Saturday, July 28, 2012

at the Washington School of Ballet

from left to right: Kate, author of blog post below, Stephanie Walz, and Jenifer Ringer in the 1980s before a performance of choreography by Choo San Goh performed by the Young Dancers of the Washington Ballet.

Two years ago I attended a performance of students at the end of their summer program and wrote a post that still holds true today. The presentation by these young dancers at the culmination of a 5-week program is phenomenal. This year there were surprises added to the afternoon that reinforced the ways in which students at WSB’s summer intensive gain unique access to living histories.

Yesterday’s performance began with the presentation of the faculty, including former NYCB principals Nilas Martins and Monique Meunier. When school director Kee Juan Han then introduced teacher Kristina Windom she paused to acknowledge her own teacher in the audience: Julio de Bittencourt, a teacher at WSB in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Jamal Ari Black & Nkosinathi "Natty" Mncube. Photo by Isaac Oboka

One of the pleasures of coming back to a city after being gone for a year is the discovery of places and events that have emerged during the time away. Sometimes it’s not clear if this spot had always been there or if it’s a new addition to the cultural landscape, but either way what happened Friday night made me happy to be back in DC. Near the Brookland metro and next door to Colonel Brooks’ Tavern, Dance Place hosted a performance by dancers, a program of four solos, that was one event within three months of free offerings that encompass dance, poetry, music, and visual arts. How fantastic to come back to the city and see that there are opportunities to engage with artists in settings that are not expensive or standoffish, but rather generative and conducive to conversation. The program of solos, all made and performed by current or former members of EdgeWorks, offered a glimpse into the diversity of perspectives embedded in this troupe. The small, unadorned performing space was surrounded by chairs filled with 25 or 30 attendees. The solos were eloquent and provocative; the performers’ words and gestures lingering long after they exited. The evening made me notice how valuable it is for choreographers to have colleagues with whom they can share their creations and engage in conversation, as well as how inspiring it is for audiences to come into contact with artistic processes within settings that are casual and open to feedback. As I left the showing I smiled when I realized how often distance actually helps us see a little more clearly: when we take a break from a place or a scene – both spatially and temporally - we notice what makes it distinct and move closer to appreciating its distinct characteristics.