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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Fall Dance Insider

by Eveline Chang

Fall Dance Insider with Ivy Baldwin Dance. Photo: Piotr Redlinski


This Fall, BAM Education partnered with Mark Morris Dance Center to present Fall Dance Insider, a free workshop series for 40 dance students grades 9—12. In conjunction with the 2014 BAM Next Wave Festival, participants learned from and engaged with some of the festival’s most renowned dance artists. Bénédicte Billet—who worked for years as a dancer with Iconic BAM Artist Pina Bausch and Tanztheater Wuppertal—and the 2014 Artist in Residence Ivy Baldwin led immersive workshops for these aspiring dancers and choreographers.

On Saturdays in October and November, the high school students took part in technique classes and workshops with both of these artists, focused on the creative process and offering students a rare opportunity for in-depth discussion with them. The workshops pushed many to move beyond their movement comfort zones. One student recalled during a composition exercise led by Ivy Baldwin: “we had to improvise without any stopping which really tested my improvisation skills, creativity, and stamina!” Bénédicte Billet, who helped to reconstruct Pina Bausch’s early work Kontakthof, offered a very different challenge based on the 1978 dance-theater piece. Similar to the experience that Pina Bausch had when auditioning for Juilliard, Bénédicte asked the teenagers to stand before an audience of their peers and feel that same awkwardness and vulnerability of being under scrutiny.

Fall Dance Insider with Ivy Baldwin Dance. Photo: Piotr Redlinski
These experiences helped to prepare the students for their attendance of the performances of Tanztheater Wuppertal’s Kontakthof and Ivy Baldwin Dance’s Oxbow. One participant asserted: “being able to hear the artists’ actual thoughts, ideas, and motives helped to clear up many questions” that the normal audience goer might leave the theater with. 

The program concluded with a reflection on the students’ artistic journeys and how their future roles in dance have changed. As young choreographers, the teens agreed they left inspired and with tools for generating movement both individually and collaboratively. As future audience members, one student discovered: “I am now more open to different experiences and interpreting performances.” And finally as performers, another participant “learned the importance of truly loving myself open and presenting myself on stage for the audience.”

Fall Dance Insider with Ivy Baldwin Dance. Photo: Piotr Redlinski
As part of BAM Education’s mission to provide access to the highest quality arts engagement, this program was offered free of charge to its students, including covering the cost of travel and performance tickets. The teenagers hailed from all parts of New York City, each with their own unique dance background and individual creative voice to contribute.

BAM Education connects learning with creativity, engaging imagination by encouraging self-expression through in-and after-school programs for students and teachers; school-break workshops; and offerings for audiences of all ages. To find out more about upcoming programs, click here.

Eveline Chang is the Program Manager for BAM Education & Humanities.

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