When I came to Core Dance as Publications Manager in September 2017, I was immediately drawn to the daily morning classes. The athleticism and process-based approach spoke to me as a mover. As a staff member, I had the opportunity to jump into class a few days a week before sitting down at my desk. I’ve written blog posts regularly about class and rehearsals, and it is one of my favorite parts of my job.
I have recently accepted a position with the University of Rochester. It is a bittersweet transition. I know that everything that I have learned during my time at Core Dance will strengthen me in my future journeys but I am sad to leave. Now, during my last week as Publications Manager, I find myself coming full circle, writing a blog post about an incredible class.
This morning, I was lucky enough to take class with Luke Murphy, the third guest artist of our summer intensive, DIG. Throughout the two and a half hour class, sweat soaked through my clothes, I felt muscles I didn’t know I had, and we all discovered new shapes for our bodies. I loved the structure of the class, bordering on traditional with a warm up, across the floor, and then phrase work, but innovative and challenging in movements. To warm up, we went through different sequences of moving in and out of the ground, shaking different parts of our bodies, and engaging and releasing muscles while staying fluid and grounded. I loved that it was such a long warm-up, and I really enjoyed the balance of strengthening exercises and stretching. As we began moving across the floor, I was warm and ready for whatever Luke threw at us.
Before learning a phrase that combined floorwork with jumps, turns, and shifting weight, we spent time rolling, sliding, and shifting from one side of the room to the other. During one sequence, we slid across the floor on our backs, using solely our core muscles and shoulders to move through space. Luke made it look so fluid, but I found it difficult not to get stuck. It was awesome to watch everyone struggle slightly but then get into the groove of it. We did a lot of over the shoulder rolls, which I loved because being upside down is my favorite thing in the world, but it was a new challenge to do them consistently, while traveling and trying not to get too dizzy. Although I am sure to discover some bruises tomorrow, it was gratifying to use muscles that I don’t usually engage, and move in a completely different way.
Luke focused a lot on the pathways of movements, which I found extremely helpful. Rather than just showing us how the move was supposed to look, he demonstrated where the initiation came from, and how it was meant to flow throughout the body. I often find myself trying to imitate the teacher in class, and it was great to confirm that mimicking is not the same thing as learning. It’s important not to jump into something without learning the process, both to prevent injury and to fully embody the movement. Even though I didn’t fully translate everything seamlessly into my body today, I connected with the mechanics behind each new idea. By the end of the class, I knew more about my own body and it’s incredible ability to create motion.
I have grown so much as a dancer, writer, and individual, since joining the Core Dance team. It’s an incredibly unique environment - a space that encourages creativity in all of its staff and dancers, supports everyone involved, and works tirelessly to create change in the world through the medium of dance. Everyone here has a passion for the art, and it has been an amazing experience to work with so many talented individuals. I will be forever grateful for my time here, and Core Dance will always hold a special place in my heart.
What it means to be a Creator, Innovator, Risk-taker, Collaborator, Learner, and Dancer, at Core Dance
This last month, Core Dance has had the pleasure of having Jackie Hynson as our Communications Intern. Before she concluded her internship, Jackie took a moment to reflect on all that she learned during her time in our office. The image below is an example of a graphic that she designed, and in her blog post below she elaborates on the different projects and observations she made as a Core Dance team member.
The description that Core Dance gives to their business is simple yet effective in communication: “Core Dance, an award-winning contemporary dance company with global reach, creates, performs, and produces compelling original dance that ignites the creative spirit and actively encourages participation and conversation with the community. Founded in 1980. Creators. Innovators. Risk-takers. Collaborators. Learners. Dancers.”
During my internship at Core Dance, I have witnessed this mission trickle down in the office space that is upholding their artistic endeavors. The time has flown by and I am grateful for the time I have spent at Core Dance. From designing flyers to researching Google AdWords, I feel as though I have dipped my tasting spoon into each varying factor of what it is like to communicate for the art of dance. True to their mission, working as a Communications Intern at Core Dance has challenged me to be a better Creator, Innovator, Risk-taker, Collaborator, Learner, and Dancer.
The basis of every task is creativity, the type that comes with a thought out ingenuity. Without this mindset, your communication to your audience will turn out boring and repetitive. Communication must be handled by the words and actions of an artist. From creating logos that boldly speak the strength and mission, to flyers that cohesively promote the diversity of opportunities organized by Core Dance, to posts on social media with a voice of engagement to your community, all of these communication tasks must come from a basis of creativity.
New methods, ideas, or products are essential to progress and growth of a business. As a communicator for the arts, you are faced with innovation on a daily basis. How can we form new methods of promoting this art to a greater audience? One way I grew in this area at Core Dance was researching Google AdWords & Analytics. Although it was on the more technical side of the job, it was a necessary method of innovation to grow the company.
Have you ever tried to create something and questioned if the idea is simply farther than you can reach? My advice would be to pursue that idea--be an innovator and get a ladder to help you if you need it. Pursue this challenge because it is in this place that our products of creativity flourish. Even elements of design need to be risky in order to create something new.
I have come to adore this word in the past year. How beautifully humbling and joyful it is to be able to admit your weaknesses and to encourage those who carry those same things as their natural strength. Collaboration builds community and I see Core Dance fostering that so well in their office environment. Ideas are bouncing like ping-pong balls across the open office space daily and each person carries their own strength in this space that is vital to the organization.
Let me tell you, YouTube and Google have been my best friends this month. There were many times when I was given a task to simply learn about a program or set up an application in a more efficient way and I would learn and implement my knowledge that day. Although challenging at times, I readily enjoyed simply being told to learn. I so appreciated the way Core Dance used this time of my internship to impart as much practical knowledge to me as possible. This will continue to be beneficial in my future as a marketer for the arts.
This is my first love. This is my adoration. I pursued this internship because I believe in the art of dance as a means of communication of truth, good, and beauty and I am thrilled to uphold that in whatever way I can. On top of the classes I was able to take at Core Dance, I am excited to take my knowledge I have gained from this internship to serve me in my pursuit of dance.
I am grateful for this month at Core Dance and can see the knowledge imparted to me from this place having a lasting impact on my career.
Last week, we concluded our final morning classes for the 2017-2018 season with lots of floor work! Our communications intern, Jackie Hynson, had the opportunity to take class with teachers Scott Wheet and Ashley Ramsee. Read on to hear her reflection!
The edge of my left shoulder hits the ground and as I roll I feel the marley make contact with the space between my shoulders. My side and hips touch the floor next as I roll through the continuation of my body. My arms make a rainbow around my head to propel my body through the shape.
Curving through my spine, I pass my head through the midline of my body to rock my entire body and fall on my right side.
Hands catch my fall and I plant into that same matted black floor and align my shoulders to boost my lower half of my body into the air. Falling out of this position feels as though I hit the top of a swing and the decent is forcefully smooth with its pathway.
Following the guidance of the instructor, my breath is the foundation of each initiation of movement. I am conscience of all of the facets of this movement because of my sensory awareness of the floor beneath me and the awakened receptors in my body. Each necessary stepping stone of the class has led up to my execution of this combination and nothing was given in vain.
Taking class at Core Dance this past Monday and Wednesday under Scott Wheet and Ashley Ramsee was a such a beneficial experience for me. Though most likely unintentionally, their classes carried a similar theme and structure and the building block frameworks helped me thrive in class. These classes started with basic studies of sensory awareness with a partner and built off a foundation of miniscule movements. These movements attuned our focus to the proprioceptors in our body and the others in the space. The warm up was audibly guided by the class instructor and allowed us to explore the sensory experience rather than remembering a series of movement. These slow, grounding practices with the floor was vital in providing a foundation for the rest of the class. I thoroughly enjoyed the floorwork combinations and the way they challenged my ability to connect and rely on my partnership with the floor. I was challenged and hungry to know more by the end of each class!
When moving onto structured combinations, the class still encouraged exploration and personal thoughtfulness of the initiation of each movement. I adore this because thoughtfulness in my movement is one of the reasons why dance is so stimulating to me. With each movement there are endless possibilities of thought process behind the execution of the movement.
Without this kind of thinking, the dancer can lose their artistic exploration. Taking classes that encourage this creative stimulation revitalizes me as a mover and as an artist. Core Dance is creating a space to grow and mature artists to internally process their art. What is their medium of communication? Asking dancers to breath first and then roll on the floor.
Working as a Communications Intern with Core Dance, I am using the means of media communication and marketing to further the dance field in a way other than performance or choreography. While my first love is performance and choreography, I see the necessity and worth of behind-the-scenes work. As marketers, we act as the voice of the artists. This is what specifically drives me to value marketing for the arts. It is an honor to intern at Core Dance and study this skill of communication for the dance field while still gaining training in my technique.
On my first day of my internship, Sharon, Core Dance’s Production Manager, asked me to help her with a task. We then loaded every folding chair we could find into the back of her pick-up truck, chatting as we did this, getting to know one another. She later took the chairs to 7 Stages to load-in for American Playground and The Third Dance. Even though I was the Communications intern this spring, I got to work throughout the office. In this instance, it was all hands on deck during show week. Everyone is a team, looking to help in any way they can.
I decided to intern for Core Dance to reenter the arts administration world during a period of transition in my life. I expected to do some small tasks for Sydney, Core Dance’s Publications Manager, and just kind of assist in the background of the organization. I was surprised, and delighted, to find myself taking the lead on projects and bigger assignments. I created flyers on Photoshop for EnCore Dance on Film and DIG Summer Intensive. I created a variety of Instagram stories to advertise for DIG, Teens Activate, and Lunchtime in the Studio. I was solely in charge of a massive project on Core’s email lists. I wrote several blog posts within the first weeks in the office. Though Sydney had the final say, she let me freely create with my own ideas. In previous jobs and internships, it was much more rigid and I was given a lot less freedom. Though I am primarily a dancer, I do enjoy being creative in other outlets as well, and Core gave me the chance to express that side of my brain and further develop marketable skills. I love working to promote an organization that I care about.
I was in the office during a variety of programming including American Playground and The Third Dance, the Coreolab with Niv and Oren, Lunchtime in the Studio, As The Shadows Grow Longer, the Poland Project, and Field Day. During all of this, we continued to plan for events this summer! With this programming across the globe, the company travels a lot. I noticed in the office the multitasking that had to be done in order to stay on top of everything. We had to make sure we were promoting upcoming events abroad, while still sharing what we were up to in our Houston and Atlanta locations. While the Dance Artists were in Poland, we wanted to keep everyone informed with what was happening there, but also had to plan and share upcoming events such as Lunchtime in the Studio and Field Day. Throughout all of this, we had to keep in mind events further in the future such as our summer intensives.
It was a great experience to intern for Core Dance, and I will miss coming into the office. The people behind this organization are wonderful and I loved joining their little office for a little while.
“The Poland Project” is the unofficial title for Core Dance’s time here in Sichow, Poland. (Side note - Sichow is not, in fact, pronounced see-chow as I called it for the first three days. The correct pronunciation is along the lines of she-hoof!) However, there is really no way to put this process into words. Alongside artists from Britain, Israel, and Poland, Core Dance is experimenting, exploring, and playing with different ideas and inspirations. Perhaps this time will produce a few products - choreography, paintings, designs - but perhaps not. We may leave this oasis of the tiny Polish village and stunning countryside with simply memories, new relationships, and bodies full of more knowledge. I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to witness, document, and participate in this project for the first two-ish weeks. It’s impossible to portray the peace and utter awe of this experience in a blog post, but to give you a glimpse, I’ll share a little about our daily schedule.
We start each morning with an optional class for movers - this has varied from floorwork, to flying low vocabulary, to acro yoga. We then participate in a morning practice with the entire group. During this hour and a half, different artists will facilitate exercises that center us and prepare our bodies for the day. Before lunch, we have an open space during which artists can create and work in process - either individually or with others. We have another open space time in the afternoon, and conclude by coming together to reflect on the day. Some evenings, we will have fireside chats after dinner, during which we can discuss specific topics (such as poetry from Holocaust victims, our responsibility as artists during this particular time, and how we can give back to the land on which we’re working).
We work Tuesdays through Saturdays, and have Sundays and Mondays off. Last weekend, a group of us went to Krakow and explored the beautiful, ancient city. Personally, I mostly spent the time wandering all over and trying to soak up as much as possible of the sun and the sites. This coming weekend, we will be going to Lublin, a nearby city, and visiting Majdanek concentration camp. Majdanek was the first of the concentration camps to be liberated, and is the best preserved. It originated as a concentration camp, but then became an extermination camp - it’s sole purpose to kill as many people as possible. As much as I am looking forward to this weekend’s trip, I’m also trying to prepare myself for the emotional toll it is certain to take on my body and mind.
To follow Core Dance on our journey here in Poland, keep an eye out for future blog posts and follow our social media for daily updates.
Improvisation in dance can feel very freeing. Improvisation is the spontaneous creation of movement, meaning there is no plan going in. A simple way to do this is to just turn on some music and start dancing by yourself, with a partner, or in a group. Improv was first seen with the rise of modern dance in America with figures such as Loie Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Yvonne Rainer who were looking to overthrow the current norm and find a more free form in dance. Sometimes, within improv, you can have a score where some stipulations or “rules” are preset, forcing you to move on the spot within a set boundary. As dancers, we often find ourselves in what feels comfortable. We typically have a preferred style of movement and our affinities are revealed every time we try to choreograph. Improv lets you get out of your pattern by truly following the impulse you feel in the moment and playing until you have exhausted your typical choices. This helps with finding new discoveries that you can take into your dancing. Core Dance often utilizes improv in a process, and created CoreoLab, during which Israeli artists Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor spent time with the dance artists in the studio improvising and exploring process. Though there are endless scores in these processes, some are used more often than others.
In one improv exercise, one person enters the space and creates a state, atmosphere, or shape. Next, someone new enters the space, and either responds to, matches, or opposes the existing state. Both dancers work in this state at the same time, and eventually the first person leaves. The second person can then move to find a completely new atmosphere. To vary this, dancers can add multiple people entering the first person’s scene. You can add props and different sound scores.
In another exercise, a dancer beings by moving in one state or energy level. The facilitator in the front of the room can shout “change” at any time, which triggers the dancer to immediately switch their impulse to a different state or energy level. They can take their time in shouting “change,” or rapid fire where the dancer can only exist in their impulse for a moment before having to change. In this exercise, I have noticed that by changing constantly, I revert to my movement comfort zone a lot at the beginning, but less and less as the exercise goes on. As I tire and try new things, I follow a genuine impulse and discover more patterns in the body.
Another score that one can utilize is playing with sound within an improv. The dancer can begin by forcing their body to make sound. If they are in a group, they can respond to others’ sound or just work in their own headspace. Eventually, I found myself releasing sound that naturally that fit the movement, allowing my movement to feel deeper.
It was hard to describe these activities in writing, but I hope it gives you a glimpse into some improv processes. It is inspiring to see people improv fully being themselves, taking risks, and just seeing what happens.
This month, Core Dance hosted CoreoLab, a three week research and choreographic laboratory with Israeli artists Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor. One of our communications interns, Catherine Messina, had the opportunity to participate in the process. Here, she reflects on what she learned and gained from her weeks with Niv, Oren, and the Core Dance Artists.
When Sydney asked me to write a blog post about CoreoLab, I did not know where to begin. It is difficult to find the correct words to accurately explain such an important experience, one that I still am processing. CoreoLab has changed how I enter every other dance studio, class, and rehearsal. I decided to go into my journal and share some of the things that came to light during this process.
Halfway through CoreoLab, I attended an outside dance class on a Wednesday night. The prompt was to keep one leg/arm on the ground and move the other three limbs. I was so alive researching and finding new ways to accomplish this task, just by focusing on the task at hand. I found myself unconsciously even making sound when the movement called for it, which is something we explored in CoreoLab. We often don’t get the time to focus on elements such as sound in movement, but during the three weeks we tackled this topic that is often challenging to dancers.
Because of CoreoLab, I am no longer afraid of using sound in my dancing, and am already bringing the skills that I learned at Core Dance to my rehearsals and classes elsewhere. I am grateful to have had this opportunity at such an important moment in my dance life, and I am excited to continue to grow as an artist using the processes I learned in this experience.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to help out with one of Core Dance’s most inspiring programs, Dynamic X-Change. Since 1993, Core Dance Teaching Artists have been using dance, to question, to connect, to heal, and to inspire. We work with many different schools and programs in Atlanta and Houston, with students of all ages. This winter (well, lately, it’s felt more like spring), alongside Stefanie Boettle, Core Dance Community Programs Facilitator, we welcomed students from The Global Village Project, a Decatur school dedicated to the education of refugee girls.
Our class had about 14 girls, ranging from 10 to 13 years old. To start off, we worked with the girls on building relationships with a circle of trust - an exercise created by Be The Peace Be The Hope, during which we gathered in a circle and spoke about what we would like to give and receive to the group (such as respect, happiness, and respect). We also taught a movement sequence was loosely based on the yoga exercise sun salutations, but we invited the girls to get creative and figure out ways that it could move through the space. After the first class, (we had them once a week for three weeks), we expanded our goals to working in partners, generating original movement, and learning the flexible definition of the word “dance”. After working with Stefanie and I, the girls described dance as “energy,” “movement,” and “partnerships.” During our final class, we introduced trust exercises, and had the girls partner up. They played with weight and balance by getting in and out of the floor by pressing their backs against one another, and with basic trust falls. One student didn’t want to participate when she first came to class, but became enthusiastic once we started the trust falls. There’s definitely something special about making a connection with a peer and working within a partnership!
In each class, the students were extremely excited to be with us in the studio, and everyone was really engaged. I don’t have a lot of teaching experience, so I was a bit anxious about the classes, but the girls were generally very focused, and Stefanie them through exercises easily. After observing and participating, mainly being an extra adult and helping when needed, during the first two classes, I eventually led exercises on my own in the final class. It was exhilarating to lead a group of students and to know that I was (hopefully!) inspiring them in some way.
Saying goodbye at the end of the final class was hard, and many of the girls felt sad that it was our last class, yelling “I’ll miss you!” as they walked out the doors. I’m also a little bit bummed that this session is over, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to train and expand my knowledge of teaching.
This spring, Core Dance is welcoming Katie Messina to the team as our communications intern. Katie recently graduated from Emory University, and is currently dancing with Kit Modus and ImmerseATL. She is a beautiful mover and person, and we are excited to have her in our office - and studio! Katie took a class with one of our guest artists, Niv Sheinfeld, and reflects here on that experience. Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor are here for American Playground and The Third Dance, as well as CoreoLab - during which they will work with our Dance Artists and other invited members of our community for three weeks. Read on to find out what Katie has to say about her hour and a half with Niv!
Last week, I had the opportunity to watch a studio run of Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor’s American Playground, featuring the Core Dance Artists. Afterwards, I was excited to meet Niv and Oren, and to take Niv’s contemporary class. Though I had seen a rehearsal, I didn’t know what to expect of his class. Ultimately, I was reminded that there is a certain beauty in doing the same phrase several times in one class. It allows a mover to discover something new each time.
We began by slowly working through a phrase, taking our time moving from pose to pose in order to warm and wake up the body. Rather than immediately discarding it as the ‘warm-up’ and moving on, we dove deeper into the phrase, adding more and more in length - moving in and out of the ground - and then adding textures and new ideas. We did the same with our next phrase. We began slowly and later added speed, directional changes, and more phrase work. In both, we began in silence and then layered on music as we became more comfortable with the material.
I found this incredibly enjoyable and it was a centering way to begin a new week of dancing. Repetition gives me the ability to dive deeper into researching my own body and the concepts that a teacher might present. I focused on my weight displacement, and body patterning as Niv talked about where each movement should originate. It’st is important to pick up new material quickly, but sometimes, it’s satisfying to not have to think about the combination, and be able to focus and invest entirely in the process. It’s a nice change of pace.
I began consistently taking class with Core Dance over the summer. I had just graduated from Emory University, and was hoping to immerse myself in the Atlanta dance community as a new artist, not just as a student. I am especially excited to participate in Niv and Oren’s CoreoLab, which will take place February 4th through 22nd.
Core Dance’s commitment to preserving and passing on choreographers’ approach to their work was a factor in creating CoreoLab, as well as aiding in the professional development of young artists. It allows for international sharing between new bodies, and gives a space to investigate among movers. Just like in Niv’s morning class, we will be focusing on the process, not just an end result. It will be a chance to dive deeper into exploration, which is rare in today’s dance world where we often are commissioned to create with a set deadline and end product required.
2019 officially marks 25 years of Fieldwork at Core Dance! To celebrate, we asked Jacque Pritz, a Fall Fieldwork 2018 participant to tell us a little bit about her experience. Spring fieldwork sessions begin at the end of this month! If you would like to create new work, receive fruitful feedback, and have the chance to perform, register today. To learn more about the process, read on to hear Jacque's thoughts.
When I first moved to Atlanta in September, I was eager to explore the artistic community. I was excited to discover Fieldwork, which offered the perfect opportunity to jump right into a creative process.
Before this fall, I had never participated in Fieldwork, but had been in similar processes where I presented works-in-progress and received both structured and unstructured feedback. When signing up, I was especially excited to work with artists of other mediums! My cohort was of all ages and various art forms. I was the youngest as a 20 something year old, with the group ranging all the way to retirement. We represented dance, music, singing, performance art, theatre, and storytelling. Some of us pursued our art full time, some part-time, and some were casual hobbyists. We were an eclectic group, to say the least. Despite our differences, Fieldwork brought us together as artists and audience members.
Each week we’d come together and give every single person feedback. During the very first session, our facilitator, Sheronda, explained the nature of Fieldwork, its purpose, and (most importantly) how to give useful feedback. We attempted to stay away from “I like…” and “I dislike…” Don’t get me wrong, that can be helpful to a degree. But we challenged one another to get deeper, especially trying to articulate why we responded a certain way. We were given useful tools: “This reminded me of…” “I was distracted by…” “I connected most to…” Most of us in our cohort were new to Fieldwork, with only two veterans, so of course we’d occasionally slip. Whoops! Luckily, Sheronda would help us rephrase what we were attempting to relay.
There are several parts of Fieldwork that I especially enjoyed as a participant:
The 10-week journey went by very quickly. I expected to have a perfect finished work by the end of Fieldwork. Ha! I definitely put that pressure on myself. This process made me realize that I need a long period of time to choreograph a finished work. I learned something new about myself as an artist: who can be upset about that?
Personally, showing work is daunting and makes me feel vulnerable, especially when I tell myself that it’s unfinished. But the work has come a long way since it’s first showing on Week One. What was neat was at the end of the show, the audience was given an opportunity to take a swing at giving feedback on the presented works. Especially since I considered my work one that was still in-progress, I was grateful to receive feedback that I can use for my next rehearsal.
I was surprised by how much I received from this process: a newly presented dance, invaluable feedback, a high quality video recording, beautiful pictures, personal reflections on my craft and my own creative process, and a new network of artists that I can contact if I ever wanted to collaborate. Would I do Fieldwork again? Absolutely. I loved the structure of the program and I encourage anybody who is even remotely interested to sign up or inquire for more details.
Sydney Burrows, Publications Manager, and the People of Core Dance