Now announcing Relay Dance Collective's Season 5 audition:
Masterclass with Ella Mahler
2-4 p.m., Sunday, August 28
RDC is seeking male and female collective members members for its 5th season. Collective members should excel at both classical and contemporary styles; be available to rehearse on Sundays and week nights; and be open to both repertory work as well as a collaborative creative process. We're thrilled to have such an outstanding group of choreographers this year! They include current and/or former artists with Pat Graney, Spectrum Dance Theater, Au Collective, AJnC Dance, and Intrepidus Dance.
Master-class style audition will include technique and improvisation taught by Ella Mahler.
5TH SEASON CHOREOGRAPHERS:
THE FINE PRINT:
In order to create smoother scheduling this year, a dancer's skill/movement style (as well as past work with RDC if any) will carry the same weight as their availability in casting. We cannot consider dancers who are unable to attend ALL major tech/dress rehearsals in April.
We are not seeking freelance artists looking for project-based work. This is an audition for collective members who are excited to be part of a cohesive ensemble (no auditioning for specific pieces or choreographers). Please consider this before deciding to audition.
September, 2016 - April, 2017
Mature, self-possessed, and with a great attitude. Able to contribute, as well as able to listen and take direction. Interested in more than just performing; being an active part of the organization and artistic community. Passionate about helping to build RDC as a performing artist (and choreographer, warmup leader, instructor, community ambassador if those opportunities are wanted/available). Applicants must be able to rehearse in both North and South Seattle (Burien) and have reliable transportation.
INTERESTED DANCERS MUST:
We encourage you to reach out to us and ask questions if you have them! Additionally, RSVP is encouraged at: email@example.com
Relay Dance Collective presents PRIME, an evening of top-notch contemporary dance sure to move dance lovers and newbies alike. With 24 new and returning performers, the Seattle-based troupe is returning to perform at Velocity Dance Center in 2016 following its sold-out performances which "demonstrated the joys of modern, contemporary, and hip hop dance without missing a beat" (Seattle Dances) last year. Established choreographers Lauren Edson (Trey McIntyre Project, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) and Seattle's legendary Wade Madsen join five other varied choreographic voices to RDC's fourth season.
Featured works include the visceral contemporary ballet "Below the Surface" by Lauren Edson, who now runs her own multi-media performance project, LED, out of Boise, ID. Audiences will also be treated to the sassy defiance of one Seattle's most active choreographers, Wade Madsen, who has created a group piece for women with a vintage flair.
Each year, Relay Dance Collective builds community through dance, fosters diverse expression, and brings high-caliber performances to the stage in its annual performance. True to the group's mission, PRIME will push boundaries with provocative new and repertory works, in addition to offering a thrilling night of dance-theater.
Additional choreographers include Ella Mahler, who Seattle audiences have seen in works by Catherine Cabeen; Fiona Vigdor, a Boston Conservatory graduate who went on to work with Merce Cunningham dancer Alan Good; and Jerene Aldinger, a past choreographer for Full Tilt. Relay Co-Directors whose works have appeared in past seasons, and again are contributing new works are Austin Sexton, formerly of 3rd Shift Dance, and Gabrielle Nomura Gainor, whose "Farewell Shikata Ga Nai" was presented at the Wing Luke Museum and made possible by a generous grant from the Office of Art & Culture | Seattle.
By Gabrielle Gainor
As a dance student, my most inspiring mentors were those who helped me understand the mechanics of my dancing body. I recall "ah-ha" moments about using my abdominal muscles in class with Kitty Daniels, for example; learning to ride the fall and rebound of Limón technique with Brenna Monroe-Cook; and constantly refining the ballerina details like pointed feet and turned-out legs with Vivian Little.
Now that I'm an adult, it's not that I've mastered the basics -- nothing could be farther from the truth! Rather, now that I'm older, I understand that dancing full out requires both a physical commitment to good technique, as well as a mental and emotional commitment. It's not enough to have good stage presence. We as dancers must take that confidence a step further -- setting ego aside to reside fully in the dance. What is the choreographer asking us to do? Is it to connect with another dancer? Is it to take on a character? Is it to explore a movement or idea? My goal nowadays is to fulfill the task on a much deeper level than I was able to comprehend in the past.
After all, as Eva Stone so wisely loves to remind us, "Movement never lies." If a performer is not fully invested in what he's doing onstage due to not knowing the counts (I am usually guilty of this), timidness, insecurity, or something else personal going on -- it shows. Dance is about people watching people, and we know how to read our own species. As a viewer, one can't fully go on that journey with a dancer unless she believes in the dance.
This is not really a "woo-woo" or weird modern-dance idea, it has more to do with storytelling. And not ruining the magic. Like that scene in Hook, (one of my all-time favorite movies!), Robin Williams cannot enjoy the meal with the Lost Boys at first, because he doubts that food will actually materialize from using his imagination. In both art and in great stories like Peter Pan, we're allowed to color outside the lines of reality in order to enjoy the reward, be it a feast or a dance.
It's for all these reasons that I now count my friend Ella Mahler among my most valuable mentors. Ella, a ferocious modern dancer who's performed with artists such as Catherine Cabeen and Pam Kuntz, has never judged me for, at times, being like Robin Williams -- unable to believe. Even though she didn't grow up in ballet class like I did, Ella doesn't have that problem; when you watch her dance, she is fearless. She is not afraid to try, to look stupid, to make choices on stage. As a dancer, she is the master of the reality she creates, it's why her work is so compelling. Naturally, she's been the perfect choice to work with Relay Dance Collective. Through Ella's guided improv sessions, we are all brushing up on our skills of improvisation, and ultimately, becoming more convincing and powerful storytellers through dance.
Q&A with Ella Mahler:
You organized that big group dance we saw at Relay's fundraiser -- that MUST have been choreographed, right?
Yes, it was choreographed – but in real time! The dancers worked together to make choices on the spot. They continued to experience and respond to each moment through physicality, space, and time. We built some framework that helped root the possibilities, such as pre-determined partners, but dancers had the freedom to make decisions in ways that served the piece a created as a whole.
Dance Improvisation -- what the heck is it?
Improvisation is spontaneous movement. It is instantaneous choices of movement, architecture, time, relationship, effort, commentary…the list goes on. It can be a tool to create movement for set choreography, or the maintained structure of a piece. Just like the many physical techniques of dance, such as modern or ballet training, improvisation is a technique that is practiced. We utilize our physical training as well as our choreographic, listening, and experiencing minds. We must practice making choices and proposing something in the space, just as we practice virtuosity in another technique. For me, improvisation is a way for me to connect all of the components we continuously hone as artists. Improvisation is the grounds for our whole selves to explore the possibilities of dance as an art form.
Putting yourself on the spot seems scary. Do dancers actually enjoy doing this?
Yes it can be scary. Possibility is unknown, and the unknown can be intimidating and feel vulnerable. But for many artists (and audiences), improvisation can be incredibly liberating. With all tools at play, possibility is vast in a way that is so exciting. Both as artists and viewers, we see and experience things differently when do not plan ahead or can anticipate what is next. This vulnerability can elicit a different kind of honesty that drives the work, and often generates new surprises in rehearsal or performance.
How did you learn to improvise?
Many of the choreographers and teachers I have worked with use improvisation, but two of my most influential mentors in this form are Pam Kuntz and Jesse Zaritt. In their own ways, each have taught me to be willing, receptive, and re/active in each moment. We must improvise a lot. Over and over. We then become more present, more honest, more nimble to the moment. We must be patient, listen, and constantly experience our whole selves. We must do this all the time. This means I experience myself not just as a dancer or technician, but as a woman with my own history, opinions, knowledge, and participation in the world. This can be overwhelming in some ways, but can be our own game-changer in how we create and watch dance.
How have the skills you've gained through improv helped you as a dancer?
They have helped me tremendously! Improvisation helps me explore how the many components of dancemaking intersect. How we use time and duration to evoke an experience. The role of physicality threaded through space. How one person relates to another through proximity, touch, direcion, energy, you name it. Dance is complex, and improvisation allows us to examine and utilize its capacity – all simultaneously. This is incredibly useful for growth as a performer as well as a choreographer.
How does improv fit in to your creative process?
It depends on the agenda of the piece, but I often use improvisation in the choreographic process. I, as well as my collaborators, will improvise with specific tasks in order to generate material and seek the images that may serve the work. Sometimes improvisation is a part of the final piece structure; I will work to create a score – “a container” – in which the performers will create within the performance.
Why do you value improvisation skills in a dancer?
We are often trained in a way that divides our skills. We have close focus on physicality in movement technique, and examine choreographic elements typically very separately. Improvisation gives the room to negotiate all aspects and see how they serve each other.