Do you know this particular feeling: You can’t wait until it’s over, but you never want it to end? You’re so excited that it’s finally here but you just want to run away?
That was definitely my feeling for the last week of our Contemporary Summer Intensive. By the way, it was also the last week of my adventure that is New York City. So I stumbled into the week with many conflicting feelings with Sidra Bell, Benoit Swan-Pouffer, and our performance Friday night ahead of me.
For our last Creative Tools class, Tiffany invited the well-known choreographer Sidra Bell to let us have a glimpse of her very unique process of creating pieces. The name Sidra Bell has come to my ears in various occasions since being in New York, so I was very excited and curious about Monday night. Also because we got to see one of her solos in the first week as part of Celebrate Dance, which makes the process behind the choreography even more interesting.
In the class we improvised with Sidra talking in a soothing monotone voice without a break, giving us insight in her thoughts about the movements and throwing tasks at us to follow. This kind of process leads to many different scenarios and makes every single class of hers one of a kind. In the last section of the class we learned one of her combinations and after dancing the choreography a few times, Sidra again gave us tasks and new ideas to apply to our dancing. Those two hours were extremely exhausting, not just for our body but also for our brains. We all took some great ideas from the class and weaved them into our almost finished pieces for Friday night. This was definitely an experience I will treasure in my heart as a real New York experience.
The last Master Teacher in our workshop series was Benoit Swan-Pouffer, who was the Artistic Director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet for 9 years. FYI: Cedar Lakes has become my favorite contemporary company in New York. I had taken his class at Steps before and was very happy to be able to have the opportunity to study with him again. Swan was completely different in his approach from the other Master Teachers we had so far. Coming from a city that is mainly affected by one big contemporary school, where I also did my dance education, it somehow baffled me that the four weeks in this program opened me up to how many different definitions, styles, and possibilities there are in contemporary dance. I, of course, knew this intuitively, but being part of it, actually experiencing it is a completely different thing. Swan’s positive spirit, very likeable French accent, and smooth but technical movement, was somehow a great combination of Wynn’s craziness, Byrd’s technique, and Barton’s specificity.
On Friday night we had our final performance in Steps Studio Theater presenting the pieces we created over the course of the workshop in Creative Tools and Performance Skills. Make-up was applied, some nervous energy exchanged after the tech rehearsal, and outfits prepared for a quick costume change. Each group showed their Creative Tools piece. Marina and my piece “Gedankenlesen” was the last of the three pieces. The performance went really well for all our groups and so did the last piece we choreographed with Heidi Latsky in Performance Skills.
Ending this journey dancing on stage with my new friends and classmates, with friends in the audience, at my favorite dance studio in New York was my perfect ending – haha, how corny. Afterwards we received our Certificate of Attendance, took some photos, had a short Q&A, and enjoyed the reception with snacks and drinks Cassie had organized in our honor. Heartfelt goodbyes were exchanged with promises to see each other again very soon.
Chronicling my experiences in the Steps’ Summer Intensive has been great fun. I cannot recommend this intensive enough…but obviously…if you have read my other blog entries about it that must be obvious. If you have not, well go on, read, and enjoy!
Thank you, your Sinah.