Page 1

Contents 5 9 11 14

From the Editor

patricia cram

Set/Reset Reset Revisited

kt morales

An After-Dinner Thought

andrew wojtal

A Look Back and Beyond with David “DK” Kroth christie nelson-sala

18 21

Prelude to A203

laurence blake

Israel: Choreographic Dialogues

leslie cook

24 28 30

Tools and Connections lisa long

A Glimpse of CalArts

anne marie kristensen

What’s Next? kt morales


⋅ ~ by patricia cram ~ ⋅

From the

Welcome to the 2010–2011 Newsletter of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. Throughout these pages, you will find testaments to the dynamic and stimulating experiences of the artists who have both cultivated and furthered their practice here at CalArts. Our community of students, faculty, guest artists, alumni, and patrons is deeply engaged in generative work that clearly shows our commitment to the vitality of dance as an essential art. Whether here or abroad, our choreographers and performers enjoy a diversity of experience that informs and explodes their personal visions. Paths are forged and insights deepened. Both challenges and revelations tease the limits of what our students believe is physically and conceptually possible. It is therefore with great satisfaction that the outcomes of their efforts are showcased throughout the year. This year, the centerpiece of our Winter Dance Concert was the restaging of Trisha Brown’s unpredictable Set/Reset, about which you can read in KT Morales’s Set/Reset Reset Revisited. Also performed in this concert was an excerpt from Rooster, Barak Marshall’s enlivening work, which Leslie Cook describes, along with his summer at the Susanne Dellal Center in Israel: Choreographic Dialogues.


newsletter sharon disney lund school of dance


Every year, our students benefit from the sophistication and rigor provided by working with distinguished visiting artists and choreographers. Our fourth annual Commuter Festival featured guests artists Catch Me Bird, Helios Dance Theater, Kieth Johnson/Dancers, and Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles. Throughout the year, the artistic visions of Barak Marshall, Daniel Charon, and Trisha Brown imbued our students’ work with innovative and carefully-cultivated styles, as did the master classes of REDCAT (The Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater) dance artists Sardono W. Kusomo, Tere O’Connor, Ralph Lemon, Vincent Mantsoe, Eiko & Koma, and Pat Graney. At REDCAT, part of the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles, The Next Dance Company is performing world premieres by Herb Alpert Award recipients Susan Rethorst (2010) and Stephan Koplowitz (2004). In What’s Next?, KT Morales shares her insight into what it’s like when the School’s most accomplished performers, choreographers, and all members of the 2011 graduating class come together to go out into the world. One of the great privileges of life and work at CalArts is the access our students have to interdisciplinary collaborations. MFA choreographer Lisa Long takes us through her creative and revelatory journey in Tools and Connections. For another taste of transformation, see Andrew Wojtal’s An After-Dinner Thought, his reflection upon receiving the Princess Grace Award. We are also happy to have in these pages A Glimpse of CalArts, a look from outside-in, courtesy of Anne Marie Kristensen, one of two students from the London Contemporary Dance School who participated in our international exchange this year. Among the many highlights of the past year, there is one that certainly stands distinguished: the completion of our new studio. In Prelude to A203, Laurence Blake shares the inspiration behind the fulfillment of a long-held dream. Finally, we bid farewell to a beloved member of our faculty in an illuminating and poignant piece by Christie Nelson-Sala: A Look Back and Beyond with David “DK” Kroth. DK, you will be missed as you walk, with no lack of charm or charisma, onto your next path. May you enjoy the challenges and ecstasies of all that lies within these pages. The visions granted by the features in this year’s newsletter are representative of the deep variety and engagement that goes on year-round at the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. There is, of course, always more going on than we could possibly fit into this glorious newsletter, so we invite you to check our site and enjoy our blogs: This Week at CalArts School of Dance and Inside the Studio, as well as the rest of the content we keep at


set/reset reset

sharon disney lund school of dance


set/reset reset


t e s e R t e s Set/Re Revisited orales ~ ⋅ ⋅ ~ by kt m

In the Fall of 2010, Kathleen Fisher, a Trisha Brown employee, devotee and expert, flew from her home in the Bahamas to spend five weeks resetting what is arguably Trisha Brown’s most famous dance piece, Set/Reset. Fourteen dancers from the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance were chosen to train with her and perform the nearly 20 minute work in the Winter Dance Concert at REDCAT in December. Set/Reset premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1983, and truly marked a turning point not only in Brown’s approach to movement, but also in her collaborative endeavors. She called upon visual artist Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham’s favorite wielder of the paintbrush, for the stage, costume and video design. Musician and performance artist of the 1980’s, Laurie Anderson, created an original score for the piece, which includes an ever-present electronic beat that drives the many layers of vocalization and found sounds. Upon first listen (and second and third) of her composition, it seems like a wash of noise that is at once random and hypnotic, melodic and abrasive. However, this being the only element of Brown’s original vision that the school decided to keep consistent in our performance, we quickly came to appreciate and anticipate every nuance in Anderson’s Long Time No See, from the tribal screams to the kitten’s meow. In rehearsals we found ourselves begging Kathleen to let us “try it with the music this time.” It is interesting to find myself writing that the only original element we kept was Anderson’s score when we were in fact performing a repertory piece from an internationally famous dance company. The way that Set/Reset is created anew each time it reaches a fresh cast in a different performance space is truly unique. Kathleen insists that Trisha Brown’s company performs the piece in much the same way it premiered, but resetting it elsewhere really means setting it all over again. Hence, our school actually performed the piece under the title, Set/Reset


newsletter sharon disney lund school of dance


Reset, which carries with it the sort of tongue in cheek humor Trisha Brown finds herself fascinated with and comforted by in her work. Set/Reset contains this subtle element of humor, shown entirely through the movement and its design. It would have been easy to use Rauschenberg’s video, Anderson’s score, or some sort of commentary to evoke laughter, but instead Brown made the work itself fun. In a New York Times review after its Brooklyn premiere, Anna Kisselgoff noted, “There is an unusual amount of good-natured jostling and colliding among the dancers, quiet flailing and flinging.” We were encouraged by Kathleen to be okay with running into each other on stage, as well as into the set pieces. The flitting in and out, but just barely, from one shape or relationship into the next is key in many of Brown’s works. Kisselgoff wrote in the same review, “Set and Reset remains true to Miss Brown’s fascination with problem solving and exploring new ways of moving.” Kathleen urged us also to smile, not in a presentational way, but a personal one — we were to smile at one another. There is an urban dance legend that the original cast, clad in Rauschenberg’s translucent, swishy, newspaper-print costumes wore no undergarments. While the audience could see the movement of the fabric and the print on top, the lighting prevented them from being see-through on stage. The cast could see, however, and it turned into their highly amusing and very private joke. While nobody was asking us to forgo underwear for our performance, our cast had ample time to develop an array of inside jokes and common ground. The choreography consists of hardly any movement in unison, and the contact aspect, while virtuostic, was sparse. Finding a connection with our fellows on stage had everything to do with the process of building the piece. Kathleen would spend a couple of rehearsals meticulously teaching us a movement phrase, and we would then spend the next several rehearsals tweaking, playing, shifting, cutting up and rearranging the choreography. Like any good group of CalArtians, when we were told to improvise, as a group there was really nothing that could stop us. However, the choreography for this particular piece is based on improvisations that fall within five unbreakable rules. The rules are (say it with me, guys!): Stay on the edge, line up, keep it simple, act on instinct, and visibility/ invisibility. This was a true collaboration between 14 very different dancers and an overseer, and it made for a natural kinship once we hit the stage. With Simon Harding and Amanda Lee as stage/video and costume designers respectively, this was a rather ambitious undertaking for a five-week period. CalArts has been a part of the dance legacy created by the innovators at Judson Church, and we have been proud to show audiences on this coast something besides Dancing With the Stars and Rihanna music videos. Bringing this piece to Los Angeles allowed us to proclaim that dance is intelligent, funny, sensitive, subtle, lovely and really hard work.

An After-Dinner ⋅ ~ by andrew wojtal ~ ⋅

Thought It’s a strange thing figuring out how to put yourself into a little application package of artist statements and solo dance recordings in order to send it out for someone else to look at and decide if you’re deserving of special recognition. When I was first nominated for the Princess Grace Award, I struggled to stay true to myself on paper and in movement while also explaining to the foundation that I am different in a way I thought would be relevant to them. And as anyone who has ever auditioned for something in their life can say, this is one of the most frustrating parts of being a young artist. How do I explain the ways in which I am different from everyone, when I’ve only recently begun grasping who I am for myself? So I decided to listen to that question of mine and instead of worry, I would have a little faith that what could set me apart from others would be my recognition of the things in life that I already know I don’t know. In a way, by


sharon disney lund school of dance


andrew wojtal


embracing my immaturity, I explained to the Princess Grace Foundation what I was figuring out: that maybe there is beauty in chaos and frustration, and that things aren’t black and white. I didn’t, however, tell them what I would do with this information, but rather, decided I’d address that this notion was slightly overwhelming and uncomfortable, and necessary to understand. I’d love to say that this past November’s Princess Grace Awards ceremony at New York’s Cipriani on 42nd St. also taught me a life lesson similar, in stature, to the one I learned when applying, but instead it might have simply given me a taste of the fabulous life for three days; perhaps life’s bone to throw seeing as my chosen career path may not be the most lucrative. Though the awards ceremony did not surface any educational offerings of the weight that the application process did, I learned that I don’t know how to properly eat with two hands while dining next to Princess Caroline — something I was alerted to at the luncheon preceding the gala. More importantly, however, I learned that my fellow awardees didn’t know either, which supplied me with more comfort than I ever would have predicted. Through the conversations that ensued, I started to see that we are all just left-hand-fork-holding fools ready to change the world in the most different ways possible, and we are all ready for something to happen. The ceremonies that commenced that week enlightened me to the fact that when I, and my peers, leave school, there will still be a community of artists, some struggling and some blazing through a career, all ready to meet the next artist willing to bring something new to the table, and welcoming ideas for the sole purpose of sharing knowledge. I learned that night that whether talking to Prince Rainier Award winner Denzel Washington or Princess Grace Film Grant recipient Sara Newens, we are all unsure of what will come next for us, and that night, we all found solace in the unpredictability of the future. In us all is the ability to reason with something as untamed and rampant as chaotic life matters, and we must learn to embrace these and let them fumble their way into a groove. The end of school, the start of a new job, the end of a job, and any other version of life’s tough love are all double-sided coins waiting for us to seize and make them work. We are a special conglomeration of people  — the artistic community — each with a different incentive to do what we do. Perhaps dance appears to be a risky career at the moment, but that seems to be the part that changes when we’re done with school: the part where all risk is forced to refine itself to pure passion.


year my second id, et rg fo r ve e he sa I will n ith DK when is a big w s rt lA a C at rtist f urself an a “Calling yo ent.” In a world full o e h m e, sh m li co p nt to accom ed with tale legitimate ix m s er er e feel wand yself nd made m said this, a I began to respect m he y. e ce n rn u te n jo in my little se use of this es. in art beca bly said so many tim a b ro p ha s , DK . Thank you i ~ ⋅ urr a id V ⋅ ~ L ara

l A rts my Ca ould e n i g ma or w can’t i hout DK , n on my y l p m ays I si ence wit ! Xo a s a lw i exper t to! He w im to death ⋅ n h a ~ e w v I k wo o d nd I lo side a Sarah Loc ‘05 ~ ⋅ ⋅~ ass of ⋅ ~ Cl

re the best DK , you rock!! You we enever I had wh d light design teacher an y, you always a bad or stressful da rts won’t be the made me smile. CalA u. Love, yo t ou th same wi arr y ~ ⋅ ⋅ ~ Lisa (Moreno) St ~⋅ ‘93 of ass ⋅ ~ Cl

t he a t “ I f y ou e r r a t r u tie an u l e by dk nk h av e t o name it nown knot, : y ou a f t e r yo urself.”

ha s b ee n irit and nce School. p s t a e r g a DK is a te about the D minum foil na lu a io s g s a in p k t ma ve r y anging ver forge ting class and h udy. e n l il w t I his ligh r work-s gobos in rom the grid fo wledge that I f lights the kno used a lot of teful for e I am gra m him and hav r as a dancer, o e r e f r a d c e l in a ger. ga ssion fe o r nt mana p e y v it in m grapher and e a student of choreo y to have been e best! p th I am hap d wish him all amey ~ ⋅ his an tte Maraya-R ⋅ ne ⋅ ~ A nja Class of ‘04 ~ ⋅~

david “dk” kroth

T h e at er R a t Ru le “If it’s a crappy b y DK : sh you say it ran w ow, ell.” Fe llo w T he at er Lo ve r: “W ha working on?” t are you Thea te r R at : “Com version of The munit y Theater Fe llo w T he at er Sound of Music.” Lo ve r: “Oh? H ow is it?” T he at er R at : “L ast night it ran well.” Fe llo w T he at er Lo ve r: “Oh, co ol.”

A Look Back and Beyond with la ~ ⋅ ⋅ ~ by christie nelson-sa ⋅ ~ 10 20 ⋅ ~ mfa alum

David “DK” Kroth On the day I met DK, he asked me, his graduate teaching assistant, for my business card. Stunned, I realized immediately that I was going to learn a lot from this person. DK understands the arts as a whole and has had the pleasure of working with so many artists it would take three pages just to get all the names down. He is someone who always has something to say whether it be quirky, caring, or really interesting. I asked DK to share some of his CalArts experiences with us as he prepares to move forward on his path. Why did you decide to come to CalArts to teach? I was first drawn to CalArts for the amazing interdisciplinary work. From the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s, the school was hopping. I loved doing shows in the Main Gallery, The G-Lab Courtyard, the tennis courts, the Mod, A-405, behind the dorms, the parking lot and on and on. During the weekend, the school was an explosion of activity. You always liked to come to school on Monday to see what was going on — fun stuff. My first year teaching, my faculty told me, “Do what interests you,” and I took it to heart. I worked on shows all over the school with faculty, students and staff. I did shows in Val Verde, the color studio, stairwells, the Coffee House... The day I walked on campus I knew this was the place for my talents and me. What made you want to work with dancers and choreographers? During those many interdisciplinary shows, the Dance School was right in the middle of it all; more often than not, they were the choreographers and producers of the show. I’ve always been drawn to the open mindset of the dancers and choreographers. There is an honesty and a lack of pretension in the way they approach work. Plus, they have always been interested in what I might bring to a work rather than how I might simply serve a single vision.



Is there anything you feel you’ve learned from CalArts dancers and choreographers over the years? It feels as if the faculty have been my mentor and that the students have been my teacher. Our faculty are all professionals and have been all over the world. They know how to do it right. The students have to learn their own honesty or unique voice to become artists; watching this transformation over and over has and continues to be an inspiration. It takes years to become an artist and designer; sometimes we slap on the title well before we are qualified. I feel that my early faculty accepted me as an equal. Extremely generous people: our faculty.

sharon disney lund school of dance


What have been your most memorable moments here? Doing our alumni show at St. Mark’s Church in New York is up there. It was fun to light Donald Byrd, Jamie Bishton, Debra Bluth, Kate Weare, Lisa Townsend, and Troika Ranch. I really liked the Pleasurevator. One year, about once a month, four theater students would dress up in tuxedos and cocktail dresses. They’d have a boom box going and a bunch of booze. When you got on the elevator, they’d cheer you and offer you a drink. It was a little party and they’d ride the elevator up and down for hours. You’d get off on your floor with the taste of tequila on your lips and confetti in your hair. The Earthquake Year was difficult and wonderful. Only about half of the CalArts students stayed through the semester and we had almost no facilities; the main building was shut down. It was a treat to work with students who really wanted to be there and there was an openness to making any work because it was crazy hard to do. That was the only time I tried to choreograph a piece; it was in Last Dance. Winter Dance and Dance Ensemble every year stand out for their rewarding process and the pressure of working with so many different choreographers. I’d guess I’ve designed on 40 different choreographers in the Mod and now REDCAT, too. New work is my favorite; it can be tough to shift my character and work to reflect the range of personalities that have sat next to me in the hot seat. I remember them all; I honestly do. What are you planning on doing after you leave CalArts? As of this writing, I’m focused on leaving CalArts. But where I land really doesn’t matter. I’ll keep being who I am: teacher, friend, designer and artist.

Are there any parting comments you would like to give to the CalArts Dance faculty and students? I’d encourage our faculty to do what they have always done: put the students first. It is why we are here, no other reason. To the students, I’d ask them to not be so passive in their education. The school has a built-in dynamic in its mission and I feel sad when a student just coasts through school. Challenge your teachers to give more, tell stories and go deeper. Demand that you get on stage as often as physically possible; one learns by doing. Finally, “take” the class and get what you need out of it; the teacher knows what you have to learn — make sure you are getting what you need for you on your own special path. My own experience with DK was, in many ways, indescribable. My time with him opened my mind in every possible way. Thank you, DK — I know you’ll shine no matter where you land!

“Listen to th e st stage when th age manager and get on ey tell you to time for the . rock star bu No one has llshit. None the techs bac of k Bowie or the stage care if you’re Dav id milkman. W hen you act a jerk, they ar like e with the infa completely unimpressed ntile display that you mig think comes h They were th with your dubious statu t s. ere hours bef ore you build the stage, an ing d th after you leav ey will be there hours e tearing it d ow n should get yo ur salary, an . They d you should get th ei ⋅ ~ Henry R ollins, L ollap rs.” alooza A lum ⋅ ~ Quoted ni ~ ⋅ by DK ~ ⋅

T h e at “ I f y ou e r R a t R u l e b y DK tech it st o r un it s ned, you gott : toned.” a

er. designrsal l a i c e sp u rehea su c h a nd yo ou are ll showing eashore,” a fter y , DK y reca S A “ e it. l iece, I fond al for my p ghting mad ogether in i i t s l r t e e mat agical th , we all go ow, Cal A rt s m N k y e w r & e a w ho “ Then n i ve r s short a few by to toast le 20th A n e L awson’s b b the lo nce Ensem ith Crist yn designs, it ed Da tion.” W nd your so enjoy a ra al Celeb ic direction erience. I e New York p t h x s t i e t t r a g a nt other t in n exci for a mome d pieces by uture. a s a w y ou the f at u r e seeing cert that fe wishes for ⋅ t ~ n s co ae. Be Br o d y alumn ⋅ ~ Beth of ‘79 ~ ⋅ s as ⋅ ~ Cl

g light when were a shinin Dear DK , You ent at Cal A rts from I was a stud k you for your love han 1990-1994. T teaching me to light of dance and my own work. and design e best. L ove, th I wish you all (nee McCue) ~ ⋅ n to aw L a an D ~ ⋅


Prelude to â‹… ~ by la urence b lake ~

A 203


The collective vision of a nationally recognized School of Dance has been the driving force behind our development of a unique program of study, and I am proud to say that the many dedicated dance educators and artists of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance have made ours one of the leading programs of dance in the nation. We continually address the growing needs of our students in relation to current dance trends, and over the years have expanded our curriculum to that end. One long-standing desire has been for an additional studio space, necessitated most notably by an increase in enrollment from 66 students back in 1982 to an enrollment of 88 today. Through the leadership and driving force of Dean Stephan Koplowitz, along with the vision of Provost Nancy Usher and

the support of Vice President and CFO Bill Schaeffer and President Steven Lavine, the addition of a new studio has become a reality. On March 1, 2011, A203 was introduced to the CalArts community and given its dedication to the many whose vision helped make it a reality. This new studio will give the School of Dance over 50 hours per week of additional space per week to conduct classes (lowering class size and adding an additional technique level in both Contemporary Dance and Ballet), and increase available space for student and faculty rehearsals. I am proud to be part of this milestone for the future of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance and the collective vision of our administration, faculty, staff, and students.


sharon disney lund school of dance




c i h p a r g o e r o h C : l e a r s I s e u g o l a i D ok lie co s e l ⋅ ~ by


When you’re a student at CalArts, many great opportunities are bound to cross your path, and if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble across one that ends up changing the path you’re on. That is almost exactly how I found my way to Israel. The last day possible to apply turned out to be the first time I had heard of the project: a low cost pilot program for an emerging summer dance intensive located in the heart of Israel, and having figured there was much more to gain than was possible to lose, signing the interest form wasn’t much of a gamble at all. I, along with three other students, was honored to be chosen to go, and received support in ways both large and small from the Institute, the Dance School, and also the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles so that we could expand our scope of world dance by firsthand experience. I never expected to find myself so far from home, but the potential for what the experience could be made it too difficult to turn down. The four of us took classes Sunday through Thursday at the famous Susanne Dellal Center, which is home to one of Israel’s most prominent dance ensembles, the Batsheva Dance Company. The two-week program was called Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues and it really did serve as a forum for sharing and discussing new and emerging dance vocabularies. The artistic director of the program is Barak Marshall, a house choreographer who has made a name for himself as one of Israel’s most innovative dance artists. Under his direction,


newsletter sharon disney lund school of dance


a truly impressive and worldly group of teachers and choreographers were brought together, seemingly with the same goal, to share and learn from one another. Each week hosted a different set of instructors. In the mornings they offered traditional ballet and/or a diverse range of contemporary master classes, and in the evenings we were supplemented with repertory from the work of the guest instructors. We were busy morning till night, mostly with dance but also with amazing things to see and experience. From our first introduction to Tel Aviv, we were struck by the wonderful hospitality and spirit of the Israeli people. We stayed in a bohemian part of the city replete with charming cafes and tiny markets, and only a short walk to the Susanne Dellal Center as well as the sparkling beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Arriving at our apartment on the first day while somewhat lost and confused, we met a neighbor who was immediately welcoming. He offered a traditional home-cooked meal and internet access and we quickly gained a new friend. The amazing people from the Jewish Federation were no different. Our official host, Getit Wainer, was always helpful and kind, taking the four of us out to see and experience things like the nightlife of Tel Aviv, or the markets in the old city of Jafa. The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles also orchestrated a trip to Jerusalem where we able to see with our own eyes the majesty and mess of a city trapped as the birthplace of the world’s three greatest religions. Though we were sometimes nostalgic for home, the rigorous and inspiring nature of the program, as well as the generosity of nearly every person we met, made it to difficult to say goodbye.

Luckily, thanks to the amazing work of Dance School faculty, as well as the unique vision of our dean Stephan Koplowitz — who briefly accompanied us on the Israel trip — the department was able to bring Barak Marshall to CalArts. He was commissioned in the fall to construct an abridged version of one of his newest and most popular works, Rooster, for CalArts’ annual Winter Dance Concert. As a cast member I had the great privilege of working with Barak again, as well as getting to know his mother, Margalit Oved, who also starred in the piece. I recall the cast being both inspired and in awe of his personal direction and artistic vision. From beginning to end, Barak’s work was as thrilling to perform as it was to learn, and no one wanted the experience to end. Later, when we received the invitation to perform with Barak’s L.A. dance partner, Bodytraffic, I was ecstatic that the experience would go on. In addition to continuing Barak’s work, Bodytraffic is a prominent dance company in Los Angeles, so it was a further privilege to work alongside them, as well as to gain professional experience outside of school before I graduate in the spring. When I began this journey last summer, I could not have foreseen the opportunities that were to arise, but I feel so grateful that I was fortunate enough to stumble onto a path with so much to offer. I feel like I lived with Barak’s work for almost six months, and it was difficult to put down. Ever since, I have been captivated by the passion of Israel, her people, her faith and her art in all its facets. Perhaps it is the reason why I’m considering studying and working there further after graduation. That is what’s great about CalArts: you never know which new opportunity is going to pave the next path of your life.



⋅ ~ by lisa long ~ ⋅

Tools and 24

Attending CalArts in pursuit of a master’s degree in choreography has been one of those charmed experiences in which reality exceeds the expectations of a dream. By reputation, the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance provides fertile ground for dancers and choreographers to grow their artistry, and it was with both anticipation and even a little trepidation that I entered the program. My initial goals: developing my craft, defining my choreographic voice, and establishing collaborative relationships have been constantly reinforced throughout three semesters. Earning an MFA is one of the most challenging endeavors I have ever undertaken; CalArts is no place for the weak of mind or body. A truly open mind and burning desire to grow have been essential tools for creating such a rewarding experience here. Before the first class began, I was already in meetings with my dean and mentor, Steve Koplowitz, about my plans for my first piece of choreography: how many students I would be using, what my concept and music were, etc. And so it begins at CalArts — baptism by fire. Creating that first piece, in only four weeks, while adjusting to being in school again after sixteen years out in the world, was my first challenge. Loving being stretched to create quickly and hell-bent on increasing my physical vocabulary, I dove into the process wholeheartedly. Much of my initial success can be attributed to the high caliber of dancers in the BFA program. Amanda Castro and Joey Hall, the two dancers

choreography: lisa long


newsletter sharon disney lund school of dance


I chose for my duet, were such quick studies that they were able to adapt to my style at the very moment that it was being questioned and put into a virtual blender. They sailed through each change, every nuance, with technical ease and positivity. Looking back at that first piece, I understand why we are asked to create so quickly out of the gate. It serves as a gauge to measure the growth that occurs here at such an accelerated pace. With classes in choreography twice a week and weekly choreographic lab time, there is constant opportunity to give and receive feedback from faculty, peers and undergraduate students. Constant input increased my articulation about my craft and within my craft. While in the world, if someone likes your work, they are more than happy to discuss it, whereas if someone dislikes it, they most likely will say nothing. CalArts provides a safe environment to receive critique from people who may strongly dislike your work and I have found that to be an even larger opportunity for growth. In hearing about things that do not “work” for people, I have become better adept at asking questions about my work as I create it. Though the aesthetics here are broad, even comments that I do not particularly agree with can be helpful if looked at through a proper filter.

“We’re going to have fun.”

That is what Colin Connor said to me on my way into school, and indeed, remembering that dance-making is a pleasure has been my saving grace. Having faculty that honor the creative process, the days when you want to throw everything you’ve created in the garbage and go work at a café, as well as the days when you believe that there may be brilliance deep inside of you just waiting to be ushered forth, is one of the tremendous strengths of CalArts. No one understands the insecurity and ecstasy of creating art better than working artists and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been surrounded by a faculty filled with them. Seeing veteran choreographers wrestle with the same issues that I am dealing with in my work has normalized their occurrence and helped me to not panic when these issues rear up. Collaborating with incredible artists from other departments has been another highlight of my experience here. Improvising with composers at the end of the first week in choreographer/composer class was like artistic recess. Searching out more opportunities like these has been a priority for me. Susie Allen’s Explorations into the Ontology and Aesthetics of Free Improvisation class allowed me to get to know musicians, actors, and visual artists, all through improvisational scenarios. More than anything, this class changed my approach to making dances. Having costume, lighting and set designers who are excited to team up and co-create for free is a luxury found primarily within the walls of academia and one for which I am very grateful. Martha Ferrara, head of undergraduate costume studies, gave me the gift of her time and mentoring during a design

dilemma and in turn I have begun nurturing a host of new skills that I never imagined I could possess. The connections that I have made here will last far into my future and the input from artists in other disciplines has enriched my choreography beyond measure. As my thesis concert looms only a few weeks on the horizon, I am anticipating its completion, but unlike ever before, I am less concerned with whether it will be a masterpiece and am instead more excited to see the physical manifestation of my journey as an artist performed by such talented and dedicated dancers. CalArts has unequivocally propelled me into the rest of my life as a creative artist and provided me with tools and experiences upon which to draw inspiration for years to come.

choreography: lisa long

A Glimpse ⋅ ~ by anne marie kristensen ~ ⋅

of CalArts harriet bailey choreography: anne marie kristensen

“A term at CalA rt opportunity to s seems to be a great experience seve of dance and a ral new aspects ca developing on demic studies as well as e’s personality and maturity.”

This was how I started my application form in the hope of being one of two students going to CalArts for a semester. Little did I know how true this was going to become. I have experienced not just new aspects of music, theater, film and fine art, but also a new culture and a different view on life. I was not even going to apply for the exchange, as I was happy at London Contemporary Dance School, which had been my dream school for years. I was already abroad, had left Denmark and was scared of what I was going to miss out on. A teacher came to me last minute and encouraged me to apply, so I checked out the website and the courses excited me. I applied and was extremely pleased to be accepted, but I still had no idea that I was making the best decision of my life. I met up with Ashley Handel, one of the CalArts students who went to London last year, and she told me that I was going to love CalArts and CalArts was going to love me. Almost too good to be true, I thought. In late August, Harriet Bailey, the other exchange student, and I got on the plane to Los Angeles. We were bursting from excitement as we neared the

CalArts campus. Along with other new students, we moved into Chouinard, meeting our neighbors, who we quickly became close friends with. The warm atmosphere and the openness struck me and I was excited from day one; it was hard to believe that it was not too good to be true. One of the major differences between CalArts and LCDS is the fact that this school has such talented artists within several different art forms, whereas my school in London is specialized in dance only. CalArts gave me the opportunity to delve into creative writing, acting, dance for camera, and collaboration with composers, which I believe will be cornerstones in my future career. In all my classes, I felt pushed and appreciated, and never have I felt as creative. For a while, I imagined a solo that I wanted to make about forgetting. Initially I wanted to perform it myself, but I was scared about performing on my own, afraid I was going to forget my own material. However, I realized that this was my perfect opportunity to set the piece on Harriet, who is a beautiful dancer. I wrote about all the things I forget: appointments, my friends’ birthdays and the water bottles that I leave everywhere. About how frustrating it is to me that my dreams and memories are escaping me and leave me with the feeling of loss. In the text I also considered one reason why I forget so many things, and I realized that there is so much that I am trying to forget. My insecurities, my bad conscience, my mom’s death are all matters that I try to suppress in my everyday life. I reached the conclusion that I cannot decide what happens in the world or in my mind, but being a choreographer, I can decide what is on stage, so in the text, I asked people to forget everything I had said. Sound designer Alex Sharp Cole then helped me record the text and I found the perfect cello song for my recording. From there on, I worked with Harriet on movement invention for the different sections of the song; a big part of the piece was based on the idea of searching for something and the uneasiness you feel when you sense that something is missing. Another big motif was the idea of falling, of having to follow time, never being able to go back. In the last section of the piece, Harriet’s movement expressed the feeling of running away, attempting to flee painful memories. CalArts gave me the perfect opportunity and emotional space to create this piece. My teachers and fellow students made me feel accepted and appreciated, and the applause and response that I got after my two shows were completely invaluable. The artistic environment is inspiring and motivating; each idea seems valuable and encouraged. This was the first time that I ever looked at myself as an artist. I am leaving California, loving CalArts, and feeling appreciated. I am not just excited to continue my studies in London; I know that with all I have gained at CalArts, I am even more excited to continue my career.


newsletter sharon disney lund school of dance


s ’ t a Wh ? t x Ne y ⋅~b

~ ales r o kt m

This year’s senior dance class is comprised of thirteen singularly original, uncommonly compatible and notable personalities. From the sassy girl to the one that hugs everybody, from everybody’s favorite gay couple to the girl from Thailand, this conveniently cast baker’s dozen of talent and ambition could easily have its own reality show. What we have instead is The Next Dance Company Concert. The Next Dance Company tours to REDCAT in May, and the fourth years spend second semester focusing the scraps of time and energy they have left into making that foray into the Los Angeles art world a successful one. Eight of the thirteen, and two MFA students, are constructing pieces with the hopes that the panel of dance faculty will select their work for this final production. Works by Herb Alpert Award winning choreographer Susan Rethorst, the school’s own Stephan Koplowitz, and MFA student Rachel Boyajin are the only works

guaranteed to be presented in the concert thus far. Outside of that, student choreographers are asking themselves and their dancers how to make this the finest evening of dance REDCAT has ever seen. In this lies the truly unique secret of this year’s Next Dance Company. An event of this nature typically comes shrouded in sentimentality. An audience will forgive these indulgences because it’s an identifiable reality of our last days of college. But there’s a reason this isn’t billed as our Last Dance Concert, and it’s not because that name is already taken. Not one of those dancers or choreographers involved views this as the culmination of our artistic experience. This is not the senior showcase of memorable cast members finally saying what they really mean, grabbing their last chance to get it right, to land that job, to really show them — whoever they are. There’s no formulaic climactic scene built in here because this class has been climaxing for four years straight. The element of success built into the production of this show is the throughline that unites all thirteen disparate personality types. We’ve already begun our careers. We are so deliciously “over” school in that really healthy and exciting way, where instead of listlessly waiting for summer vacation, we are constantly aware our days of summer vacation are over. This is, for us, another project. Don’t take us to be cavalier; this is our current project and our number one obsession — right now. But anyone who spends his life making art knows that whatever you’re working on right now is the things you soon won’t be able to stand. The entire process, and the joy to be gained from its creation, is ephemeral. The mark of the maturity of the Next choreographers is their ability to shirk their own preciousness while embracing this project like they would any other. This is the legacy of our Next Dance Concert. This is how we know it’s pretty much going to rock.


Credits ⋅ ~ sharon disney lund school of dance ~ ⋅ ⋅ ~ 2010 – 2011 ~ ⋅ Editor: Patricia Cram Graphic Designer: Danae Moore Photographer: Scott Groller Contributing Writers: Laurence Blake, Leslie Cook, Patricia Cram, Anne Marie Kristensen, Lisa Long, KT Morales, Christie Nelson-Sala, Andrew Wojtal Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Administration: Stephan Koplowitz Cynthia Young Laurence Blake Andre Tyson Elizabeth Van Vleck Mary Grcevic Zari Wigfall Faculty: Lillian Barbeito (Spring 2011) Laurence Blake Colin Connor Robin Cox Glen Eddy Rosanna Gamson Grant Gorrell Ed Groff (on leave, Spring 2011) Stephan Koplowitz David “DK” Kroth Stephanie Nugent Francesca Penzani Christina Rosa (Spring 2011) Mitchell Rose Andre Tyson Cynthia Young

Dean Associate Dean Assistant Dean Assistant Dean Operations and Production Manager Administrative Assistant Admissions Counselor Contemporary Technique Ballet Technique Contemporary Technique, Choreography I, Career Design Music for Dancers, Graduate Music Seminar Ballet Technique, Partnering Composition I Assistant Technical Director Modern Dance History, Dance and World Cultures Choreography II, Graduate Thesis Seminar Technical Director, Lighting Design, Digital Portfolio Contemporary Technique, Composition II, Improvisation Dance for Camera, Integrated Media Modern Dance History, Dance and World Cultures Dance for Camera, Advanced Video Editing Contemporary Technique, Pilates, Jazz, Independent Project Dance Ballet Technique

Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance (661) 253–7898

California Institute of the Arts 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355

CalArts School of Dance Newsletter 2010-2011  

California Institute of the Arts Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Newsletter (2010-2011), Designed by Danae Moore

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