A Sense of Place: Celebrating a Creative Community
6pm-7pm Art Show and Picnic
7:15pm Dance Concert Begins
9pm Contra-Dance with music by Alison Aldrich, Called by John Bolster

NOTE: This dance concert celebrates the space of the Robin Hood Park Amphitheater. The audience will need to travel throughout the space to see the dances. Please refer to your program, and follow the instructions of the ushers between pieces.

1. GPS (a work in progress)
Choreographed and conceived by Paula Aarons in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Albert Mathias, Einsturzende Neubauten
Performance: Paula Aarons, Gretchen Carmel, Noah Carmel, Aurora Corsano, Elle Gantt, Megan Geer, Amy Gershfield, Angelica Falcinelli, Mike Mattil, Val Snowdon, Emily Villeaneuve, Tasha Warshaw & Zoe Warshaw

2. Hide & Speak
Choreography: Angie Muzzy
Music: Mogwai, Belanescu Quartet
Performance: Jessica Howard, Ali McRae, Becky Midler & Nina Robinson-Poole

3. Excerpt from To Tell “a dandelion effect”
Choreography and Peformance: Becky Midler
Music: Ceilizemer,  Mary Hopkins

4. EveryBody Dances: A Community Dance Experience

“Humans, even nomadic ones, need a sense of home.  Home need not be one place or any place at all, but every home has two essential elements: a sense of community and, even more important, a history.” – Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss

Choreography: Jessica Howard, Cindi L’Abbe and dancers
Music: David Ross (samples: Set Fire to Flames, Dave Brubeck, voices and text: dancers)
Performance: Laina Barakat, Ali McRae, Angie Muzzy, Matthew Ragan, Lisa Rogers, Madeleine Sepe, Val Snowdon, Michael Soldati & Nic Tremblay
Set Design: Laina Barakat, Derek Crowe & Chris Engle

5. Dirt: this is my body
Choreography: Cindi L’Abbe
Text: Cindi L’Abbe & Carrie Kidd
Music: David Ross
Performance: Becky Midler & Hannah Whitley

6. Nothing Left but Love
By: Michael Soldati
Soundscore: Michael Soldati
“Nothing Left but Love” is a three part dance/theatre experience that explores the act of creative destruction through the loss of the Soldati family home, the grieving process and how to move beyond tragedy.
The audience is invited to take part in the second and third parts of this experience.
NOTE: The Performer may give you a hug.

7. 2.4 Time Enough
Choreography: Stephanie Ritchie Logan and dancers
Music: The Magnetic Fields
Performance: Cindi L’Abbe, Becky Midler & Val Snowdon


One of the more exciting elements of A Sense of Place (which is on SATURDAY, whoa!). Is working within the Robin Hood Park Amphitheater. Our original intention for this project, was to purchase a portable dance floor and use that on the concrete stage in the amphitheater. The costs for that were prohibitive (this year!), but in coming to terms with that we discovered a wonderful opportunity. The event is about home, space, place and community, so why not use the space in the creation of the dances? Each choreographer has utilized a specific space within the amphitheater for their piece and the audience (read: community) will change positions in the space to view the piece. The community is involved and the space is a part of the piece. While I have been working on a duet (Dirt: this is my body) in a corner of the amphitheater from the start, and I have been rehearsing as a dancer in Stephanie Ritchie-Logan’s piece (2.4 Time Enough), the sense of place really came home to me last night while we were rehearsing EveryBody Dances. The set, created by artists from The Starving Artist, the grass and sun, and the shape of the space all brought the piece together for me in a new way. It was exciting to see. EveryBody Dances has all kinds of playful movement (we’ve explored images of bees, contra-dance, tribal circle dances etc.) and wonderful, dancer-created partner work that examines home and connection. Within the grassy space with the trees and sky above, the sense of play and joy is magnified. It is an exciting experience, and one that I am eager to share.

Note: The best way to access the Robin Hood Park Amphitheater for the July 24th event, is to drive up Roxbury Street (away from downtown Keene) and take a left at Resevoir Rd. There is a parking lot there where you can park for the event. Please walk past the lake and up the steps (there will be signs) to the amphitheater. We ask that you bring a pick nick dinner and come at 6pm to view the art exhibit. The dance concert will begin at 7pm (the pieces are all site-specific, so the audience will be moving through the space). Stay after for a free community contra-dance from 9-10! Please take anything that you bring with you when you leave.

Reflecting on the work we’ve done this summer, both in creating A Sense of Place, as an event and the piece EveryBody Dances (and of course all of the works in the concert, and other work that I (Cindi) have been doing since I don’t know when) reminds me of the challenges and opportunities presented when we work together. A Sense of Place is a practice in community building. It is an event designed to bring the community together, to share in the creative capital available to all of us and to remind audiences that they are more than passive observers, but instead, they are the lifeblood of the work that artists do. EveryBody Dances is a completely collaborative work. Jessica Howard and myself have worked together to create a structure and theme for the piece, and to find ways to assist the community dancers in creating movement and learning to express themselves through dance. It is remarkable to watch the dancers (many of whom are “non” dancers) work together to create movement based on our cues and suggestions. The piece does not exist and could not exist without collaboration and improvisation.

In May, I created a work called Strings Attached (you can see info about that on this page and at http://www.dilettantedance.blogspot.com). The piece was an exploration of interactive performance, and in the process of creating the work, I reflected on the nature of improvisation, collaboration and the role of the audience vs. artist. In my research, I came back (and was directed by my mentor Cathy Nicoli) to the book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch, especially the chapter called “Playing Together”.  There are many insights in this work, but I wanted to share one that seemed especially apropos of A Sense of Place and EveryBody Dances (and hopefully when you attend the event on July 24th, this rings true for you):

The separate beings of audience and performers can disappear, and at such moments there is a kind of secret complicity between us. We catch glances in each other’s eyes and see ourselves as one. Our minds and hearts move together to the rolling of the rhythm. This is more likely to happen at informal performances where there is no stage and no fixed seating to impose a dualistic split between active performers and passive audience. Through subtle but powerful entrainments, the audience, the environment, and the players link into a self-organizing whole. Even the dogs int he room are entrained. We discover together and at the same time the rhythmic and emotional scene as it unfolds. The skin-boundaries become semipermeable, then irrelevant; performers, audience, instruments, the room, the night outside, space, become one being, pulsing.

Baltimore Performance of Strings Attached in August 2009

Among the many talented local artists and dancers presenting work at A Sense of Place on July 24 (see that tab up there? Click it!) is Paula Aarons. We’re very excited and honored to have her work presented at the event, and for good reason:

Performing many solo roles, Paula Aarons toured worldwide with the
Nikolais Dance Theater and completed a number of New York City
seasons in conjunction with The Murray Louis Dance Company. In
addition to Nikolais, Paula has also had the pleasure of working with
Pearson Widrig Dance Theatre, Susan Hefner and Dancers, Jerry
Pearson, Mimi Garrard, and Gerald Otte. Most recently she completed
her MFA through Hollins University and the American Dance Festival and
has been on faculty at Dickinson College for the past two years. In
addition to her MFA Paula also received her M.Ed. from Antioch New
England with her thesis work done in India. She then spent the next 6
years teaching in public schools. In 2001, she left the classroom and
began doing residency work and formed a pick up group called Short
Ladies Dance that performed for two years. She served as Program
Director for Creative Arts at Keene at MOCO Arts where she also taught
modern dance and choreographed for musical theater for many years. In
addition, she was also the Program Director of The Academy of Art and
Design, a school of choice program at Monadnock Regional High School.
She has been an adjunct faculty member at Antioch New England
Graduate School and at Keene State College designing courses that
integrate dance and art into educational models. At the present time
Paula is set to be on faculty at Marlboro College in the fall, is actively
pursuing certification in Pilates and is creating new dance works for her
new pick up company, ReGroup Dance, that address social political

Come check out Paula’s newest work, which explores community and reactions to the environmental toll of the recent BP Oil Spill. The work is site adaptive (as is most of the A Sense of Place event) and allows the audience to connect on many levels.

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 dilettantedance@gmail.com


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.

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