Monday, January 30, 2012

"Nonetheless"...Korhan Basaran

At SERVINGCHOREO, we strongly believe that choreography should be a seamless duet between body and breath, music and motion. This perfect symbiosis is in the spotlight when Korhan Basaran creates his phrases.

MUSICALITY: One of the major elements that distinguishes great classical musicians from technically proficient ones, is the ability to take a piece of music and breathe new life into it. The gift of interpretation is what separates the good from the great. Korhan is able to make a parallel statement in his choreography. He finds the moments in the music where his movement rides directly on top of the melody line. At other points, he is dancing in counterpoint to the musical phrase. His choice of Bach as the accompanying track is interesting in that the majority of Baroque music taps into this idea of two or more artistic, musical ideas moving in alternate, yet complimentary, directions. I watch his dance the way that I hear a prelude or fugue.

DANCER SYNC: While I am usually opposed to choreography that involves undue impact, when it is executed skillfully and safely, it can be particularly exciting. At 1:00-1:18, Korhan begins with a controlled impact to the floor. What follows though, is really quite stunning. The floor work is creative and finds interesting solutions to the locomotion challenges.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: I really like the way that Korhan emerges from the audience at the beginning. Its an interesting and captivating way to kick the piece into gear. By starting this way, the audience experiences the piece in a somewhat vicarious way, as if to say "he is one of us." The use of fall and release method, along with his wide legged straddle motif, creates continuity and rhythm within the movement, despite the track lacking an audible percussion.

KUDOS to Korhan for his hypnotic phrases, loose and fluid interpretation, and quality of composition.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Panlong"...Phillip Chbeeb

As a dancer and choreographer working across different genres, I have particular respect and affinity for the work of hip hop and contemporary choreographers who allow their choices to be flavored by a wide spectrum of influences. Although, most people in the dance community would identify Phillip Chbeeb as a "hip hop" dancer, I find that his work, intellect, aesthetic is far more complex than the typical commercial street dancer. To me, Phillip's work has a maturity and artistic integrity that is rooted in hip hop culture, yet explores many other territories.

MUSICALITY: Of this work, Phillip has said that he "wanted to manifest the human persona of "Panlong," the coiled water Dragon from Chinese mythology. Attempted only with my movement to embody the entanglement, fluidity, and strength of this specific type of dragon." Choreography can have its genesis in a number of places. Most commonly, a choreographer will hear a piece of music that particularly inspires them to move and create. Other times, the movement choices are dictated by the costume and textural limitations(think about a Brazilian Carnival dancer or Vegas showgirl dancing with a massive feathered back pack and headdress). However, in this case, Phillip was motivated by a conceptual, thematic catalyst. Working in this way, finding the music to compliment pre-existing movement can be one of biggest challenges. In this case, Phillip ended up using a song that actually has an East Indian origin, but it sits on top of his movement phrases perfectly. Indian music has a vocal quality known as "Taan gesture," which to many people sounds like a cross between singing and ululating. This technique is very foreign to classical western singers, but works seamlessly with Phillip's movement. Watch his inventive footwork at 1:25-1:31, to see this in action. As his body undulates and recoils, the singer's voice constantly modulates pitch and mimics the visual dance form. Also, Phillip has a keen ear for syncopation, at 1:14-1:17 he could have easily barreled through the transition, but instead, placed the steps on the swing beats in the track...excellent choice.

DANCER SYNC: Phillip knows how to employ the body's structure to create surprising pictures and angles. While this may seem awkward to the casual viewer, dancers will tell you that the way that Phillip transitions in and out of these moments, are the key to doing a dance skillfully and avoiding a broken ankle. Phillip is careful to find the path of least resistance and maximum safety, yet never compromising the artistic innovation.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: On a directorial level, I appreciate the way Phillip introduces the piece and then builds tension. As opposed to simply dropping into floor work or throwing a wave, he takes his time and layers the anticipation and suspense. By the time the track drops into that dense, deep groove, the viewer is glued to the screen and ready. From there, Phillips sequencing and choices propel the piece and maintain the pace!

KUDOS to Phillip for weaving a variety of styles and techniques into a compelling piece, I expect to see very experimental fusion projects from him in the future.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Lost In Motion"...Guillaume Cote

When someone like Guillaume Cote SERVES CHOREO, you know it's going to be unique and exquisite. I like to think of this particular video as a beautiful collaboration between a choreographer, cinematographer, and a technically refined dancer. As I have said before, it's important to draw a distinction between performance and choreography. In this example however, the choreographer is ALSO the performer, yet we must not confuse the dancer's ability with the actual choreographic choices made by Mr Cote.:

MUSICALITY: Although the video is edited at certain moments to maximize the emotional effect, the majority of the piece allows us to see the choreography as it was paired with the music. Mr Cote skillfully finds the simple moments that reflect the melody lines of the composer. For example, watch at 0:21 where the high note of the melody is matched by Cote's decision to pique in to a high releve sous sus balance(translation for non-ballet speakers LOL, "pique - pee kay" is to extend the foot out in front of the body and then shift the weight up onto this leg..."releve sous sus - reh leh vay sue sue" can be described as balancing on your tippy toes, one foot directly in front of the other).

DANCER SYNC: For me, I really appreciate Mr Cote's ability to work within the classical ballet vocabulary, yet never allows the technique to restrict his movement. Ballet technique is like a seatbelt in the is meant to protect your body and extend the life of your instrument. Practicing proper technique, especially when executing advance dance maneuvers, is essential for avoiding serious injury. HOWEVER, its easy for that seatbelt to get SOOOO tight that is does not allow you to move, breathe, express, and feel. Everyone has had the experience of sitting in the backseat of the minivan in a seatbelt that is choking you to death....NOT COMFORTABLE. Watch at 0:23-0:27 and 0:39-0:41, notice how Mr. Cote is just as adept moving from a very classical, "held" position, to a rounded, organic, expressive shape.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: There are many visual elements here that were intended to grab the eye of the viewer! Even the most jaded, ballet-phobe will be mesmerized by the "matrix" moments where we get to see the airborne bravura portions in slow motion...if anyone doubts the "athletic" nature of dance, show them this video and they will eat their words. Choreographically, I like the ways in which Mr. Cote plays with our expectations. At 1:41, it looks as though he is preparing for a turn of some sort, and then suddenly he begins a low level floor sequence on his knees. For the audience, we are attracted to this little unexpected surprises and appreciate not knowing exactly what is coming next.

KUDOS to Guillaume for shattering the stereotype of the rigid, stiff, cardboard ballet dancer, who is only capable of moving though the requisite positions of the ballet syllabus. Through Guillaume's interpretation, ballet is alive, sensual, expressive and human.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"I Was Just A Card"...Kate Jablonski

Although it may seem as though there is a dearth of good web choreo at times, it is primarily due to the flood of half-baked, under-cooked, amateur material that is floating around. I had initially planned on featuring a choreographer's work only once, to highlight the breadth and spectrum of quality work that can be found online. However, when I saw a recent posting by Kate, I realized that I my plans would need to be reexamined. This girl is a gift to the dance and off. What she is bringing to the table, in terms of reevaluating the truly important aspects of dance education, is revolutionary. She is proof positive that kids are capable of using dance to make important artistic statements. Her students understand that dance is far more that trophies, dance moms, competitions and ribbons. She is not churning out trick monkeys and spin junkies...she is fostering the growth and evolution of tomorrow's ARTISTS...bravo KJ&BW:

MUSICALITY: A novice talent would be tempted to take a literal approach to the lyricism of the track. But Kate's aesthetic is neither novice nor typical. She choreographs to the actual timbre and tone of the singer's voice. Watch at 0:44-0:51 how the choreography augments the lilting vocal pattern with pendular, swinging motion. This quality of movement is then punctuated by more linear gestures when the vocalization shifts to the staccato phrasing. Kate's work has a sophistication and subtlety that many choreographers lack. For example, at 2:32, she highlights a single snare tap with an isolated jab to the side. When it is done in unison, and following a moment of calm stillness, it is unexpected and electric.

DANCER SYNC: I have never seen a piece of Kate's work that made me question the safety or health of her dancers. She never puts them in harm's way by asking them to do something that is going to cause long term damage. For many choreographers, partnering is an area fraught with potential hazards. I have personally seen dislocated shoulders and concussions occur because some idiot-ographer decided to "get creative" and just have their dancers "go for it." However, Kate's partnering is both FULLY SAFE and FULLY INVENTIVE. All of the lifts have been carefully manipulated for constant connection between the base(s) and the flyer.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: If I were to list all the engaging elements of this piece, which add to the complexity and texture of this work, I'd be here all night! So a few of my favorites will have to suffice. First of all, I love the interplay and visual impact of the contrasting skin tones in the opening sequence. By focusing our eyes on the hands, fingers and arms, we key in on the light and dark hues of the two principle dancers, thereby foreshadowing the struggle to come. Secondly, she isn't afraid of repetition and understands that this is a structural concept that resonates deeply with the viewer. At 1:44, Kate revisits her first choreographic motif, but from an alternate side angle. The first time we see the motif, the dancers are frontal and then angled toward each other, but the second time we see it, they are at combative and diverging. And in this way, the audience understands that there is both a progression and cyclical nature within the passage of time. Finally, I really appreciate how she incorporated the corps dancers into a piece that began as a duet. In Greek theater, there was a chorus that would provide commentary and emphasis to the action on stage. In a similar way, the ensemble dancers are fully integrated into the action, without ever pulling focus from the principle dancers...a very challenging feat to achieve, and Kate does it masterfully.

KUDOS to Kate for transcending the typical studio model, and embarking on a new direction in dance education...I predict that someday we will be interviewing numerous acolytes who grew up under Kate's guidance and mentoring.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Le Balon"...Junior Almeida

Junior Almeida is a choreographer who uses the body as an instrument, it has percussive qualities like a drum, it has lyrical qualities like a violin, and when it is appropriate, he can blast you with movement that looks like the pop of a trumpet...he is music in motion:

MUSICALITY: Junior's history as a "perform-ographer" is legendary. He is considered one of the founding members of the Parisian hip hop community. If anyone knows and appreciates the history and culture of French hip hop, it is this man. Consequently, every nuance of his movement is informed by this history. When an artist studies and understands how and where his art form originated, the musicality of the resulting choreo is flavored and complex.

DANCER SYNC: If you ever have the opportunity to study with Junior, you will very quickly realize that his movement were made for the dancer, not the other way around. It does not suggest that they are "easy" or "less challenging" in any way, but rather, they are always rooted in the body's natural tendencies. Science tells us that the human body is roughly 60% water...and now watch Junior's ability to translate this fact into actual gestures in his spine, shoulders, and arms.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: In this example, Junior has decided to incorporate at prop into his choreo. What gives the piece dimension, is his ability to imbue the inanimate object with a spirit and soul. Through Junior's manipulation, the balloon becomes his accomplice and counterpoint, creating a wordless dialogue between two "friends." See if you, as a viewer, can guess what is being said between them.

KUDOS to Junior for exploring the dynamic between the living, breathing organisms of the human body, and the structural, architectural features of an unlikely partner!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Please Don't Stop The Music"...Keone Madrid & Mariel Martin

Progress is the intersection of what has come before and the spark of something new...nothing in choreography is TRULY original, every individual movement has been done before. However, what is unique and fresh, is the mind and eye of each generation, the historical context that flavors the work of the present. In this video, we see elements of the past, combined with a contemporary perspective and the result is electric:

MUSICALITY: Throughout the years, I have heard many complaints from dance enthusiasts, bemoaning the "noise" that typically accompanies hip hop movement. While I don't personally feel that this is a valid criticism, I understand where they are coming from. However, this piece offers a beautiful example of the versatility that is available within the hip hop genre. Working with a track by Jaime Cullum(who is somewhat of a musical fusion artist, blending hip pop and jazz standards) Keone and Mariel breathe funky new/retro life into an over-played Rihanna original. The original music and video choreo was a hard hitting club dance track...and it is now transformed into sultry, sexy blend of old and new.

DANCER SYNC: I particularly enjoy the partnering interplay(1:35-1:37) and the movement dialogue that occurs between the two dancers. Although some of the sections are perfectly in unison, the male and female energies are strongly defined and exectured.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Structurally, our eyes are drawn to clearly depicted lines and shapes(1:41-1:45) and when they occur organically, it makes for a very pleasant visual surprise. This video is also a good example of concept consistency...from the costumes to the choice of movement and music, all the elements support each other and augment the final product.

KUDOS to Keone and Mariel for reminding us the classiness and maturity that is possible within the ever-changing, ever-evolving genre known as hip hop.

SERVINGCHOREO EXTRA: I have added a fun little extra feature, this is a video of Keone and Mariel in rehearsal for the piece, notice how the addition of cinematographic elements layers of the complexity of the source material.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Brothers"...Daniel Ezralow & David Parsons

After yesterday's adventure with Les Twins, I thought it would be interesting to look at another piece, with two dancers who are not genetically related...but have an almost identical dance vocabulary and choreographic style:

MUSICALITY: The music that was chosen for this piece fascinates me. In our culture, we typically associate classical music with classical ballet movement. Yet here is an example of classical music being married to movement that works across many genres. The playful quality of the track matches the theme of sibling rivalry perfectly. One can almost imagine two playful puppies wrestling and aggressively trying to move into the superior position.

DANCER SYNC: Since this piece was co-choreographed, it is apparent that a great deal of dialogue and communication allowed them to find a movement language that complimented both dancers. It is always helpful, when the dancers are well matched in terms of physical and technical ability. Aesthetically, from a casting perspective, I would imagine that the piece would always need two dancers who were fairly similar in build and appearance.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Watch the opening phrase of movement, and then see if you can identify the recapitulation of the phrase at 3:50. This repetition grounds the piece in a cohesive through line, so that the piece can diverge into new territory, but always come back to its central idea. Without this, the piece would "ramble" and lose its sense of tight composition. They also use symmetry to great effect. Notice how many times within the piece, the movement is in "mirror image," consequently reinforcing the idea of the two dancers sharing a unique, identical bond.

KUDOS to David and Daniel for giving us such a pristine example of compositional structure, and a dynamic, playful interpretation and performance.

Monday, January 9, 2012

"World Of Dance"...Les Twins

Ah...Les Twins...this French duo is doing phenomenal things for the hip hop community! In addition to being brutal technicians, they bring a sense of humor, curiosity, eccentricity, and exploration to the genre. Although this clip is more of a "demo" in terms of structure(as opposed to a fully realized piece of choreography) they still exhibit a number of noteworthy elements:

MUSICALITY: As performers, Les Twins(Larry and Laurent Bourgeois) are living, breathing manifestations of rhythm and musicality. Being genetically linked, they share an almost psychic musical connection that is compelling and jaw-dropping. Its almost as if they are "hyper-musical," connected by an intrinsic beat that transcend what the human ear has the ability to "hear." As an audience, you are invited to "see the music."

DANCER SYNC: One of the challenges that all choreographers face, is to find movement that works as well on the dancers' bodies as it does on their own. If you have a choreographer who is 5 feet tall, who is creating material for 6 foot has the potential to get a little frustrating, much like an NBA player trying to use an airplane bathroom. But with Les Twins, we witness the odd coincidence of a choreographer who almost has the opportunity to choreograph his clone. Simultaneously, Larry and Laurent, as performers, find numerous ways to spotlight their individuality and self-expression....its a beautiful thing to watch.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: The element that strikes me as most important, is the use of dynamic. Akin to an orator who balances his speech between highs and lows, louds and softs, Les Twins are able to find the spectrum between big and small movements, fast and slow tempo, rowdy and quiet moments. Watch at 0:58-1:00 where nothing but the head is ticking, suddenly transitioning into full bodied extension. This constant shifting and juxtaposition is what allows the piece to be almost 8 minutes in length, and maintain a high level of audience engagement throughout!

KUDOS to Larry and Laurent for approaching the hip hop genre with an open mind and pushing the boundaries of experimentation.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


For more than twenty years, MOMIX has been giving us inventive new ways to think about bodies in space, using the anatomy as a structural building block for complex images and pictures.:

MUSICALITY: Some choreographers work "music first," taking their cues from the rhythm and melody, dictated by the musicians structure. While this is probably the most common way to create choreography, MOMIX has found many other, less typical ways to arrive at the final product. Moses Pendleton, the artistic director of MOMIX is a visually astute artist, and therefore the images take first priority. Once the images and sequence begin to gel, Moses begins to look for music that will compliment his vision. Then, working in tandem with his dancers, he starts to sew the choreography together with the music. In the end, both processes are capable of producing good choreography that is musical and organic. However, the advantage of the MOMIX approach, is completely unfettered creative movement, that is not limited by a pre-selected musical choice.

DANCER SYNC: Much of the MOMIX repertoire looks physically intense...and it is. However, with time and practice, Moses and his dancers have found highly efficient ways to manipulate the movement and positions, allowing for a multiple performance touring schedule. Make no mistake, the dancers are exhausted by the end of a MOMIX show. But potential for injury can be greatly decreased by finding the most economical and safe methods of execution.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: WIthin our contemporary, pop culture, mental iconography, we have images of hindu gods, with multiple fiction creature from different planets...greek sculpture...and to see these ideas referenced and brought to life before our eyes is stunning and riveting. Also, repetition and variation of the "back spinning corpse" theme serves to anchor the piece within a framework that gives our brain a beginning, middle and end.

KUDOS to Moses Pendleton and the MOMIX crew for always looking beyond the box of the body's anatomy, to the shapes and pictures that lie outside.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"So Hot"...Anne-Claire Parlebas

This video is from Anne-Claire Parlebas, who is a choreographer in Paris, France. Watch how a lighthearted sense of humor elevates and permeates all the movement. By being an approachable artist and not thinking too highly of herself, she creates an experience that gives the viewer the desire to get up and dance themselves. Her choreography is simultaneously complex and accessible. One aspect of choreography that is often overlooked, is the ability to have a sense of humor within your work. As in life, many choreographers take themselves WAY too seriously and usually…it shows. Pretentious choreo is one of the biggest mistakes a choreographer can make, and it is bad for two reasons. First, it does not allow for vulnerability in your dancers, or within the work itself. The audience may not be able to articulate it, but there is a lack of authenticity and a great deal of posturing. Secondly, it typically results in a audience experience that disconnects, rather than engages:

MUSICALITY: This piece oozes musicality all over the place! Watch at 0:19 how her movements mimic the sound of a percussive snare drum into the shiny reverb of a cymbal. Going back to the idea of humor within the choreo, look at 0:44 and notice how she incorporates a "wink wink double entendre" on the phrase "do things"…and then resolves the naughty joke by feigning embarrassment, looking surprised, and placing her hand over her mouth.

DANCER SYNC: For the dancer, there are little choreographic tricks that can help sink a phrase into the pocket so nicely that it feels like it flows without any effort. Anne-Claire uses a fun little traveling step at 0:36 that shows this technique in action. By keeping the foot movement the same, but shifting the dancers positions, she creates depth and shifting perspective for the audience, and a sense of cohesiveness between her dancers…they are dancing as a unit, as opposed to disjointed soloists. Also, at 0:55, she maintains the footwork again, but changes the upper body every two counts. When these moments are so much fun to dance…it impossible not to smile.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: For the audience, the humor and joy that exudes from this piece is palpable and unmistakeable. Not only does the choreography draw you in using the techniques mentioned above, but her carefree attitude as a choreographer brings out the best in her dancers…resulting in a truly, genuinely, positive audience experience.

KUDOS to Anne-Claire for understanding the importance of living life to the fullest, not getting caught up in the drama and ego, and inviting us to come along for the ride…as she dances through life.

"Home"...Brandon Cournay

What happens when you combine a dancer who exudes clean, precise technique and extensive ROM, with a choreographer who has a mature understanding of theme, variation, phrasing and structure...well SERVINGCHOREO presents the work of Brandon Cournay :

MUSICALITY: Brandon is a Juilliard graduate and is a rising talent in the NYC choreography scene. One of his dynamic strengths is music selection and the blending of the "right" movement choices to the musical framework. Notice how the initial phrase is rooted in the instrumentation and vocals, and then through repetition and sequencing, the phrase is layered with complexity.

DANCER SYNC: Ryan Steele, who is the dancer in this video, is a incredible technician and YAMGP champ. In the past few years, his performances have deepened in their individuality and expression, that is impressive considering his young age. Brandon and Ryan trained together when they were growing up, so its evident that their styles of movement are considerably similar. Nonetheless, Brandon has done an exceptional job of utilizing Ryan's technique, without exploiting or cheapening it by over-emphasizing bravura "tricks."

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: By making sensitive placement choices as to where the "flashy" elements will fit into the bigger picture, Brandon preps the viewer carefully through mindful sequencing. A phrase is introduced, and then a variation is added, and then the initial phrase returns...creating a very pleasing experience for the audience. In this manner, when we finally see something that takes advantage of Ryan's technical ability, it is cohesive with the bigger artistic opposed to a jarring and obnoxious advertisement for DANCE SPORT TRICKS GALORE!

KUDOS to Brandon for demonstrating how exceptional technique can be integrated skillfully into the bigger artistic vision...the sum of the parts, is greater than the most "fierce" trick.

"Animatronik"...Storm, Robozee & Mio

One of the most important goals of a choreographer, is to use movement to make an artistic statement. Storm was one of the original innovators of hip hop, working with Rock Steady Crew from the beginning. He now uses the hip hop vocabulary as a skillful tool for self-expression:

MUSICALITY: The track is in the "glitch" genre of music, so consequently, its stands to reason that the choreo will be highly influenced by the sounds and textures. If they were not to match up, the effect would be lost and highly ineffective. So its a bit of a given that this type of piece will be greatly influenced by the auditory aspects.

DANCER SYNC: Since Storm and his crew are the creators and the performers, it makes sense that the moves fit their bodies so well. Its hard to imagine that a choreographer would ever ask a dancer to do something that they themselves would be unwilling to do...but unfortunately, it happens all to often.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: This is like watching a high-brow work of Banksy graffiti step off the wall and come to could you not be totally enthralled!

KUDOS to Storm for being to true to what Jean-Luc Godard said: "It's not where you take things from—it's where you take them to." Storm has elevated popping and hip hop to a higher art form...brilliant.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Kiss Kiss"...Tucker Barkley

Tucker Barkley is SERVINGCHOREO out of every pore in his body...this is short clip of his work:

MUSICALITY: When we talk about choreography, its important to make a distinction between the dancer's performance and the actual choreographic material. Its been said that some actors like Dustin Hoffman, are so talented, that they can make reading the phonebook dramatic and interesting. In a similar vein, sometimes talented dancers are asked to make "crap-ography" look good. So they layer on the charm, technique, tricks...sometimes it works, but usually we just feel bad for the dancer and wish the choreographer went back to their day job. In this case though, technical facility is matched with Tucker's incredibly precise ear and the result is astonishing. Watch the video once, from a choreography standpoint, and you will see that the movement is so deep in the groove of the music that they are inseparable. And then watch it again from a performance perspective, and watch Tucker blow your mind. PS he was a classically trained dancer, before delving into hip his pirouette at :19 and you will see why dance teachers stress ballet to ALL their students, hip hop or not.

DANCER SYNC: Tucker pushes his dancers to the limits of speed and precision, but its never jerky or awkward. Simply because the tempo is at a breakneck pace, never gives Tucker an excuse to "just throw something in."

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: As I said before, when a choreographer deftly puts this much information into a short amount of time, its like an avalanche of intricate design...welcome to the thrilling world of Tucker's swiss timepiece choreo!

KUDOS to Tucker for actually listening to the track, and finding a way to elevate the music to the next level, with the addition of movement.

"Nicest Thing"...Kate Jablonski

At SERVINGCHOREO, we believe that great choreo can be found anywhere! Take a look at what student, pre-professional dancers are capable of, when they are matched with a choreographer who has a sensitive ear and keen eye:

MUSICALITY: The underscoring musical choice is an integral component to Kate's work. By analyzing different layers within the score, she mines various phrases that are rooted in the vocals, percussion, strings, etc. And Kate's work is literally wrapped in the musical information she gets from the track, its always a perfect compliment

DANCER SYNC: Although these are highly trained, technical student dancers, who bring an immense degree of maturity and sensitivity to the piece, it is Kate's ability to match the movement with her dancers' facility that makes this piece a worthwhile watch.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Kate possesses a masterful ability to take a theme and find the variations that augment each other, similar to the way harmony works in music. This colorful connection between the phrases is the quality that grabs the attention of the viewer and maintains our focus until the resolution!

KUDOS to Kate for creating movement that actually enhances the dancer's technique and devising creative ways to intrigue the eye

"Weightless"...Erika Janunger

Sometimes at SERVINGCHOREO, its what you DON'T do that makes a piece stand out! Let's take a look at "perfect restraint":

MUSICALITY: So much of this piece depends on letting the music inform the pace and organic growth of the action. Too many young choreographers are quick to blow their best "tricks" straight out of the gate, in a naive attempt to impress the viewer. However, the more experienced choreographer knows that surprise elements must be revealed in a way that is natural and slips into the viewer like smoke. The movement is fairly freeform, but its obvious that the dancers were deeply informed by the mood and tone of the track.

DANCER SYNC: Sometimes the most effective choreographic choice is seemingly the simplest, notice how the choreographer just asked the dancer to push her chest forward (1:33-1:39 minutes) with full commitment to the illusion...pure magic was created. Imagine a less experienced choreographer who probably would have had her do a front flip on to the wall...restraint achieves so much more!

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Going back to the idea of perfect restraint...Erika knows how to play her audience! She could have easily thrown out the best visual elements right off the bat...but instead, she reveals the secret little by little. We don't actually see the full effect of the illusion until 4:11...this takes a lot of guts and self-control. However, for the audience, the tension builds slowly and methodically, and we slowly absorb the clues and hints. Consequently, by the time we see the entire picture of her vision, we are prepped and satisfied with the conclusion!

KUDOS to Erika for using restraint and maturity in developing an idea, piece by piece, bit by bit...and not getting side-tracked by the novelty of the plot twist.

"Stilhed"...Dana Foglia

Dana Foglia is a trendsetting choreographer in NYC...combining contemporary dance with hip hop and street jazz. She worked with Beyonce extensively, and brings a mature, mysterious sensuality to her work:

MUSICALITY: Although there is a fair bit of camera editing, it is still very apparent that the music interplays with the choreography intimately. Whether this was choreographed this way from the beginning, or synced in post-production, is irrelevant, since this was created as a video performance piece. In any case, the symbiosis between music and choreo is tight and defined.

DANCER SYNC: For dancers who are versatile in various styles, Dana's work is challenging as it is fulfilling. How often do you get to channel Mr Wiggle's Wiggle Walk (2:52 minutes) and then go into a full modern contraction? Also, floor work has the tendancy to be clunky and cliched, but Dana found creative solutions to move her dancers on low levels.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Between the visually arresting costume choice, quick camera frame changes, video in reverse trickery, and the jerky, focus/unfocus cinematography style...this piece was specifically engineered to grab the viewer and hypnotize them! From the moment it begins, the audience is asking questions, "who or what are these girls?" "what do they want?" "what will the resolution be?" etc...and this continues all the way to the end.

KUDOS to Dana for fusing styles and creating something entirely cryptic and mesmerizing!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"Everybody Nose"...Tony Testa & Jillian Meyers

So, this short little video exemplifies many of the qualities that we look for at SERVINGCHOREO! Let's break down the elements:

MUSICALITY: As you can see, the dancers are literally reacting and responding to the musical cues in the track, nothing is forced or artificial, it flows with a natural, organic rhythm.

DANCER SYNC: The choreography fits the dancer's body and frame like a tailored suit, the dancers never look like they are "fighting" the movement.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Notice how the syncopation and rhythmic elements compel the viewer to continue watching all the way through, nice use of multiple levels and playing within the frontal plane!

KUDOS to Tony and Jillian for creating a cohesive work of art within the hip hop vernacular!! Dance is more than a bead string of sequential movements, it is an artistic statement. Working in the hip hop genre, Tony and Jillian are pure artists making an expressive statement...something that all young hip hop choreographers should aspire to.