Category Archives: dance

Sleep No More

When I was in New York in late August (just before I started school), I was lucky enough to attend Sleep No More with Emily, who had been before. So I had enough of a guide to tell me what I needed to know to make my experience a complete one:

A 1930s hotel. You must not take anything inside. You must not speak. You must wear your mask. You have three hours. And while you may be frightened on occasion, nothing will jump out at you.

Inside: Shakespeare’s Macbeth meets Hitchcock’s Rebecca and it’s all told through dance (did someone put together a show based on my favorite things?). What follows is a theatrical experience unlike any other because it is fully what you make of it. If you are not sprinting down the stairs in pursuit of a character, you are in my way. I’m still having vivid dreams about this “show.” Like so many others, I long to return to Manderley.

Get in the mood, loves. This is a long one. (So long, I’ve had to break it up into two posts. Part II coming soon)

Someone compiled the soundtrack

I may not have been able to take anything in (there’s a $3 coat/bag check), but here’s what I came out with.

Sleep No More Artifacts

Artifacts from Sleep No More (Bible verse of salt, Aces card, McKittrick Hotel business card, audience mask) August 25, 2012

WARNING: Spoilers follow!

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After class on Monday a girl who has more performance experience than I do returned a comment of mine with “Thanks! I was jealous of your pirouettes. Sometimes you were just floating.”


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Turns and the Basic Spot

Watching old dance videos with my family there’s a pattern we notice. First, Shawna’s always in her corner (back, stage left). And rarely on camera. But on the rare occasion the camera does catch me, it’s usually followed by me doing a turn. And as though the camera man also couldn’t bear the sight of my off-kilter flailing, there’s a quick pan to some other area of the stage. Aw, Shawna just can’t turn. But that’s ok.

Doing the contemporary style I’ve become most comfortable and happy in now, the turns are different. Gooey, so staying on your leg doesn’t necessarily apply. You’re leaning, using the momentum and falling out of it, not even able to spot because you’re watching your arm or contracting and focusing on the floor. Thing is, in order to consider myself a good dancer I should be able to do something basic like, say, use my core and stay on my leg. Because when pirouettes do make an appearance, that’s kind of key.

Today in class, we did the dreaded cross-out-in-cross-out-down-turn. Those regular across the floors of my childhood. But something was different today. Today Jenni gave me a simple note – she noticed I’m waiting too long to turn my head and therefore, while I’m spotting, I’m killing the momentum and off from where my body is going as we carve around the inside of that imaginary PVC pipe. Loosening my head atop my neck, I tried again. And suddenly, it was so much easier.

There’s still work I need to do, but it’s amazing how much a simple note can cause a giant leap forward. I know one of the main issues I’m having and can feel the difference when it’s addressed. Imagine if that note got to me in high school?

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Back to Knitting

With the whirlwind of the show over (sniff sniff), my life is falling back into the balance it had before. I found that so much dancing was absolutely incredible for one part of my self, but it meant that I wasn’t knitting at all! That was fine for a while, but I’m glad in a way to be back to my little routine. I’ll look forward to the next show, of course, and perhaps be better prepared to make sure I take care of all the little corners of my self in the process.

But there is so much knitting stuff to talk about! This is the year of frogging or finishing unfinished objects for the Yarn Wranglers (the knitting group I belong to), and while I’m not sure I’ll be able to stick to that plan entirely, I’m doing ok so far. I finally (FINALLY) frogged the February Lady Sweater I had in progress that either needed to be restarted or killed. It’s dead. That yarn is all wound up in new balls and will probably be used for Ysolda’s Vine Yoke Cardigan. If I ever get up the nerve to knit a fitted sweater again. I’m considering attacking something more forgiving like Jared Flood’s Inversion. Yummy, cozy, Japanese-inspired drapeyness! Continue reading

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Photos from Context

this is a (costume) testthis is a (costume) testthis is a (costume) testcolor and linescostume idea
Photo shoot!Save the Date! March 21/22 8pmfirst rehearsalfirst rehearsalalbertomarco and sadie
gem suit tildamore costume ideasred tux chickred tux pants womensmore costume ideaswang tux remix
mens latin_tux_pantcumberbun pantsworking at the genius barEvery part of this process is my favoriteHot off the presses.

context, a set by *jenni. on Flickr.

Gathered and in most cases taken by Jenni. Thanks also to Teresa Brazen for taking photos during rehearsal and Seth Bregman for capturing closing night in still images!

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San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2012

This young film festival was one of my favorite events of 2011 so I expanded my scope for visiting this year. Two nights – including opening night this time – while of course revisiting the short program.

There’s something about short films. They’re this little nugget of inspiration. And sometimes the smallest thing about the execution – a particular way of getting off the ground in a solo, the use of music at a particular cue – can stick with you for months if not years. This year’s selections were, I think, a cut above even last year’s (which were exceptional). Here are the clips and in some cases full films of my favorites: Continue reading

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Finding Context

Screen Shot from Context Promotional Video

I feel a bit like I’ve grown up and become “a real dancer” in the past few months. In 2010, I tried out for Jenni Bregman’s first Resident Artist Workshop (RAW) project Intimate City. I learned a lot from the audition and felt I did well, but Jenni told me I wasn’t ready. Naturally I was disappointed, but kept working hard and enjoying dancing just for the joy of it. But when Jenni told me in the fall last year that she was remounting Intimate City and working on a new piece in a second RAW, I gathered my courage and asked if I might have improved enough to audition. She surprised me by telling me there were a few dancers who couldn’t do Intimate City this year, so would I like to do that? Um…yes! I assumed I would just be in that piece and not the new one, but that proved not to be the case. The blessings kept piling up. Overwhelmed and excited, I joined this as-yet-unnamed company and found myself working with the friendliest, most patient and giving group of dancers (some of whom do this for a living!).

Fast forward to today and we’re more than halfway through our rehearsal time and the show (including Intimate City and the new piece, Context) goes up March 21 and 22nd at the Garage in San Francisco. I feel that I’m more in control of my movement and more expressive. I feel it deeper and give more. In a way, is this what I was meant to be doing all along?

Learn more about the piece and help us make it come to life by watching the behind the scenes video and supporting us on Kickstarter.

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Solo Snapshot by Matt Haber

Shawna by Matt Haber
Photo by Matt Haber, November 2010

It’s an amazing honor to have someone document where you are in dance at a particular moment, and to have that in perpetuity. – John Doyle (aka The Creep from Girl Walk//All Day*)

I felt the same way in 2009 when I had my first dance photograph taken (by Matthew Kertesz). The feeling hasn’t diminished despite having done this before. I love doing this and love having a shareable record of that. Precisely where I am with that. It feels like the truest expression of who I am.

This photograph and session were for creating promotional materials for a show we’re working on. More on that shortly.

* By the way, Girl Walk//All Day is a must-watch experience. Warning – you will get sucked in. And Shopping Spree is my favorite episode.

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May? June? Where’d the time go?

It’s not for lack of things happening that I haven’t written. I’ve been too busy and the knitting project I’m deep into is a secret one so there’s not much I can say about it.

Just a sample of the things that have happened in May and June:

  • SF Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet (for Mother’s Day)
  • First SF Ravelry Meet-up (a ton of fun and a very successful event)
  • Attempting to start the snapdragon mitts and failing miserably (will try again later)
  • Picked up and cast aside a new form of exercise
  • Vassar 5-year Reunion trip to New York with Casey
  • Finally using the yarn swift and ball winder (which I can’t get enough of now)

Some pictures to prove I’ve been busy! (more after the break)

Finished Yarn Wranglers Anemone Pin

Finished Yarn Wranglers Anemone Pin

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Massive Update

Oh so many things to write about!

1- I got my yarn swift and ball winder in the mail from KnitPicks! The sweet people there even gave me a price adjustment since the swift went on sale a mere 10 days after I bought mine. Hey, 41% off is 41% off!

2- I am only 9 rows (including bind-off) from finishing the Daybreak shawl! I know, what am I waiting for!? Oh, those rows have gotten long what with all the increases so just doing one row takes me a whole TV episode on Hulu. Jeez, that’s a lot of weekend to spend sitting in one place, even if it is raining. So I’m taking it slow, even though I really can’t wait to wear the bugger.

3- The yarn for my secret project arrived and I can’t wait to get started on it. I won’t be saying much about it here since (hee hee) it’s a secret! Will be posting progress notes on Ravelry, though.

4- I asked at Yarn Wranglers (knitting group) about what to do with my poor FLS sweater since the shaping I did was so off and the answer is…rip back. Yup, all the way back to the yoke. I have had my argh moments this week, but now I’m thinking if I have to rip all the way back I might just make a whole new sweater. I mean, I know me. If I have a sweater, it better button all the way up or I’ll just be freezing. I love the color so there’s no question that I want to make the Dream in Color yarn into a sweater still, but maybe a new pattern will be good for my mental state. It’s not like I’ll just be redoing it then. I learned a lot from this first sweater. Now it’s time to do something different.

5- Yarn Wranglers are making flower pins for the SF Ravelry meet-up on May 16th. I’m narrowing down the pattern options and will probably take breaks from the secret projects to whip up that pin so there will be pictures still!

6- Oh, right, dance! Class is fun stuff still (of course) and I got to see San Francisco Ballet do The Little Mermaid in March with Ailey. It was beautiful. Very modern. Hope to write down some thoughts in another post soon (perhaps one with pictures of some of the 5 exciting items above)!

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