The postcard for "Speechless"Tonight I chassed over to Dance Place to see alight dance theater‘s “Speechless,” a look at how parents communicate with their children when words are not an option.

I was excited to see a dance performance, but I was particularly pleased to go back to Dance Place for the first real time as an audience member! I realized after the fact that I happened to wear the same pair of leggings that I performed in at Dance Place last time – ha!

I first heard about “Speechless” last fall, when the lovely Jessica from Sustaining Movement was going to see it at the Kennedy Center, but I unfortunately missed that run, so I was particularly excited to get the chance to see it again. And what a treat for the dancers to perform this piece for the third time!

I was, well, um, speechless at the end of the performance. I found myself expressing my emotions through tears – which, I’ll admit, isn’t that uncommon for me. I was grateful to the performers for having a Q&A session as well as a reception afterwards to let us interact.

So after turning down a salsa dancing invitation and using the rest of this evening to internalize the ultimate message of love – I find myself looking at the dance through the eyes of a choreographer. What, concretely, gave me such an emotional reaction?

Overall, the storytelling was very poignant. It wasn’t “just” a dance, it introduced a tough subject to the audience and taught us a lesson. This was made more clear by having the families – the “subjects” – a clear part of the piece. They were featured prominently in video and audio. They were literally given a voice by being seen and heard by the audience.

The video wasn’t haphazardly slapped up on the back wall as it is so often in dances; instead, the video was attractively framed off-center and was a part of the set.

Angella Foster, alight’s founder and the main “Speechless” choreographer, also helped the storytelling along by sprinkling the piece with monologues. She didn’t try to create a character for herself though. She literally contributed to the story from her perspective. Since she isn’t a parent of a speechless child, but a cousin, she served as a bridge of understanding between me and the families.

The movement, of course, featured contact, partnering and themes of lifting oneself or others up off the floor. To see the dancers connect in repetitive ways let me in on the families’ daily rhythm. To see the dancers purposefully play with the “scribbles” onstage reminded me of the simple and focused joys of childhood. To see arabesques – as always – is breathtaking and a reminder of the athleticism of dancers.

I’ll be keeping alight dance theater in my mind as inspiration. Inspiration to work on my craft – perhaps I can join them for a class even!

But more importantly, I have inspiration to go through life learning, being open and accepting to all different types of people, and most importantly, to love.

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Phish – “Meatstick” 12/31/10 New Year’s Eve from Phish on Vimeo.

This is the best combination of show choir and jam bands.

I watched this on #couchtour streaming from a New Year’s Eve party and couldn’t help but wonder… what was the audition for this like?

Betsy, Ellen, Sylvana and Emma cover their mouths as part of a dance movement.

Photo by Colin A Danville

I started working with Glade Dance Collective after I attended Eureka Dance Festival open auditions – thanks to a Facebook invite, believe it or not! – so I owe a lot to Eureka for the incredible growth my D.C. dance circle has seen in the past six months.

The culmination of the year-long festival was a two-night performance at Dance Place. I still feel like I have to pinch myself for the fact that I’ve performed on one of best-known dance spaces in D.C. – one night to a standing-room only crowd!

As a collective, Glade counted as one “choreographer” for our piece, “District. Defined?”

It was definitely interesting for me  – this was the first time I had ever worked on a piece where there were more than two “head” “choreographers.”

As artistic director, Sylvana was the keeper of the piece’s vision, while administrative director Heather kept our schedule in line. (Along with financial director Betsy, Syvlana and Heather are co-founders of the collective). Beyond those roles, every collaborator had a chance to develop movement sequences, choose music, name the dance, talk about costumes and lighting and otherwise develop the piece. We relied heavily on journaling and non-dancing meetings to hammer out a lot of details.

Although it seemed slow at times – especially with Eureka’s once-a-month public showings where we shared our process with a group of other one-person choreographers – I think the Glade collective process produced the most well-rounded and audience-friendly piece in  Eureka Dance Festival. (I’m biased, of course, but my non-dancer friends all loved being able to relate to “District. Defined?”!)

Again, I feel fortunate to have been a part of this year’s Eureka Dance Festival. Through Eureka I got to work with Glade – which is truly making gains in establishing a name and a collective process. I hope I continue to work with it next year – at the very least as a workshop participant and audience member.

P.S. – If you’re interested in learning more or collaborating with us, Sign up for Glade’s monthly newsletter!

Three Glade dancers lunge and search to their right

Three dancers from Glade Dance Collective - Betsy, Alina and Sylvana - perform a portion of Glade's Eureka Dance Festival world premiere, "District. Defined?"

I started this blog because I felt like I didn’t have an outlet for my dance ideas. Now I am blessed to have so many outlets other than this blog and a lot less time just sitting about wondering about dance in my life!

This weekend I am performing with Glade Dance Collective as part of Eureka Dance Festival at Dance Place.

These are all fantastic organizations!

DCist contributor Amanda Abrams has been focusing on dance in the district a lot lately, and I try to comment on it, like it and do whatever else I can to support it! Too often hyper-local blogs miss all the dance performances, workshops and showings happening around town. But when I glance into the flourishing D.C. dance community, I am overwhelmed with too many events to choose from!

Here is DCist’s interview with Dance Place’s Carla Perlo, who actually talks about how the dance scene in D.C. has grown dramatically in the last thirty years:
http://dcist.com/2010/12/dcist_interview_dance_places_carla.php

Here are some ways to explore dance, learn something new or make new connections:

Why is this film only being shown in New York City? How can I see it? Is it on the Web? I am salivating over what I’ve read so far!

Dance and Visual Art on Film: Finite and Infinite Games
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-edwards/dance-and-visual-art-on-f_b_788067.html

Also, I hate that you have to log in to HuffPo to comment and that is why I am simply linking here.