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What’s going on with the Contemporary Training Program

:pushing progress

2012 Showcase Series Videos chosen by the 2011 CTP April 2012



[noh-et-ik] –adjective 1. of or relating to mental activity or the intellect. Words from a :pushing progress Director

Vulnerability As Spring is here and Summer is around the corner, we at :pushing progress are at a mad dash through the end of the Season. It’s like being at an amusement park 24/7, going from ride to ride. I can always count on the months of January to June to fly by so quickly I feel as if I’m barely hanging on. And somehow just as everything settles, and I catch my breath, I’m scooped up by the Summer Roller Coaster, and then back and doing it all over again. My senses are reeling with the familiarity of the Spring air and the sensation of this brisk pace. Excitement courses through my veins, but as always I’m slightly apprehensive of these feelings as I know too well how quickly they change. With the Showcase Series well underway, and the Contemporary Training Program and :pushing progress ii approaching their end, my nature is to find steady ground and fight to control life’s daily routines. But I know too honestly it is a fight I will lose, and it will be more efficient to trust my intuition and humbly allow vulnerability in daily situations I face. And there they are. At times, two of my least favorite words: Vulnerability and Trust. The birth place of creation, but also of fear. The beginning of love, and the possibility of loss. And the only place for true connection. As life hardens us we forget the importance of being vulnerable, protecting and hiding ourselves in hopes to keep our true selves safe. It is from this place however, that every dancer truly connects. Not just to their audience, or those that they are working with, but with themselves, their perceptions, their art, and with life itself. It is a subject that comes up often in class and is the struggle of many rehearsals. “How do I love myself

enough to trust I AM ENOUGH, so I can let go of my precautions set forth by my own mind, so that I may communicate honestly and allow myself to be heard and seen?” Just last weekend a student with the CTP sent Chris and I a video to watch before her semesterly assessment with us. It was a Ted Talk with Brené Brown bringing attention and focus to Vulnerability and Shame. With the :pushing progress “Amusement Park” on overdrive, video watching has not been much of a possibility. Chris and I did however manage to watch the video separately on our Iphones on our way in to meet for assessments. And I’m so thankful we did. A gift!!! It was a gift, and a reminder of moving forward with trust and an honest sense of communication. It reminded me once again that vulnerability is the fundamental reason for why I dance/create, and the only thing which truly connects me with others. In true Calen fashion I wanted to share this video with the world: Facebook Status!!!! (Well it feels as if I’m sharing it with the world.) I’ve also decided to share it here. Two videos actually. I hope you are able to find some time to dismount the Ferris wheel which may be your life, and spend a moment with this wonderful speaker. Although watching these videos has not slowed us down, it sure has been a whole lot more enjoyable a ride.

Watch Video

Happy Spring to you all!!!

-Calen J. Kurka Founder/Director

Watch Video


the buzz


What’s Going On? Catching up with the :pushing progress Contemporary Training Program With only less than two months remaining, the :pushing progress Contemporary Training Program [CTP] has been preparing for their performance debut at the upcoming :pushing progress Showcase Series. These dancers, who have been training intensively in ballet, contemporary, anatomy, and more since September, will finally get to apply the fruits of their labor in the studio onto the stage as choreography develops for the performance. They are very eager to express and translate the material they’ve learned throughout the season about movement and about their bodies into a piece that audiences will be able to enjoy. From the past six months, the CTP dancers have already experienced noticeable growth and maturity with their approach to dance. Not only have they become stronger in technique, but they have also become more aware of their bodies by finding the connection between mindset and movement. Proper use of breath, channeling focus, listening intently, and using the full capability of one’s body are all key ingredients in being able to adapt to different choreographers’ styles and therefore explore more freely with what they have to offer as a dancer and an artist. With all these dedicated students in the program, the piece being developed for the Showcase Series will surely be one to remember.

The Summer Intensive 2012 August 5th through 11th New York, NY Pearl Studios, 500 8th Avenue Spring has sprung and it’s that time to start thinking about summer plans! :pushing progress will be holding their annual Summer Intensive this year August 5th-11th, and registration is now open. The 2012 Summer Intensive is a week long intense training program for dedicated dancers of the int/adv to pre-professional/profession level. Through classes in Ballet, Jazz Technique, Contemporary, Modern, Hip Hop, Body Alignment, Core Training, Anatomy, and Improvisation/Artistic Exploration, dancers are challenged to explore their own artistry as well as their technique and understanding of the human body. The 2012 Summer Intensive will be held at Pearl Studios (500 8th Avenue, New York, NY). Register today to ensure your spot! For more information and registration please visit Summer Intensive

Plans for next season’s Contemporary Training Program are already in the works. While the past few seasons have proven to be very successful, :pushing progress CTP Director Chris Hale says that a few structural changes will be made next year. One major difference will be the addition of new faculty members, which will help expand the dancers’ depth of knowledge, movement vocabulary, and overall versatility. More details will be released in the next few weeks. Auditions for next season’s CTP will be held on April 29, 2012 from 12:00PM to 4:00PM. Those who are interested in joining CTP are encouraged to attend and observe classes on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 and Thursday, April 26, 2012. This is the best way to get a feel for what the CTP is like as prospective students will get to directly experience the hands-on training from :pushing progress faculty and also communicate with dancers already in the program. For additional details and information, please contact Chris Hale, Director of the Contemporary Training Program, at



2012 Showcase Series

:pushing progress is looking forward to presenting its fifth annual Showcase Series on May 19 and 20, 2012 at the Peridance Capezio Center. Since its beginnings, :pushing progress has been dedicated to the New York artistic community by offering accessible dance performance and education in a showcase and workshop setting. Choreographers, who have either been invited or chosen via application, are given a chance to present their works onstage, while dancers of any style, age, or level are invited to attend a special dance workshop. This workshop will be held during the five days leading up to the Showcase Series and is bydonation, with the proceeds benefiting :pushing progress partner Artist Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP). This is the second year :pushing progress will be working with ASTEP, a non-profit organization that offers life-changing opportunities to underserved youth communities – both in the United States and abroad – through the power of the arts. ASTEP’s volunteer artists not only serve as instructors in drama, dance, visual art, music, and creative writing, but also establish themselves as role models for children. ASTEP believes that arts education is critical to children’s academic and social

achievement, and therefore partners with other organizations and schools to bring programs and workshops to communities that lack the means for creativity and self-expression. :pushing progress, whose mission can directly align with that of ASTEP, is honored to support this cause that delivers such a strong message. This year’s selection of Showcase Series choreographers is proving to be the strongest yet. :pushing progress has the privilege to host pieces performed by Lauren Adams, Dana Foglia/Dana Foglia Dance, Jason Parsons/Red Vern Collective, Sidra Bell/Sidra Bell New York, Jana Hicks and Marijke Eliasberg/ The Next Stage Project (TNSP), Al Blackstone, Loni London, Leslie Scott/ BodyArt, Bryn Cohn/Bryn Cohn and Artists, and the three companies of :pushing progress – the Contemporary Training Program, Calen Kurka/:pushing progress ii, and Noesis:Kinetics. Choreographers who were selected via application will be announced shortly. Five of these instructors will also be teaching one class each during the fiveday dance workshop. :pushing progress is also seeking business sponsorships and donors who would like to assist in covering portions of the

running costs for both the Showcase Series and the workshop. Sponsorship comes in the form of purchasing advertisement space both on our social media network online and in our published program, which will be distributed to all audience members and workshop participants, guaranteeing recognition and representation within the New York theatre and dance community. This is a greatly affordable opportunity for corporations, local businesses and restaurants, personal start-up projects, charities, or even other theaters/ companies that can list upcoming performances, auditions, and workshops. For more details on how you or your business can be a :pushing progress sponsor, please contact

Please join us for the 2012 :pushing progress Showcase Series! Keep an eye out on upcoming information on the workshop and how to purchase tickets.

:pp community

:pp Community Kathleen Donachie’s Corner “Perfectionism is almost an illness with me, but sometimes I have moments where everything is absolutely clear and I can feel rather than think.” –Tom Ford I read this quote a few months back and quickly wrote it down in my book, where I write my training goals, corrections, and rehearsal notes. I will admit that I can be a perfectionist, but aren’t we all; wanting to be good at what you do is just human, but sometimes this tendency can be limiting. I spoke in my last post about how important leaving my comfort zone has been for my growth as a dancer. However, I feel that even when I take that first step, trying a new class or attending an audition or just putting myself out there in rehearsal, I know I am often still limiting that experience by fearing something will not be presented perfectly. I have spent all of this time working to learn and refine technical skills that I originally thought were what being a dancer was about. And for many reasons, it is a huge part of it. Proper technique creates clarity in the work, and makes the movement as safe as it can be for the dancer, but I am coming to understand that being a technician alone doesn’t make you interesting to watch. I have really been challenged with why I have worked to grasp these new skills, to let them go, to come back to them, and then let them go again. I feel like it has been a constant balancing act of relaxing on one end, then seeing a video of a rehearsal or performance, and realizing that I let go too much and am finding myself back to revisiting the basics once again. But perhaps that is where the truth lies, that it is not about giving all of one and none of the other, but finding a balance. Calen recently talked to me about the concept of language, and I think it relates very well to dance and has helped me to move forward in understanding the purpose of technique. He said that we are not born spouting Shakespeare, but rather we learn letters, in order to make sounds, which become words, which in turn create the language that we use to communicate. And it is the same in dance, you learn the two basic steps first, plié and tendu, and then you expand on those exercises creating an entire alphabet of concepts that allow you to create phrases, which you then as an artist use to communicate. The conversation is not possible without the technique, but also not without the energy behind the movement. The technique is there to move you forward, give you the strength and

ability to do whatever is asked of you with clarity and precision. It gives you the medium to communicate, and then you and your perception and energy bring the entire picture to life. This left me wondering if perhaps my desires to be a “perfect” technician were hindering my potential, and I feel that in more than one way this is and was true. I realize that I sometimes forget to recognize that I really love dancing, and to appreciate the process

“I think it is also important to recognize and honor what you have created.” and stay present in what is happening. Just today in rehearsal I received three corrections that I was not able to put on my body for three runs because I was not staying present in the work. I was not listening to the music, or feeling what my body was doing, I was thinking about whether or not what I was doing was “correct.” Then when I just relaxed a little, and actually listened to the music that I could recognize from moment to moment what was happening rather than simply functioning on muscle memory. Again, while in class, with a pushingprogress faculty member teaching an open class at a studio in the city, I was taught a section of movement with very specific pathways and positions, but that was it. We were to use this information but had the freedom to explore. She was giving us the opportunity to say whatever we wanted, and I found this experiencing extremely challenging. I found myself going to what felt safe, just focusing on the positions, and soon realized that, that was not the task. I then took a second to breath and think about what the music made me feel, and then built from there. It was really in this moment that I realized that she was not looking for perfect positions, but rather someone in the room that could take the structure, the basic vocabulary and create something greater with it, something even more interesting. Not necessarily, embellishing or changing the movement, but use texture and speed and intention within the context created by the lines. I am beginning to think that perfectionism


is really a label that people, including myself, can hide behind. It is always an excuse why I am not able to take the next step. I can always say that the circumstances or my body or strength is just not there yet, but I will never be perfect, so if that is the standard that I have set for myself than I will never find a time when I am not fearing that the quality of my work will not meet that standard. Desiring excellence in ones work is always important but I think it is also important to recognize and honor what you have created. It may not be perfect or even good, but it came from you and you can always improve upon it next time. If you did it with commitment then you know whether or not you achieved what you set out to do, and if you did not then you can simply approach it differently the next time. It is from our mistakes that we learn the most. I recently read a book by Gregg Braden where he says “the only way that people can possibly rate themselves as a success or failure is by comparison to something outside of their experiences.” To me he is saying that you are not ever going to be someone else, although we as dancers often want to have someone else’s extension or body or mobility, and we should appreciate what we have to offer and work for what we want. So perhaps instead of working for perfection, we should just work for excellence and understand that the imperfections are what make things interesting and often what make them beautiful.

:pp tops

:pp Tops :pushing progress Videos

All videos were chosen by the 2011 :pushing progress Contemporary Training Program, as part of an assignment in learning and in performing movement from video. 1. Sylvie Guillem Wet Woman

Watch Video 2. Emanuel Gat Brilliant Corners

Watch Video 3. The Cold Song

Watch Video 4. Drew Jacoby Solo

Watch Video 5. Billy Bell Solo - Passenger: Turbulence

Watch Video

6. Lauren Edson Silent Past

Watch Video 7. Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue

Watch Video 8. Wayne McGregor Genus

Watch Video 9. Spellbound Dance Company Lost For Words

Watch Video 10. Spellbound Dance Company Downshifting

Watch Video

:pushing progress Songs 1. Coracoid Process by Kanding Ray

Download Song 2. Ég Heyrði Allt Án Þess Að Hlusta by Johann Johannsson

Download Song 3. Say Aah (The Voice Performance) by Lindsey Pavao

Download Song 4. 3 minutes of by Moderat

Download Song

5. Mojave by Kanding Ray

Download Song 6. The Sea and the Rhythm by Iron and Wine

Download Song 7. Hazy (feat. William Fitzsimmons) by Rosi Golan

Download Song 4. Ixode by Zola Jesus

Download Song





Showcase Series 2012 Scramble

Peridance Amanda Selwyn Choreography Artistry Madboots ASTEP Lauren Adams Sidra Bell Loni Landon Celebration

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Newsletter - 2012 - April  
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