Bebe Miller: Hendrix Redux
By Jill Guyton Nee (MFA 2014)
Many of the highlights from my graduate career involved working with Distinguished Professor and world-renowned choreographer, Bebe Miller. For Dance Downtown 2013, she reconstructed her 1991 work Hendrix Project. With almost twice the number of dancers as the original, and a new title (Hendrix Redux), the work (re)visualized the famous guitarist's music. Even in re-composing the work, and watching video (lots of video) of the original work, the process of making was still collaborative in finding the new within the old. Miller always referenced that the original cast would perform and check-in with each other as if a musical band, and within those ideas our large cast would do the same and rock out each time we danced. The highly physical, virtuosic, and dynamically weighted choreography was a great challenge to the cast as a whole, but Miller's wonderful direction and trust in us as dancers and performers guided and inspired us to recreate her vision. How I wish to be back in the studio rehearsing and jamming out!
Dianne McIntyre: The Voice of the Blues
By Christine Ghinder (BFA Candidate 2015)
Being part of Dianne McIntyre's Voice of the Blues was a difficult and thrilling task. Being asked to uphold a character as we danced was something new to many of us. With McIntyre's passion leading the way, it was a true journey digging into my roots to get the cool aesthetic that the bluesy sound brings to the table. Rehearsal was exciting each day, learning movements foreign to my vocabulary and being expected to pick up on McIntyre's movements as she did them. I feel very fortunate I was able to be part of this wonderful cast of people and create something very real for us on the stage and for the audiences.
Jimmy Ortiz: Holometabolo
By Serena Chang (BFA Candidate 2016)
Working with Jimmy Ortiz on Holometabolo was truly an indescribable experience. I have never been pushed so hard and inspired as a dancer than when I was working with Ortiz. His movement style was one I had never experienced before and it truly changed my perspective on movement. Working with a choreographer who did not speak English fluently made me interpret and experience dance in a way I would never have imagined. Movement became our method for communicating. We all changed from the experience, which is the premise of his piece (Holometabolo meaning metamorphosis). Everyone had their own personal struggle and it was beautiful to see each dancer overcome it in the three-month period. Holometabolo represents the journey and "metamorphosis" that we each individually and as a whole underwent with Jimmy Ortiz.
Abby Zbikowski: Brute Force
By Anna House (BFA 2014)
The name in itself rightly sums it up. The 12 women destined to undertake Abby Zbikowski's demanding process were consistently bombarded with seemingly impractical tasks. Zbikowski thrust upon us movement that required such enormous strength, incredible force, and complete dynamism that our bodies were certain to have troubles comprehending. In her eyes, what better way to end a vigorous run than by quickly stopping one's momentum, turning the opposite way and swiftly dropping to one's knees? Or by flailing the body to the ground in one second only to get back to one's feet and jump vertically in the next. Rehearsals were often met with pints of sweat, occasional injured knees, busted tennis shoes, and the rare but undeniable tears. In the end, being a part of Brute Force was the most laborious process I have ever been a part of. But from this process I gained something more powerful than the painful but only temporary bumps in the road. Working with Zbikowski and the entire cast, being a part of her creation and bringing Brute Force to life created an ever-lasting impression on me. Not only did my movement vocabulary and dance athleticism increase, but my understanding of the value of being a part of something much bigger than myself, the precedence of my teammates who I now consider family, and the sheer confidence I have gained as a result of Abby's direction could move mountains. Abby Zbikowski may seem mad, but she is a mastermind. Not only did she challenge us to grow as movers, but she encouraged us to sprout as human beings. Her emphasis on the power of the individual was just as, if not more, important than the power of the group. Within me I found the fearless dancer and fierce woman that I have been looking for.
NOTE: All Dance Downtown 2013 videos are by Elijah Palnik