Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Class Every Dancer Needs to Take

As dancers, we all understand the need to know anatomy. Our internal knowledge directly translates to external expression. The goal is to reach the audience through movement and we achieve that by being aware of our body; how the different systems interact, how the joints move, how to engage and relax muscles.

But let's face it, dancers aren't great at sitting still. What we need is a class that doesn't tell us how the knee works but a class that guides our movement as we explore the joint; learning from the inside out.

Say hello to Julie Nathanielsz, Austin dancer since 1996, veteran movement instructor and MFA graduate from UT. Julie's anatomy for dancers class is just that - an anatomy class designed for dancers by a dancer! Julie explains, "we will integrate experiential information with anatomical terms and concepts, using text, touch, movement, writing and drawing as routes to learning."

Students in Julie's class explore the spine.

Forget falling asleep in a desk while trying to memorize Latin names for the body. Julie takes anatomy into our world with guided improvisations and hands-on learning. Even if you're not a dancer, this class helps you experience a whole new level of self-awareness. As Julie puts it, "kinesthetic awareness of muscles and joints and the felt sense of our boney, nervous and fluid body allow us to move with more creativity, sensitivity, confidence and safety."

Students in Julie's class discuss the tongue.

Spring registration is already open - don't wait until the last minute, which is January 14 for the procrastinators out there that need a deadline. 

The class meets once a week on Fridays at the Rio Grande Campus from 2:00-4:30 pm. Here's the information for registration: DANC 2325 Anatomy for Dancers, Section 23887.

For more information about registration at ACC, click here

Pictures by Julie Nathanielsz.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Final Show Tonight!

The last showing of the Fall 2014 Choreographers’ Showcase is tonight on the Mainstage at the Rio Grande Campus at 8 pm. Dawn Roberts joins six other students from Dance Composition to present choreography along with Darla Johnson’s Dance Performance Workshop.

Dawn watching her dancers during rehearsal.
Dawn took the show’s theme of home to a darker place with the driving concept of molestation inspiring her work. “Everyone has difference experiences and those experiences control who they are. Molestation is one of the most damaging experiences a kid or a teenager can have,” said Dawn. She wanted to pick a topic that would take the viewer to a specific emotional place; even if the viewer had never personally experienced the scenario presented on stage.

Two of Dawn's dancers in rehearsal

“Everybody thinks they’re alone, but hopefully people will realize they’re not alone in these experiences. Even people with different backgrounds can still understand. It’s that human bonding that helps them get over those experiences; it’s what they need,” explained Dawn.

Her message for the audience is to find that connection with others. “We’re all part of one entity, one living existence. I feel like we push people away but what we really need is human connection.”

Hien on the left and Lindsey in Dawn's rehearsal.

For more information about the show, visit our facebook.

Pictures by Anne Wharton

Friday, December 5, 2014

Show Opens Tonight!

Our showcase is premiering tonight! Join us at 8 pm on the Mainstage at the Rio Grande Campus for an evening of new faculty and student work. Nico Locke will be one of seven students presenting original choreography from the Dance Composition class.

Nico surrounded by two of his dancers.

Nico began by creating movement to fit his initial concept of his dance. “We worked on manipulating the sequences we created in class and I started playing with the technicalities that I’ve been learning in my technique classes [ballet, modern, and jazz]. I also used my own movement to add diversity to my piece,” said Nico.

“I’m a really big fan of leaps and playing with gravity; you could get a sense of that when I first started choreographing the piece, not so much now. There’s still ballet but I also added my own movement quality, especially in the arms, to go with the emotion that I’m portraying in my dance.”

Nico's chorus in rehearsal.

Nico includes a chorus of four dancers with his soloist movements. He was inspired after presenting his solo draft to the class to use a group of dancers to portray the struggle of addiction from his concept. “I pictured a chorus that looks like a Greek play; using them like sirens,” said Nico. The sirens became a metaphor for the different phases of his concept. “I wanted to portray the feelings of misguided happiness, temptation, reflection, and salvation,” said Nico.

Nico’s takeaway for the audience is a message of hope, “We all have demons we have to fight, but you can find your own solution. There’s darkness but you don’t have to live in it.”

One of Nico's dancers in rehearsal.

For more information about the show visit our facebook.

Pictures by Anne Wharton

Monday, December 1, 2014

Show week!

This weekend ACC dancers from Dance Composition and Performance Workshop will take to the Mainstage at the Rio Grande Campus for their annual Fall Choreographers’ Showcase. 

Instead of the traditional format, the showcase this year is constructed around a theme of home. Each piece flows into the next work creating a seamless evening dance concert. The opening number sets the tone for the concert and is choreographed by the current president of the ACC Student Dance Company, Sarah Wingfield.

Sarah clarifying movement for her dancers.

Sarah shared a little about her conceptual ideas and her process during rehearsal this week. 

Where did your concept originate?
Darla had us explore what home was and I ended up writing an essay. It basically concluded that I was trying to find home within myself instead of other people and places. I wanted to take home with me.

ACC dancers rehearsing Sarah's work. 

When did your concept first morph into movement?
Honestly, I don’t really remember when and how; it just solidified and was kinda there one day. I was actually having a bad day and I found myself at Butler Park people watching. I thought why don’t I do this? Use people watching. The piece fell into place then.
Why Butler park?
I couldn’t be in a place with a lot of people like a restaurant. I drove around for awhile and ended up parking my car at Butler. The park has a lot of significance for me because I had my first performance with ACC dance there in Allison Orr’s site-specific class several years ago. It was a really comfortable, cozy, familiar place where my brain was inspired. It was a good place to be anonymous.

ACC dancers rehearsing Sarah's work.

What do you want the audience to take away from your piece, if anything?
I haven’t really thought about it. I guess, compassion; compassion for the worlds of other people. I want them to think about the random person having coffee next to them every once in awhile. Why are they in that specific coffee shop? Why do they prefer Earl Grey to a latte? We all have a little back story.

Sarah’s pedestrian style piece is really summed up in the title: Enigmatic, Gnosienne Sondes. Intrigued? Her piece premieres in the showcase on Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6 on the Mainstage at the Rio Grande Campus. Tickets are available at the door: $5 for students and seniors and $10 for the general public. 

More info here.

Pictures by Anne Wharton

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!

Pictures by Anne Wharton

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.

Pictures by Anne Wharton