Face to Face: Carl Flink

Flink above frozen Lake Medicine in MinnesotaCarl Flink—a longtime soccer player before he discovered dance—remembers his audition for the Limón Dance Company. He got through to the final round, where he had to show a solo. “All the other men got up and did these slow, flitty dances,” he says. “The first thing I did was throw myself backward as hard as I could. The idea was me in a hallway, an invisible hand slamming me against the wall.” Certain that he’d bombed the audition, Flink was astonished when he got a call the following day from Carla Maxwell, Limón’s artistic director, offering him the job. “She said, ‘I need that in my company,’” says Flink. Now, as artistic director of his own company, the Minnesota-based Black Label Movement, he’s fine-tuned his aesthetic into intense, athletic partnering and wildly physical choreography. This month, BLM partners with another Twin Cities troupe, Contempo Physical Dance, to present a uniquely collaborative season at The Cowles Center.

What he looks for in dancers “I’m interested in people who move like animals. I call it ‘natural virtuosity.’ When you watch animals, they seldom do anything that’s inefficient. They use their feet, balance, weight and strength in an unconsciously intelligent way. That tends to catch my eye: a hungry desire to move, a bodily intelligence that I think comes from being more in touch with your animal self.”

His creative process “I’m able to quickly produce movement—I’m very unprecious with it. We’ll come in, start moving and improvising on our own, and somehow that will evolve into me at the front of the room, and we’ll start to create. The company has become very comfortable with surrounding me like a herd and just going with me. The process becomes very dialogic. A lot of it generates from my body, but very quickly it’s taken hold of by the company.”

About auditioning “It’s good to try and compete with everyone under the same criteria, but if you can find a really individual voice to present, that can shift the whole game. In your dance training, it’s as important to find a deep understanding of your voice and what sets you apart from others as it is to do more turns, get your leg higher and dig into traditional techniques.” DT

Training: University of Minnesota; The Taylor School; ballet under Francis Patrelle; Steps on Broadway

Performance: Limón Dance Company, 1992–98; performed with Creach/Koester; Janis Brenner & Dancers; Shapiro & Smith Dance

Choreography: founded Black Label Movement in 2005

Leadership: professor and former chair of the University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance department

Photo by Bill Cameron, courtesy of Flink

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

News
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.