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.
Afterwards, from 11:30-1:30 we were in rehearsal, lunch break from 1:30-2, more rehearsal from 2-4:30, community class 4:30-6:30, and more rehearsal from 6:30-8:30. The first week I was there, the company had an outreach performance at Martin Luther King Elementary School on Wednesday so most of the daytime rehearsal time was spent with the company being rehearsed by Jacqulyn, and the intensive students were able to sit and watch her rehearsal process.

I was able to go with the company to the school performance and afterwards I was speaking with the school principal and she was saying that all of their art funding had been cut and that Buglisi Dance Theatre was probably one of the last professional performances they will ever be able to bring in for their kids to see. I felt honored to be somewhat associated with that yet sad at the same time that these kids will have to grow up without being exposed to live art.

I was also fortunate enough to be able to perform alongside the company on three other occasions. The first was during the opening ceremonies of the NY State Special Olympics, the second was a site specific performance at the Utica train station, and lastly for the end of the intensive showing in the main gallery of the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute Art Museum. For each of these performances we performed excerpts from a work titled Under the Buttenwood which was originally commissioned and performed outside the Sock Exchange on Wall Street. We also learned three excerpts from a work titled Interplay as well as a scarf dance by Ruth St. Denis. Because the intensive was part of a Creative Residency supported by NYSCA, Jacqulyn was also creating a new work, Letters of Love. The work premiered June 12 and has its NYC premiere tonight and tomorrow night at the Ralph Pucci Penthouse. Letters of Love combines text, music and dance. Jacqulyn uses actual love letters, both past and present, and incorporates them into the music.

While at the intensive both I and the other intensive students were lucky enough to be able to watch and be a part of both her creation and rehearsal process of this work by understudying her dancers and even being asked to go in for them at times and be rehearsed on their movement by Jacqulyn herself. We were also asked to anonymously write our own love letters, pick someone else's and create a movement phrase based on the letter. We then paired up with another intensive student as they read the letter and we danced our phrase. Myself and a few other of the intensive students were asked to perform our solo at the showing at the end of the intensive which you can see here.

I keep calling this experience an intensive, and while I was there as an intensive student, it was so much more than an intensive. It was more so a peek into what it's like being in a company. Other intensives I've been to, you just take class after class all day, learn some repertory and maybe have an informal showing at the end of it. However with this experience, we were treated as professionals and equals rather than students. I was one of only 7 other intensive students, so combined with the 11 company members, it was very small and intimate. I got to know each one of the company members and they got to know me. They did not act as if they were superior to us just because they had the official title of being a company member, but seemed to take a genuine interest in helping us understand Jacqulyn's movement, what she looks for in movement, and how she works. This was by far one of the best intensives I have ever been to and feel like it was the perfect transition for a college graduate who was looking to still go to an intensive but not be treated as a student anymore. Here is a link that describes the Buttonwood Agreement.

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