MacArthur Fellowship recognizes tap dancer & choreographer Michelle Dorrance!

Every year, the MacArthur Foundation recognizes the work of artists, writers, scholars and the like for their ongoing efforts.  The cash award has no conditions, other than “keep on keepin’ on…” I did not recognize Michelle Dorrance’s name at first, but after a profile on NPR, I thought what Ms. Dorrance has accomplished has been a worthy addition to the many contemporary choreographers who have been given the “Genius” grant, such as Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, and Twyla Tharp.  Here’s the link to the interview that was featured last week:

World Ballet Day!

In the spirit of “all-things-in-the-world-must-have-a-yearly-designated-day”, (hey, it was National Coffee Day on Tuesday), someone, somewhere thought October 1st should be a day when ballet could be celebrated all over the world via the internet! For 23 hours, live streaming video feeds will reveal the inner workings of The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet.  Why not take a look today?

A couple of dance events that did not make it on the Calendar!

Hi, Dance Sixers!

There are a couple of I.E. dance events that would be eligible for either Field Work/Additional Dance Concert OR extra credit, so here is the information:

The 2015 Mariachi Festival is coming to Fairmount Park September 18 and 19th! Submerge yourself in culture through dance, music, food and art. There are many different ways to get involved in the Mariachi Festival. Submit a piece of art in the annual art contest, see how your favorite salsa recipe fares in the Wild or Mild Salsa Recipe Contest, shop among the many event vendors or simply enjoy an afternoon of dancing and music.

Pre-sale tickets are on sale now at any City of Riverside community center. Get your tickets today. Pre-sale tickets are $12.50 through 5 p.m. Friday, September 18 and $20 per person at the gate.  There is no on-line pre-sale for this event – you must go to a City of Riverside community center in person to purchase pre-sale tickets.

Another possibility:

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will hold its annual Pow Wow at Cal State San Bernardino from Oct. 7-9, featuring music, dancers, crafts, demonstrations and popular Native American food’s such as Frybread.

Known in their native language as the “Yuhaviatam” or “People of the Pines,” the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have held the annual event at CSUSB for the past 10 years, dating to 2001. Along with dance and drum  competitions during the three-day celebration, the Pow Wow will also have vendors selling unique artesian crafts and jewelry.

All activities to take place  on the university’s soccer fields near Coussoulis Arena.

The Pow Wow will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday October 7  with the blessing of the grounds, followed by registration. Later in the evening there will be the formal Grand Entry.

During this event, the dancers demonstrate various styles and vie with each other for points in the competitions.

The ceremonies will continue with dignitaries representing various tribes, followed by tribal representatives carrying flags of the United States, Canada, California, MIA-POW and the visiting tribes. The evening will feature intertribal dancing, contest dancing and exhibition dancing. On Oct. 8 and 9, the Pow Wow will begin with the gourd dance and bird singing and dancing.

For more information, contact the San Manuel community center at (909) 864-8933 or visit for grand entry times and contest information.

I hope you will take this opportunity to see dance in your community, as well as in class!

It’s a great, big, beautiful new semester!

It’s always hopeful – the first week of any given semester.  There is an air of possibility – seeing new faces and, after the obligatory review of the syllabus, a gradual excitement when students are getting to know each other and me, during the icebreaker activity.  My favorite moment during the icebreaker is probably the fourth question.  I select a prompt that will elicit strong reactions, and as the students reveal their opinions, I see them fully engaged with each others’ responses, and voila’! They truly begin their journey into Dance Appreciation at that moment – well, at least in my mind, they do! I am happy to report that as we go into week two, the classes are full, and the learning and understanding of how and why people dance are ready to be unearthed by a new group of eager RCC students.  Welcome to the Fall Semester!

One of my favorite choreographers, Twyla Tharp, is in the midst of preparations for a tour of her works by a new group of dancers. Tharp has written two books on the creative process, and she is definitely in the category of “legendary choreographers of the 20th & 21st century”. She is keeping a rehearsal log for the New York Times, and I just love what she has to say about the rehearsal process.  Here’s a link to one of the articles:

If you are a Dance 6 student, I hope you will read this article, and comment about what you find interesting and fascinating about Twyla Tharp.  Perhaps you will comment about your own experiences watching dance, or performing dance.  As you uncover new dance forms and choreographers during the semester, please let me know what you are thinking about, or any questions you may have – I want to know, and for you to share your thoughts and opinions.

The Basics: Writing about Dance

In order to DESCRIBE what you are seeing, it is helpful to provide CONTEXT in a basic, no frills approach. As Sgt. Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
It’s perfectly fine to eventually address the meaning behind the movement, or how the movement brought on emotions and feelings for you, but first – just the facts!

WHO? Identify the creator(s). If there is no single creator (as with many cultural dances) identify the group or cultural influences that are present within the dance.

WHAT? Identify the title of the work. Titles should either be in quotation marks, as in “Falling Angels” by Jiri Kylian, or in italics. Example: Tari Puspanjali is an Indonesian dance of welcome. If the title of the piece is unknown, give other pertinent information which can help define the dance. Example: “freestyle wedding dance” is not a title, but it gives a fair amount of information (an improvised dance which occurred at a wedding).

WHEN? Date of the creation of the work – this is the most critical piece of information. Date of the performance can be a secondary piece of information when the creation date is unknown. The date of the actual recording and/or uploading of the video IS NOT the date of creation or performance!

WHERE? Location of the dance is important. Is it a traditional performance space, (as in a venue, such as the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles), or an unusual location, such as a coffee house, or fountain? Perhaps the location “fits” the dance presentation (for instance, a dance presented at a church or temple might be a vital part of worship). If a dance is performed outdoors, is there a designated “stage” or platform, or is the dance performed out in the open? Give as much information as possible, especially when the location is unusual or distinctive.

WHY? Give a brief assessment of the purpose of the dance and/or the intent of the creator. THIS IS NOT YOUR INTERPRETATION OF THE DANCE, just a hint as to why this particular dance is being performed. Example 1: Speaking in Tap is a tap dance performed to Indian rhythmic patterns, as sung by Sheila Chandra. Example 2: All of the pieces performed in Kinetic Conversations are created and/or performed by Riverside City College dance faculty.

HOW? Start the description with a few basics. For instance, how many people are dancing? What body parts seem to be used most often? Are the movements pedestrian, or do the movements seem to be a certain technique or genre? Are gestures and facial expression utilized by the dancers? Are the dancers facing the camera, each other, or an audience?

It’s been a wonderful two weeks with all of you in D6H, and I hope this short tutorial has been helpful!

Some cool on-line resources for interesting dance topics and performances!

Hey, Honors Dance 6 students, and others who follow this blog!

Sometimes, there are SO MANY THINGS THAT ARE SO INTERESTING ABOUT DANCE that are out in cyber-land, and I only have a limited class time to cover course content…what to do???

Well, one thing is to bring to your attention several blogs and websites that cover dance topics really well, and that way YOU, the ever curious and eager Dance 6 student, can follow your bliss, and discover things that pique your interest, and perhaps even comment on them ON THIS VERY BLOG!!! I would love for people to bring their own comments to the table, so here is a list of blogs / websites that I have found and enjoyed. – LA based arts coverage – upcoming dance concerts in Southern California w/ links

The two website listed above are among my FAVORITES for So Cal dance events and topics. – specifically refers to all arts events in the Inland Empire – interviews and reflections on dance – New York based blog with reviews and interviews – dance critic Deborah Jowitt’s reviews and comments

Individual blogs of note:
Freelance ballet dancer / choreographer Ballroom dancer “Biggest Girl in the Ballroom”

Happy surfing and reading!!

An upcoming free concert this Friday!

INDIA JAZZ SUITES (also called Fastest Feet in Rhythm), featuring Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith, is an explosive collaboration between one of India’s foremost Kathak masters and one of the world’s fastest, Emmy-award winning tap dancers. The result is high entertainment which crosses all boundaries of age, race and culture — a blast of incredible speed and power, grace and beauty, epic storytelling and the pure joy of dance.

As previewed in class last week, India Jazz Progressions will be performing their unique blend of Kathak (classical Indian dance) and tap dance in concert at Grand Performances, downtown LA. It is a free event, but parking downtown is definitely NOT free. However, there is parking very close to the event, and the last time I was in the area I paid $10 to park for the evening. The concert is outside, and since it is free, arriving early for a seat is HIGHLY recommended. Bringing food is also a good thing, and there are several places to buy food in the area as well, at varying price points, of course. The website for Grand Performances has all of the information in regards to directions, parking and the like. I realize the distance will be a factor, but if you can manage to get yourself (and maybe some of your friends) to carpool, you will experience a wonderful evening of dance! For those who need to stay closer to home, there are upcoming events in the Inland Empire as well!