Tag Archives: Texas Woman’s University

Dallas Dances: kNOwBOX dance

Co-creator Martheya Nyaard breaks down the company’ intentions and what they have planned for Dallas Dances.

YeaJean Choi. Photo: Visionstyler Press

Dallas — Looking over the lineup for Dallas Dances, it’s exciting to see so many first-time presenters blended in with event staples such as Texas Ballet Theater, Bruce Wood Dance and Dallas Black Dance Theatre. One of these new faces is kNOwBOX dance, which was created by local choreographers YeaJean Choi and Martheya Nygaard at the beginning of 2018.

Choi and Nygaard met while earning their MFAs in dance at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. Their overlapping interest in making art that challenged contemporary and modern dance aesthetics lead them to becoming fast friends and dance peers. Choi was working as the dance department’s digital media coordinator and Nygaard as the department’s publicity coordinator when the duo starting brainstorming about what they were going to do after graduation. They came up with the question: how can artists have access to stay connected, make new work and share work globally, and from there kNOwBOX was born.

“We strive to say no to the box,” Nygaard says. “The box symbolizes the boundaries and confines that limit connections. We pursue experimental production and collaboration with other artists in order to create, discuss and advocate for art. …The vision of kNOwBOX dance is to use the digital space and alternative formats to collaborate and archive. Our social media-based Evolving Laboratories facilitate a global presence for our collaborators to make, capture and share art.”

For Dallas Dances Hyun Jung (Jenna) Change will be performing Choi’s 괴다 (The memory of love) to Donovan Jones’ song “The Memory of Love.” The piece uses Korean contemporary dance techniques to express one’s memory of love. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Choi earned her BFA in Korean dance from the Sung Kyun Kwan University in 2012 and performed with Du-Ri Theater of Korea. Her work has been presented at World Dance Alliance-Americas in Mexico, Dallas DanceFest, Texas Dance Improvisation Festival, American College Dance Association, Seattle BOOST Dance Festival, Terrance M Johnson Dance Project, Big Rig Dance Collective and the Choreographer’s Series in Korea.

Later this year kNOwBOX dance will be co-producing, alongside the Dance Council of North Texas and the Dallas Public Library, the first Dallas Dance Film Festival. In terms of what they hope to accomplish with this new event Nygaard says, “It is our goal that this festival can support both local and international emerging and professional dance filmmakers and provide an affordable platform to share their work. This free festival also offers the community of North Texas a new way to engage with dance.”

“We hope this will be an annual festival that has the potential to grown into a weekend event with workshops, installations and guest artists.”

>This profile was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

 

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Dallas Dances: Jordan Fuchs Company

The choreographer on starting the annual Texas Dance Improvisation Festival and presenting at the Dance Council’s Dallas Dances festival.

Jordan Fuchs’ Torsion from 2017. Photo: Jordan Fuchs

Dallas — A well-known associate professor of dance at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), Jordan Fuchs has been making dances grounded in improvisational practices since the early 1990’s. At that point he was living and working in San Francisco until he moved to New York City in 1998, which he then left in 2007 to take his position with TWU. His work uses the aesthetic values of improvisation to find the instability of each performance moment, the possibility of transformation through sensation and the inherent state of moving always in relationship to another and to our environment, according to his Web site.

Throughout his career Fuchs has danced for artists, including K.J. Holmes, Kirstie Simson, Mark Dendy, Luka Kito/Megan Boyd, Rebecca Lazier, Gina Jacobs, Scott Wells, Lizz Roman, Joanne Nerenberg and Potrezebie. Fuchs is a Fulbright Specialist and has been on faculty at Hunter College and Movement Research. He has taught workshops at numerous universities and festivals across the United States and internationally. Fuchs is also a former dance specialist in the Jerome Robbins Moving Image Archive of the Dance Division of the New York Public Library.

For Dallas Dances he will be presenting a 6.5-minute excerpt from the second half of his work Torsion, which premiered in 2017 at the Jordan Fuchs Company’s spring performance at TWU’s Dance Studio Theater. Featuring dancers Michelle Beard, Whitney Geldon and Melissa Sanderson, the originally 20-minute trio explores movements centered in the pelvis and the body’s connective tissue, the fascia. The piece also includes original sound composition by Andy Russ and lighting design by Roma Flowers.

“I was intrigued at the movement possibly between the layers of skin, muscle and bone,” Fuchs says about the inspiration for the piece. “For instance, if you hold your forearm in your hand and rotate your forearm there is a lot of movement possible. I wanted to know what kind of dancing could emerge from paying attention to such subtlety.”

“When I start projects, I only define starting points.,” he adds. “I never know where they will end up and that is one of the pleasures of choreography for me. Finding where I end up.”

In addition to teaching and choreographing, Fuchs is also the founder of the annual Texas Dance Improvisation Festival, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this October with special guest artist Judith Sánchez Ruíz, a former dancer with both Trisha Brown and Sasha Walsh. “I wanted to create a space where improvisational dance practices and movement forms such as contact improvisation could be front and center rather than an alternative offer, particularly in moving here from New York City over a decade ago, a place where such practices were so integral to the dance making of me and many of my peers,” Fuchs says about jumpstarting the festival in Dallas.

“The mission of the annual festival has been to share, inspire and challenge the improvisational dance community in Texas through bringing in internationally renowned guest artists and creating opportunities for sharing teaching, performing and dance practices and for networking.”

 

>This Dallas Dances profile was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

 

Breeding Ground

Alice Alyse teaching ballet in TWU studios. Photo: Annabelle Chen
Alice Alyse teaching ballet in TWU studios. Photo: Annabelle Chen

The Joffrey Ballet School’s second annual Dallas summer intensive at Texas Woman’s University in Denton continues the JBS tradition of modling young dancers.

Denton — While many ballet schools across the country are seeing a drop in their summer program numbers, the New York-based Joffrey Ballet School (JBS) has seen its enrollment rise and its programs expand over the last decade. And while founder Robert Joffrey’s teaching philosophy remains at the forefront of the school’s mission statement, its recent success would not be possible without some critical changes over the past decade.

The JBS was founded in 1953 by Joffrey and Gerald Arpino and has been known for the past 50 years as one of the premiere training institution for dancers in America. “Joffrey was always an innovator,” says Alice Alyse, a master teacher and artistic director of JBS’s summer programs in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Dallas. “He loved doing contemporary movement on pointe shoes long before it was the norm. He was also a strong believer in creating well-rounded dancers. The JBS is truly a breeding ground for well-trained dancers.”

But the school hit a devastating bump in 2007 with the passing of its long reigning Executive Director Edith D’Addario. By the time of D’Addario’s death the school’s enrollment was way down and its financials were a mess. The JBS was close to shutting its doors when Chris D’Addario (Edith’s grandson) and Lee Merwin stepped in. Together they cleaned house and JBS is thriving once again. For more background, read “The Fall and Rise of the Joffrey Ballet School” in Dance Teacher magazine June 2014 issue.

The JBS also brought on Alyse who, over the last 5 years, has expanded the school’s summer programs to other parts of the U.S. including Los Angeles and Dallas. “I never pictured myself as a director. JBS came to me and was very patient with me as I learned the ropes.” To date JBS holds summer programs in seven cities and two international programs in Florence and Moscow.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Alyse began studying ballet at the age of 5. Her family moved to Miami when she was 11. She joined Miami City Ballet at 16 before graduating from New World School of the Arts. Alyse went on to dance with Sarasota Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. In addition to her role as Artistic Director of Joffrey West, South and Southwest, Alyse also executes many auditions for the JBS nationwide and internationally. She conducted the first Hong Kong and Singapore auditions in 2012.

Photo: Annabelle Chen
Photo: Annabelle Chen

The JBS’s Dallas summer program is already in progress (July 28 – August 15) at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, TX. “We used TWU’s facilities last year and had a great experience. The studios and theater are wonderful and the dance department and administration have been very supportive.”

Students will spend three weeks immersing themselves in a variety of dance styles, including classical, contemporary ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, Bollywood and even tradition Chinese dance. In addition to Alyse, the faculty also include Chris Coates, master hip-hop and jazz teacher, and Mecca Vazie Andrews, the artistic director of Los Angeles-based The MOVEMENT movement. Classes are capped at approximately 15-25 students so, there is plenty of individualized attention. In terms of the dancers, Alyse says she is surprised at the number of students who are actually from the Dallas area. “There’s not as many international dancers here as we usually see in other cities. And the dancers here are really in love with the contemporary style.”

Through her experiences as a dancer, teacher and artistic director Alyse has seen firsthand how the ballet culture in the U.S. is changing. “Today’s ballet dancers have to be way more versatile and open-minded. When I started out you were labeled either a ballet, modern or commercial dancer. Today those styles are all mixing together.” Alyse attributes the blurring of these lines to today’s heavy competition, market demands and a dancer’s need to prolong her career. “A ballet dancer typically retires between the ages of 32-36, but if they are trained in other styles such as modern they could join another company and extend their dance life a few more years or even decades.”

This feature was originally published on TheaterJones.com.