Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Just read what Karen wrote (below) and love it. Was at The Dinner Party tonight, a platform for artists in any discipline (or mixture of disciplines) to show work and engage in dialogue. These events are organized by Ilana Silverstein and she, like Karen, are people I admire not only for what they create but also because they cultivate an environment that is nurturing and generative. I love how Karen shared so much of the events and ideas from Dance/USA and Ilana tonight performed and then moderated a thoughtful and engaging conversation about the work presented. These friends are gardeners: they are keenly aware of ways to grow creativity and collaboration. Ilana read this quote tonight: "dependence on a specialized language can also prevent innovation by limiting ideas."

When Karen and I talked about the ideas for this blog, we envisioned it as a venue to share ideas and responses to varied events. So many incredible things happen in this area that go overlooked and un-discussed. This is a place to reflect on creations and artists that defy categorization, that have not yet been picked up by mainstream publications, so that they can grow in fertile soil, be nurtured and thrive.

Dance/USA Annual Conference 2010

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Dance/USA 2010 Annual Conference held at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City. This event, that brought together many factions of the dance world including artists and arts administrators, was packed full of information, discussion, networking, and celebration. As the artistic director of a small dance company, my responsibilities currently extend to that of executive director, publicist, accountant, and beyond. When choosing whether to attend a breakout session for artists, managers, or agents, etc, I observed myself gravitating towards panel discussions centering around concepts of collaboration.

I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful pioneers of collaborative enterprises. Jen Abrams spoke of OurGoods “an online community of artists that facilitates the barter of skills, space, labor, and art objects.” This site is intended to help artists to swap talents. For instance, if I am in need of someone to design a poster for an upcoming performance, I might be able to trade a skill of my own that is of value to another artist in need. In her own words, Ms. Abrams spoke of OurGoods.org as “the Craigslist for artists.” This site is just about to be launched to the greater public. Be sure to check it out!

Another inspiring speaker was Jon Michael, the Executive Director for Trey McIntyre Project. He spoke on a panel that was devoted to dance artists and companies working outside of our nation’s “cultural hotspots.” Now situated in Boise, ID, the company has successfully integrated into the community through building a dance space, collaborating with visual artists, and bringing dance into a city where there had been no such presence. They interact on a daily basis with other area artists, community members, and beyond. From what Jon Michael described, the association brings a sense of community appreciation for artists and Boise citizens alike. Other motivating members of the panel included Ruby Lockhart, John Malashock and James Sewell.

The overriding message I came away with is that there is more abundance for all when we choose to work (and play) together. Artists are inspired through contact with other artists in their own and other disciplines. Communities are fueled with energy and community pride, as artists interact with citizens and create an environment for curiosity and discussion. Why then, do many dance artists and dance organizations operate in survival mode? Is this just human nature? Instead of reaching out to formulate partnerships and share resources, much of the opposite seems to occur. There appears to be a sense within the dance community, that there is not enough room for more artistic voices. The resources are scarce, theater seasons are competitive to attain, and artists become isolated not only from other artists and organizations, but also from the communities and audiences they intend to reach. I believe that it is time for us artists to wake up before our art form becomes extinct. Life and art go hand in hand...we must move forward in collaboration.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Onstage last night

Yesterday I was with Amanda, a thinker and dancer who has an article in today‘s Washington Post about a DC neighborhood, and writes about other topics too - like coffee and ice cream (life’s essentials). We went to see Through Their Eyes, an exhibit of photography from Haiti. Many of the images were taken by teenagers in Haiti who, after the earthquake, were given cameras and photography workshops by a non-profit group, Zanmi Lakay. Their images are stunning and I bought one of the prints when I realized all the proceeds go to relief for Haiti. Then we went to Georgetown University to see The Pull of Negative Gravity by the Welders Theatre Company which was harrowing (about a soldier coming home from Iraq) and well-done. We talked about the burgeoning scene for young theater companies and how they are finding a conducive environment in DC, then asked why isn’t the same happening for dance in DC? There seem to be so few companies presenting performances that are about exploration, research and discoveries. A lot of what I see seems to be about decorating (look how nicely this goes with the music!) or illustrating (movement used to imitate feelings and events, which tends to border on pantomime). Makes me think of a trip Amanda and I took to Philadelphia in March to see the exhibit Dance with Camera at the Institute of Contemporary Art (the film above by Joachim Koester was included). The works were idiosyncratic, sincere, thought-provoking. Given the variety of ways our bodies move, how does it happen that so much dance on stages in DC looks similar? I think there are creative choreographers in this city, but somehow their works are not given platforms to be viewed, discussed, promoted or disseminated. I wonder why not.

Friday, June 25, 2010

collaboration is key

People who have been students in my classes know that I tend to talk quickly (understatement), but may not know that I also type quickly. For this reason I am hired at times to transcribe events, and yesterday’s conference was an all-day session in Baltimore. It was a closed-door meeting so I cannot disclose details but it was incredibly inspiring to hear a room full of brilliant minds discussing how to best educate the next generations and how to make the arts a key part of this process. It made me think a lot about collaboration, and just how fruitful and generative it is to share ideas with others. On Tuesday evening I saw a collaboration at the Source Theater in DC and wrote about it here for dc theatre scene. This made me think again of the collaboration between Susan Shields and Heather McDonald. I found their work-in-process poignant and admired the way the creators integrated movement and dialogue. Then I started thinking of how, historically, collaboration has been key to the success of certain artists - not only the Judson artists who brought together dancers, painters and thinkers from varied walks of life and the performances of the Ballets Russes that resulted from Diaghilev's experiments with collaborative processes, but also Black Mountain College. In Chance and Circumstance, Carolyn Brown writes beautifully about this time. It's a great book about dance, art and life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

guess who's at Tanglewood this summer?

Shanleigh Philip!

Less than a month on the job with Mark Morris Dance Group, Shanleigh has been invited to tour as the company management intern and will be assisting the Executive Director Nancy Umanoff. Congratulations Shanleigh!


Quotes added to "IQ: Inspiring Quotations"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

from Jessica Moore... Wow!

Well there isn't too too much news. I did the Buglisi Intensive with Lauren so you have that update from her and since then I've come back to the city (I live in Washington Heights). It was funny because my 3rd day here I ran into a few of the Buglisi company members outside a cafe by Lincoln Center. They were doing an improv. project for the 15th annual Vision Festival at the Abrons Art Center and invited me to join them (I was actually having dinner with Gerald when I ran into them so he is involved as well!) Gotta love dancer connections! So Friday and Monday there is a group improv. and Saurday and Sunday I'm doing some more individualized improv. at the festival. It's been a blast so far and I'll update you after the performance and let you know how it goes. This is just such a fantastic opportunity to meet people and collaborate. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to work with Adriane Fang. Her explorative and creative nature has been such a blessing and really gave me the confidence and experience to fully participate in this project. Before Mason, and Adriane specifically, I had only experience proscenium dance and her various projects and interactive experiences were a wonderful addition to my life as a dancer and an artist. The experiences she offered those of us lucky enough to have her were invaluable and I hope that the other classes get to experience this kind of work. Aside from this particular project I’m auditioning, taking class, and attempting to find a semi-stable job. It’s funny my first paying job in the city was dancing...what better start could I ask for? I love this blog idea by the way… I think that the faculty should know what has influenced us the most and they should have the satisfaction of knowing that what they do matters. They stay with us and push us…even after we leave.

appreciating more dance

A message and photo just received from a student of a course I taught this spring at a university in DC. It was similar to Dance Appreciation but called “Understanding the Dance”

Dear prof Mattingly,
I recently arrived home to Miami after spending 8 days in Paris… I wanted to email you after this trip to tell you how much your class altered and positively enhanced my perspectives. There were multiple instances in Paris where dance occurred and my family was shocked at my fascination and knowledge about the dance. Most importantly I want to thank you for giving me the privilege to make my mother’s jaw drop in shock of my knowledge especially after our tour guide asked if we knew why Louis XIV had a sun around his head in multiple statues and paintings and I was able to explain all that you taught me in class. We also toured Versailles, which was beyond incredible and it was amazing to be able to apply the material learned in a classroom to the actual place where the history occurred. I immediately asked if we could see where Louis XIV would perform his court ballets and it was beautiful. Because of your class I was also able to explain to my older sister how Louis XIV's dances were a way for him to enhance his power as a king while simultaneously pleasing the noble class.

appreciating dance

One of the most lively courses at GMU is Dance Appreciation. Students come from all over the globe, bring a wealth of knowledge about dance forms and cultural differences, and can attend shows at the Center for the Arts for free. In one semester, a curiosity about dance can be nurtured and developed, and then the emails come in when the class is over about shows and events that sustain their appreciation of this art-form. Yesterday I received a message from an Appreciation student I taught in the fall of 2009, Sara Masouleh, about The Kennedy Center performance of the Presidential Scholars. Sara knew that Ida Saki would be performing; Ida is the dancer who turned down the invitation to compete on So You Think You Can Dance in order to go to college and join a professional company. Here is what Sara wrote: “All of the students obviously have dedicated a good part of their lives to perfecting their respective art. The musicians and dancers particularly stood out to me. The musicians all seemed so moved by their music and this depth I think really helped make for a more effective performance. The music also allowed the dancing to have much more impact.

why writing matters

Imagine a theater for emerging artists and new choreography that seats 50,000 people. Difficult? When I was writing for The New York Times, the readership for the paper (in the first years of the 21st century) was approximately 1,000,000 people, and even if 5% of those readers looked at an article about dance, that was 50,000 pairs of eyes on dance.

This past week I had three similar conversations with three different people: where are the articles about emerging choreographers and new performances in DC's major publications?

When I interviewed a poet based in the city and asked him about his recent retirement from the Smithsonian after being a curator for 21 years, he told me about a woman at a party who asked him “Didn’t you used to be Reuben Jackson?” He laughed when he said this, adding “This is the Washington-thing, the need for titles.”

How does it impact lesser-known artists if people in DC determine value by titles and labels? When a creator in any discipline explores new forms of communication, they no longer fit into existing categories, yet audiences and critics here make their assessments about quality based on familiarity. For example, the caliber of a dance company is often determined by how frequently they tour or the size of the theaters they fill or the number of zeroes in their budget.

What would happen if the dance critic of DC’s major newspaper decided she’d review the companies that visit the big theaters, but ignore the smaller companies, interdisciplinary productions in lesser known venues, or performances by university students?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Biennale Danza 2010

amazing space

On Sunday I was in Wilmington to tour the Nemours Mansion, the massive 77-room home of Alfred and Jessie duPont. It was designed by Carrere and Hastings, built in a phenomenal 18 months, and completed in 1910. Walking through its rooms and gardens was like a trip to a different planet, but yesterday when I was at GMU I received a tour of what is truly a palatial space: the new studios, dressing rooms, training facilities, and gallery of the School of Dance at GMU.

Here are some words from Buffy Price, chair of the School: “Our large light filled studios with their banks of windows along one wall have long been a hallmark of our program. The newly created spaces contribute an even more dramatic sense of generous space and light. The university and architects realize how important a sense of freedom and light are to the study of dance and the two new dance studios, each over 2800 square feet with 20 foot ceilings and large corner windows, certainly acknowledge that. The studios are connected by a long gracious dance gallery with floor to ceiling glass partitions at either end linking to the outside and the lobby area. Also added to the building are a training room and conditioning lab for dancers, student lounge and bathroom and shower facilities. The sweeping curves of the over all design with large floor to ceiling corner windows reflect the rhythm and movement that fill the building each day.”

While the recent graduates may not be able to enjoy these spaces on a daily basis, it is thanks to their grace and achievements that the School has attracted such acclaim and generous benefactors. The expansion of the Performing Arts building is due to a gift from Donald and Nancy De Laski to The School of Dance and the School of Music.

Buffy says “I have been working with the architects on this project for over two years! I have loved every minute of it. In another life I would have loved to have become an architect and this allowed me to indulge my fantasies...” Although the new studios and dressing areas are truly magnificent – I have never seen university dance facilities so spacious -- the number of dance majors will remain 20 to 22 students per class. This reflects GMU's commitment to artistic and educational excellence. Buffy says the plan is to maintain this size of entering classes because it “allows us to focus on supporting individual student growth. The new studios will allow us to augment our outstanding Artist in Residency program and find new ways to connect to the community.”

The dancers of GMU now have studios that match their stunning, breathtaking performances.

Monday, June 21, 2010

1 Thing

Not the Amerie 1 Thing the Csíkszentmihályi 1 thing.

I am looking forward to seeing Nicole Goodson today. One of the last times I saw her I met her man, a former basketball player, which ignited my basketball-is-a-lot-like-dance ideas and I hope we can continue our conversation today. Nicole knows a lot about dance and basketball. But what does this have to do with Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi?

He is the author and professor of psychology who proposes that we achieve great things – and true happiness – through single-minded concentration: focusing on 1 Thing. This applies to artists, athletes, scientists, chefs, researchers. Some people call it being in the zone, others say they’re in a groove. Csíkszentmihályi calls it flow. It’s when your skills match the level of challenge.

You see it when a dancer transcends limitation and when an athlete accomplishes the seemingly impossible. For the person it translates into a combination of indescribable happiness and deep-rooted fulfillment. It is something that basketball players and dancers can understand because both of these pursuits involve full-bodied participation for extended periods of time; mind, body and spirit or courage working as one. As sports and art-forms go, few match the intensity, dedication, perseverance, and creativity intertwined in basketball and dance. On the first days of a new semester when I teach Dance Appreciation I usually show this clip of Shaquille O'Neal not only because it guarantees a smile (or 30 smiles), but also because I saw Shaq play when we were both in college. I drove down to Baton Rouge from Princeton with some friends on our way to Mardi Gras. We stopped at LSU to watch this phenomenon in action. He dominated the court – literally and figuratively – and started my thinking about how our bodies are vehicles not only of expression and communication, but also transcendence. They are what connects us to the invisible powers we call energy, faith, love and freedom.

Shaq is in flow when playing basketball and when dancing. Flow also exists in this testimonial by Joy Esterberg who took part in Dance for PD, the Mark Morris Dance Group program for people with Parkinson’s: “The mind directing the dance movements becomes totally immersed in them; it becomes one with them. It creates aesthetic form using the body, and the total immersion in those patterns often leads to altered awareness and a feeling of awe.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Onstage last night

photo by Ian Douglas

This photo is from a performance at Judson by Kelly Bond which took place April 26. The performance I saw yesterday was Ballet Across America II. Hard to believe, but this post will connect these disparate events... 

Ballet Across America brought together Ballet Memphis, Ballet Arizona and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Ib Andersen’s Diversions for Ballet Arizona was a regal and ethereal suite of dances to Benjamin Britten’s music, while 3 Movements by Benjamin Millepied for Pacific Northwest Ballet, was set to music by Steve Reich and had the dancers wearing pedestrian costumes in a palette of grey, set against a backdrop of long curtains of fabric in tan, light grey and slate. It's hard to hear Reich's music without thinking of Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker who has created some gorgeous ensemble works – Rain and Drumming - to his scores. There was also a rebounding quality in Millepied's choreography that gave the piece a contemporary feel although the women wore toe shoes. Carla Körbes and Batkurel Bold were breathtaking in a duet and all the women had legs that seemed to extend to infinity. Millepied’s movement was quirky and creative, mixing stylishness with joie de vivre.

The first piece of the evening was Trey McIntyre’s In Dreams to music by Roy Orbison; it was like Dances at a Gathering for the 21st century, but with five dancers instead of 10. McIntyre used Orbison’s distinctive songs (and part of an interview) in ways that were fresh and unexpected. The piece unfolded as a series of group sections interspersed with solos and duets. It evoked feelings of longing, desire, and melancholy. The performers were dressed all in black - cowboy shirts and pants for the men, sleeveless mini dresses for the women – and some of their steps seemed robotic and mechanical. But the contrast between these moments and the more dramatic phrases, emphasized the human-ness of the performers and their emotions. There was none of the heroic posturing associated with ballets of the 20th century. At the end of the piece the man in front of me turned to his wife and asked “was that ballet or modern dance?” Labels can be so irksome. If art continually evolves, just as our ways of interacting with the world change, how can “ballet” or “modern dance” remain stagnant? If you were wondering why or how this post about a ballet performance includes a picture of naked women at Judson Church in New York City, here’s the link. I saw the matinee of the ballet at The Kennedy Center and in the evening met up for a conversation with Kelly Bond. She is one of a handful of artists I know in DC who is pressing against the definition of dance as movement set to music to create a narrative or express an emotion or simulate the spectacular.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Onstage last night

Another program of ballet at The Kennedy Center Opera House: Red Sweet by Jorma Elo performed by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Tulsa Ballet performing Por Vos Muero by Nacho Duato (which Dance History students watched this spring semester - begins with men and women in undergarments facing away from the audience, running upstage in slow motion…), and The Joffrey Ballet performing Edwaard Liang’s Age of Innocence. All three dance-makers have spent years in Europe - dancing, directing or choreographing - and their ballets explore contemporary twists. The first two pieces are done in slippers instead of toe shoes and all three require dancers to sink their weight into the floor, to accentuate the curves of their torsos, to test the limits of their physicality. This was especially apparent in Liang’s work where the performers let some of their effort show alongside the illusions of ballet. Watching the program made me think of risk-takers, not only the choreographers, but also the dancers and directors. Duirng intermission when I ran into Susan Shields and Martin Wechsler this word resonated more deeply. Wechsler is the director of programming for The Joyce Theater and his fall schedule, starting in September, includes Jérôme Bel, Batsheva Dance Company, Sankai Juku, les Ballets C de la B, and Cedar Lake in repertory by Alexander Ekman, Jacopo Godani and Hofesh Shechter. Every week explores a different approach to dance and performance.

Without programmers and artists willing to take intelligent risks, the vitality of dance as an art form fades. A combination of courage and competence allows for growth and development. All the melting, flickering and gliding that happened onstage last night results from a mix of perseverance and possibility. Without opportunities to present their works, artists cannot grow, our ways of seeing cannot expand, and we miss the chance to see how performance continually reinforces and challenges our values.

Friday, June 18, 2010

GMU Got Game

Boris Willis is not only a teacher and choreographer but also our resident guru of web-stuff and technology. He is all over town – in DC and VA – riding around on the bike with whitewall tires and if you search “postmodern dance” on Google, his website appears. Why? Because he’s continually exploring what it means to be a performer/creator and the new intersections of technology, life and art. Dancers in Dialogue seeks to promote innovation whether its on stage or on screen, so this post is a thank you to Boris for being who he is. At GMU he teaches courses in dance as well as game design, a new program at GMU.

If you knew him at GMU please share a comment. If you are curious about the new program check out this article. My favorite line about GMU: “At 38 years old, Mason is also more nimble and more willing to take risks on areas of study than several older academic institutions, said several observers. 'That is one of the advantage of being young, you have some flexibility that traditional schools don’t have. That has proved to be a real strength for us,' said [Dan] Walsch [executive director of Mason’s media relations]. "Our tradition has essentially become our flexibility," he added. [Professor Scott] Martin echoed that sentiment, saying the Mason is unusual for its openness to new ideas and experimentation. 'New ideas and innovation are embraced by the faculty and provosts here more so than almost any other institution that I have ever come in contact with,' said Martin."

Side "A" from Prentice W. on Vimeo.

Onstage last night

Karen Reedy Dance at the Lansburgh Theatre in the showcase DANCE: Yes We Can! Her choreography, Path of Attraction, was performed by Christopher K. Morgan and Noelle Snyder and I was intrigued by how much the duet changed with this different cast. I saw it a year ago at Dance Place and remembered the strong pull between the performers, but with Christopher and Noelle there seemed to be an added layer of longing or regret, as if the sensation created between them was no longer available. It had eluded their grasp as life or circumstances separated them, but as they were drawn apart they seemed to sense one another through their skin. Their awareness of one another and the ephemerality of their relationship was exquisite. The showcase was presented in conjunction with the Dance/USA 2010 Annual Conference (the audience was a star-studded collection of performers, directors and teachers) and included nine pieces by nine different companies. Alongside Karen's duet, the highlights included Gesel Mason’s 1 Thing 1 Thing and Oh… 1 More Thing! a trio of frustrated women acting out their anger in their kitchens, and Tribute by Step Afrika, a company that will be performing at the Lansburg this weekend. They are phenomenal.

What do New York City and Jakarta have in common? visits from Caroline Yost

Just received an email from Caroline who you can follow here on her blog as she experiences Indonesia for two months. Ever the intrepid traveler, Caroline had emailed me at the beginning of June after she visited New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and saw the Marina Abramović retrospective. I had seen it when it opened in March and found Caroline's response fascinating because it was so different from my own.

I started thinking about traveling as any experience that takes us outside the familiar or comfortable, and that it is only by visiting these unknown places that we discover our distinct perspective on values and approaches to living life. Caroline wrote that she saw some of Abramović’s reconstructions as “abrasive” and had difficulty with the naked performers: “once i was able to get past the nudity, and even as an artist myself it did take a few minutes, i was able to appreciate the works.”

This makes me smile because there are countless paintings, photographs and sculpture of nudes in big museums, but placing a naked human being in an exhibit triggers reactions that range from acceptance to outrage. Did anyone else see the retrospective and wish to respond? Are there other occasions when performances have prompted a reaction that was memorable and/or uncomfortable? How do you define your comfort zone when it comes to viewing performances? Our email exchange is included if you want to…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

from Lauren Goodwin (with video...)

Well it's been a month since I've graduated college and I just returned from spending 2 weeks with the Buglisi Dance Theatre during their Creative Residency at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. I went as an intensive student but those 2 weeks were so much more than just an intensive! Our days began at 10:30 in the morning and ended at 8:30 at night. A typical day (and I say typical because no day was really ever the same as the one before) started with company ballet class from 10:30-11:30 taught by a company member.

Onstage last night...

at the Opera House of The Kennedy Center was “Ballet Across America II” featuring Stanton Welch’s Falling performed by Houston Ballet, George Balanchine’s Monumentum pro Gesualdo and Movements for Piano and Orchestra by The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s Shindig by North Carolina Dance Theatre. The Houston dancers were on fire, tackling the intricacies of Welch’s choreography with lightning fast legs and feet. The cast from North Carolina flew across the stage, propelled by live music from the Greasy Beans. In between Farrell’s dancers were more cool and - to use one of my favorite Dance History words - apollonian. During the post-performance discussion the company directors - Farrell, Welch and Bonnefoux with his wife Patricia McBride - answered the question “What is American ballet?” Farrell spoke about cultural diversity; Welch noticed the regional differences embraced by America which make something like Shindig quintessentially different from music and movement coming from the north. He made the apt comparison that America, the country, is like Europe, the continent, in its range of regional variations: the differences between France and Germany are like those between the north, south, and center of the United States, or even the east and west coasts. Bonnefoux said in his inimitable French accent: American ballet has to with energy and the joy of dancing. So true.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

graduates who soar

Ask any teacher what makes their career worthwhile and one of the responses is likely to be following students' achievements and accomplishments beyond the classroom. Shanleigh just sent us an update on her adventures since leaving GMU:

"As a lover of profound and inspirational quotes, I find one to be quite fitting for the beginning of my life as a George Mason University(GMU) graduate. Phil Cousineau once said, ‘Now is the time to live your ideal life.’ After four incredible years spent gaining a very well-rounded knowledge of dance and its many facets coupled with constant inspiration from an esteemed faculty, I approached May without fearing the word ‘alumni.’ I found myself to be rather excited as I embarked upon the continuation of my dreams. The next chapter: New York City. I certainly would not have acquired the incredible internship I currently hold at Mark Morris Dance Center without the help of faculty members Dan Joyce and Karen Reedy - both of whom have danced for Mark Morris Dance Group and have played a crucial role in creating an excellent relationship between GMU and the Mark Morris Dance Center.


When I started teaching dance history at GMU in January of 2009, the class before mine was taught by GMU psychology professor Todd Kashdan. If I arrived early I could see him lecturing to his students through the window in the door. His energy lit up the room. Students sat up in their desks and leaned forward as if wanting to get closer to his teaching. He was speaking from his personal research and investigations rather than regurgitating something he had read or studied. I decided to buy his book, aptly named Curious? Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down: Kashdan proposes that curious exploration is integral to a well-lived life. He explains our attraction to friends and situations that allow us to discover new ideas and perspectives. His writing made me think of spending time with Karen who is constantly exploring, and her searching informs her teaching as well as her choreography. When we talked about this blog we discovered we are both curious to hear how colleagues and students have been spending their summers. Have you seen any performances or exhibits? Has material from courses like Teaching Methods or Dance History resonated with your experiences outside the classroom? Have you taken a class that made you feel invincible or at least energized? We hope to hear from you here….

Monday, June 14, 2010

STAY by Heather McDonald and Susan Shields

"This is how she writes."

These words of Heather McDonald describe Susan Shields, a professor at GMU's School of Dance, and illuminated a collaboration between McDonald, a playwright and director and Shields, a choreographer.

The performance is called STAY, a curious title for a work that explores impermanence, shifting relationships and interdisciplinary communication. Nothing in the piece stays constant for long and this makes it both idiosyncratic and brilliant. I feel lucky to have attended the June 12 showing of an excerpt during the 10th Annual First Light Discovery Program at George Mason University. I think I witnessed a gem in the making.