July 28, 2010

Thank you to everyone who participated in EveryBody Dances and A Sense of Place this year. It was a resounding success and the audience was warm and receptive. We would like to repeat this event next year and are interested in having new choreographers and dancers. Please contact us at if you are interested in participating in any capacity.

Photo: Tim Gurczak

Photo: Tim Gurczak

Photo: Tim Gurczak


Contact Jam!

June 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27 please join Dilettante Dance in a Contact Improv Jam at the Heberton Hall on West Street, Keene NH.

This event is completely FREE and open to anyone—all levels of experience welcome.

4:30-5:00: Introductory Class led by Dilettante Dance

5:00-7:00 Open Contact Jam (enter and leave at will)

Sponsored by The Keene Public Library and Dilettante Dance

For more info please call Jessica Howard at 603-560-0973 or email


Image by: Edgar Jansen

On Monday, June 14th we began rehearsals for EveryBody Dances (there’s a tab for that, so I won’t bother with a link!).  Because this is a community process, I wanted to share it with the rest of the community, through this blog, and hopefully (subsequently) on Cheshire TV.

Our first rehearsal included 6 members of the Keene Community. Note: you can still join in the next rehearsal (Tuesday, June 22 at 4:30pm at the Heberton Hall on West St. Keene, next to the Keene Public Library), but after that the process will be closed to new dancers, so that we can be performance-ready by July 24th!

After a warm-up and introductions between dancers, we began by learning a phrase that I (Cindi) had choreographed earlier to fit with phrases made by Jess in a trio. The dancers (some “dancers” and some “non-dancers”) learned the phrase beautifully and had a lot of questions about performance details, which is pretty exciting, because it speaks to their engagement in the learning process.

After that, the rehearsal switched to a more creative process. EveryBody Dances explores ideas of space, place and home in  multi-dimensional way (for example: in exploring space, I can focus on abstract dance concepts (negative space, positive space, planes), the performance space (an outdoor amphitheater), or my favorite space to sit and read a book.). I gave the dancers several prompts to lead them to create their own phrases. Initially we visualized the building of a personal shelter and then the dancers (with cues from me) began to “move” that shelter, thinking about the task of building it, the negative and positive space and what they felt (physically) if they placed themselves inside of it. We used a free-writing (except it was free-dancing) process to create that movement (no editing, keep moving etc.) and then within that the dancers found sections of the movement that they remembered and repeated. These sections became the basis of a new phrase.

The second exercise I gave was to have each dancer think about his/her earliest memory and let that image or feeling sink in. They then took the movement they had found in the “shelter” improvisation and created a phrase (clear beginning, middle and end) that used the “shelter” movement, but was “about” the earliest memory. This kind of open-ended work is very difficult–clearly there are no wrong answers and many ways to interpret the assignment, and the dancers rose to the choreographic challenge, which was exciting.

The third exercise was one that focused on negative and positive space and shapes. It is a common exercise (one dancer makes a shape and the other fills in the negative space), however I manipulated it thematically. My instructions: “Make a shelter out of your partner and then inhabit that shelter.”

Finally, I divided the dancers into two trios and they created small trio dances during which each dancer performed his/her solo phrase while the other two worked with “shelter” structures. These two small “pieces” may later become part of the final work (highly likely, unless the dancers object!).

The goal of EveryBody Dances is to collaborate with the community, so the choreography and the performance should come from community members. Please click on the EveryBody Dances tab above to find more ways to participate, because we want your help in creating this work, even if you are not performing.


June 6, 2010

Core Conditioning Tuesday nights at 7:30 is on-going. At Sterling Studios. $10/$5 students.

Community Choreography Workshop on Wednesday, June 9 at 8pm at The Starving Artist. $5 (click on the EveryBody Dances tab for more info).

Turn it Out! and Modern Dance for (All!) Adults on Saturdays at Sterling Studios. (click on the Upcoming Events/Classes tab for more info). $12

First rehearsal for EveryBody Dances: A community dance experience is on Monday June 14 at 4:30 at the Heberton Hall. Subsequent rehearsals will be held on Tuesdays 4:30-6:00. Free and for ANYONE! (click on the EveryBody Dances tab for more info).

Maybe you’ve noticed that Dilettante Dance in conjunction with The Starving Artist Collective are offering Community Choreography Workshops (click on Upcoming Events/Classes for a schedule of our classes!). Maybe you are interested in creative expression through movement or learning about creative process, but you think, “I’m not a dancer. I’m not a choreographer. This isn’t for me.” But, truthfully, this is exactly for you.

The Community Choreography Workshop is a safe and fun way to explore your creative process through movement. Techniques you learn in this workshop may help you solve problems in other disciplines beyond dance and you will create movement that we promise will surprise you. It’s a pretty exciting experience. In addition, Jessica Howard and myself (Cindi L’Abbe) are creating a new dance piece called EveryBody Dances (you might have noticed a page on this blog with that title…go ahead, click it!). This piece is an exploration of community through movement. Anyone can dance in the piece, no matter who they are or what their experience is AND Jessica and I are also inviting the community, anyone in the community to help create the dance. By participating in a Community Choreography Workshop, you become one of the choreographers of EveryBody Dances. Your voice becomes part of the choir.

Please do click on the page labeled EveryBody Dances to find other ways you can participate (there are more!). Without you this work doesn’t exist.

This week’s Community Choreography Workshop is on Wednesday May 26 at 8pm at The Starving Artist Collective, 10 West St. Keene NH. The workshop is $5.

The core muscles (the muscles of the low-back, abdominals and hips) provide stability for the entire torso as well as assisting the ability of lower body muscles to perform in most positions and movements.  There is some evidence showing that exercises that improve the strength and stability of the core musculature prevent and heal low-back pain and can actually prevent knee injuries in athletes. In addition, training the core is  linked to increased balance and improved posture.

Many people focus on the six-pack or the rectus abdominis when training the core (think of the classic “crunch” exercise). The role of these muscles is to pull the sternum closer to the pubic bone (spinal flexion). Over-training these muscles can  lead to a postural imbalance, over-stretching of the low-back muscles and slouching! Not exactly the hot washboard abs you might be looking for. Balanced core training includes a wide variety of movements targeting all the core muscles (in the abdominal region the obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and psoas) including the muscles of the hips and back. This type of training allows the entire core to work in synthesis, creating a pillar of strength in movements that require stability, protecting the low back and increasing the function of the leg muscles.

In addition, a full core-training regimen should include dynamic balance training to strengthen small intrinsic core muscles that allow balance in motion, and flexibility training so that the core can be strong, but also supple.

It might be intimidating to create your own program with many different core exercises for a well-balanced workout in conjunction with the rest of your strength, flexibility and cardiovascular exercise, but keeping variety in mind is the key to making it work.

Trying a fitness or movement class like ballet, pilates or yoga can help you find new and fun ways to keep your core in shape. Or you can combine the three with some modern dance based cardio and try Jessica Howard’s Core Conditioning class…it starts tonight! 

CLICK to see the schedule and description of all of Dilettante Dance’s classes!

Strings Attached: An Experiment in Connection

May 19, 8pm at TSA Collective
$5 donation

“…interaction should consist of bidirectional communication, and can have no predetermined outcome if the interactors are genuinely engaged in the exchange of information/experience.” Sita Popat

Strings Attached is an interactive performance choreographed and performed by Cindi L’Abbe. The piece explores the roles of audience, director and performer through modes of audience participation, choreographed structure and improvisation. Soundscore will be provided by Ian Logan and David Ross. The performance will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Laina Barakat.
The panel includes Cindi L’Abbe, Ian Logan (of Sisters and Brothers) and Cathy Nicoli (dance faculty at Keene State College).

What’s the point?
To allow audience members to “enter” a dance by interacting and directing the performance
To explore the concept of communication through a dance conversation using words and physical strings
To illustrate the connected-ness of human beings through invisible and visible threads
To create interactive art as a demonstration of the creative potential of audiences as well as performance, to democratize the dance

What are we talking about?
Interactive elements in performance art as methods of creating audience “connection”, relevance
Improvisation as conversation, performance as communication
The performing arts as an illustration of humanity

How’s Your Core?

May 16, 2010

If you want it to be strong and vital, then don’t forget to come to Core Conditioning on Tuesday May 18 at Sterling Studios with Jessica! This class incorporates elements of Pilates, dance and yoga for a total body workout.

Core Conditioning (Tuesdays May 18th-June 22nd 7:30-8:30pm)
$10 Drop in or Six Week Registration for $54
for more info please call Jess 603.560.097

Hi All,

We are so excited to begin teaching our dance  and core conditioning classes at Sterling Studio in Keene. Please click the Upcoming Classes/Events tab for a complete schedule and descriptions.

Each of us is working on developing a fun and effective class and we look forward to seeing you! Tell your friends—the ballet and dance (modern) classes are the only adult multi-level classes in town and Jessica’s core conditioning class is innovative and exciting, calling on her background in dance, pilates and yoga to create a complete workout.

Please join us!

Adult Dance Classes

April 16, 2010

Dilettante Dance will be presenting a new dance class series at Sterling Studios, Main St, Keene NH. For more information see our class schedule here.

Email us at if you’re interested.  These classes are for adults of all levels–modern dance, ballet and core conditioning.