Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why is Dance Film Night important?

We invest so much time in the studio that sometimes we can forget the end goal. Watching completed works is a reminder of why sweating away in a technique class has value. It’s the inspiration to push forward and create your own art.

Dance Film Night is our bi-annual examination of dance on screen. On Thursday, October 9, Julie Nathanielsz will lead a viewing and discussion that includes several choreographers as well as visual artists.

One of the works to be discussed: Oliver Herring's Nathan (Hotel Room)

This film night is exploring the relationship between the camera and the movement. It’s the intersection of technology, movement, and even some visual art. Feed your brain to inspire your body and come learn about some amazing choreographers.

“Dance Film Night is about giving students access to work 
we wouldn't be able to see in our community. It’s the opportunity 
to broaden the scope of what we call dance.”

- Darla Johnson

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All about Mind Body Motion

Current and past members of MBM

What's MBM?
Mind Body Motion is ACC’s Student Dance Company. We were formed during Spring '14 and held our first audition at the end of that spring semester. We’re not limited to dance majors and we love all skill levels. Reflecting the ACC Dance Department’s open door policy, we are open to all ACC students!

What’s the audition going to be like?
Basically, one fun dance class! We’ll have a warm-up, a modern combination, and a guided improvisation. This is our chance to see what you move like, how you respond to instructions, and how passionate you are about dance. Wear formfitting clothing and show up a little early to fill out the student information sheet. The audition will be held Thursday, September 4th, from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Rio Grande Dance Studio, room 130.  

In rehearsal for the Summer Informance

What kind of projects does the company undertake?
Anything you can dream up! The officers in the company are here to help you create the projects you want to see. In the past, we’ve choreographed for the ACC Dance Department’s Summer Informance and presented improvisations at the WEST Austin Studio Tour at the Rio Grande Campus.

At the WEST Austin Studio Tour

What is the company working on now?
Besides recruiting people for the audition?! We do have a concert performance coming up on October 17th at the Belmont. We’ve been selected by RAWartists, an organization that helps artists meet other local artists and gain exposure, to perform in their Axis Showcase. Tickets can be purchased here.  It is a 21 and up venue.

If you have any questions or want more information about the audition, don’t hesitate to contact Sarah at

See you at the audition this Thursday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

8 Classes You Don't Want to Miss this Fall

1. What does it take to create your own choreography? Find out in Introduction to Dance Composition with Catherine Solaas. The class meets on T/Th from 11-12:50. You’ll get the chance to make your own work and you’ll get to dance in other student’s work as well.

Student in rehearsal for a student piece

2. Ready to take your choreography to the next level? Join Darla Johnson’s Dance Composition on T/Th from 3:30-5:50. Learn techniques that challenge your creative process and inspire you to try new things. At the end of the semester, show off your work on the Mainstage at Rio Grande!

3. If you miss performing, or maybe you want to try it out for the first time, sign up for one of the great Dance Performance Workshop classes. Darla Johnson teaches M/W from 4:50-7:05 and Catherine Solaas teaches from 2:10-4:30 on M/W. The class is structured like a dance company: you’ll work with the “artistic director” (your teacher) to create a piece of art that you’ll perform for a live audience!

Faculty work on the big stage

4. Ballet I with Kathy Dunn Hamrick is one of the best ways to get dancing again or start for the very first time! She’ll be teaching on T/Th from 3-4:20 at the beautiful Synergy Dance Studio on Bee Cave Road. Learn the basics or use it as a refresher course – either way you don’t want to miss this fun class!

5. Tights and leotards not your thing? How about sweats and tshirts? Try out Modern I on T/Th from 6-8:20. One of the best classes for getting in shape and a must take for any serious dancer. Learn technique you’ll use for the rest of your life or just have a blast showing off your fancy new shoulder rolls to your friends.

Jumping around in Modern class

6. Looking for an upbeat lunch hour gig? Roxanne Gage is teaching a wonderful Jazz Dance I on T/Th from 11-12:20 at the Synergy Dance Studio on Bee Cave Road. Rock out on your lunch break – no experience necessary to have fun!

7. How about a morning workout? Roxanne Gage has Jazz Dance II on T/Th from 9:00-10:20. Start your mornings off with a bang and keep the energy going all day!

8. Or maybe you’re just looking for one big dance party – one word, improvisation. Catherine Solaas will be leading Dance Improvisation I on T/Th from 1-3:20 and Darla Johnson will be leading the Dance Improvisation II class on M/W from 7:15-8:35. Improv is unlike anything you’ve done before and it will be all you want to do after you try it!

We love a little outdoor improv!

You only have 8 days left to register! Registration closes on August 20th and the payment deadline is also August 20th at 5pm. Don’t forget to pay or you will be dropped from your classes!!

Check out the complete schedule here 
Check out Registration Info here 

All dance classes are held at the Rio Grande Studio (Room 130) unless otherwise specified.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Another Sneak Peak at the Summer Informance

The ACC studio was busy with MBM company rehearsals today! From 8 AM until the campus closed, your student dance company was working hard for the show. Don’t miss out on this free show on Wednesday, July 2nd, at 7 PM the Rio Grande Campus Mainstage.

One of the pieces being presented is from Anne Wharton, the author of this blog and ACC dance graduate: I started out with a simple concept; restrictions in life. I thought a lot about social concepts and self perceptions. These perspectives lend themselves to expectations and, good or bad, these expectations shape how we live by influencing what we think we’re capable of or what we think we’re allowed to do. In a lot of cases, I find these influences to be negative. There are a lot of social ideas about how women should or shouldn’t behave; what jobs we’re suited for or not suited for, what kind of relationships we should or shouldn’t have. And as dancers, there are a lot of physical boundaries that always seem out of reach because we perceive ourselves incapable of accomplishing such a feat.

Maegan Stelfox in Rehearsal

The movement began to evolve from a costume prop: bamboo silk rope. We started experimenting with traditional rope ties from Japanese culture and through improvisation, began to set movement. The ropes became a symbol of emotional patterns that hold us back from pursuing dreams, or relationships, or even self-improvements. As the dance developed, I realized these emotional limitations can create isolation but also community in our lives. These metaphorical ropes bring self-doubt and weaken our confidence and yet give us a common ground to bond over and find support for our struggles.

Alyssa CaƱas in Rehearsal

The ropes were provided in part by the sponsorship of Matthew Daude-Laurents, who designed the patterns for the dancers, from Thought Experience – a philosophical consultation service.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Informance

Next Wednesday, July 2nd, is the Dance Department’s annual Summer Informance. The show is on the Mainstage at the Rio Grande Campus at 7PM and it’s free! The performance features works from ACC faculty Darla Johnson, professional dancer and choreographer Roman Morgan, Texas State dance major Amanda Forsyth, ACC dance grad Anne Wharton, and ACC dance major Heather Moran. It will also be the first concert debut for the new Austin Community College Student Dance Company, Mind Body Motion.

Heather Moran in rehearsal

One of the reasons the student dance company was founded was to provide students with additional choreography and performance experience. As the Vice President of Mind Body Motion, Heather Moran is getting her first taste of choreographing outside of a class. “I questioned everything I did in the beginning. It was really difficult not having the security of someone I could go to with questions. I think the hardest thing was not having the class space to just improv and come up with new movement with classmates,” said Heather.  

Nico Locke and Joel  Davila in rehearsal

She tried a new process with her dancers and experimented with personal writing for the inspiration of movement. “It worked really well. The dancers were really open to the idea of writing and it pushed some dancers outside of their box. They created some beautiful movement and a lot of movement – way more than I expected,” said Heather.

Megan Thomas in  rehearsal

The dancers’ writings revolved around faith – the concept for Heather’s piece. “I tried to originally get away from the concept of faith, but I just kept coming back to it. It’s where I am now and I needed to get it out,” said Heather. Her work has wonderful moments with duets and solos; the solos being inspired by the dancers’ writings. “It’s incredible to see all these dancers, coming from different backgrounds with different descriptions of faith, connecting over something as simple but complex as faith,” said Heather about her dancers.

Taylor Pierce and Elisa Garcia  in rehearsal

Heather’s piece will be one of seven new works presented in the Summer Informance at the Rio Grande Campus at 7pm on Wednesday, July 2nd. Invite all your friends and family!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Looking for something to do this summer?

There are still a few spots open for summer classes at ACC:

Improv with Darla!
DANC 2245, Dance Improvisation I, is the perfect start for the summer. Offered May 27 – July 2, you get to dance 3 hours a day 4 days a week. You'll work though exercises taken from Pilates, yoga, and Feldenkrais for conditioning and strengthening,  but the best part of the class is learning to move freely and without judgment from yourself and others. It’s one big living room dance party!

Just a little improv outdoors

Be part of a show!
DANC 1251, Dance Performance Workshop with Darla Johnson, is an intense 6 week class that turns 12 classmates into 12 company members. The classes are run like rehearsals, and everyone brings a part of who they are into the choreography. The faculty work created from this class is showcased in the Summer Informance on the Mainstage at Rio Grande.

Faculty work from the Spring Showcase

Find out what dance is all about!
DANC 2303, History and Appreciation of Dance with Jose Bustamante, makes you step back from the studio and learn about the greats in dance that still influence your movement to this day. Share this class with friends and non-dancers too! Everyone needs a Visual and Performing Arts credit and this is a great way to get it.

Brush up on your technique!
DANC 1141, Ballet I, and DANC 1142, Ballet 2, are both great classes to get your pointing and pirouetting again or for the first time! Kathy Dunn Hamrick teaches ballet for all levels so no excuses like “I haven’t danced in ages” or “I don’t have turnout.”

Try out a Modern class!

If ballet isn’t your thing, come to DANC 1245, Modern Dance I with Catherine Solaas. Catherine will have you rolling across the floor in no time. This is a great class in the second half of summer, July 7 – August 12. When you get tired of being a coach potato, end your summer with a burst of energy!

From the Spring Showcase

You have until tomorrow, Wednesday the 21st, at 5 PM to sign up for these awesome classes. For those of you already registered, make sure your tuition payment is in by 5 PM tomorrow so you don't get dropped.

For the Summer 2014 dance schedule click here

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mind Body Motion at WEST

Last weekend marked the first performance by the ACC Student Dance Company, Mind Body Motion, at the WEST Austin Studio Tour. Directed by Hien Nguyen, five Mind Body Motion company members took to the lawn in front of building 3000 for some fun improvisation. If you missed last weekend, you still have three great showings coming up this weekend, Saturday May 17th and Sunday May 18th.

This Saturday at 5:00pm in front of building 3000 on the Rio Grande Campus, Nori Hubert will be collaborating with Mind Body Motion to present a spoken word improv. Nori is a Creative Writing graduate from ACC as well as a published author in ACC’s literary magazine, the Rio Review. Hien will also be directing this performance.

Hien on the right and Nori on the left

Nori will be reading a collection of two poems dedicated to her grandfather. "The inspiration [for the poems] came from having a religious family but not being religious myself. My grandfather was a minister and didn't really get to know me. This is for him," said Nori.

Dancers during last weekend's improv

There are several approaches to a spoken word improv. Some dancers prefer a literal interpretation of the narrative, thinking about the story behind the words as they move. Others take the musicality in the language as a landscape to dance against; feeling a flow as they would if they were listening to a true musical score. For Hien, the connection to the flow of the poem is the inspiration behind her movements. 

One of the spaces Sarah will explore in her piece

Sarah Wingfield will also be presenting a work at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Her piece will be directed towards exploring the space and letting movements be inspired by the physical canvas of the site. Her site-specific choreography is largely shaped by the urge to find presence in every space; to hear the stories a man-made structure has to offer. "Someone designed each space you ever go into, and if it wasn't a human it was mother nature; either way it deserves examination, appreciation, and to be remembered," Sarah says.

202 (and 203) is ACC's map number for WEST

All three showings are free and open to the public as a part of the WEST Austin Studio Tour. Come watch some dance, shop around the great local art, and paint a square on our community murals. Hi