session #3 with Tré Smith
I met Tré almost a year ago at Bates Dance Festival. He was there performing with the amazing Camile A. Brown & Dancers and I was teaching jazz dance at the Young Dancers Festival. Before we met we each got the opportunity to see the other perform. The first and last time we spoke was the day before he was scheduled to leave the festival. I remember our conversation being quick but super easy. We had mutual friends, like for real, not just "oh yea I danced with him/her" but actual mutual friends. And even though we hadn't met before, it felt familiar. After the festival we kept in contact loosely through social media, sharing "likes" and the occasional comment to show support. But when I found out he would be in Houston teaching at the Houston Academy of Dance Summer Intensive the same week I would be there, I began plotting on how I would convince him to do a session. The problem was I wasn't sure if he had remembered what I thought was this great conversation standing on the sidewalk in Maine, or if he'd think I was slightly cra for asking someone I'd never really gotten to know, to meet in a studio and play.
Fortunately, he one: remembered and two: is just as cra as I am. So when I proposed a session via text his response was "I'm down." We planned for Friday June 19th, and met back up at the Houston Academy of Dance after he'd been there all day teaching and rehearsing. I wasn't sure he'd still want to go through with the session after being in the studio all day. Turns out, he needed the session just as much as I did. What you see in the video is the first time we ever danced together. Those of us who understand how particular contact improvisation can be, understand that finding an immediate connection with someone is rare. I chose, Roméo et Juliette Op. 17: Premier transports (Strophes) by Jessye Norman to begin. We started improvising, and although I suspected there would be a moment of awkwardness, there was none. Some amazing moments happened during that first round but we'll never see it. I had forgotten to press play on my camera. We tried again, you know, to make sure the first wasn't a fluke. This time we found even more colors AND I remembered to hit record, but I accidentally deleted the video. I didn't tell him this, but I was beginning to feel like the universe didn't want these moments to be shared which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Now that we were becoming more acquainted with each others breath and choices we decided we'd continue improvising without structure. I put my playlist on shuffle, pressed record on my camera and over 45 minutes later we were completely lost in the best way possible. Above, you'll see some of my favorite moments-though it was difficult to choose. This is a conversation between two artists with different training backgrounds, who took different journeys, yet arrived at the same place at the right time. This "could" have been a train wreck. You never know if you're going to get along with another dancer. Even though we both agreed going into this that we would "see what happens" I would have never predicted such a seamless connection but I am so glad this happened and I look forward to dancing with Tré again and again and again. Who got next?
#sessionswithcdj #whowantstoduet #cdjdance
Tré Smith is a graduate of The University of the Arts and was a member of Eleone Dance Theatre and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He is currently a member of Camille A. Brown & Dancers.
session #2 with Sherah Shipman
One of the perks of teaching is getting to watch great young talent grow and find their artistic voices. I had the wonderful opportunity to have Sherah in my classes as a high school student. Fresh off her first year of college studying dance at SUNY Purchase, she graciously agreed to meet me in the studio and let me throw material I'm developing for a solo titled "and though she be but little", based off the Shakespeare quote, on her. What you see are moments during the solo where there's a shift in the tone of the musicality and character arch. My dancing is often described as "fierce" or "explosive", so I'm enjoying relishing in the vulnerability and sensuality of the sound of the guitar. Sherah has these stunning long limbs and a lovely balance of delicate yet expansive movement qualities that I hoped would rub off on me. In the end I was happy with where things are headed and grateful to Sherah for her willingness to try anything.
I will perform "and though she be but litte", at the Bates Dance Festival Young Dancers Workshop Faculty Performance this Summer. Session 2 down, looking forward to what's next. #sessionswithcdj #whowantstoduet #cdjdance
Sherah Shipman is a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and is currently pursuing her BFA in Dance at SUNY Purchase.
session #1 with Laura Gutierrez
La and I met up at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts on June 2nd. Before our session we had not discussed what , if anything, we would work on but once we got in the space, and in between extended periods of random laughter, we started playing with material. Interestingly enough, both of us were tired of moving like ourselves. She wanted to feel more physical and large, while I craved specificity so we went back and forth giving one another things to try maybe every 16-24 counts or so. It felt effortless, two artists sharing with no agenda or deadline, open to try anything. We were probably in the studio for 2 hours or so, most of the time talking about our thoughts on where we both are with dance at the moment, OVER IT. But of course once we were moving, most of the negative thoughts quickly faded. I still have no idea what, if anything will come of these sessions. As a child I could never sit still, even my still moments had a purpose, mainly I had to give my parents a second to catch up. The moment I discovered there were other people out there, who understood the need (and sometimes suffering) to always be creating, I realized I was not as weird as I thought. So sessions with cdj allows me to be in spaces with other weirdos whose natural instinct is to just. do. something. We'll see what comes of this.
Check it out. Watch the videos, enjoy, comment and go create! #sessionswithcd #whowantstoduet #cdjdance
Oh and I almost forgot. While wrapping up I asked La 3 random questions: