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.

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.

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!