Updated: Sep 22
Happy New Year! This month I am participating in NACHMO https://www.nachmo.org/. It is a campaign that is encouraging choreography awareness and gives dance makers an opportunity to receive feedback. Day two of Nachmo the prompt was to think back to your first memory of dance. So, this got me on a roll thinking about what has inspired me to dance and what has shaped the way I create, feel, and teach dance.
My first memory of seeing professional dance was in the early 80’s thanks to my father, who played flamenco guitar for a Spanish dance company called Sol Y Sambra. All I can remember is a red dress and a stunning woman named Maria Loretta Celitan.
Her dress and dance totally captured me. She was fiercely focused and passionately performing with her whole spirit. Immediately after this experience, I asked to take lessons. Being too young for flamenco, I was told that I could when I was older. My parents did put me in a classical ballet school at the age of 5 years old. I remember learning the ballet positions and practicing in my kitchen because it was important to me to memorize them.
One move and several years later I started to take dance lessons in a traditional Ballet, Tap, and Jazz school. Classes, costumes, and recitals. This was a fun time and I enjoyed it but I did not know anything about Modern Dance until 1995. I auditioned for a Performing Arts High School and to my surprise, I was accepted in a short time my view and understanding of dance were completely transformed. It was in these years I first learned of another powerful, stunning woman. Martha Graham, the pioneer of American Modern Dance, became an icon for me.
It was also in High School that I began to identify as a modern dancer. I did my research and tried to watch as much dance as I could. This is when I first saw Mark Morris’s collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma; Falling Down Stairs, a dance made for a film. This was a major breaking point for me. Dance, Music, and Film...it was the magical triad. Clearly, I was interested in dancing, but the choreography was a major reason why I continued.
Fast forward to the early 2000’s I am at U-Mass Amherst Five College Dance Department learning composition, pedagogy, and continuing technique classes. One class that opened my perspective on how to view dance was a dance for film history course taught at Smith College. We watched Cunningham’s early explorations with film through contemporary work done around the world. I began to see that possibilities are endless, and I was smitten. By the time I graduated, I had created several solos as well as ensemble work, created an interactive multi-disciplinary creative process (Orchestrated Impulse), and worked with live music, live poetry, and film.
Leap again, to 2020. I offer weekly classes in dance for all levels. I love the challenge of teaching an all levels class. My approach is to start with what you can do. We start with a walk and build into a three-dimensional movement that encourages self-expression and composition. I teach a modern fusion technique always trying to clarify the goals of the technique and allow for freedom and joy of movement to be the focus. I am inspired by people when in a safe and creative space and how they will flourish, grow and play and that is my final inspiration for today. I think that this is what keeps me focused. Dance is a language and the conversations are authentic are powerful.
Nearly 35 years after first seeing Loretta dance flamenco in her red dramatic dress, I can see that my inspiration lies in teachers, performers, pioneers, scientists, and creatives that have been wholehearted in their pursuit. To them, many thanks for carving paths and for allowing the unknown to be present. What will this next decade bring and what will inspire me?
Enough about me; share who and what has inspired you.
Leave comments below 😊
Note* There have been many more inspirations in my life but these are a few highlights.