that the only way? no. wow doesn’t have mirrors, so obviously not. going across the floor always felt like bad death to me. why did we spend all this time doing super simple and satisfying movements in our own space and suddenly I’m expected to leap and spin across the floor in a bundle of 2-everyone else in the class? AND not throw up?! Well, I just did. And no teacher ever said, hey, looks like you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, let’s chat you spin like this. It seemed like there was a taboo perhaps on explain how to do anything in the go across the floor section. But this is all coming from my limited experience.

Jen: Wow… Everything! Starting with the relationship to the mirror, standing in rows, the clothing…the abuse of knees….

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Cora: It’s total subjugation of the body to aesthetics. I mean, I guess you could say that it is a celebration of the beauty of the body, but I think the kind of manipulation of the body it requires is very oppressive. Even with ballerinas who are healthy, the kind of physical exertion it requires is, I think, unnatural to the human body. Even in terms of something like costumes–pointe shoes!–the denial or warping of what is naturally physical is the goal. This seems judgmental, but I don’t mean it that way–people make all sorts of sacrifices for their art, because it is joyful and necessary for them to do, and whatever the requirements on the body may be, they are acceptable for a kind of deeper self-expression that the dancer determines is more important than the physical. 

Ballet also seems very gendered, in terms of having boy and girl dancers–lifts, etc. Romeo and Juliet-type pieces in which each gender has their distinct, typical role. There was an interesting piece in the New Yorker about Benjamin Millepied taking over the Paris Opera Ballet. The reporter sat in on some of his choreographing sessions, and wrote about the gender roles of these pieces. Millepied had a great line to one of his male dancers: “You never grab a woman by the neck.” He was aware of gender implications of certain movements, and their potential to be dark or unqueer. But maybe a larger, and even more unqueer aspect of this, is that the relationships Millepied was portraying were all heterosexual (or, heterosexual in meaning or not, they were rendered in a male-female coupling). 

The article also mentioned Millepied’s trouble with the traditional, or the traditional’s trouble with Millepied. Many people thought he was too young to be director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and he would bring in all sorts of experimental choreography. He was very clear that that wasn’t his intention, and he wanted to keep the spirit of French ballet very much as it has been for centuries. But I think this is another reason why ballet can seem oppressive or unqueer. A lot of what my friends and I enjoyed about ballet class were the very feminine aspects of it–we had our pink leotards and tights and tutus and pointe shoes, and we would go to class and try to be very delicate and quiet and beautiful. And I reveled in all of those stereotypes, and a ballerina is a beautiful thing. But it is, classically, a very specific idea of what a woman should be. And, by extension, what a man should be. It would be odd for someone to come into my ballet class and not want to wear a leotard, or not want to wear a skirt.  but I think this is mostly a style choice, because I would bet one could dance very classically in leggings. And I’m sure there are companies where you could do this. But the traditional “ballerina” image persists, and it is very associated with femininity.

 

how would you queer ballet? lez do it. monday 7 pm.

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Radical body love classes at Wow

Hey if anyone’s having a hankering for some end of summer body love, check out these movement workshops at Wow I’m producing over the next couple weeks. Each is taught by a wow movement artist and accompanied by thoughtful discussion and body research. And what do you know, there’s one tonight with lovely Lydia Love. Check out teh fb event: https://www.facebook.com/events/672229376138382/
AND B THUR 7-9 TONIGHT WOW CAFE THEATER

UPDATES/FRIENDS/ADVENTURES

Hai friends,
It has been a million years since tender and I’m just now feeling like I’m starting to get my groove back.

Am re-reading Ann Cooper Albright’s Choreographing Difference (originally assigned in Deborah Foster’s class at Harvard that I so should have paid more attention in) and am deeply feeling this John Martin definition of metakinesis: “Because of the inherent contagion of bodily movement, which makes the onlooker feel sympathetically in his own musculature, the dancer is able to convey through movement the most intangible emotional experience.”

That is some deep shit about how we relate to dance through our own bodies and I think somewhere in there is why it works- how we can connect to minoritized communities through dance- how bodily oppression can be expressed through body empathy. Yeah I gotta think about it more. deep shit.

Mkay, so Emma and I reconnected about the show recently and I learned that I still have so much to learn about collaboration. I feel deeply honored to have worked so closely with such a powerful and vehement artist and I’m hella proud of what we made together.

I guess with any relationship being clear with your boundaries and expectations is the most vital piece.. Movement is my primary medium for communication and words are Emma’s, but I think we both stretched ourselves immensely, from Emma’s leading warm-up and movement rehearsals to my giving feedback on the story and script. I’m proud of how our collaboration deepened over the process, how we navigated some really difficult moments during tech week, and the fact that even now we can communicate with clarity about the strengths and weaknesses of our collaboration and the show. Okay ode to Emma is over (never!!! but really).

MKAY SO UPDATES: the glorious Patrick Quinn and I will be choreographing a piece for Harvard-Radcliffe Modern Dance Company’s fall show! Heck ya. more to come when we figure out what the hell we’re doing.

ALSO I want to shout out Calamity Co Dance
https://www.facebook.com/CalamityCoDance
Calamity

They’re a fresh awesome hilarious (adjectives) new dance company based in Boston and are having a show this Friday at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square and if you’re in that neck of the woods you should obviously be there seeing Meghan Riling and Molly Hess’s smooth jamz. Music making, cupcakes, contortion, everything. Wish I could make it kiddos!

LAST but not least, a few folks are gathering for an informal dance working group every other Sunday at 8 pm at Outpost Café in bklyn. If you have ish you want to work through relating to dance and dance-making and are in need of some resource sharing and support, you should tots join.

Emma has started a writer’s group as well that meets on Sundays so if you have text you’re muddling through and need some kind, critical, caring ears, you should feel free to reach out to them.

Ay so I’m gonna try to update this regularly with detes about shows, classes, performances. We’ll see how that goes. IF you are able to get to calamity co’s show or you want to join a working group- please commennnnt. all the danzluv4u.

TECH REHEARSALS: a photographic journey

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Tiara drawing some doors. We were at the theatre from 10 am to 10 pm, and spent most that time drinking and making art and hanging lights.

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!!!

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Gaelle hangs lights and looks awesome and is an expert.

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Emma hangs lights too. (It was fine.)

Come see our awesome show! http://www.tenderatwow.eventbrite.org for tickets and info. This weekend, Thurs/Fri/Sat, 8 PM, at WOW Cafe Theatre in downtown Manhattan.

 

A GChat Conversation Between Emma and Julia at 1 AM last night (or, a careful documentation of the dance technical rehearsal process)

Emma: Julia. I know it is late but come to your computer I’m freaking out

Julia: What

Emma: Is it Wednesday or Thursday

Julia: I’m just going to confuse you by telling you a direct answer, because it is after midnight. When you wake up tomorrow, it will be Thursday.

Come see Tender (a dance play) at WOW Cafe May 9-11 8 PM 59-61 E. 4th Street NY NY

http://www.tenderatwow.eventbrite.com

Ten reasons you should COME SEE TENDER AT WOW MAY 9-11 59-61 EAST 4TH STREET NY NY 8 PM (this blog post written by Emma during rehearsal):

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1. There’s a robot puppet.

2. The robot puppet was illegally built in a fancy art studio with uh borrowed materials haha jk not really.

3. Lydia Love is designing the lights.

4. CONSENT IS SEXY. ACTIVE CONSENT IS SEXIER.

5. Tickets are pay what you can, and you decide what you can pay. We hope it’s fifteen dollars. We will be thrilled to see you regardless.

6. “What are your other phobias? That’s a weird question. Don’t answer that. Should we kiss?”

7. We’re performing at a queer anarchist theatre collective called WOW Cafe.

8. The play sparked a series of workshops on radical consent coming to you live summer 2013.

9. “Pretend you’re a bowl of peaches and they all wanna cuddle …” is the start to a warm up we often use.

10. Sometimes we spoon.

Dance Class by Amanda Hameline

There is something incredibly satisfying about seeing a group of mismatched
people all dance in unison. A slow, smooth wave of movement is followed by swiftly
changing feet; a mass of heads looks left and then whips around in a turn (sticky
heads is a term I once heard a teacher use). A stray arm may veer off for a moment,
but the sheer force of united momentum is, in and of itself, strangely exciting.

I think there is no better place to view this than in a slightly disorganized, open
dance class. Of course unison viewed on the stage is also satisfying – the end of
“Revelations” is a great example – but it is a different feeling. The costumes, lights,
and clear imprint on the dancers of hours upon hours of rehearsal make it too
perfect. A short combination at the end of a crowded, sweaty class contains a
different breed of urgency. When else in life do you see a group of people so focused
on learning something just for the sake of learning? Or focus so intently on a short
phrase they will never return to again, and one that will most likely have no direct
impact on their lives? Hard work and intensity don’t normally come along with
transience.

And all this cooperation is borne out of a kind of selfishness. You take a class for
yourself. You don’t take a class to make your other classmates look good. But you do
all come together out of a sheer desire to learn, and improve. And during those last
fifteen minutes it all turns into something, and everyone miraculously morphs into a
single, moving beast.