Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Emory Dance's New Yoga Wall

Yoga has become an integral part of the Emory Dance Program’s somatic course work, and our rope wall allows for a deepening in the investigation of the yoga practice. A rope wall primarily allows students to experience the poses with a different relationship to gravity, often using the weight of the body, and allowing the muscles and spine to stretch in a new way. 

The ropes can be used in a variety of ways to open areas of the body like the shoulders, to allow for traction in the spine, and to increase side length, to name a few of the benefits. They are especially helpful with inversions and restoratives, and can be useful for practitioners with injuries. The photo above pictures students in a hanging headstand. Using the ropes in this manner allows the student to invert and enjoy the pleasure of being upside-down without any pressure on the neck. 

Students in our Applied Yoga somatic practices class (taught by Professor Anna Leo) first used the wall during the spring 2017 semester. Construction of the wall was supported by the Kaplan Family Dance Fund and was built by talented Emory University carpenter Guy Mitchell.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Emory Dance Program Presents Our Graduating Seniors!

This year Emory Dance has 27 majors/minors graduating. Check out a few of our seniors below as they share their plans for the future!

Annabelle Zhuno
Major: Anthropology and Human Biology
Minor: Dance and  Movement Studies

"I am currently under review for a health sector position in Ghana with the Peace Corps, so fingers crossed! If that doesn't work out, I will be working in public health for two years before applying for masters of public health programs."

Hannah Gold
Major: Biology
Minor: Dance and Movement Studies

"After I graduate I will be taking a gap year and applying to medical school for the fall of 2018. I will be working in a research lab at Emory, and thankfully will be staying put in my new home in Atlanta."  

Virginia Spinks
Majors: Anthropology and Religion/ Dance and Movement Studies

"Immediately after graduation, I will be traveling to Sarajevo, Bosnia to study human rights as a 2017 Humanity in Action European Fellow. I will then travel to Sorrento, Italy to dance with the Staibdance Summer Intensive and after that return to my home town of Atlanta, Georgia to pursue dance professionally and to get involved with the non-profit community, as I develop my action project as a culmination of what I have learned in Sarajevo. I hope that this project will carry me into deep, and meaningful work in the Atlanta community." 

Hannah Schwartz
Majors: Business Administration/ Dance and Movement Studies

"I will be a GBS Consulting By Degrees Consultant at IBM."
Will Warren
Major: Religion
Minor: Dance and Movement Studies

"I started my collegiate career at Oxford College. After two-years of pre-med there, my liberal arts career exploded into newfound passions in what are now my major and minor, respectively: religious studies and dance and movement studies. During my time on the Atlanta campus, I have been most heavily involved the a cappella group, No Strings Attached (Emory’s premier, all-male a cappella group), Emory’s Student Programming Council, as well as with new student orientation as an orientation leader and subsequently as an orientation captain. This summer, I plan to travel through South America and will return to school to complete my pre-med requirements in hopes of going to pharmacy school."

Sara Pengelley
Major: Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Minor: Dance and Movement Studies

"I will be attending Staibdance Summer Intensive in Italy this summer, and next year I will be taking a gap year, working full-time as a research assistant at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience while applying for medical school."

Jessica Bertram
Majors: Anthropology and Human Biology/ Dance and Movement Studies

"After graduation, I plan to take a year off to continue teaching dance, pursue professional dance companies, and work administratively in the arts community. I will then apply to graduate school to obtain a master of fine arts in performance." 

Julianna Joss
Majors: Political Science/ Dance and Movement Studies

"For the year following graduation, I received the Bobby Jones Scholarship to pursue a master of science in sustainable development at the University of St. Andrews.  Before I leave for Scotland, I will be spending my summer here in Atlanta to work as the program assistant facilitating the Emory Scholars' Scholarship and Service Program, as well as interning with the Southern Education Foundation."  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Emory Dance Program Presents: Honors Thesis Concerts

This weekend (March 23rd-March 25th) the Emory Dance Program will present honors theses by seniors, Rosie Ditre, Cherry Fung, Clara Guyton, Julianna Joss, and Eliza Krakower! Theses projects include the explorations of dance on screen, political relationships, poetry, identity expression, and the intersections of dance genres. 

Check out one of our featured theses choreographers, Julianna Joss, as she shares insight on her concept and process!

Photography by: Erin Baker

The Moving Identity: Explorations in the Body’s Capacity for Communication, Expression, and Understanding

By: Julianna Joss

“It’s not what I am, it’s who I am.”  Back in September 2016, during the first official rehearsal of this thesis concert process, I asked my dancers to talk about their identities.  One of my dancers, Alfredo, responded with these simple, yet powerful words.

The process of creating dance about identity began as a daunting and overwhelming task.  Who am I, as a privileged, white-passing woman, to create art about one of the most complex, controversial topics of the human experience?  How could I do this topic any justice?  With so many people creating about this topic right now, how could I possibly add anything original or meaningful?
Photography by: Jake Rosmarin

But with this one sentence about the who rather than the what, I let go.  This process would be about my dancers’ stories and my story.  This discussion about identity would not about categorizing, labeling, and drawing lines in the sand.  Rather, it is deeply personal and unique to each individual, the culmination of experiences, relationships, histories, and values, and I would find my humble voice in this conversation by honoring that and simply that.  I conducted my research on movement and identity in two separate branches: a four-part group piece exploring individual identity, relationships between identities, and group identity, in addition to a solo I created based on my personal identity. 
Photography by: Jake Rosmarin
The process of working with my five wildly talented, bold, and intelligent dancers, Ruchi, Hannah, Sara, Ben, and Alfredo, was highly collaborative. While this may be “my” thesis, I firmly believe that the group piece, To Be Seen, belongs to all of us equitably.  My method is I would give my dancers a prompt or an idea to work with and they would create movement, by themselves, in duets, or in larger groups.  “Create four movements that suggest ‘affirmation,’ such as ‘following’ or ‘noticing’ actions.”  “Find a moment of protest within your solo movement.”  Then I would massage and finesse the material usually by asking dancers to indulge or expand upon certain ideas or clarify intentions.  Organically, our process yielded dozens of snippets of movement moments and it was my job to look at this material and find the connections, themes, and patterns.  And the mystery of the creative process somehow revealed itself.  In the final weeks of my rehearsal process, I started to understand how I could tell this story – the story of five humans in four, interconnected parts. 

Photography by: Erin Baker
The most challenging part of my thesis process was creating my solo, The Space Between.  Ironically, in dealing with the complexity of myself, the best tactic was simplicity.  I used all my choreographic tools, clearly, but directly – proximity, repetition, focus, gesture, dynamic, and use of space.  However, within this functional framework, I have found the emotion, feeling, and uniquely personal nature of self.  I discovered a woman who exposes, who reveals, who touches, but also a woman who wrestles, who fights, and who struggles. 

The words that come to mind as I close my reflection on movement and identity are witness and nuance. 
Photography by: Jake Rosmarin

Witness. We are who we are because of how we relate to one other; how we see one another and bear witness to each other’s lives.
Nuance.  We are complex, the space we individually occupy between all our identities is what makes us, uniquely us.