Archive Page 2

Win, Lose or Luck of the Draw

Dancers (L to R) Lauren Perrone, Candace Rattliff, Kelly Schaefer and Roberta Cortes in Luck of the Draw

On February 18, 2011  Earthen Vessels, the Sandra Organ Dance Company opened their newest showcase Luck of the Draw.

To read the review by Rosie Trump please click here

Talk Back with Lydia Hance of Frame Dance

“Talk Back” is  interview series with dancers and choreographers. Lydia Hance is the artistic vision behind Frame Dance Production in Houston, TX.   She is premiering her new film Satin Stich on March 12 at Spacetaker ARC.

Satin Stitch credit: Lorie Garcia

Talk Back with Lydia Hance

Interview by Rosie Trump

Tell us a bit about yourself, location, and company.

I’ve lived in Houston for about four years now.  I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, moved to Dallas to get my BFA in Dance Performance and BA and English Literature from SMU, and then moved down to Houston.  I started my time here dancing in several companies, teaching, and choreographing independently.  In May 2010, I launched Frame Dance Productions, a contemporary dance company to connect dance to the Web 2.0 social networking infrastructure, an emerging, media-rich forum for new creative expression.  We create dances-for-camera, dances-with-camera, and strive to collaborate with artists outside of the dance genre.

Describe your approach to movement and your creative process.

Something triggers my entry into a new work.  Sometimes it’s dance, but more often it’s art I’ve experienced that is not necessarily dance—a painting, a poem, a photograph, a conversation.  I internalize that experience and find out what it means in my body.  I journal quite a bit.  Then I drop it and create a choreographic score that intrigues me intellectually, develop movement (usually in the form of a dance phrase) and play with those ingredients.  The dancers I work with are smart and generous in their offerings of ideas and possibilities.  There’s usually a lot of dialogue and giving of self on everyone’s part in my rehearsals.

What informs your dance making?

I’m very drawn to visual compositions of things, color, texture, and shape as well as connectedness (or lack of connectedness) between people.  I feel compelled to explore the delicate parts of human relationships.

What made you decide you wanted to be a dancer?

Foolish or not, I’ve never really considered anything else.

Discuss an influential teacher or mentor.

One who entered my life somewhat recently is Nancy Saylor of the Community Dance Connection Theatre in Lexington, VA.  She is brilliant in the way that she creates dances for people, for her dancers. Her work comes from a personal space; I’ve learned so much about how deeply to search self to make vulnerable and true work. She deeply trusts the people she works with, and I see that risk reap so much richness in her dance community and in the product of her work.

Name a few of your favorites: dance movies, youtube clips, books or dance songs.

Recently, I’ve been watching every clip of Robert Moses’ work that I can find and currently I’m reading Critical Gestures: Writings of Dance and Culture by Ann Daly.

What advice can you offer to inspiring dancers and choreographers?

For dancers:  Get your butt kicked as early as possible.  Build a foundation, and then play.  Learn a modern technique, not just ballet, to find your balance, your core, and your confidence.  Limon, Hawkins, Horton, Graham, whatever it is, learn a codified modern technique as your native language.  Certainly stray far, far from it, but learn it deep in your body.

For choreographers: Dialogue, seek feedback, and show your work to artists of genres outside of dance for a healthy scope of information about your work.  Go back to your Comp I toolbox more often than you’d like to admit.  Find out what interests you and develop that area, make it your niche.

Tell us about your newest projects.

March 12 is the premiere of my new dance film, Satin Stitch.  It is a cast of five dressed in coats, hats, and scarves from sun up to sun down dancing and threading and connecting.  We shot this film on the Boliver Peninsula in Texas.

I am currently in rehearsal for our evening-length live work called Mortar, Sylphs Wrote.  I’m early in this process. We premiere this work April 16 and 17 as part of the Hope Werks residency.  I’m creating a new world.  It’s a little fantasy, and little animalistic, a little foreign and a little familiar.  I’m working with the music of Micah Clark who is the winner of the Frame Dance Productions Music Composition Competition.  His music has a story of its own.  I’m creating my story, sometimes surrendering to his, and will hopefully come out with something satisfying and bizarre.  I blog the process here:  My website is

Triple Focus

HIStory Dance Crew

On January 22, 2011 the Jewish Community Center of Houston presented Triple Focus, an evening of contemporary Houston dance, including Hope Stone Dance Company, HIStory and NobleMotion Dance.

To read the review, click here

After a stretch of silence and stillness in the blogosphere, Reading the Dance is on the move again.  New interviews, articles and reviews coming soon!

Talk Back with Arianne Hoffmann

“Talk Back” is  interview series with dancers and choreographers.   Arianne Hoffmann, an independent choreographer in the Los Angeles area.  She is presenting her new work “Bricklayer With a Sense of Humor” at Highways Performance Space March  5 & 6 At 8:30pm.

photo by Kevin Gralewski

Talk Back with Arianne Hoffmann

interview by Rosie Trump

Tell us a bit about yourself, location, and company.

I have been in the Los Angeles area for about 8 years now.  I still spend time in Berlin every year, where I used to live in a collective.  Mostly I have worked collectively or on solo pieces – until last when year I decided to work with an assembly of people whom I call A Group of Movers.  I am increasingly getting attached to that name: it implies a task-ness, suggest that any movement can be considered part of their dance, and has political connotations.

Describe your approach to movement and your creative process.

I am very focused on the structure of a piece and on the process that gets it to be a piece.  The movement generally arises from somatic information.  When I choreograph for myself, I like working with underlying principles that produce movements that are somewhat reproducible but still arise out of the moment of performance. At the moment I enjoy creating tasks for others and myself.  For the Bricklayers project, I am developing scores that consist of sets of rules.  I make the rules for an improvisation and the group tries them out. There are a lot of discussions about how they experience the score: how did they restrict the basic freedom of the movers? As a result, the various cores control, permit, rein in, enable, contain, or make space for individual decision-making.

What informs your dance making?

The way I experience my body. The way I experience life. My awareness of movement outside of myself, whether that is movement in other people or suggested by objects. Collectivity. A group of people entering in a creative process. Humor.

What made you decide you wanted to be a dancer?

I was sent to attend dance classes at the age of 8, because it was easier than getting physical therapy for my supposedly unhealthy posture. Dancing wasn’t much fun until I was 15 or 16: the small, provincial dance studio was the only place where I felt welcomed. At the time, the color of my hair was ever changing and my attitude towards life rather dark. Despite it, the owner Pia Schering gave me a special appearance in a recital (I believe I was a sea creature), and I was on fire.  Around the same time, I worked crew on a performance of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater when it came through nearby Frankfurt. I must have ironed about 40 costumes before I watched the performance from backstage, sewing kit in hand in case of emergency.  That was the first time I encountered people making a living of being a dancer. It was very persuasive.

Discuss an influential teacher or mentor.

As part of my MFA program, I am privileged to be working a lot with Victoria Marks. Apart from her being a brilliant choreographer, she has been a great mentor. I have been learning so much from watching her teach as well as when she prods me with questions about my work. Simone Forti has been another big influence on me. Our relationship has less to do with my “formal training” and more with improvising together, talking, or working for her. Her trajectory as an artist is immensely inspiring. But first and foremost, she inspires me as a human being.

Name a few of your favorites: dance movies, youtube clips, books or dance songs.

The socialist youth musical “Hot Summer” (Jo Hasler, 1968) is a knockout. Excerpts of it are used in the documentary “East Side Stories” (Dana Ranga, 1997), a good overview of Soviet and eastern block communist musicals. Currently I am reading Carrie Noland’s “Agency and Embodiment: Performing Gestures / Producing Culture” (2009) while listening to Douglas Wadle’s scores.

What advice can you offer to inspiring dancers and choreographers?

Make it your own. Enjoy your body. Take pleasure in how you move. Everything else will follow. 

Tell us about your newest projects.

I have been working on “Bricklayer With a Sense of Humor” for a bit more than a year now.  The choreography of “Bricklayers…” functions as a metaphor for political processes, in which some lead and others follow.  The premise is simple:  We all maneuver the immediate challenges of our day-to-day lives while we negotiate our next moves.  These moves, strategic or spontaneous, appear to be self-determined, but are mostly reactions to the pushes and pulls that we experience.  Yet, we are rarely aware of the underlying politics of our day-to-day lives.  “Bricklayers…” provides a focused experience of collective negotiations – both on and off stage – and heightens our awareness of the powers at play.

For more information please visit

For ticket information please visit

Watch an excerpt of Bricklayers (at Movement Research at the Judson Church, 11/09)

Digital Dance in the Inland Empire

Maral Yessayan in "about the house"

Digital Dance in the Inland Empire

by Rachel Holdt

This past week, the dance department at Mt. San Jacinto College hosted a Dance for Camera screening on campus.  This showing was offered for viewing not only to the students, but also to the local community and, as such, was well attended.

Dance for Camera explores experimental movement for screen, and is specifically designed to delve into the capabilities that are available through film.  Although all four films shown were of exceptional quality, I was able to interview the creator of the pre-screening clip that was being looped upon arrival at the screening room.  Rosie Trump, a former associate faculty at the Mt. San Jacinto College was willing to share some of her creative inspiration and personal insight into the piece entitled, “…about the house…”

Much of Trump’s works center around a single woman, and this piece did just that.  Unbeknownst to me as I entered the screening room on the Menifee campus, it was not clear that this film was being looped.  Originally a twenty minute piece, the clip being shown was only a few minutes long.  Because of the unique way in which it was filmed, with several concurrent scenes happening on split screen and abrupt scene changes, the looping was almost an addition to this effect.  The connections between loops stood out as a very intentional disconnect while intensifying the overall peculiarity of the film and the sense of duality—which is a Rosie Trump signature.

The film began with a single female inside an older house.  The camera captures a few outside shots of the front lawn, fence, and porch rocker.  The soundscape is inclusive of daily noises such as a lawn mower, and the rocking chair on the porch swaying back and forth with the breeze.  The young woman opens and closes the door a few times as though dancing a duet with the doorway.  An abrupt scene change takes the woman into the kitchen where she lays down sideways on the kitchen table and pedals her feet as though riding a bike.  In yet another sudden scene change, the split screen captures two tea kettles on the stove.  Opposite this shot is the female standing in front of the fireplace peering into a long mirror on the mantle.  Dishes and silverware sounds are heard as the only sound in this scene.  The next scene finds the female sitting on a chair in front of the fireplace speaking directly to the camera person about a purse while a cat plays on the mantle behind her.

The film captured a lot of imagery and symbolism, which, in a nod to Rosie Trump’s style, was very intentional.  Avoiding any typical choreography, Trump prefers, “movement with the choreography of the camera.”  Trump also likes intentionally “forcing the audience to choose” what to watch by her use of split screen and multiplicity on the screen.  In this work, Trumps whimsical and very unique perspective by using the camera as a voice in dance is clear.  With every element of the film intentionally peculiar, Trumps purpose to create that “nagging sensation of daily living”, and to link the very private space of a home with the outside world is certainly seen through her very inimitable portrayal of dance in this film.

Under the Same Sun

Photo by Bonnie Kamin

Under the Same Sun: Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and Guandong Modern Dance Company

Review by Rachel Holdt

“Other Suns” by Margaret Jenkins Dance Company from San Francisco, California, performed at University of California, Riverside this past Wednesday, November 4th to a sold out house.  In collaboration with the Guandong Dance Modern  Company, the first modern dance company to come from China, Margaret Jenkins choreographed three original works for her company and the Guandong Modern Dance Company (GMDC).

In a personal interview with Sue Roginski, dance instructor at Mt. San Jacinto College, and former MJDC member of almost 10 years, I gained an insightful perspective about the history of Margaret Jenkins herself and the company she leads.  Roginski stated that the MJDC utilizes collaboration from the dancers and their individual choreography as a crucial part of the process in creating new pieces. She stated that the individual dancers are given a prompt or task and generate material that is used to compile a dance.  This was immediately confirmed as the program for Wednesday night’s performance listed each and every dancer on the program as not only a dancer, but also a collaborator.  This aspect of MJDC brings out a deeper appreciation for the individual within the company, and a respect for the talent that each dancer adds to the space.

This politically soothing collaboration between a mainland Chinese company and MJDC was not the first.  Collaboration is a theme that obviously resounds with Margaret Jenkins.   In a previous collaboration with the University of Berkeley Science Department, MJDC produced an inquisitive work called, “Fault”  which examined the political and sociological impact of ‘faults’ in the everyday fabric of our lives.  Paul Dresher, whose music principally composed the sound score for “Other Suns,” has worked in collaboration with this company for over twenty-five years.

Sue Roginski’s interest in the current work by MJDC extended to the process of communication between Margaret Jenkins and the Chinese dancers in preparing for this world premier.  Specifically, how Jenkins was able to overcome the language barrier and still produce the choreography for them.  Jenkins stated about this aspect directly, “ I am thrust into the stark contrasts that exist between what I have come to know about living a life as a Western artist and citizen and what it means to live, translate, and make dances in another culture.  Everything is challenged.  Working with dancers who have both come to dance and continue to dance for multiple and sometimes different reasons brings into full relief all the fundamental questions about what one wants to communicate, with whom , and why.”  The show on Wednesday left no doubt that the language barrier had been overcome.  Another aspect that Roginski was excited about surrounded the choreography itself.  She was interested to see how much of it would be a hybrid of movement or if Jenkin’s style would still be heavily present.  Although this question is left for personal interpretation, what could definitively be seen through all three performances was the fluidity of theme.

The first company to take the stage was MJDC.  This piece themed an obvious action and reaction sequence through much of the first few minutes.  In a Newton’s Cradle replication, the dancers’ symbolism carried significance about weight distribution, effort, and transference.  In keeping with the titled, “Other Suns,” the movement vocabulary in all three dances also centered on the lighting. A constellation of bulbs hovered over the entire stage just above the dancer’s reach.  Lifting their hands, feet, or each other’s bodies upward, they repeatedly reached out to these bulbs –‘suns’—throughout the night – never quite reaching them.

The second piece, performed by GMDC revolved around much more directed movement.  In the tradition of Eastern dance, intentional footwork lingered, but the cultural intertwining was apparent.  Involving considerable floor work, GMDC gymnastically performed this routine.  Rapt attention to detail engaged every moment.  The GMDC was impeccable and solidly sailed though beautiful partnering, and syncopated fall and recovery.

The final piece of the evening melded the two dance companies together.  Fifteen dancers on stage from two separate and very different countries made a powerful statement both artistically and socially.  The piece resounded historically as the art of dance flowed through their bodies, onto the stage and out to a receptive audience.  The collaboration with these companies was symbolic in so many ways, the most important being the exemplar usage of art as a bridge to shorten the gap between the two cultures.  “What connects us heart to heart? What world have we entered – of like limbs, but not; of like minds, but not; yet all under the same sun!” says Margaret Jenkins.  Several are the differences, but the seamless dance that was performed showcased the commonalities.  Dancers shared their mutual humanity, and citizens shared the space on our planet.   The lesson here was strong and beautiful -a lesson that should be shared.