Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What is Listening?

We recently finished our spring workshop in trapeze dance. There was an amazing combination of folks who attended and many of the lessons found the sweet spot of deep listening. This experience got me thinking about my main goal as facilitator in these classes and it made me realize that the one, true goal I have for teaching is simply to experience a profound sense of listening. Let me try to define what I mean by the term "listening"....

In all somatic techniques there are exercises that guide us towards listening to our own bodies. When I explored the Feldenkrais method I remember discovering what it is to allow my nervous system a break and for brief periods (sometimes merely a few seconds) I had to train myself to do "nothing". I learned to recognize the layers of letting go that can happen in the muscles. This type of exercise deepened my ability to listen to my own body and to discover waiting on a neuromuscular level.  In my studies of The Skinner Releasing technique this "nothingness" is essential and it includes waiting for images to completely take over to such an extent that they cause me to move/dance through the image. Since an image on any given day may, or may not, move me, I had to learn to both listen and to wait (sometimes for long periods of time) for the image to take root in my whole self. This waiting is profound and philosophical - it is a form of meditation.

By applying the Skinner principles to work with aerial apparatus I found that the listening ability went beyond the body. When a dancer allows herself to be moved by an image while dancing with an apparatus she is able to move more freely and often finds herself doing moves that she would otherwise be afraid to do. The dancer with the strongest ability to connect to the releasing images is able to improve at a faster rate than the dancer who is weaker with the imagery work.

Still, the exercises I've mentioned are about listening to oneself. In the Skinner Releasing Technique Joan Skinner taught that this listening goes beyond the self; that listening and waiting allows one to merge with the forces of the universe. The first time I heard  this it seemed rather heady ( and like far too much for a dance technique to claim).

However, through repeated experiences as student and teacher I have found that the ability to listen within has proven to be the key to "hearing" the world around me. Thus, not only do students improvise better with an apparatus when they are listening to their own body in a deep way, they also tend to improvise better with other dancers.

All of these listening layers take incredible mental focus. The process also requires a leap of faith that one will be able to stay safe/keep track of multiple stimuli while dancing. Having taken that leap the dancer also needs to notice when the meditational imagery has fled and been replaced by the ego. Once the ego takes over and a dancer begins to "drive" the dance, the listening safety net is gone. That is when dancers begin to manipulate their partners and the apparatus as a separate entity (in Joan Skinner's world the dancer is no longer connected to the forces of the universe). This creates a disconnect between dancers.

Short story longer...
Listening to oneself can also be listening to the world around oneself.
And who doesn't enjoy the sense of being heard? The dancers who listen most often are coveted partners.

From now on when people ask me what I teach I will say "listening".

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What We Do After School....

We had a great time at Muscota New School this year doing our FREE After School Dance Program.

The Parents Association was an essential part of our success... thanks to Laura McCluskey for all her hard work in getting students signed up and communicating with the parents and school officials!

We also need to thank Cristobal Vivar for his assistance with our video (if you need a photographer or videographer for an occasion, Cris is fanstastic! www.vivarphoto.com)

We hope to be back next year for more.
See the video https://vimeo.com/90648010

with audio1-HD 720p
with audio1-HD 720p
https://vimeo.com/90648010

Friday, March 14, 2014

Composing Dances of Everyday Life

I had a blast working with adults at the JCC last Saturday night on composing dances through improvisation using everyday movements.

It is wonderful to work with a group that is so well educated about visual art - everyone was very quick to apply the ideas of art composition to dance composition. This is part of the joy of living in NYC - so many people understand and appreciate the ideas of art and are willing to open their minds to seeing dance in new ways.

This class continues through March 31 and is FREE!
Come join us!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Update on Scholarship for Dancers of Color

We are ready to begin our next winter workshop - the dancers' approach to low flying trapeze. This is a multi-level class with a wide variety of folks. This diversity makes the class interesting because it is taught from an improvisational point of view and each individual class member brings something to the work.

This upcoming workshop will allow 3 of our scholarship students to continue to study with us in the coming months.



We are so happy to have:


Randall Anthony Smith
Adam Christian
Ashley Brown
for another 8 weeks!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

THANK YOU DONORS!
Thanks to you our programs are still flying!

Thanks to 30 generous donors on our Indiegogo campaign we were able to raise almost $2,300 towards our programs -
namely our FREE after school program at Muscota New School and our Scholarship Fund for Dancers of Color.

In addition, other funders made donations via website or checks in the mail raising our total to $3,316!

You can see all that we do and the full results of the campaign on the Indiegogo page:
HERE


Anyone who missed our Indiegogo deadline can donate anytime on our website
HERE

Photo above by Vivarphoto.com
FBN Dancer Kirstin Dahmer

Monday, January 13, 2014

Great Group for 2014 Scholarship Class Audition

We had a wonderful group of dancers who showed up for our annual Scholarship Audition class.

Thank you to the volunteers who assisted with the workshop:
Kirstin Dahmer, Wendy Chu, Andrew Quinn and Jennifer Myers!

Here's a group shot of those who took the audition class:



Fly-by-Night's scholarship program allows dancers of color to experience our dancers' approach to aerial dance. A small group of students are accepted into our 3-class workshop and from that group a few are selected to continue to study with us through the spring. If the fit is right for both the student and the company, the student continues to study with us through the year.


Five students were chosen to take our 3-class workshop on scholarship and many were offered a discount to the workshop as well.


This is what the scholarship recipients had to say upon hearing the news:

"So great to hear from you! I am happy to accept this offer!
I will see you on Sunday at 4:15pm!"

"I would love to attend the workshop.  I enjoyed very much, and look forward to practicing a gain.
Thank you"

"I would love to come to the 3-class workshop.  I was completely overjoyed yesterday by the class and process of learning.  I cannot wait to return.  I actually practiced on different leveled bars in a workout part near my home.  Yes,  a little goes a long way ."

"I am so excited to participate in this workshop!!!!  I've have been wanting to get into some aerial dance training!  I can't wait to see you Sunday!!
Thank you for this opportunity!!"

"YES I graciously accept the scholarship and I look for to seeing you Sunday!"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Passages Photos

Passages was our biggest artistic success and we want to share it with you!
Here are a few wonderful shots from our dress rehearsal.
All photos are by Fred Hatt.
Janet Aisawa is suspended (above) through the weight of Kirstin Dahmer and Julie Luwick while musicians Joe Tucker, Ken Pierson and Jim Seeley accompany them.

Special Guest Robert Davidson (above) is suspended as a film of himself floating plays behind him


Kirstin Dahmer partners with Michael Fulvio (above)

 Janet Aisawa, Julie Ludwick and Kirstin Dahmer create a web midair

Funeral procession with entire cast
Kirstin Dahmer, Rachel Duvall, Janet Aisawa, Julie Ludwick and Tamara Figuerora
(clockwise from left)
Janet Aisawa and Tamara Figuerora as mother and daughter
Rachel Duvall and Tamara Figuerora in a suspended duet
as Janet Aisawa observes from the background