Monday, December 21, 2015

2016 Aerial Dance Scholarships for Adult Dancers of Color

Each year Fly-by-Night Dance offers scholarships for adult dancers of color who wish to study Aerial Dance with the company. Classes are held once a week on Sundays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn beginning at 4:30. The 2016 audition class will be held on Sunday, Jan. 17 from 4:30-7:00 PM.

Scholarship Requirements
  • Be a dancer of color 18 years of age or older and currently study dance on a professional level.

  • Email us at about your intent to attend the free audition class and receive a confirmation from us by Saturday, Jan. 16.

  • Sign our waiver before participating in the scholarship class.

  • Attend the scholarship audition class on Sunday, January 17

  • Commit to attending class on a regular basis and inform us of any prior commitments that would conflict with your ability to attend the Sunday class.

  • Send us a paragraph about why you want to study Aerial Dance with us and what you expect to get out of the experience.
Multiple Scholarships are available for our Beginner's Mind Workshop which runs January 24, 31 and February 7 from 4:30-6:30.

A few dancers will be invited back for a 10-week scholarship after the initial 3 week workshop. This longer workshop will begin February 14 and run for 10 or more Sundays. It will involve more technique and the chance to learn company repertory.

NOTE: We welcome and encourage anyone who has auditioned before to attend our audition again.

Support Fly-by-Night's Scholarship Efforts

for Dancers of Color HERE

1 dancer received our Beginner's Mind Workshop = $75
2 dancers receive our Beginner's Mind Workshop = $150
5 dancers receive our Beginner's Mind Workshop = $375
1 dancer receives our 10-class Workshop = $225
2 dancers receive our 10-class Workshop = $450 

Read about our classes HERE

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fall Repertory Workshop - By Chance

This fall we have been busy teaching "By Chance" - a quintet that incorporates chance into set Aerial Dance choreography.

We last performed this piece in 2004 so we really had to dig into our memory banks to get it right.

It is such a challenging piece and a few students decided they really wanted to sink their teeth more deeply into it so we have extended the workshop so they can get in a few rehearsals. 

In the picture at left is student Wendy Chu doing section 1.

It is wonderful to revisit old repertory and bring it to life again. It also gives the students a push to go the extra mile.

Janet (pictured below) attended many of the workshop classes and added great comments for everyone.

Because Janet performed the dance for three different seasons, she was able to add insights and technical ideas to help make it easier. Her clarity in the picture above really captures the spirit of the dance.

Below -
Wendy Chu and Patrice Fyffe explore finding shapes that are moved to quickly in one count and held for 7 counts. The test for a good shape is this: if the trapeze is taken away, the person holding it would fall down.

It was really fun to have Kristin Hatleberg back in class this fall -
in the pictures below everything is a blur except her smile!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Creating & Performing By Chance

Pictured: Janet Aisawa rehearsing By Chance

In 1998 I was driving  long commute home listening to a show on WNYC called "New Sounds". The showed featured Terry Reilly's classic composition, In C, a work based on incorporating chance; each musician can play any section of the piece as many times as he wants to and can move on to the next section whenever he chooses. The result is that the work is never played the same twice.

My studies with Joan Skinner made me appreciate John Cage's incorporation of chance in music and Cunningham's application of chance in dance and I thought to myself, "We could do what Reilly did with musicians and use five trapeze-dancers, we just need the right music composition and the right musicians to play it."

The right music composition came from my partner, Ken Pierson, and he brought together the right musicians. During that time Ken was spending multiple hours accompanying dance classes and he kept complaining about the fact that the dancers rarely seemed to pay attention to the music. I decided our new work would remedy that by putting the musicians in charge.

So, we assigned each dancer a musician and she had to follow her musician throughout the dance. Sometimes a musician would play a section three times before moving on to the next section and this meant that the dancer had to dance that section three times too. The dancers also had to listen very carefully to their musician or they would miss their cue for going on to the next section of the dance.

The result was magical - the dancers were tuning into their musicians with great intensity and it created an aliveness that was vibrant. It also meant that I never got tired of watching the dance because the overall composition would change from rehearsal to rehearsal. The work requires the dancers to tune into one another too;  there are 5 trapeze onstage at the same time and each of those trapeze have an orbit that cross other trapeze orbits when flying through space.

All of these things combined make for a very Zen experience when doing the dance - one can't step into the same dance twice and one senses how everything is interconnected.

Interested in learning the dance?  
Register HERE

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Connecting to the Bronx - an amazing array of people

The best part about being asked to join Doctor Bob Lee on his show OPEN' on BronxNet Television last week was meeting all the other guests who were there. While I love being able to talk about our trapeze-dance classes, I was thrilled to meet other folks who believe in community and are dedicated to ideas that help to bring us together.

If you are interested in seeing the segment I did (where I discuss our trapeze-dance classes), check in HERE.

Info on our trapeze-dance classes can be found HERE

If you'd like to hear the other guests, HERE is a link of the full show with guests:
  1. Fiorella DiCarlo, registered dietitian, who discussed how food fads can be dangerous
  2. Marcia Cameron from the Jerome-Gun-Hill Business Improvement District who disucssed a new program, Bronx Idol for kids ages 12-19 ( and Thursday night Movie Nights in the park, and their Toy Drive, among other things.
  3. Abiodun Bello joins Bob Lee for a look at the upcoming New York Unity run, creating health awareness and community. - See more at:
     Abiodun Bello, discusses the New York Unity Run that aims to bring together members of the NYPD with the youth community of NYC to run together to create health awareness in the community.
  4. Trent Love, from Mission Continues, who works with veterans and non-veterans in the community to join together in service platoons to ( so veterans can transfer their sense of purpose and intensity in the civilian world after serving in the armed forces.
    Abiodun Bello joins Bob Lee for a look at the upcoming New York Unity run, creating health awareness and community. - See more at:
    Abiodun Bello joins Bob Lee for a look at the upcoming New York Unity run, creating health awareness and community. - See more at:

A big THANKS! to the folks at BronxNet and remember -
     My invitation for you to join us in the studio was for real!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Somatic Conference at Dean College Rejuvenates and Celebrates

First of all - THANK YOU!

To all those that were able to donate to our Indiegogo campaign so that our presentation and performance at Dean College was fully funded.

Our original plan for the conference was simply to present our Somatic Approach to Aerial Dance. However, once our presentation proposal was accepted, we were also invited to perform.  The performance aspect of the conference caused our budget needs to grow. Luckily Janet (the great and most powerful of Fly-by-Night dancers), agreed to open up her schedule for the performance, and Joe Tucker (percussionist) was available as well. Thus, with the combination of the performers and your support, we were able to share two different aspects of what Fly-by-Night does at the conference.

Both the presentation and performance were well received. We look forward to working with our new-found colleagues to find ways to share our work with other populations.

Exceeding Expectations

The conference offered a multitude of ways to be inspired. I was able to take workshops with other teachers who believe in the importance of working/moving/dancing from a somatic point of view. There were also performances by many of the conference attendees. Lastly, it was rejuvenating to have time to socialize with colleagues who believe in the importance of bringing the whole self to our dancing.

It was also a treat for me to reconnect with William (Bill) Evans, who produced the conference, and Peggy Hackney, a keynote speaker, because I began my somatic journey with them more than 30 years ago in Seattle.

Hearing William, Peggy, (and also Martha Eddy, another keynote speaker) discuss and present their thorough understanding and deep belief in their somatic approaches reminded us all that this type of work is an important aspect to dance training.

It renewed my confidence in my own knowledge and inspired me to find ways to "sneak it in" (Martha Eddy's phrase) no matter who, what, when, or where I am teaching.

I look forward to the coming year of teaching, sharing, and learning within my community. I hope to see many of you there!

Peggy Hackney and William (Bill) Evans
at the keynote dinner at Dean College.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

To Ice or Not to Ice.... Rebecca Dietzel shares her research for injuries

Injuries - is an ice pack the right tool for the job?

 On June 4th, 2015 I was able to attend a workshop given by Rebecca Dietzel*  here in New York City. Rebecca presented her (very thorough) research on the use of ice for injuries. This information is so important and useful for dancers that I had to try to summarize it so that others can apply the latest in scientific research in their dancing lives. Without giving away all of Rebecca's hard-earned research results, I'm simply going to share what to do in case of an injury.

 Rebecca pored over 350 studies on the use of ice after injuries and there has been information out for decades (since the 1970's!) that ice doesn't allow for the most optimal healing process to take place in the body. Even Dr. Gabe Mirkin, the doctor who invented the R.I.C.E protocol (short for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), has said repeatedly that he now knows ice should not be used on injuries.

Here is Rebecca's new protocol for injuries: B.E.C.A.L.M
B = Breathe with slow inhale and longer exhale
E = Evaluate -      Ask, "Is the injury to soft tissue or bone?"
    Below are ways to diagnose a bone issue. If the injured person:
  • Is unwilling to move or bear weight on the injured body part
  • Is bleeding
  • Has suffered loss of  consciousness
  • Is experiencing sharp pain in a specific/bony spot
Then the injury is likely a bone issue (which should be immobilized/moved very little before traveling to get an xray).
C = Compression
     If there is a soft tissue injury, put the joint in neutral position and gently wrap with an elastic
     bandage. Use figure 8 diagonals for the wrap and do it snugly. (Just not so tight that the
     circulation is cut off . For instance, when wrapping an ankle, the toes shouldn't turn blue).
A = Able Actions
      If it is a soft tissue injury, slowly and carefully move the injured part to see what can be
     done pain-free. Repeat this after 1 minute even if pain-free range of motion is very small. These
     movements can help keep non-injured areas healthy. They also can also show if the injury is
     getting better (increase range of motion = better).
L = Lift / elevate
     Keep the body part elevated to limit swelling. This also helps the lymphatic system drain the
     injured area. Lie down if possible (ie - putting injured part up - on backpack, chair, or wall).
M= Minimal Ice
      Ice doesn't help the injury heal but it can help with pain. Find a balance between pain and ice use
      and follow the time rule for use of ice for pain:
          5 minutes maximum ice ON, 20 minutes OFF, 5 minutes maximum on
      (Also - menthol on the skin can help with pain and it starts with "M" too.)

At the end of the session with Rebecca we briefly discussed what we should have in our first aid kits (to replace those instant ice packs).
Here is the list we came up with: 

Elastic Bandages (at least 2)
     This can help keep swelling to the appropriate level.

 White Willow Bark Tincture
 This can be purchased at health food stores in their medicinal sections. Add the tincture to water.
This natural anti-inflammatory helps the body keep the swelling at an optimal level - not too much so that more injury occurs, but also not too little (which can interrupt the natural healing process in the body)

Menthol Tincture or Cream
The menthol can help with pain. Check in a natural foods store for skin cream/oil with menthol.

Notate range of motion just after injury and each hour/day afterwards. This can be shared later with a doctor/therapist to help diagnose injury. It can also help a dancer see improved results in a short time (thereby avoiding some stress/worry).

To get Rebecca's full info check out her site HERE

*Rebecca Dietzel is an anatomist and  biochemist. She received her Master of Science from Columbia University's Institute of Human Nutrition. She maintains private practices in New York City and Vermont teaching anatomy, physical re-educaiton and nutritional biochemistry. Rebecca is the nutrition consultant for Canada's National Ballet School, and co-author of A Dancer's Guide to Healthy Eating.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Notes on Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT) - Metaphor and Language

In 1992 I interviewed Joan Skinner in anticipation of the Masters Thesis I was going to need to create for my graduate degree at Teachers College. I knew that I wanted to create a thesis on integrating SRT with traditional Modern Dance but I had only just finished my first year of graduate classes and I wasn't yet sure what, exactly, the thesis would entail.

However,  I knew I didn't want to feed Joan questions to specific answers so much as get her to give details that weren't yet available in published form.The result was a rich, couple of hours with some rambling on both our parts. The interview is too long to publish by itself but I would like to share some of the richness here.

My main interest was  in getting Joan to discuss her use of language and metaphor in connection with the Eastern philosophy that SRT is rooted in. Here are some ideas she shared:

 As Joan was developing SRT she was working with dance students who were highly skilled but, often, poorly trained (they had anatomical habits that inhibited their dancing). She wanted to get them to let go of their kinesthetic habits and move in new ways. She had discovered that poetic metaphors helped students to let go of movement habits and allowed her to address change without the students being aware of it.

Thus the goals of Joan's classes were not obvious and the students weren't concentrating on doing things "right" - they were simply involved in letting go and in following the images as they moved (being "danced by the image").

 This process allowed everyone (students and teacher) to let go of judgement and labels and this helped all the egos to stay "out of the way".

When Joan gave an image and saw that it worked, she continued to hone that image until it brought about exactly what she wanted to see in her students' dancing. Gradually this became a codified technique - a pedagogy of metaphors.

 Joan was greatly influenced by Merce Cunningham and John Cage and she had hours of access to them because she danced in the Cunningham Company (think about the long talks that happen while traveling on tour). She learned a tremendous amount about Eastern philosophy from these two artists and she adopted these ideas into her technique. Specifically she adopted the idea of exploring ways she could get students to let go of their ego. When the ego gets out of the way, the whole self is freed for new experiences, including moving in new ways without tension so that there is maximum freedom to move.

 Students who study SRT may find that their class experience is completely intuitive - it doesn't feel the least bit scientific. However, when the images are examined closely, one finds that they are all rooted in allowing the body to find it's most anatomically sound movement habits.

The images are based on nature and can capture the imagination but they are, nonetheless, based on scientifically sound principles of alignment.

A basic principle in SRT is that we need far less force than we might think in order to achieve powerful movement. ("Less is more" is one of Joan's quotes that comes to mind here.)

Joan was an artist first and foremost and her classes have the hallmarks of a great performance - clear beginnings, developments and clear endings. Students find ways of "just being" in the purest performance sense and teachers "drop" images into the space much like a jazz musician might offer a musical line to fellow musicians. This is no accident and the more I study, teach and explore SRT, the deeper it gets.
There is no end to the reverberations.

Come join us for a few classes -
Mondays 7-9 PM
Beginning Monday, June 15 and running each Monday through July 6
Balance Arts Center
34 W. 28th St. (between 5tyh & 6th Avenues)
NYC, NY 10001
Full info: