Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jazzed by Jazz Masterclass

posted by Alexander Stewart, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Music
University of Vermont

Dr. Alexander Stewart sent the following note to the Flynn's artistic director, Arnie Malina, after a special FlynnArts Piano Masterclass with jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran, part of Moran's residency activities while in Burlington. Moran's visit culminated in a thrilling MainStage performance of Milestone, a theatrical, multimedia jazz suite inspired by the work of conceptual artist Adrian Piper.

Dear Arnie,

Thanks for making the Jason Moran event happen! My students were enthralled, fascinated, challenged by the masterclass. Talk about thinking outside the box—Jason had them (and me) hearing and thinking about music in a totally new way. How often does that happen? In my experience, only a few times in one's life!

Many of the students also attended the concert and I have heard nothing but raves for him and the group.

This is the kind of thing that makes jazz feel young again—something that happens only too rarely these days.

We all express our deepest gratitude to you and the others who made this possible.

Alex Stewart

Alexander Stewart, Ph.D.
Jazz Studies/Ethnomusicology
Associate Professor
Department of Music
University of Vermont

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Choreographing Life While Creating Dance

posted by Rachel Siegel
Siegel is one of two current N.A.S.A. grant awardees. She will be blogging about the progress of her work in progress, leading up to an informal showing on Sunday, April 13 at 4 pm.

I have created the bulk of the dance material that I need, recruited participants, scheduled rehearsals, and I’m ready to roll.

It’s been a lot of organizing lately and I’m really excited to get back to the dancing. Particularly, to see what happens when I actually try to do each of the phrases with the two different groups. This Friday, Group B (the “no-experience-necessary group”) is dancing. In a week from that, Group A (the more technical, experienced group) will meet. I have 15 participants confirmed and another half dozen or so that are likely. This makes me happy. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get as big a group as I wanted, and I’ve already exceeded my hopes.

It’s an extra organizational challenge because I’m offering childcare to participants. We’ll be dancing in one studio while the kids play in another one. It’s the only way many of the participants are able to come solo. Usually in my life, I’m involved with things that kids are welcome to. However, it would not work to do the “before and after” idea that I have for the dance if kids were present for the earlier “before” rehearsals. (They’ll join us part way through the process to shake things up.) I’m currently trying to get an accurate count of kids who will be there so I can get an appropriate number of childcare providers. I don’t want to get too many providers or I’ll be shelling out money needlessly. So, I haven’t been focused on the physical dancing so much the past couple of weeks.

Luckily, I did get to the Modern III dance class at the Flynn last week and loved it! And I’ll be in the studio again on Thursday, to work on some solo material I started the last time I was there.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mother, May I Dance?

posted by Rachel Siegel
Siegel is one of two current
N.A.S.A. grant awardees. She will be blogging about the progress of her work in progress, leading up to an informal showing on Sunday, April 13 at 4 pm.

I was awarded a N.A.S.A. Grant from the Flynn Center and am thrilled to be working creatively again. The piece I’m making is about life before and after becoming a parent. I would love to have more people involved. There is room for people with no performance experience as well as experienced dancers/performers.

The main portion of the project is a movement sequence that can be done by a group in unison or as a round. When done in a round, if the movements are done in close proximity to one another, they fit together intricately like a puzzle. If they are done close but not just right, the movements collide. It is a representation of my experience going through life—sometimes I felt like I was part of harmonic experience and sometimes quite the opposite.
Next, in the performance and in my life, come the kids. After learning the movements with other adults, we will try to repeat the choreography with the kids that some of us have—in slings, backpacks, holding our hands, copying us, attached to our legs, asking to borrow the car. It will obviously change things. I’m curious what will stay the same, what will be improved, and what we will have to give up.

Modern dance is often off-putting to viewers who feel like they “don’t get it.” I aim for transparency in my work and want to find ways to make dance more accessible to audiences and to participants. I have historically worked mostly with “non-dancers” believing that anyone can dance and that performing can be transformative for all. I plan to create two performances following the outline above—one with more pedestrian movements and one more technical. I am interested in seeing if the experience as collaborators will be the same in each group and if the work will read the same to the audience.

I have spent the time in the studio the past couple of months choreographing the two movement phrases. I am ready to start rehearsing with adults. If you are interested in being involved, please email me at Rehearsals will be minimal and childcare will be available on site for those with young ones. There will be a work-in-progress showing at the Flynn Center on Sunday, April 13.

The next New Art Space Assistance (N.A.S.A.) Grant deadline is Monday, April 7. This grant provides Vermont artists, working locally, with the development time and space in which to engage in process and thus to create new and meaningful work. NA.S.A. Grant awards include six hours of creation time per week for 10 weeks in either the Chase Family Dance Studio or the Hoehl Studio Lab and an opportunity for an informal public showing of the new work in either of the two FlynnArts studios or in FlynnSpace. Potential applicants can download a N.A.S.A Grant Guidelines & Application Packet. To receive the N.A.S.A Grant guidelines and an Application in the mail, email or call 802-652-4537. Please provide your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.