Stories in Motion
The Alabama Dance Council (ADC) is participating in Alabama’s Bicentennial by honoring and celebrating the different cultural perspectives that are a part of our history and that make up our current population today. Our different cultural perspectives will be explored through dance to delve into personal history and identity, connected by the themes of place and home. Five guest choreographers and various Alabama artists are collaborating on this project.In 2018, the ADC received a Dance/USA Engaging Dance Audiences grant to support a series of “community gatherings” in multiple Alabama communities. The community gatherings are designed and facilitated in a way that leads participants on a personal journey through dance and builds a sense of community with other participants.
"Stories in Motion: a Community Gathering and Celebration"
Join the Alabama Dance Council’s Bicentennial dance artists in a participatory workshop celebrating the different cultural perspectives that are a part of our history and that make up our current population today. Inspired by themes of place, home and community, each artist will perform, after which the audience will participate in facilitated story circle groups, create movement, share their "group work" and reflect on their experiences. After an approximately 45 minute performance, participants and artists break up into smaller groups for circles, creative movement, sharing and reflecting. Groups shared moments and gestures/actions from the dance works that connected to audience experience or memory and built a collective phrase around the prompt “I’m from a place…” with each participant sharing an idea with an accompanying action/gesture.
I helped to organize the Tuscaloosa visit for this project. I was able to solicit sponsorship from the College of Arts and Sciences, The Department of Theatre and Dance, the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa, Scuttle Shuttle, and Dance Alabama to make the event possible in our community. We presented the gatherings to dance majors in Clark Hall, to the UA community at the Ferguson Student Center, to area middle and high school students at Paul Bryant High School, with students from the Alberta School of Performing Arts, and to the general community at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. The artists who participated in our area included:
Zoe Scofield and Gilbert Small – Zoe/Juniper – Seattle, WA
Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman Davis – Wideman-Davis Dance – Columbia, SC
Rosy Simas – Rosy Simas Danse – Minneapolis, MN
Dahlia Nayar – Choreographer – Newbury Park, CA
Sheila Rubin – Natyananda Dance of India – Birmingham, AL
Dibya Singh – Bollywood Jammers – Tuscaloosa, AL
Winston Strickland – MAD Skillz Dance Company – Birmingham, AL
LaVondia Bryant-Square – Nathifa Dance Company – Birmingham, AL
For more information on this project, see the Alabama Dance Council's website.
ACCESS Online Dance Course
I developed a free online dance course for Alabama High School students in cooperation with ACCESS and the College of Continuing Studies at UA. Using an existing shell of an Arts Survey course for dance, I aimed to improve the language and descriptions of movement and choreographic concepts such as Body, Action, Space, Time, Energy, and choreographic structures. I additionally created a series of demonstration videos using four dance majors. These demos go alongside the written descriptions to give moving examples of the various concepts. Finally, I reworked the video samples shown to emphasize different concepts in the lessons to find a broader range of movement styles and cultural voices.
Dance in Schools
I am extremely proud of the developments I have made in the DNCA403 Approaches to Dance Instruction course through providing a service-learning teaching collaboration with the Tuscaloosa City Schools. Initially, I worked with Regina Noland of Tuscaloosa City Schools to establish a teaching experience with 1st graders at Oakdale Primary and Arcadia Elementary Schools. A year later, the project was nationally recognized in Madison, WI in October 2008 at the National Outreach Scholarship conference. To further enhance this class, I learned new strategies as a member of the Faculty Fellows in Service Learning 08-09 cohort. Additions to the course included the use of e-learning and adding the evaluation tool of journaling throughout the semester to assist my students in their comprehension and skill in working with public elementary school students. This service learning course continues to be immensely popular and beneficial to all it touches. The dance majors are enriched by real world teaching experience and always touched by the enthusiasm, creativity, and ability of the elementary students. The elementary students get excited about having college students teach them something totally different that they would not normally be exposed to. They love to dance and we get such great feedback from parents, teachers and administrators in the city schools.
I wrote an article about the research and development of the course transitioning into a service-learning experience. “Methods of Reflective Practice in a Service-Learning Dance Pedagogy Course” was published in the Journal of Dance Education’s July 2017 issue.
In redesigning a pedagogy course for college dance majors, I sought ways to provide practical teaching experience for students that coincided with making connections within the local community. Through research on best practices in service-learning courses, diverse methods of reflection proved key toward enhancing student experience beyond surface volunteerism by connecting the service (teaching dance to elementary students in this case) to broader and deeper personal learning. This article describes best practices from a survey of service-learning literature and shares reflective assignments specific to my dance pedagogy course. Emphasis is placed on how the process of reflection aims to link course content to problem solving in real-world contexts, thus providing a deeper and more significant learning experience for students.
I am also proud of the relationship I’ve established with the Tuscaloosa Magnet School. I provide teachers, through my DNCA403 class, to work with their students in the enrichment blocks set up throughout their school year. It is exciting to acknowledge that since arriving in Tuscaloosa, we have worked with 7 public schools with dance curriculum, where as before, there were no opportunities for the local students in dance.
Susana B. Williams
I served as the Rehearsal Director for guest artist Susana B. Williams' new dance "The Road to Xibalbá" performed as part of the Dance Collection Spring 2016 concert. I worked with Susana and 9 senior dancers using the Grotowski principles of improvisation as applied to dance. The final dance was a highly structured improvisation merged with set movement sequences to the music of Dean Can Dance. I continued to rehearse and define/clean the dance after the guest residency was complete. Susana also gave 2 master dance classes in Vagonova and Cunningham techniques, as well as a lecture on marketing oneself as an artist and presenting choreography around the world.
Susana B. Williams is co-founder, current director of DANCE-FORMS PRODUCTIONS and the creator of "THE INTERNATIONAL CHOREOGRAPHERS' SHOWCASE" presenting the work of distinguished choreographers at international events. On May 5, 2003 Williams received the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for her work as ambassador of good will and fellowship around the world, as well as for her contributions to Kentucky and her special achievements in the art of dance and choreography. Williams was one of a selected group chosen from the United States to serve on the Nijinsky Awards 2002 Experts Commitee. She’s one of the finalist choreographers awarded at the 1993, 7th Saitama International Choreography Competition in Japan. Williams is the recipient of the 1988-89 Kentucky Arts Council's Al Smith Fellowship for Choreography and she was the first choreographer receiving the Individual Artist Professional Development Grant from the same organization. In 2005 Williams was awarded the Kentucky Arts Council “Arts Build Communities Grant” to partially fund the first edition of THE BLUE GRASS STATE INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL. For three consecutive years Williams received Fulbright grants in support of THE INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL ANTIGUA-GUATEMALA from the Office of Cultural Affairs, United States Embassy in Guatemala.
I set up a residency and then acted as Rehearsal Director for guest artist Natosha Washington in August 2015. Her new dance was titled "Interface" and challenged the dancers to take phrase work given by Natosha to turn into duets and small group work through contact and manipulation. I worked with Natosha and 21 dancers to develop intricate contemporary partner work along with quick-paced, quirky movement for 10 minute dance creation to a collage of sounds. I continued to rehearse and clean the dance after the guest residency was complete.
Natosha Washington, Artistic Director and Choreographer for the Penguin Lady Dance Collective in Salt Lake City, Utah, has been a professional choreographer and director since 2004 after receiving her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in Modern Dance. Her duet “House of Timothy” was selected to be performed at the 2004 National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center, received the Best Performance award, and was featured in Dance Magazine. Natosha co-directed RawMoves (2004-2013) which received a Slammy Award for Best New Dance Company in Salt Lake City. As a highly sought after choreographer, her work has been seen on many professional and collegiate companies, including Repertory Dance Theatre, University of Utah, Brigham Young University, BYU-Idaho, and Utah Valley University, along with secondary school companies including Sunset Studio Company in West Virginia, and Saint Mary’s Hall in Houston, Texas. Many of these works were part of touring programs and were seen in the United States and Russia, Croatia, New Zealand, Brazil, Fiji, England and China. As a teacher at Judge Memorial High School (2005-2012), Natosha developed and created curriculum for the Men’s Dance Program. She currently teaches at Northwest Middle School where she is developing an educational program for at-risk students to work with University of Utah Dance students in realizing the possibilities of receiving higher education. Natosha recently joined the teaching staff of Now and Next’s Mentoring Dance Project, which is a nationally recognized mentoring organization that develops leaders in dance and movement education. She would like to thank the dancers for their willingness to explore, experiment and create with her. She would also like to thank The University of Alabama Dance Program for their generosity during her stay.
George Staib and Gregory Catellier
For our 2014 Fall ARDT concert, I served as Artistic Director, inviting 2 guests from Atlanta to set work on our students, in addition to re-staging works of my own. The guests also taught master classes. I arranged all visit details, oversaw classes and rehearsals, then continued to rehearse the work in the artists' absence. We stayed in communication via video and email between the visit and the concerts to maintain the highest integrity of performance. George, of Staibdance, set a new work "Nectar" and Greg, of Catellier Dance Project, reworked a dance "Tempo Reset".
George Staib was born in Tehran, Iran, is of Armenian descent and has been living in the United States since the age of ten. He began his dance training at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA in conjunction with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Though his BA is in political science, he actively studied dance, music and theater throughout his undergraduate years. He then went on to earn an MFA in dance and choreography from Temple University where he served on the faculty upon graduation. As a choreographer, Staib has received top honors for choreography in the Prague Dance and Theatre Prize 2000, he won the Governor’s Prize from the Philadelphia Council on the Arts in 1994, the Walkley Prize and the Weiss Prize for the Arts. His choreography has been extensively commissioned and produced in over 20 states including work commissioned by Moving Current Dance Company in Tampa, Florida. In 2001 he joined the dance faculty at Emory University where he teaches modern and ballet techniques, choreography, and Contemplate, Create, Debate, a freshman seminar he created to introduce students to the practice of seeing and making art. He is also a regular advisor to honor’s candidates in the Dance, Theater and Music Departments at Emory. In 2011, Staib received Emory’s highly competitive and prestigious Winship Award for senior lecturers. Most recently, George was invited to Stockholm to teach at one of Sweden’s top colleges, Södra Latin and to set work on SARACENO DANCE COMPANY, a Swedish contemporary company.
Gregory Catellier choreographer, dancer, lighting designer, and teacher started dancing during his two years at Webster University's Conservatory of Theatre. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Arizona State University. In 2001 he completed his Masters of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University where he concentrated on dance lighting design and production.Gregory Catellier has been manufacturing eclectic dances for Atlanta’s discerning local community since 2002. Catellier Dance Projects, founded in 2010, is an organization dedicated to creating intimate dance performances for the Atlanta community. The work explores personal and interpersonal subject matter, often to arrive at social and political themes. Catellier’s work employs tools from many performance modalities combining text, video, dynamic stage design and sophisticated movement. His choreography has been selected for American College Dance Festival gala concerts, the Modern Atlanta Dance Festival and the Handful Series in Athens, Georgia. He has been commissioned by Atlanta’s Dance Truck, INDIEmove and Zoetic Dance ensemble. His award winning dance for camera collaborations with dance/media artist Jeff Curtis, have been selected for festivals in the US, Europe and Africa. Their most recent work, Transit has been selected for more than 10 international film festivals.
I served as rehearsal director for Jane Weiner's dance "It's hard to sing of oneness when the world is not complete", a modern dance theatre collage for 26 dancers. In addition to making the initial connections and invitations, I worked closely with Jane during her one week residency at UA and continued to fine tune the dance for the performance, adding many coached improvisation group sections for the final performance.
Jane Weiner graduated from Bowling Green University with a degree in deaf/elementary education and a minor in dance. She had the unbelievable opportunity to work with the Doug Elkins Dance Company for a decade of fine dancing, touring and experiences before her move to Houston, TX in 1996. She is presently the President & CEO of Hope Stone, Inc., and Artistic Director of Hope Stone Dance Company and the Pink Ribbons Project. Jane founded Hope Stone with a dream of unlocking the innate creativity of children and adults and improving their quality of life through the performing arts. Hope Stone Studio is a dance and movement facility in Houston where exercise, good fun, and community meet. Jane also founded and directs Hope Stone Kids, an arts outreach program for children 6-18 years old in Houston, Katy, and New Orleans that uses master teachers in dance, theater, music, photography, spoken word and yoga to empower and educate youth. Hope Stone Kids was created to help meet the artistic and emotional needs of underserved and at-risk students. “I see the void and want to help fill it,” Jane says. Jane also founded the Pink Ribbons Project in 1995 and was the executive director from 1997-2002.
Jane has set her work on the Alley Theater, Houston Ballet II, Stages Repertory Theater, the Houston Children’s Museum, the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, and many high schools and universities. She was a finalist for the Cal Arts/Albert Award for Dance in 2001, awarded the CACHH general fellowship grant for 2002, the Houston PBS Speaking Women’s Health Conference Honoree 2004, the Surgical Society of Oncology’s James Ewing Layman Award, the Jung Center Award for 2005, DiverseWork’s Artist of the Year 2011, and was a speaker at the 2012 TEDx Houston.
At present Jane continues to run Hope Stone, Inc. create work for her company as well as schools and companies nationally, and is creating a teaching template to make Hope Stone Kids a national arts education project. She is married the wonderful Eric Mallory, has one dog and three cat children.
Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy
Dr. Vasundhara Doraswamy has visited my dance history class each fall for the last 2 years. She is an expert in the classical Indian dance form Bharatanatyam and does a wonderful lecture-demonstration on the history and meanings of the dance form. She also teaches the dancers some basic movements and rhythms. It is one thing to read about a dance form or watch a video clip, but it is entirely another to hear and see first hand from an expert and to have the opportunity to try the movement for yourself. Students always enjoy this lecture and I can see it deepens their respect and appreciation for world dance forms. I hope to find other experts in other forms to partner with to continue to enhance classroom experiences.
In the Fall of 2009, I invited Maxim Rubtsov, principal flute of the Russian National Orchestra, to do a workshop with my choreography students. Rubtsov attended my choreography class and worked with dancers on phrasing and movement quality. He played his flute while the dancers improvised movement based on the music. The opportunity to work with a live musician benefited the class by being able to respond in the moment to the sounds they were hearing and have a lively discussion about the relationship between music and movement from someone who had training in both areas.
In the Fall of 2009, I teamed up with Robin Behn in creative writing for a collaboration with her writing graduate students and my choreography students. We worked throughout the semester on ways to combine text and movement. Besides meeting as a large group several times, observing video and discussing work, the classes were divided into 4 smaller groups with writers and dancers. Their final project was to create a work for the stage involving text and movement. It was so interesting to see how the different groups tackled the assignment; writers were moving, dancers were writing, both were speaking and even acting. The level of engagement and commitment to the project was inspiring. These works were presented in Collaborama in December 2009 in Morgan.
I enjoy enhancing the dancers’ classroom experiences by collaborating with other artists and departments on campus. In the Fall of 2008, I worked with art professor Craig Wedderspoon on a collaboration between his graduate sculpture students and my Choreography III students. The end-product was a concert in Morgan auditorium entitled Space/Place featuring the dancers moving in and around the various sculptures the art students built.