Dancers In Italy 2012

Experience at La Biennale

April 1, 2012
by Miles Yeung
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Butoh oh oh oh

I’m not really sure where to begin with this one. Butoh began with the arrival of Ko Murobushi who barely spoke any English, let alone any Italian or Portuguese. This proved to be the most challenging the language barrier has ever been, because the guest artists usually has someone who can translate for him/her. Also, Butoh is no style to be taken lightly. Some call it the “dance of the organs” if that can even begin to give you any description of what it was like. Butoh is based on the idea of grotesque images, and involves a lot of extreme ideas as well as taboo topics. Most traditional Butoh dancers are painted entirely in white and move in ultra slow movement. (And when I say ultra slow, I mean you would probably think that if I made any sudden movements I would explode or something). So this was going to be a challenging week.

Since we didn’t have that much time with Ko, we had to get started on our performance as soon as possible. Our open doors was only a few days away and we had no idea what we were doing. We split up into different groups and began to work out a structure to perform. We were given no rules or regulations. After some time, we all presented something. And after sometime of presenting, we found out what we did was not good. It we all tried to fit too many ideas into our performances. So we tried to cut down. It was really difficult, because we already felt as though our structures were very minimalistic.

The entire workshop was very frustrating for the entire company, because no one knew what they were doing. No one knew what the goals were, what we were trying to learn, and it began to get to each one of us. However, the key to moving past this was to let go of the preempted ideas and expectations we had and to just go with it. This made it so much easier because it opened up our minds to the idea of almost doing nothing during the performance. This was the best Open Doors we’ve experienced yet. We’re still not sure why, but the energy and the spirit of the company was amazing. I felt like we gave very honest performances, one where we finally felt like a collective whole.

So here’s the lesson my friends:

Stop questioning, and GO WITH IT!

 

Lotsalove

-Miles

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March 25, 2012
by Miles Yeung
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Wim Vandekeybus/Fighting Monkey

Hey everyone!

Recently we worked with choreographers Jozef Frucek and Linda Kapetanea. Let’s just start out by saying that they were a very inspirational duo. Fighting Monkey is extremely physical, and I mean EXTREMELY. If I were to describe it to you in a few words, I would say Aikido (a type of martial art) + Modern + Groove Funk = Fighting Monkey.

Our warm ups would include exercises were we just wrestled each other, one pinning another down while they attempted to sit up. Or we would partner up and one person would lay on the ground while the other tried stepping on them and they had to be able to dodge any advances made. It was really interesting because of the humanity that was used in basis for all of these movement exercises. We would always be asked, “What is the most natural thing to do?” Some days we would work solely on walking. Others, we would be assaulted by a wooden stick. The theme was mobility. Jozef pointed out how we’re all so focused on our dancing and training that we’ve forgotten how to just be a normal human being.

One of the best parts was when we were given a large wooden block per couple and two hand axes and we were told to create a ball. Every day we would work for an hour or two of just chopping these blocks. Our hands became worn and torn with the manual labor that was so alien to them. It was beautiful, the way we had to learn to feel the weight of the ax fall into the wood instead of working with aggressive force. Jozef told us how we gain the qualities of the things we work with…wood, water, etcetera. He said a lot of beautiful things that I wrote down to share with you all:

There are Dancers and there are Movers. Movers can be philosophers, writers, and even maybe sometimes dancers. They observe the stars and time…and sometimes even stretch.

Do not reach for the world, let the world come to you. The further your expectations are, the more anxiety and stress you have. Accepting things the way they are doesn’t necessarily mean you are giving up. Open your heart up…take the weight off your shoulders. Everything is only temporary.

Don’t spread yourself too much. It’s about how much knowledge you share and how much you keep to yourself. Moderation. Do things outside of dance, and let it grow into your art, not into two separate hobbies.

Life is about circularity (and we will die with your imperfections.)

Every chaos has its order.

Do not live in your projections. HOping for better moments will make you miss the most important one, the one that’s happening now. You will look back on your life and feel sorry for yourself that all your moments passed you.

They were wonderful to work with and a blog post could never fully describe the experience we had with them. It wasn’t just a workshop, or just some classes, but definitely an experience. I recommend that everyone search them up on YouTube, or the next time you see me in person, bring them up and I am sure that I can talk for days about them.

 

Missing everyone!

-Miles

Jozef and Linda

March 23, 2012
by Arianna Henry
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Let’s fight that monkey!

Hey Everyone,

A lot has been going on since my last post. I am personally dealing with a torn meniscus, but fortunately am able to dance in our Fighting Monkey workshop that we have been doing the past two weeks.

Going into Fighting Monkey, I was expecting to come home bruised and destroyed every night.. or even worse not even be able to participate because of my injury. However, Jozef Frucek and Linda Kapetanea helped us to explore first and foremost our humanity above anything else.

Instead of starting each day thinking of “dancing” on stage, Josef would tell us to simply walk and always be mobile throughout our whole body. Most of the work would be in partners; we would grab our partners wrists or hold different sides of a stick to interconnect and as one person would manipulate the other would be affected starting at the wrists and going into the elbows, shoulders, head, spine, legs, and then to the feet.

The afternoons were dedicated to a set choreographed structure of “fighting monkey.” What I thought would be  a series of trying to escape kicks and hits, was a set structure that worked WITH your partner and not AGAINST. We also learned how to react with any manipulations that were put on us, instead of going against them we would go with the force of each manipulation. Doing that keeps us away from harm, as well as teach us awareness of our surroundings and our own bodies.

We’d end our days doing some actual hand labor and I have the blisters to prove it! We took a block of wood and axed it into a circle… or as close to a circle as we possibly could. That sort of labor was completely inspiring to us all as we discovered that we weren’t just chopping wood to make a shape, but creating. All of what we did with our spheres was directly related in how we approach dance. In every human action that we do in life, as well as the 5 social forces (being culture, society, technology, economy, and politics) are what influence our dancing.

I am extremely excited to perform all that we have learned from Josef and Linda and am grateful for all they have shared with us.

Ciao!

Arianna

 

March 8, 2012
by Miles Yeung
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Send us mail!

It really makes us happy!

[One of our names]
℅ Arsenale Della Danza
La Biennale di Venezia
Campo Della Tana
Castello 2169/F
30122 Venezia, Italy

 

February 28, 2012
by Arianna Henry
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FABRIZIO!

Hey folks,

To add to Miles’ post from yesterday, I captured some photos of our physical therapist hard at work to keep us healthy, strong, and as injury free as we can be.

Preparing for what us dancers have in store for him. Photo Credit: Malcolm Freitas

Fabrizio investigating the Bollywood aches and pains on Richard

always very informative to his patients

My knee after after a Fabrizio appointment

Thanks Fabrizio!

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February 27, 2012
by Miles Yeung
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Bruised and Broken

We’ve been pretty quiet this last week..we apologize. With Terence Lewis’s arrival we began to study classical Indian dance, as well as learning about the culture of the middle east. We had a workshop where we taught some of the basics of classical Indian dance to the public followed by a performance that evening. Unfortunately, that evening I dislocated my shoulder while doing a press lift with my partner..so I have been sitting out for the past week. Also during the week, Arianna dislocated her kneecap while rehearsing some contemporary dance with Indian influences. It doesn’t stop there though. Richard and Tunai have been battling pains in their bodies and have definitely been feeling the effects of dancing 6 days a week. Luckily we have a physical therapist, named Fabrizio, who takes care of us along with some major athletes in Europe. He tapes us up with this stretchy blue kinesiotape to help support and train the muscles. 

It has definitely been humbling though, to know that I am still blessed to be able to wake up and get out of bed and dress myself and live normal life still. It reminds me of all the things that we take for granted each day…being able to shower and walk to the grocery store and open a bottle of mayo. I think most importantly I need to live and work in a positive manner. In order to heal, and to get the most out of any experience, I have to continue on taking everything as it is. Complaining is never going to help anyone!

Making an appearance in last weeks paper while rehearsing one of our Bollywood pieces

Remember everyone! Make the most out of everything :) If you get injured, if you live in a cold house, or whatever it may be, just remember the countless things you are blessed with. Like the saying goes, there will always be dirty dishes in the sink (or at least I think that’s a saying!).

Much love

 

-Miles

Kids' Carnival

February 20, 2012
by Arianna Henry
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Celebrations!

Buonosera!

It is the night after my 21st birthday, and what a festive weekend it was.

Venice is finishing up their two-week celebration of Carnivale; the most internationally known festival celebrated in Venice, Italy (as well as being one of the oldest).The congregation of masked-people tradition can be traced back to the beginning of the 14th Century, and now attracts many tourists during this time in February.

The Arsenale della Danza dancers have also been a big part of the festival; performing at La Biennale Giardini the past two weekends. On Saturday, we did two “Playground Bollywood” workshops with children at 11 and 3, and then concluded our night at Giardini performing Bollywood pieces choreographed by Ishmael Ivo and Terence Lewis at 6pm.

Click on the link below to see an interview with Terence Lewis and footage of the children workshop at Giardini.

Carnevale dei ragazzi 2012 – Terence Lewis

Not only did I get to perform on my birthday weekend, but my family came to visit as well! Luckily my birthday landed on Sunday, the one day off a week we get. We dressed up in masks and costumes to walk along the streets of Venice. Throughout the day, we had other tourists coming up to us and taking our pictures; my family and I felt like we were part of the show for other tourists.

My family all dolled up for Carnivale

The last day of Carnivale is tomorrow night, and I am going to miss seeing such fantastic costumes on the streets before and after rehearsals. On the other hand…. maybe the vaporettos won’t be so jammed packed with tourists for a while.

As Carnivale concludes, so does our time with Terence and Bollywood technique. We are dedicating our days to prepare for the Open Doors on Saturday! We are in the process of learning the classical forms of Sacred Indian Dance, martial arts, and Contemporary Bollywood that will all be presented to an audience.

I never knew how intricate and precise every single facial expression and hand gesture was until being introduced to this dance form by Terence and his assistant, Roche. My legs, hips, core, EVERYTHING are feeling it too; stretching has become a best friend to me now more than ever. Us americans almost feel and like cripples in the morning and have to take an extra hour to open our hips back up for the 8-hour days ahead of us.

On that note…I’m going to go stretch.

Ci Sentiamo,

-Arianna

 

February 13, 2012
by Arianna Henry
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Francesca Harper

Ciao UArts!

One week impacted by Francesca Harper, and the way I approach dance has been completely changed. To call this woman brilliant is an understatement.

As I read through my journal filled with her quotes, I look back on the week as a gift to dance and a transformation to my outlook on life. There was not a day that went by that her words and improvisations did not have me in tears.

Here are just a few quotes I’d like to share that every dancer should think about ESPECIALLY when feeling stuck or fighting with dance:

“believe in your beauty”

“honor the art and honor yourself”

“there is no one like you on the Earth”

“it is not about getting the leg up, but where the leg is coming from”

and my personal favorite, “it is not about perfectionism, it is about acceptance”

You could clearly see that she had touched every single one of our hearts during our premier open doors on Saturday night. The night was filled with improvisational constructions, duets, and videos inspired by Francesca’s time spent with William Forysthe. It concluded with a solo by the one and only Francesca Harper, and I found myself completely lost in another dimension as I watched her dance, sing, and express complete humanity on the stage.

Francesca Harper rehearsing for her solo at Arsenale Della Danza's open doors Saturday, February 11th

By starting off our workshops with Francesca Harper and the Forsythe Technique, the 25 of us are now on a new level of concentration and commitment to begin our journey at La Biennale.

WE LOVE YOU FRANCESCA HARPER and will live by your words for the rest of our lives…

Ci Sentiamo,

Arianna

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February 11, 2012
by Miles Yeung
2 Comments

Respect The Art Form

Hello everyone! SO much has happened within the last week that this is a perfect time for the blog to be up and running. The trip here was a major journey for all of us, Richard got ill and the airlines lost Tunai’s luggage. We were four lost Americans trying to get our way to Italy.

We moved into a flat in the middle of downtown Venice, between the two major squares San Marco and Rialto. We got off the boat and weaved in and out of all these little alleyways to eventually end up at a gate that let us into our building. We live in a 3 bedroom apartment with a spacious kitchen, dining room, and living room (we really lucked out). On the floor beneath us is a cute little family with 2 children and a dog, named chico. Above us lives our landlady, who in a time of crisis has come to our rescue.

We had to learn all the customs of living here; for instance, they separate all of their trash into 3 different categories, and have a very specific schedule for which day and time they should be taken out.

To start off, we began our Biennale experience with a class with Ismael Ivo, the director of the whole program. We do a lot of Horton, with a little bit of release and Forsythe techniques mixed in. Continuing in the week, we took class from some alumni of the program who have returned to take part again as members as well as assistants: Giuseppe, Valentina, and Elisabetta. There is a constant variety of things that we get, from yoga to classical ballet – every day is a surprise. We also began to rehearse for our performance during “Carnevale,” a week long celebration where the Venetians dress up and wear masks around the city. We’re doing a Bollywood themed piece, and to be quite honest, it’s extremely difficult! We’re also working with lots of colorful fabric, abstracting the idea of Bollywood’s playful feel.

We take class everyday on stage, and it’s been a shift to what I’ve been use to as a dancer. The stage lights are very draining, and we only have rolling mirrors that we rarely use. We act very much like a company; we take class in the morning and have a lunch break and then continue with rehearsal into the night. There are 25 of us total, with dancers from Brazil, Florence, Naples, Canada, and other surrounding areas. The language barrier has been tough, but it really has proven that there are certain things that are universal to humans around the globe, dance being one of them.

Introducing myself was a challenge in itself. When I said, “Mi chiamo Miles,” everyone looked at me as though I were speaking in tongues. SO I decided that my middle name would be an easier option. They all sighed in relief when I said, “Or you may call me Edward if it is easier?” So Edward it is.

With just 2 weeks underneath my belt I can already feel a change in myself as a dancer. Working with Francesca Harper this week has altered my vision on dance and as an artist. I was lucky enough, along with Tunai, to be selected for the duet and solos that she was setting for the Arsenale della Danza. The piece was entitled “By the Way.” It played on the classical ballet form but broke it into a contemporary piece. It began with a duet followed by a solo by me and a solo by Tunai. After the performance, Francesca told us that “it is about the possibility of someone who has passed, coming back to say one last thing.” It struck me hard. I felt so honored to be chosen to do her repertoire, and that we could be trusted to deliver what they expected.

The workshop with Francesca involved a lot of improv and personal insight, which we used to collaborate and make beautiful constructions of improvisation.

After our performance with Francesca Harper

I can’t wait to see where these 5 months will take me :)

-Miles (aka Edward)