February has officially begun, and, in honor of the fast-approaching Valentine’s Day holiday, we’re offering you a chance to win a fun prize package perfect for sharing with a sweetheart or anybody you love! The package includes a bottle of red wine, a box of homemade gourmet chocolate truffles, a bouquet of flowers and two tickets to our upcoming Saturday, February 18th performance of Truth Be Told at Greenbelt Arts Center. The tickets also include admission to our gala reception following the show complete with food, wine, dancing and a chance to bid on donated art and vintage items in a silent auction. For a chance to win this great prize package, all you have to do is join our e-mailing list! Just click HERE to go to our home page and use the mailing list form to enter to win. You’ll only be asked for your name and email address. We’ll never share your contact information with a third party, but we will let you know by email if you’re the lucky winner of our Valentine’s Day prize package. Enter to win by 11:59pm on Thursday, February 16th and you’ll be notified if you won the prize package on Friday, February 17th. Good luck! And, thanks for being our valentine!
Every December I make a month-by-month year-in-review update to tuck into the Christmas cards we send to all our friends and family this time of year. Today as I dropped a nice, big stack of holiday cards into the post office box, I thought it would be fun to start a new holiday tradition celebrating another year of working with alight. I hope you enjoy our first annual alight year-in-review photo gallery. Lots of people like to do retrospectives things like this during that first week of January, but I think the holiday season is all about taking time to reflect on where you’ve been and we’re you’re headed. So, this is where we’ve been this year. We hope you enjoy taking a glance back with us as we are already busy preparing for our first performance of the new year on January 21, 8pm and January 22, 4pm at Dance Place. See you soon?
Special thanks to Gregory Miller, husband of alight dancer Heather Creek, for these amazing shots of us performing on the outdoor Sylvan Theater stage with Project Dance DC on Saturday, August 20 along with about 100 other dancers from all over the country. It was so hot out there that the black dance flooring on the stage was practically melting, but the dancers managed to give a beautiful performance despite the crazy conditions. Not sure how Greg got such great shots out there in the sun and elements, but it was a treat to get photos in the my inbox. Enjoy!
For a few more minutes, it is still 9.11.2011. Since I woke up this morning, I’ve been aware that I know what day it is. I know why this day matters, and, like so many others, I listened to President Obama, former President Bush and Mayor Bloomberg reflect on the weight of this day at this morning’s memorial service in New York City. I listened as the names of the victims of the 9.11 attacks were read aloud by loved ones who mourned them. As they paused for the first moment of silence at 8:46am, I wept. Really wept. Maybe you did too.
Like every American of over a certain age, I remember 9.11.2001 in quite vivid detail. Like you, I have my own story to tell of that day. I was on my way to teach dance at a small studio on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. I arrived at the studio and saw just what I expected–lots of eager little girls dressed in their pink leotards and tights ready for their first day of creative movement. But, I also saw something I didn’t expect. The mothers were all huddled around the small television in the lobby in stunned quiet. The first plane had just struck. I didn’t watch. They barely noticed as I took their little girls downstairs into the dance studio. When the second plane it, I was running and jumping with a room full of smiling, giggling little dancers.
I have lots of other memories from that day. The sky was so blue. I sat on some rocks in Central Park with my now husband, Ben, watching bomber jets circle overhead Manhattan. In the middle of the park, it was incredibly peaceful, too peaceful. That much quiet seems unnatural in a place like New York City. I remember a lot about that day, but it is the morning after that still unnerves me.
I couldn’t go to work. We weren’t allowed back into the Citicorp building yet. I couldn’t go to class. All the places I took class–Cunningham, Limon, Dancespace, Peridance–were all below 14th Street which was blocked off. You couldn’t get past Union Square. Like most, my life in New York was usually loud, exhausting, a bit on the chaotic side. Like today, I woke up on 9.12.11 still not understanding what had happened but knowing that it had happened and that it mattered. I felt restless. I should have been pushing my way onto a subway train, eating my bagel as I walked to class at the Cunningham studio and then racing uptown to get to my admin job at the Martha Graham Center. I couldn’t just sit at home.
Ben and I decided to go down to the Flatiron Building where he worked at the time. And, this is what I remember most about 9.12 The streets were practically deserted. We walked right down the middle of Fifth Avenue with hardly a person or a taxi in sight. It was the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday. It was a bit hazy and smokey, but otherwise in the valley of the streets, between the buildings, it was just quiet. And, I think that’s why the moment of silence this morning brought that flood of tears. That’s what I remember. Walking slowly down the middle of Fifth Avenue, not saying a word. There was nothing to say and, I just kept thinking, “So, what do we do now?”
SAVE THE DATE!
Event at the Dance RINK (1750 Union Avenue #D Baltimore, MD).
Doors open at 7:30pm and entertainment begins at 8:00pm.
Tickets are $25 (includes food & one drink ticket). Starting September 15, tickets will be available for purchase online at www.alightdancetheater.org
This summer we’ve been on-location a few times shooting footage for our current project, Truth Be Told. Through the guise of a live-action “reality” show, Truth Be Told is the story of 5 women with 5 secrets who are competing for one prize and the chance to keep their secret safe. We’ve been having a lot of fun with this wacky concept, and our latest adventure was filming on-location at the Jefferson Memorial last weekend.
First of all, it was hot! I mean, really hot, like there was a serious heat advisory from 10am to 10pm last Saturday. All of us met at the Jefferson Memorial at 8am. I was carrying some bulky camera equipment (courtesy of Greenbelt Access TV) as well as dragging an even heavier cooler loaded up with ice, water and lemonade for the scorcher ahead. The dancers arrived one-by-one looking fabulous, and dancer / video artist Dianamaria Adams (pictured above) came looking cool, comfy and ready to get to work. Our reality show inspired challenge was to give a faux sincere D.C. press conference style apology for the camera on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. (And, no, we didn’t get arrested; the police on-duty were really friendly and just asked us to be respectful of other visitors.)
Dancing on marble in the heels in crazy heat is no easy task, but Michelle, Monica, Valerie, Caitlin, Sarah and Wayles braved the conditions with style! Dianamaria Adams and I will be pouring through the footage and editing our three hours of shooting into one action-packed 5-7 minute dance sequence which will unfold live and on-screen during Truth Be Told. You’ll be able to see the rough cut of the sequence at our first annual gala preview concert on Saturday, October 15th at the Dance Rink in Baltimore.
This Saturday we’ll be filming on location in Greenbelt, Maryland near the Greenbelt Community Center where we rehearse every week. If you’re out and about in Greenbelt’s Roosevelt Center this Saturday morning, you might just see us out in the sun again, looking camera ready and shooting the opening sequence of Truth Be Told.
Project Dance is a movement of dancers seeking to positively impact culture through artistic integrity. The movement was born ten years ago out of a desire to serve the people of New York City directly after the events of September 11th and it has managed to do just that. Each year thousands of New Yorkers stop to watch the concert held on a temporary stage on the corner of 44th Street and Broadway.
This year Project Dance is bringing their signature three day event to Washington, D.C. for the first time during this 10th anniversary of September 11th. The weekend will be centered around an all day outdoor dance concert on the National Mall which is free to the public. The goal of the concert is to bring a message of hope, joy and healing through the universal language of dance.
Alight Dance Theater is excited to be part of this year’s Project Dance event. We’ll be performing excerpts from Speechless as well as some sections from our current project, Truth Be Told. If you want to catch us performing on the National Mall next month, be sure to make your way towards the Washington Monument on Saturday, August 20th. The concert runs from 10am-5pm, and Alight will definitely be performing in the afternoon hours. So, throw some water and sunscreen in your bag, and come join us.
So, I love this photo of alight dancer and choreographer, Monica Warren Schaeffer, all geared up, snazzy headlamp and hard hat and all, ready to head into a cave in the Austrian alps.
The scale of these mountains is incredible. It is hard to imagine Monica moving through the earth under such masses in her pink and purple jacket and just walking out unmarked by the experience.
And, she didn’t. There wasn’t any dramatic cave collapse or television movie worthy moments of harrowing escape, but the experience left its mark on her.
Next weekend, you can get a sneak peek at her new work, Shadowmark, which was inspired by her experience of following a narrow beam of light through the darkness that lays under the weight of the world. You should come–unless, of course, you have plans to go caving the Austrian alps yourself next weekend.
“Thought of You” is a short 2-D animated film directed and animated by Ryan Woodwood. The work blends figure drawings, 2D animation, visual Fx, and contemporary dance to evoke the movement and emotion of an intimate relationship. Woodward has had a very successful career working on big distribution Hollywood films such as Spider Man 3, Iron Man 2 and Where the Wild Things Are, but this was a personal project, just something he’d envisioned for a while and wanted to make happen.
I discovered “Thought of You” when a dancer friend of mine, Sarah Anne Austin, posted it on her Facebook page, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since. Usually, when I think of dancing animation, I get visions of Disney movies like Fantastia or Beauty in the Beast in my head. And, honestly, I am sucker for some good cartoon dancing of the sort where pink elephants prance and Bugs Bunny square dances. That said, “Thought of You” is something all together different because it actually evokes the delicacy and power of modern dance in a way that strikes me much the same way as a live dance performance.
As a choreographer, it was clear to me from watching the finished product that Woodward had collaborated with some real flesh-and-blood dancers to work this magic. I’ve posted above a short documentary of the process of making “Thought of You” (see the finished product HERE) because I loved seeing how this brilliant collaboration between the animator, the choreographer and the dancers worked. For me, seeing the process through which any is work developed almost heightens the sense of magic and mystery surrounding the final performance or product, and this was no different.
In my own work, as well in the work of artists I admire, there always seems to be a bit of alchemy involved. First there is the idea, the tiny seed of thought which becomes a vision and eventually evolves into plans with schedules and deadlines. People come together to work, think, create, fail and regroup and finally produce this thing that was once just a thought. In the process, the original idea remains both essentially unchanged and yet often radically altered by the touch of the particular artists working in concert. In the end, every work of art is a bit of miracle. Something as elegant as “Thought of You” is the sum of its parts and yet completely transcends the nuts and bolts of its components.
Most Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons alight is in rehearsal at the Greenbelt Community Center Dance Studio. The studio is a lovely space with blonde hard wood floors, floor to ceiling mirrors on two walls and a bank of windows on another. Just outside those windows is this amazing
rose garden. The dance studio is located on the lower level in the back of the building, so the rose garden is sort of tucked away–not hidden but separated from the main walkways near the building. From inside the studio, through the old cloudy windows, the bright color presses up against the building,
a bit blurry like an Impressionist painting. When I’m alone in the studio choreographing, I like to open the side door and peek out at the color and texture and fragrance just outside. I love the contrast between the clean, open space of the dance studio and the overgrown, luxurious beauty of the garden. Set side by side, they both feed my creative process.
The empty studio just cries out to be filled with movement, energy, laughter and a good sweat. And, the garden is already so kinetic, so active, so complete in itself that it invites stillness. It is a eloquent reminder that stillness is as much a part of the dance as silence is a part of music. And, being the committed multi-tasker I am, it is a reminder I need.