Checking in on :pushing progress and the CTP Introducing the
Interview with Anna Vollmar December 2011
[noh-et-ik] –adjective 1. of or relating to mental activity or the intellect. Words from a :pushing progress Director
With the :pushing progress 2011 Winter Intensive fast approaching, and the Holidays just around the corner, Associate Director Chris Hale and I find ourselves busier than ever. With the first of two December weekend workshops done, and a 10 week Anatomy Workshop with Irene Dowd now completed, I am tallying the days/hours/seconds I have to accomplish all that needs to be done before the Holidays sneak up on me from behind. The more I add it all together, the more impossible it seems. And then I realize: I have it all wrong. Once again my mind has overthrown my ability to see things for what they are, and my own perception restricts me to those beliefs which keep me from moving forward.
(I pause another moment and giggle again and decide to pull out the book from my bag.) Flipping through the book is a sea of yellow where my highlighter has swiped over pages. Perfect! I reflect once again upon my outlook on life this month and stop upon just the right chapter: “What you believe will be how you live.” Life is perfect as it continues to hand me exactly what I need most in every moment to move forward and ground myself in the present. I am humbled, and would like to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite quotes from this chapter with you all, as I have with my students, and continue to re-read on a weekly basis.
“An essential law of belief is, what you believe will be what you perceive. Belief Every year I read with the :pushing and perception are like two best friends progress Contemporary Training Program who collude about everything. Whatever “A New Earth” by Eckart Tolle as a belief says, perception confirms. In fact, means to give them perspective on their the function of perception is to gather mind, ability, and ground them in their evidence to prove that your beliefs are bodies. Even after reading the book right. Belief says to perception, “This is several times now, it still moves my no good.” And perception says, “You mind and grounds me the same. Each are so right!” Belief says, “This is very read is so different however, I often good.” And perception says, “You are wonder at times if I have even read it at so right!” “ all. Since September I have also been “Beliefs, perceptions, and experiences very inspired by several authors I keep will always collaborate so that you can close at hand for any spare moment be right about whatever you want! The I may steal to myself. Included in this question is, do you want to be right mix are Marianne Williamson, Gregg Braden, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and a book by or happy?” Robert Holden Ph.D, ShiFt Happens. (I flip through the pages quickly as I’m (I pause a moment to reflect on the title remembering another quote in another chapter. Perfect!) and giggle at its slight inappropriateness.)
“Every day the world shows you your state of mind. Life comes right up to your face and says, “This is what you are thinking - have a nice day!” This eases my mind as I get ready to crawl in to bed. I’m making the choice to see things differently. How much I accomplish between now and a future which does not yet exist is unimportant in comparison to what I have the ability to do in this moment and fulfilling the needs of now. Sleep, rest, start afresh tomorrow. I coach myself as we coach our students. Each day as it comes, one moment at a time. Success is always in the present, and the present is the only access we have to our future. Belief and perception the tools of this moment, and a choice in creating our life. Life gives no obstacles, only answers. Wishing you all a warm Holiday Season filled with much love and happiness. May you all feel well rested and look for life’s answers as you need them. Cheers to an incredible 2011, and to what will only be an even better New Year!
-Calen J. Kurka Founder/Director
Checking in on :pushing progress’ New Company Work By Maxine Evangelista
Rehearsals are well in motion for the performance debut of the new :pushing progress company. Since last October’s audition session, the three selected dancers, plus original :pp member Kathy VanDereedt, have spent hours in the studio as they discover upon the choreography of Director Calen Kurka. This new, original piece will be presented at a showcase for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) on Jan. 7 and 8 at the Peridance Capezio Center. APAP is an annual conference where arts organizations, companies, theaters, etc. gather to network, attend discussions and panels, and observe showcases for theatre, dance, music, and more. Also showcasing on Jan. 8 will be :pushing progress ii, the pre-professional company of :pushing progress, featuring dancers from last season’s Contemporary Training Program. These two companies were exclusively selected by Peridance based on high-quality performance and dynamic, artistic expression. Being chosen to showcase at APAP is a great opportunity to present
one’s best work in front of a significant audience in the industry. Kurka channels inspiration for his movement through a number of sources, from discovering a striking piece of music to feeding off energy inside a studio. He describes his choreography as “a product of process,” explaining that building a piece “usually begins with an idea that is translated into movement. We play with improvisation and discovering depth of feeling. Depending on the dancer’s body and how she might interpret that idea, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I have to change things, but I accept that as part of the process.” Since none of the dancers in the new company have danced together before, Kurka was at first concerned about their interaction in the studio. Immediately on day one, however, these initial worries were squashed. A positive connection of energy and space permeated within the room, which established a very comfortable environment and solid
foundation on which to build and develop creative ideas. The dancers were open to each other’s talent and reciprocated each other’s energy. During one rehearsal, the phrases of “lose yourself in the movement,” “give it your all,” and “pay attention to what your body is feeling in every little detail” are constantly repeated, reaffirming the :pushing progress mentality of being completely present. When a dancer appears to be holding back, Kurka notices right away and shifts to using analogies or stories to help his dancers truly understand his vision. He instructs them to walk as if someone’s behind them, to place both their hands on the studio mirror and look at their reflections, or to feel and listen to their heartbeat as they move. When the exercises are completed, the movement manifests, and creativity pays off.
Checking in on the Contemporary Training Program
Also well underway this season is the Contemporary Training Program (CTP), with its eager dancers developing their training under the umbrella of :pushing progress and Director Chris Hale. Since the program began in September, the CTP members have been engaging in 14 hours of technique classes a week, including ballet, contemporary, body conditioning, GYROKINESIS®, and anatomy lessons. In a process of “deconstruction and reconstruction,” the CTP dancers learned to rid themselves of unnecessary habits while finding more efficient ways to use their bodies. Focus was
directed toward finding proper alignment, strengthening the core, and using every part of the body as a means of expression. One of this year’s CTP members, Jenna Speir, has already noticed a change not just physically, but mentally as well. “My muscles have become more toned and defined rather than big and bulky. I’ve learned how to relax and use parts of my body in a more effective way. More importantly, though, my mind is way more focused on what’s happening in the present moment, which allows me to be fully engaged.” Speir is no stranger to Kurka and Hale’s teaching methods. When she was part
of Broadway Dance Center’s international program, Kurka was assigned as her mentor. It was then that she became drawn to :pushing progress. “I came from a competition background, so Calen and Chris’ style was pretty new to me,” she says. “I think differently about movement now. Being part of CTP, I’m glad I can have this more in-depth approach to their style.” Looking forward, the :pushing progress Contemporary Training Program will begin developing a performance piece for the annual Showcase Series in May.
What’s Going On?
Friends of :pushing progress Friend of :pushing progress, Anna Vollmar, has been involved with the Winter Intensive since its start and will be returning this year again. The 2011 Winter Intensive is fast approaching, December 27th-29th, and we are excited to have Anna on board again! We caught up with Anna about happenings in her career and this year’s Winter Intensive. What are you most looking forward to for this year’s Winter Intensive? Anna: “I am most looking forward to seeing all the dancers, returning and new, and faculty... twice a year for the :pushing progress intensives just never seems to be enough, I look forward to them all year!” In what ways have you seen the intensive grow since the first year? Anna: “I feel like each intensive has changed and grown since the first year because the students change and grow, which inspires us as faculty to change and grow... in the information we provide, the choreography we do,
and the way we develop our classes... we are constantly hungry to further our craft for these amazing kids who challenge us.” What are you most excited for in your career right now? Anna: “I am most excited right now in my career for my Pilates certification this year... I have gone through a core muscle anatomy workshop, and will be starting my mat certification this month, as well as the apparatus training in the New Year... I am unbelievably excited to learn this information for myself, as well as to see how it will change my teaching as well.” What is your best advice to aspiring young dancers? Anna: “My best advice to young dancers is to never stop searching for your place in the dance world... there are so many opportunities out there, so many avenues besides the mainstream, never give up on your own journey... also to learn to be your own teacher, seek out the information you need for yourself and apply it!” What are going to be some of the focuses in your class this year at the Winter Intensive?
Winter Intensive 2011 :pushing progress Winter Intensive 2011 is coming up! Register Today! :pushing progress is excited to announce their 4th annual winter intensive, happening December 27th-29th at Baryshnikov Arts Center. The winter intensive will place emphasis on educating dancers about anatomy, proper technique and alignment, and personal artistry. The winter intensive is geared towards serious dancers who want to take their dancing to the next level, both physically and artistically. This year’s outstanding faculty include Founder/ Director Calen Kurka and Associate
Anna: “In my classes this year, I would like to bring across a message of pelvic and spinal stability to actually bring more freedom to movement, as well as breathing to bring about musicality through music and movement.” The Winter Intensive will be held at Baryshnikov Arts Center December 27-29. Classes will be taught by Anna Vollmar along with Calen Kurka, Chris Hale, Nadege Hottier, Loni Landon, Lauren Adams, and Kathy VanDereedt. It will be an experience you will not want to miss! Check out movement by Anna Vollmar: Anna Vollmar
Director Chris Hale, as well as Nadege Hottier, Loni Landon, Lauren Adams, Anna Vollmar, and Kathy VanDereedt. Register by December 15th! For more information and to download the registration form, please visit our website. :pushing progress
:pp Community Kathleen Donachie’s Corner I once read, “it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine things are impossible.” It is true that we cannot know what we are capable of until we try, but finding that unrealized potential within ourselves, and taking the leap to put oneself out on the limb is no easy task. It is often simpler to try and give yourself a reason you are not capable or could never be capable of achieving a goal. Saying that you would never be able to accomplish something and therefore not trying it, means that you will not fail, but also the key is that you will not have the opportunity to succeed. Excuses are a part of life. And just to speak from experience when training or rehearsing, we often let our minds get the better of us, or at least I do. If someone were to ask me in the past year if I was fully committed to my training, I would have said, “yes,” despite any excuses I made for myself. I was “doing” everything I thought was necessary to grow as a dancer but I was avoiding things that took me out of my comfort zone. I was only taking classes that I knew and only made choices in my movement that were comfortable. I was using financial or time restraints as the reason I couldn’t step outside and seek the resources that could further expedite my improvement, and using my desire to feel comfortable from stepping out on the limb in class. I have recently come to understand that the concept of commitment doesn’t just acknowledge the actions taken toward achieving the goal, but rather the actual intention and manifestation of those tasks to one’s fullest capability in the moment. By saying this I mean, just showing up isn’t getting the job done and I was not getting the job done. To be fully committed to what I was doing I needed to put all the excess stuff and excuses aside and do what was being asked of me in each moment. And, I am not sure that it even means doing it perfectly, but rather completing whatever task you are aiming to accomplish with excellence. It is taking responsibility for your own work. About a month ago, I was in class with Calen at Broadway Dance Center after what was already a long day of classes. We were given an across the floor combination which for me is always a way to “get real” with where my technique is that day. During the second or third pass of the combination, Calen stopped me and said, “nice work, but is there more?” I thought to myself for a second, and said almost instinctually “Yes!” With each pass of the combination, I could find things that I was simply
“getting by with” in the time before. So I began thinking to myself, “Why in the world, even if it was just in this one little section, was I giving less than what I was capable of?” It really made no sense to me. How could I expect to improve if I was not pushing my limits every class. I concluded that it was time to start assessing the excuses I made for myself, everything else aside. As life seems to do, I found myself presented with a multitude of opportunities to test my new views on working without all the “stuff”. A couple of weeks ago in rehearsal, Calen decided he would have us complete an exercise where you use vocalizations of feelings or images that you feel while dancing. When he first said this my mind simply started reeling in a thousand different ways, but I thought to myself, “this is what I am being asked to do in this moment, so I am going to just do it.” I ignored the excuse reel and tried to ignore the fact that there were other people around me who could hear what I had to say, and began to whisper words as they came to me, and gradually every time we ran the piece, my voice became louder and even when what came out of my mouth wasn’t a word or in any way related to the piece, it required me to be committed to the moment and the work I was doing. Later in the month we had a workshop with Shelly Mesenoir Hutchinson. The focus of the workshop was on creating our own movement, using our own creative process, as well as exploring new and different ways to use our facilities. She asked us only one thing upon beginning the day and that was our full commitment to the process. I knew from previous workshops with her that she often demands a lot out of you as a dancer and as a creator, so I came in with expectations for the day, but decided that I was just going to do what was asked of me to the best of my ability. Of course, each thing asked was something that previously I would have thought, “oh, I don’t move like that, or I am not comfortable with that” but on this day I was excited to accept the challenge of trying new things. Even during the improvisation section, when I was given the task to move in a sharp and edgy way and incorporate floor work, two things that are far from my “comfort zone” I was able to just do the task. When I simply stopped thinking about all the excuses and started being present and committed to the moment I found freedom. I can honestly not say what any of what I did looked like, and to be honest some of it probably looked
“‘Nice work, but is
there more?’ I thought to myself for a second, and said almost instinctually ‘Yes!’”
crazy, but there was not any part of me that doubted the choices I was making. I know that if I can find that place in all classes and rehearsals that I will improve as an artist and be closer to being that dancer that I hope to be. Identifying excuses and questioning them has become one of my daily intentions in classes. Understanding when to listen to the body (i.e. holding back a little because something is injured or fatigued), and when to realize the mind is working against my goals is important in being truly committed to the work. I am learning that you must train and work in the truth of where you are every day and always push the boundaries if you are going to accomplish things that you feel are not possible. Excuses are just a way of telling yourself it is acceptable to give less than you are capable of or to alter the integrity of your work for your own ego. Giving yourself permission to be less than or work less than for any reason is just shortchanging the potential success of your own goals.
:pushing progress directors and founders Calen Kurka and Chris Hale are committed to bringing quality dance education to aspiring dancers in the most accessible manner. This year, :pushing progress is giving back to the community by extending full and partial Winter Intensive scholarships to winners of both our Facebook and Dance Spirit Magazine Contests. Join us in congratulating these young dancers!
Congratulations Natalie Davis-Porada!
Age: 13 years, 9 months Hometown: Norwalk, CT Years Dancing: 8 years Dance Accomplishments: Multiple dance competition titles, Broadway Dance Center’s Artists in Motion scholarship winner, Member of Tap City Youth Ensemble, Tap Kids “After attending the 2011 :pushing progress Summer Intensive, I realized how much further I could push myself as a dancer. At the intensive, I was encouraged to better understand my body and to really think about how I can more effectively use my body as a tool for my art. I am especially excited to be part of the Winter Intensive both to continue growing as an artist and to focus on contemporary training as I spend much of my dance time each week tapping. I want to thank Calen and Chris for giving me the opportunity to come back for this intensive.”
Congratulations Shannon Oleson!
Age: 16 Hometown: Plano, TX Years Dancing: 13 years Dance Accomplishments: I have danced at Dance Industry for three years and this is my first year attending Booker T. Washington Preforming Arts High School. I am also a member of Booker T. Washington’s Repertory I Dance Ensemble. I have attended ABT and Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop Summer Intensives. “I feel so blessed to have this opportunity opened to me and can not say thank you enough. I can not wait to be able to dance with other dedicated dancers in a new location with the incredible faculty.”
Congratulations, Taara Tommasiello!
Age: 28 Hometown: Providence, RI Years Dancing: 26 years Dance Accomplishments: being the lead role of Clara in Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker, performing a variety of other roles for Festival Ballet’s many shows, Award winning choreography from competitions such as Starquest, New York City Dance Alliance and ADA, instructed and choreographed two current National Male Mini Title Holders of New York City Dance Alliance and Jump/Nuvo...
Congratulations, Anais Loewan-Young!
Age: 17 years old Hometown: Vancouver, BC Years Dancing: 17 years Dance Accomplishments: last year I won 1st place in my category for my contemporary solo at Dance Power Competition in Maple Ridge. I also won 3rd place in my category for the same solo at the Great Canadian Dance Challenge in Kelowna. Also, my lyrical group won 2nd place group in our category at the same competition. In the same year, my contemporary group got a special recognition award at Peak Invitational in North Vancouver. I also had a trio three years ago that got a special recognition award from Shine festival in North Vancouver. In addition to these awards, I received a partial scholarship to my studio’s summer danceLab for next august. “Finding out that I had won the scholarship for the Winter Intensive was quite a shock. To start off with, I had completely forgotten that it was the day that I’d find out if I won anything. When I got out of school, I found that I had a voicemail from a friend telling me to check Facebook or my email “RIGHT NOW”. I also had a text from my dance teacher telling me the same thing. At this point I was really confused but I started thinking about what both these people would be getting so excited over I started to put two and two together. I tried to stay calm and opened the email I got from you. Unfortunately no one was with me (I was walking to the bus so I could go to dance) so I texted my teacher back and called friends from dance who knew about the competition and had actually predicted that I would get the scholarship. I hadn’t believed them. At this point I was literally shaking and could barely contain my giggles”
Congratulations, Greg Goessner !
Age: 17 Hometown: Ixonia, WI Years Dancing: 3 years Dance Accomplishments: Performed in over 15 musicals, competed at Dupree Dance Competition, won a full-ride scholarship to the Accent On Dance Summer Intensive from a facebook photo contest, opportunity to study with Broadway, cirque, and pop artist performers. “When getting the email I literally did not believe what I saw. I thought they had the wrong name or email address, or something! But after the 20th time reading it I began to freak out I was so happy! I believe it is physically impossible for me to not have an amazing day when I get an email from Dance Spirit Magazine addressed to me personally. After getting the second email, I finally eliminated all possible doubt in my mind and went to go write some well deserved thank you cards. I am most excited to meet and take class from people I have only dreamed of working with. Every person on the faculty is such a role-model for me. I cannot describe through words how extraordinary it would be to have the chance to meet them. Thanks again for everything, this just gave me a new lease on my dance life.”
:pp Tops Check out Movement from this Year’s Winter Intensive Choreographers 1. Loni Landon
Watch Video 2. Kathy VanDeereedt
Watch Video 3. Nadège Hottier
5. Calen J. Kurka
Watch Video 6. Lauren Adams
Watch Video 7. Anna Vollmar
4. Chris Hale
:pushing progress Top Songs 1. Dog Walkers of the New Age by Breathe Owl Breathe
Download Song 2. A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
Download Song 3. Cold by Aqualung & Lucy Schwartz
Download Song 4. Ghost by Ingrid Michaelson
Download Song 5. Swimming by Tracey Thorn
6. Theory of Machines by Ben Frost
Download Song 7. Shake It Out by Florence + the Machine
Download Song 8. Spectrum by Florence + The Machine
Download Song 9. Midnight City by M83
Download Song 10. Your House Is My World by Apparat
:pppuzzle E S A Y R A R O P M E T N O C
T C G D I Y Z E V N Y P B R X
O H M A T N M X Z N A A S Q Q
O O F U W J P O P F R J G R P
L L J X S W K S T Y V Z P K K
U A X B A I E U S A X P G N M
I R Q A Z T C H B Y N S G K L
W S D Y A Z N A P A E A P I X
D H L L A I E E L D A Y A T T
A I I N K T Y P E I T O D X X
S P N O C R F O V L T C O K X
P A V W F Z K X E O L Y A M O
E D U C A T I O N H P R V A X
L S D E B P W R E T N I W Y J
Z F V U B M Y R W V Q E P Y A
ANATOMY ANNA BARYSHNIKOV CONTEMPORARY EDUCATION HOLIDAY MUSICALITY PILATES SCHOLARSHIP WINTER
Last Newsletter’s Answers