CriticalDance Forum

Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges
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Author:  trina [ Tue May 30, 2000 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

I thought this might be an intersting topic for "The Studio". although many of our members live in large metro areas, I'm sure, given the use of the internet, that there are a large group of members who "log-on" from isolated areas. In fact, I'm one of them, or have been for the past several months!<BR>I have been teaching in a remote area of Alaska (is there a non-remote part of alaska?)for the past school year. Actually, it's a mid-size town with a good size, well-estabished (200+ students) dance studio with a pre-professional dance group affiliated. It's been a challenge---we're on an island which is accessible to mainland by jet, floatplane and ferry only. There is no road connection to the mainland.<BR>For dance, the challenges have beeen isolation and all issues associated with it. The dancers here, while technically ok, have simply not seen hardly any live dance....except Paul Taylor Co. came here two yrs. ago, and Ballet Stars of Moscow. Sometimes when they travel "south" they can see live dance performance. Their lack of exposure creates certain challenges...we all need inspiration and role have something to aspire to! One of my missions here has been to introduce the kids to modern/contemporary. This has been quite a task...where to even start to explain what modern dance is to teenages who have NO exposure or concept. It's like trying to explain the color "purple' or something---where to begin? I think it takes a minimum of two years to get a foothold for modern...anyway,,,I did choreograph several modern pieces, which were quite succesful. I also taught ballet, jazz and adult/beginner and repertory classes. <BR>Does anyone out there have any similar experiences? is such a "gypsy" field..we have to go where the jobs are!! We land up in some wild places-huh?

Author:  Prisanh [ Wed May 31, 2000 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

Hi Trina (and everyone else) - thanks for bringing this up. Without harping too much on the Alaska thing (it is where I am), my first comment on isolation would be the dearth of peers. Even within dance communities there are little sand lines drawn, if only because of age or geography (this side of town or that), but once there are few of us, there seem even fewer. I work with the University's dance company here (as a member and co-director), and I have no idea how other people do things. Sometimes it's nice to be off on our own here, but other times I see the places we need help and wonder what our improvement curve would be like if only there were more...

Author:  grace [ Wed May 31, 2000 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

trina, with a little time i look forward to joining in this one.<P>much of australia qualifies as 'isolated places' too! Image <P>and i am certainly curious about alaska.<BR>i hope you won't feel i am leading people astray too much, if i put up a link here that i think is fun. i've had it bookmarked on my computer for moments of complete boredom - which somehow never happen any more, since i've become a moderator of this board! Image<P>here it is: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P>it has panoramic webcam views of various places in alaska. you can move the 'camera' or zoom in, all by yourself! have fun, folks! Image<BR>

Author:  grace [ Thu Jun 01, 2000 8:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

OK, being serious now, trina - tho' i know you won't respond for a few days because you're in transit FROM that island, back to this OTHER reality - you wrote:-<P>"Their lack of exposure creates certain challenges..." - i have experienced that here, even with ballet students in a specialised dance program...<P>and it really depressed me when i put on the music for cygnets, which i was teaching them in repertoire class, and a group of teenage girls chorused "that's the cigarette ad!'... Image <P>between a dearth of opportunities (sometimes), parents who don't value the arts, high ticket-prices etc., it's not uncommon to find that you are teaching students who've never seen a dance or a dancer: the 'real thing' in a theatre, that is.<P>their impressions are formed these days by video clips, more so than anything else, and one thing i find THAT cultivates, is the attitude that anyone can do it, it's easy, and no practice or learning is required.<P>THAT's a hard attitude to overcome.<P>prisanh: isn't there any umbrella sort of organisation (like we have here in australia, and i know i've seen in canada) for your situation? a group that will share resources, assist professional development, provide guidelines, keep you informed about courses, workshops, performances, etc...?<P>

Author:  Intuviel [ Fri Jun 02, 2000 12:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

"their impressions are formed these days by video clips, more so than anything else, and one thing i find THAT cultivates, is the attitude that anyone can do it, it's easy, and no practice or learning is required.<P>THAT's a hard attitude to overcome."<P>Grace, aren't your students enlightened when they look in the mirror during class? <P>------------------<BR>~Intuviel~<BR><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>Balletica</A><BR>

Author:  Prisanh [ Fri Jun 02, 2000 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

There likely is some kind of organization, but it's not one I know about yet. I wish they printed the whole Anchorage newspaper online - an interview of us (co-conspirator #1 and I)touches on some of what we're discussing here. How an aesthetic and understanding of dance develops in different soil, so to speak.

Author:  Prisanh [ Fri Jun 02, 2000 2:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

While the outside influence is like a breath of fresh air sometimes, I wouldn't want it to be a scattering wind, obliterating our local voice in the name of big names and big cities.

Author:  trina [ Sun Jun 04, 2000 3:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

One thing we have to keep in mind in this particular post,and in dance education in general,is that we all need to have inspiration and role models... that goes for students and teachers/choreographers alike. We can only learn and grow so much in technique class..then we need the example of the artists on stage as a "touchstone" for which we can aspire....the lighting, choregraphy, costumes, music, concepts and synthesis of ideas/visual images all combine to further fuel our own imaginations. I consider the hundreds of performances I've been to in my lifetime as being just as important as the "formal" dance education I've received. I can remember specific movements and choreography from 30 years ago just as if they happened yesterday. ...My point here, is that when you grow up or live in an isolated area, you don't have as much of this "education' available to you. Videotapes are better than nothing, but don't replace the immediacy and excitment of seeing a "real " performance. Bottom line, go to as many live performances as possible, especially if you are a student or aspiring professional !

Author:  grace [ Sun Jun 04, 2000 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

trina - you have a valuable message there. thank you for reminding me.<P>intuviel: you ask me "aren't your students enlightened when they look in the mirror during class?" - NO!!! trouble is, it takes a discriminarting eye even to 'see' the difference, and without good exposure, the eye isn't cultivated. <P>it's not as is they're doing ballet in a leotard -where line would be very evident - they do 'contemporary' or 'modern' dance, in shorts and T-shirts, in these high school classes - with hair often 'out', jewelery ON, shoes forgotten, rotten attitude, etc!!!<P>OK, someone out there is going to blame ME - and suggest it must be down to the uninspiring teacher, or something - but believe me, for all my faults, it's a bit more complex than that in these environments!<P>and mercifully, they're NOT 'my' students any more - i QUIT! Image<P>prisanh - i wasn't meaning an OUTSIDE organisation - is that what your post about 'a scattering wind' refers to? please elaborate... and any chance of you keying in some short extracts from that newspaper article? (as long as it's brief, and credited, the copyright issue is OK) - sorry to even suggest it (!) but we'd like to know more about you...

Author:  Prisanh [ Mon Jun 05, 2000 8:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

Hiya. In attempting to elaborate on my "scattering wind" idea, I've had to accept a re-thinking of what I'd thunk. That is, it had seemed as though if a lot of dance suddenly showed up here we that were here already would just get obliterated. People'd be in all a mad rush to be like those from someplace else. Well, some of us already do wish that - because only dance from big cities is good, right? (This is where I'd insert one of those little winking faces, if I knew how) I do know when we have contact with people from other places the entire Ensemble's ways change. Actually, many people here enjoy that "homegrown pride" kind of feeling, and enjoy local arts much more than the visiting big shows.<BR>Oh, by the way - I don't work at the University, I'm just a student.<BR>There isn't a coalition of dance groups here, not one I'm aware of. My instructor mentioned there having been one before, or trying to start one, but it didn't seem to pan out. Certainly would be nice - there's more dance here than I know of, I'm sure.<BR>I'll copy in some of the article from the Daily News as soon as I've got my copy back.<BR>However, I have one tidbit from Eric Larson who wrote a review of our recent show. I hope it's ok to print this, I'm not quite sure of all your rules yet. But if you want to know a little about me..<BR>My friend and cohort, Katya choreographed the tango piece, which is what Eric focused on for his newsletter.<BR>"The tango performance is part of the "Pale Concert" in which<BR>ensemble members perform six other dances revolving around a poem called <BR>"Pale." The performances exhibit a wide range of dance styles and show off <BR>the remarkable dancing abilities of the ensemble members.<BR>These are some of the most talented Alaskan dancers, who continue to <BR>experiment and to expand their abilities as dancers and choreographers. <BR>They are well worth our support to help keep dance alive and thriving in <BR>Alaska."<P>Let me know if this post is too long, please. Thx. <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Prisanh (edited June 05, 2000).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Jun 05, 2000 10:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

Prisanh, rest assured that the length is fine. We have posts from 1 word to 1500 and both can be justified depending on the topic and the points made. Your contribution is very welcome.<P>One small tip to bear in mind to enhance screen reading is frequent line breaks (see grace's posts).

Author:  grace [ Tue Jun 06, 2000 4:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

prisanh, i'm beginning to get the picture a bit better now. thanks. this post is going to be short, because i'm a little worried about something happening with my computer - but i want to say that i know what you mean about there being a VALUE -as well as a cost- to isolation. more on that later!<P>btw (by the way) to do the little winking face (you'll notice i do it a lot!) click on 'faq' up the top right hand corner of any page, then click on the question about "How to do/get smileys". i'll save you the effort, JUST this once Image it's here: <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A>

Author:  Prisanh [ Wed Jun 07, 2000 10:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

Hello there! It's just not as beautiful here today as it has been. Hopefully these clouds fit in with the Alaskan saying "don't like the weather? wait 15 minutes, it'll change"<BR> Image<P>The daily newspaper here very handily changed its online format, making more articles available. The little bit done on me and my friends is now online in its entirety at: <A HREF=",2645,164331,00.html." TARGET=_blank>,2645,164331,00.html.</A> <P>If this isn't an adequate way to share some of this, let me know and I'll copy some into a message<p>[This message has been edited by Prisanh (edited June 07, 2000).]

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Jun 07, 2000 10:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

Prisanh, that is exactly the way to share the news with us and many thanks. If it was down the road, I'd be buying a ticket.

Author:  grace [ Wed Jun 07, 2000 10:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dancing in Isolated Areas-challenges

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"In some ways, Anchorage is a limiting environment," she said. "But there are<BR>opportunities that open up for you maybe because you are so much on your own." <HR></BLOCKQUOTE> this is true in parts of australia, too. <P>sounds great - i like the quote in the last para about the comet!<P>first thing i noticed, though, was "Bear Attacks" in the Archives headings!!!!

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