Dear readers,

I am officially stepping aside from this blog. For the last three years, on and off, it has been a great outlet for my writing and dancing. However, things have changed, priorities have shifted, and I no longer have room in my life to be an active participant in the blogosphere. I will continue to dance and write, and perhaps some day I will blog again, but it lifts a weight off my shoulder to be able to say that A Time to Dance is officially inactive. I will leave the old posts up, but I will not post new ones, and I will not respond to comments.

Thanks to all those who have read and commented on my posts over the years. I appreciate all the opportunities I have had to learn and see things, and to meet people I would not have met without taking this project on.

Best wishes,

Maria

This video confirms that animals have souls. This golden retriever clearly loves to dance and feels great joy while doing so. The turns and dips kill me, but nothing is better than the little hops forward on its hind legs.

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Joy of Motion will celebrate its 33rd anniversary next Saturday, October 17th at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C.

Last year, I performed at Inside/Out as part of Doug Yeuell’s Jazz Performance Class. This class was a fantastic opportunity to watch the choreographic process come together in a short period of time. Normally, JOM student performances are in a small studio theater. But the anniversary concert was on the beautiful stage in the brand new Atlas Performing Arts Center. Student group performances were interspersed with well-known professional DC groups.EDGEWORKS Dance Theater performed right before us and it was such a thrill to see them from the wings, not to mention share a stage with them.

This year’s concert presents "the spectrum of dance that JOMDC features, with performances by Furia Flamenca, Nomad Dancers, DCypher Dance, Jazz Factor, Youth Dance Ensemble, Step Ahead, student performances in works by Douglas Yeuell, Aysha Upchurch and Helen Hayes, and more. Pre-show performances by Groove Elements, AVAdance and ImproVolution DC. A post-show reception will close out the evening." What a great opportunity to support DC dancers, both budding and established, perform in a beautiful facility in front of an enthusiastic audience.

Here is a preview video:

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Inside/Out Joy of Motion Dance Center On Stage
Saturday, October 17, 2009, 8:00 p.m.

Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002
Tickets: $25 in advance/$30 at the door
www.joyofmotion.org

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity include the art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs, the The Bulgarian Nestinarstvo fire-dancing rite (video below), the Farmers’ dance of China’s Korean ethnic group, the Japanese Ainu dance and many more. More information on safeguarding cultural heritage can be found here.

Based on the information available on the UNESCO website, it seems that the result of being placed on this list is that cultural groups can receive grant monies to engage in activities and programming that will document, protect, and promote the identified practice. The grant application asks applicants to identify how they will do that effectively and in doing so, educate a broad audience. Some examples of these plans can be foud at this link.

Documentary about Nestinarstvo fire dancing ritual
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UNESCO has a fantastic YouTube channel with many many more video examples of intangible cultural heritage practices.

velocity dc logo

If you’ve always wanted to try a dance performance, but not sure what to see and on a budget, your time has come with VelocityDC.

On Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3, for only $15, come sample six of the best dance companies from DC (and beyond) at the beautiful Sidney Harman Hall at 610 F Street NW, beginning at 7:30pm.

Ron K. Brown and Evidence

Ron K. Brown and Evidence

Featured are short pieces from Ron K. Brown and Evidence, The Washington Ballet, CityDance Ensemble, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater, Gesel Mason, Nejla Yatkin, Edwin Aparicio, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner presenting the outdoor piece “Bodies in Urban Spaces”. You’ll see modern, African, ballet, hip hop and many forms in between.

VelocityDC is designed for folks who may be new to dance, beginning with Gesel Mason’s performance of “How to Watch a Modern Dance”. Stay afterward at the bar to swap impressions, meet some dancers, and finally be able to ask them, up close and in person, how they do it all!

VelocityDC Late Night!

Night owls, stick around for VelocityDCLate Night! At 10pm on Saturday, October 3, a cabaret-style showcase of movement, music and mayhem featuring dancers, poets and musicians.

This late-night, 18+ cabaret promises an evening of music, movement and mayhem including appearances by Andile Ndlovu, Capital Movement Project, Contradiction Dance, Furia Flamenca, Gesel Mason, Gilded Lily Burlesque, Kentavius Jones, Komplex, Lucy Bowen McCauley Dance, Regie Cabico/Sol y Soul, and Urban Artistry.

In addition, relax and enjoy the Harman Center bars and lounges with DJ Ian Knight (Philadelphia) into the early morning hours.

The Washington Ballet performs Wunderland

The Washington Ballet performs Wunderland

Bodies in Urban Spaces

Street performances of Willi Dorner’s “Bodies in Urban Spaces” will take place both evenings free to the public. “Bodies” begins at5:30pm each night, beginning at the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro and winding its way throughout the Penn Quarter neighborhood.

Presented in partnership by Washington Performing Arts Society, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Dance/MetroDC with major artistic partners The Washington Ballet and CityDance Ensemble.

Visit www.velocityDC.org for more information.

Tickets are on sale now for $15 at the website or the Sidney Harman Hall box office, (202) 547- 1122 or toll-free (877) 487-8849.

CityDance Ensemble

CityDance Ensemble

Press Photos and Releases:
www.velocitydc.org/index.php/press

Facebook:
www.facebook.com/velocityDC

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/velocity_DC

I have changed the header photo (the one that appears on the top of the page above the blog’s title). This particular picture was borrowed from the New York Public Library’s Flickr stream of Early Modern Dance: The Denishawn Collection, a fantastic collection of photos of Ted Shawn and Ruth St Denis’ Denishawn Dance Company.

The header is a detail of the full photo seen here in this post. It depicts pupils of the Denishawn School posing for publicity photos. I think it is a delightfully fanciful set-up. The pupils look as if they’ve just danced their way out of the pages of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

denishawn header1

Hello blogosphere!

I am back from an extended summer leave from the blog. Hope everyone’s had a good summer.

I had a great one… some nice trips with my husband and to see family and friends. Lots of work, too, but in my free time I’ve been living life to the fullest and feeling less drawn to written expression.

Now that summer is drawing to a close and the first hints of cool autumn air are making themselves known, my thoughts are starting to turn more inward again, so blogging may be in the cards again.

If anyone’s still reading, please say hi. And let me know what you’ve been up to— dancewise or otherwise– this summer, and if there’s any good blogging I’ve missed.

Maria

How many times have we heard someone say, "Music saved my life"? Usually this is meant in a broader or more figurative sense, but in one lucky fellow’s case, the meaning is quite literal.

According to CNN, a woman was able to save her husband’s life doing CPR to the music of a well-known disco song (‘Disco Tune Saves Man’s Life’). Thanks to a Public Service Announcement she had seen that recommended performing chest compressions to the rhythm of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees, Debra Bader successfully resuscitated her husband without the benefit of any prior CPR training.

This incident is such a powerful illustration of the ability that music and movement have to communicate things much better than words. Best practice in CPR is to perform chest compressions at approximately 100 beats per minute, but this means little to the average person. Because ‘Stayin’ Alive’ is such a well-known song (which, conveniently enough, moves at the exact optimal BPM for CPR) that most of us have danced to at some point in our lives, we are easily able to refer back to that muscle memory as a reference point for that speed.

An alert iReporter caught this tractor square dance in Maria Stein, Ohio on tape. Not only is the sight of multiple John Deeres do-si-doing around each other all kinds of awesome, but also note how each one and its driver are decked out like superheroes. My vote goes to Wonder Woman.

tractorsquaredance

It was a sticky, humid day at the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, but this did not stop Puerto Rican bomba y plena musicians Viento de Agua from giving a dynamic performance that had the audience on its feet dancing.

Here is a video I made of Viento de Agua performing a plena. I did not catch the name of the song, so if anyone knows what it is, please comment. Plena is a traditional Puerto Rican style of music that we were told has its roots in the sound of a train. You can certainly here this underlying “chugging” sound in the music. Plena is one of the many caribbean styles that lends its rhythms and styles to salsa and merengue. It is characterized by the use of percussion instruments and vocal harmonies to form the rhythm and tune.

The second half of the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival runs July 1-9 on the National Mall. The three featured themes this year are:

  • Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture
  • Wales/Cymru

and my personal favorite…

  • Las Americas: Un Mundo Musical / Music in Latino Culture

This dance craze is causing bodily harm to a number of enthusiastic young men in Jamaica. I can’t say I really feel sorry for them.

WordPress just keeps getting better. There is now a post by email feature which I am testing out this second. This is going to be useful in situations where there is a firewall or I just don’t feel like signing on to the website. Attached files will also post as well. I’m testing this out with a picture of cherry blossom time in DC.

p3312217

It doesn’t take a, uh, scientist to come to the conclusion stated in the title of this post. That said, it’s nice to have some quantitative evidence to support the significance of the live performing arts experience.

The NYT’s Tierney Lab blog posts about a study conducted in conjunction with the Dance Your PhD contest (in which scientific studies are interpreted through dance).  Live audience members were given the four finalists’ abstracts and had to guess which dance matched up to which study. The same challenge was given to the online readers of Gonzo Scientist. The data were analyzed and the results are discussed here.

The most compelling finding of the study is that the live audiences did much better at correctly matching the study topic to the dance. As John Bohannon, the study’s author and Gonzo Scientist blogger, says, it is true that many in the live audience had a dance background as well as worked in the sciences.

“But it doesn’t solve the mystery of why live audiences seem to be smarter in general. It’s unlikely that the online experiment systematically attracted people with less science or dance expertise. Nor is access to information likely to make the difference. (Probably few online participants took the time to read the full papers.)

I propose a simple explanation. Being part of a live audience focuses your attention in a way that staring at a lonely computer screen never can. It’s equally true of art and science.” [emphasis added]

Google Labs keeps me entertained with its constant flow of new ideas. The newest one to catch my eye is Similar Images. It works like google images, but rather than relying on keywords to find what you need, once you find an image that approaches what you’re looking for, this app will find ones from around the internet that contain similar attributes.

This is what the front page looks like. Let’s try a search for my favorite subject, dance.

similar images front page

A variety of different results come up. Let’s say I’m looking for a dramatic photo of dancers mid-air against a stark background (as seems to be the fashion these days). We clock on the “similar images” link under that picture…

similar images dance search

Et voila`, lots of mid-air dancers on stark backgrounds.

similar images dance search refined

I can think of so many applications for this labs creation, particularly for bloggers like me who are looking for just the right image to accompany their posts. While the example I show above only resulted in dancers (though in one case it was not a photo but a drawing, which is neat too), I clicked through to other results that did not contain dancers but similar colors, backgrounds, and configurations of images. This could be a positive or a negative depending on what you’re looking for, but nonetheless it’s a new toy to play around with.

Although the Wolf Trap is only a few miles from my home, save chaperoning a bunch of screaming kids at the International Children’s Festival, I am ashamed to say that I have never attended an even there. After spotting their summer ’09 calendar and the fabulous goodies on it (not limited to dance), that will hopefully all change. This summer’s dance lineup at Wolf Trap includes the following highlights:

  • Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance on June 16
  • Aspen Santa Fe Ballet on July 7
  • Merce Cunningham on July 14
  • 42nd Street runs July 17-19
  • Trey McIntire Project’s Face of America: Glacier National Park on August 19

This and much much more can be found on the Wolf Trap Site. The recession is not excuse– the lawn seats are the cheaper– and more relaxing– way to go. So grap a picnic basket, a blanket, and enjoy some arts under the stars this summer!

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