Trisha Brown Dance Company's Philly Takeover

TBDC performing Brown's Set and Reset

When Lisa Kraus learned in 2013 that the Trisha Brown Dance Company would, after a three-year tour of Brown's proscenium works, no longer exist in its current form, she knew she needed to act. "I felt that Philadelphia had not been fully exposed to her brilliance," says Kraus, who danced with Brown in the '70s and '80s. "I wanted people in my community to have the opportunity to dig into her work and find the beauty in it the way I have over the decades."

Kraus decided to initiate a yearlong festival dedicated to the postmodern choreographer, who announced her departure from her own company due to health problems. "Trisha Brown: In the New Body" will celebrate and investigate Brown's choreography via performances (by the company and, for the first time, Pennsylvania Ballet), classes, workshops and talks as part of the Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series and in conjunction with Pennsylvania colleges like Drexel University, Swarthmore College, Temple University and the University of the Arts. The performances kick off this month with the Philadelphia premiere of some of Brown's oldest works. Learn more here.

Brown's PRESENT TENSE

Photos from top: by Julieta Cervantes; by Dirk Bleicker, both courtesy of the Trisha Brown Dance Company

Technique
Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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