June 2018 In Dance


community news Dancers’ Group Announces 2018 Lighting Artists for Dance Grant Recipients

NOW IN ITS 11TH YEAR, the Lighting Artists in Dance program provides lighting designers, working with choreographers and dance companies, access to funds that will support their artistic collaborations, which culminate in the creation of dance performances taking place in the Bay Area. The program is unique in its focus on supporting Lighting Designers for dance. Dancers’ Group’s executive director, Wayne Hazzard states that, “The designers and artists working in the Bay Area continue to engage in invigoratingly good and one-of-a-kind collaborations that are represented in this year’s grantees. The depth and range of projects are an inspiration for artists and audiences alike.” The 2018 Lighting Artists in Dance grantees are: Rogelio Lopez , lighting designer for Nina Haft & Company Jack Beuttler , lighting designer for Simpson/Stulberg Collaborations Tony Shayne , lighting designer for Hope Mohr Dance Kaveri Seth , lighting designer for Paufve Dance Harry Rubeck , lighting designer for African & African American Performing Arts Coalition Stephanie Anne Johnson , lighting designer for Deep Waters Dance Theater Delayne Medoff , lighting designer for Monique Jenkinson dancersgroup.org/lad Dohee Lee Receives 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has announced its 2018 fellowships, including two joint fellowships, to a group of scholars, artists, and scientists. The recipients were chosen from a pool of three thousand applicants and were selected based on their prior achievements and potential to make significant contributions to their fields. Oakland’s Dohee Lee is part of the 2018 cohort, in the Drama and Performance Art category. gf.org

Sadly though, I still hear from young women about the ‘creepy guy’ factor at jams. Wom- en, especially younger women, are still feel- ing a need to dodge certain men at certain moments. So we do have some work to do, still, as a community. What gives me hope is that the jam is a place where I learned to practice strong boundaries and to keep my- self safe. It is a fertile learning ground for finding one’s best self. Taja Will I personally have not seen it impact my pri- mary CI community but I’ve been hearing from other communities that the #metoo movement has liberated incidents and feel- ings around safety and respect in their com- munities, some folks have been called out for recurring behavior that makes others feel unsafe. Anya Cloud It impacts everything. As dance artists I be- lieve that we are the material of the work. And that includes our complex histories that often relate to trauma. I think it is expos- ing the need for more explicit and nuanced consent practices with CI. I think that the #metoo movement is facilitating some space for more transparent questioning/discourse of patriarchy, white supremacy, and hetero- normativity that can be quite pervasive in the CI community. It is ongoing and incre- mental work to move against these dominant systems. The current statistics are that some- one in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. We can't ignore this within the CI community. And I do notice people talking more about power, consent, agency, preda- tory behavior, gender, and assumptions now than I have in the past. We can do better. It is vital and important work in terms of vision- ing and manifesting the kind of CI culture and practice that we want in the future. It is all quite intense and necessary. Cathie Caraker I can't speak for the whole CI community but I can say that my own approach has changed. I’m much quicker to speak up now when my ‘ick radar’ goes off. I recently approached an organizer who had invit- ed me to a workshop with a male teacher who's long had a reputation for being one of “those guys” who hits on female par- ticipants. I told the organizer that I wasn't comfortable being at an event with this teacher, and told him why. His response was quite defensive. However, he passed on what I'd said and that teacher reached out to me. We ended up having a very good conversa- tion, in which he shared with me that he's been working on changing his behavior. It was one of those moments where I felt a clear shift because I'd spoken up. It feels awkward and even scary to stick your neck out. As women we're socialized to be nice. We want people to like us. We're afraid of offending, or god forbid, making a mistake. We can teach young women about healthy boundaries and consent and blah blah, but we're still not addressing the core problem, which is patriarchy, male entitlement. The imbalance of power is very old but we can change it. We can support female-identified artists and boycott dance institutions that don't. We can ask our male peers to take a step back, to listen more and ask how they can help. We can facilitate discussions on diversity and power sharing at our dance festivals. It’s happening - there is a sea change afoot.

THE WEST COAST CONTACT IMPROVISATION JAM in Berkeley (wcciJAM) has been a hub for the investigation of the form for over 25 years. Contact Improvisation (CI), which grew out of choreographic experiments in the early 1970s, is a relational dance form in which dancers improvise around touch, weight exchange, and the physics of equilib- rium and falling. CI challenged assumptions about dance, but has since developed into a form practiced widely by both professional and recreational dancers around the world. “Contact Improvisation's influence can be seen throughout modern and postmod- ern dance choreography, performance, and dance training worldwide, especially in re- lationship to partnering and use of weight.” ( Contact Quarterly ) Contact Improvisation's open-ended physical dialogues between dancers offers a platform for critical inquiry of movement possibilities. Can it also cultivate a ques- tioning of the cultures we inhabit? In wc- ciJAM 2017’s Statement on Inclusivity and Assumptions, teachers and organizers cre- ated a statement acknowledging that while our dance is not enough to change the larger sociopolitical context, we must grapple with the issues that are present in the room at ev- ery jam. Each of us arrives at the dance with our own personal histories, at an intersec- tion of specific identities. Can awareness of how culture and socioeconomic structures inhabit our bodies, minds, and habits, help us avoid perpetuating inequities? How do we continue to question both our dancing and the subculture that we've built to sup- port its practice? What are the form’s poten- tials for disrupting oppression and privileges based on identity? The practice of CI is uniquely positioned to offer a space for the investigation of how we express our personal boundaries through touch and movement. A statement most often attributed to dancer and choreogra- pher Steve Paxton says that CI should deal with “physics, not ‘chemistry.’” Neverthe- less, this boundary is not always respected, nor is it easy to define. The dancing body and the social body coexist. Learning CI can involve learning to navigate complex experi- ences and interactions where a strong sense of personal agency is called for. This can be particularly challenging for younger women, gender non-conforming folks, dancers with disabilities, or other structurally disadvan- taged groups. In this moment of #metoo, we – Cathy, Rosemary, and Miriam along with the rest of the team organizing the wcciJ AM – are committed to empowering danc- ers to maintain healthy boundaries, to cul- tivate self-care and agency in their dance relationships. With that in mind, “De/con- structing Power” was chosen as this year’s festival theme. What follows are responses to the ques- tion, “How do you see the #metoo move- ment impacting the CI community, or not?” from some of this year’s female-identified teachers: Jo Kreiter I stepped away from the contact community in 2004 when my son was born and came back to it in 2016, when he was old enough to stay home alone for a little while, so I could go to the jam. When I came back, I was so delighted to see a younger generation had taken up the form, and to see tremen- dous thoughtfulness around inclusivity and power. There are many more brown bodies on the dance floor then when I left. And gen- der non-conforming bodies. There is spoken, articulate language, and even written decla- rations, for how to be in a jam with respect for all. I think dancers are some of the best creatures on earth, so I am not surprised by these evolutions of thought and practice.

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in dance JUN 2018

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