Each and every day, I lose myself in the immediacy of the moment, find myself in the joy of the movement. Each and every day, I learn more and more...and, within that new knowledge, realize that I have so much farther to travel.

Shallom Johnson is a contemporary dance artist, visual artist and freelance writer based in Vancouver BC. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Contemporary Dance from Simon Fraser University, and has been active in the Vancouver dance community as a choreographer, performer, and instructor since her graduation in 2004.

Shallom is interested in art in public spaces, site-specific performance, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community involvement. Her street-based artwork, performance and photography examines and documents who gets to make art, where it gets made, and where/how the creative process and product is viewed. In the future, she hopes to explore this theme further via new media and technologies, new methods of creation, collaboration and community engagement.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Intro to Modern Dance: Loie Fuller

One of my responsibilities during my apprenticeship is to co-teach some of the community classes here at the Dance Exchange. On Tuesdays I'm helping Elizabeth and Shula teach Intro to Modern, a class for adults that looks at modern dance through the methods of technique, composition and history. Each week we take our insipration from a different person in the history of modern dance - the class gets an assigned chaper of reading, and our in-class work is structured around that icon's technique, concepts and interests.

So far we have covered Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller. Next week we will be doing Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. This Tuesday, our technical exploration of Loie Fuller was based in the use of momentum and weight. We started with a gentle warmup, then progressed to a couple of simple combinations. The first was a swingy arm combination, feeling the weght of our limbs and their ability to move the body through space. The second was a combination focusing on the lower body, exlopring shifting weight from one foot to the other and finding the undercurve that facilitate a grounded, weighted feeling of being connected through the body to the floor.

We explored these concepts further going across the floor, with low runs leading into a suspension, the leg pulling you back into two slow steps. We found that the most diffuicult part of this exercise was controlling our momentum going into the suspension, and finding the opposition in the back leg to pull us backwards instead of allowing the forward momentum to overpower it. We also played with contrasting "up" and "down" movement qualities, juxtaposing the same long, low runs with quick, light prances.

For the composition exercise, we took all of that movement information (in vocabulary or quality) and added another layer - being inspired by light and fabric. We split everyone into two groups and gave each group a long piece of white fabric to work with. The afternoon sunlight was streaming in through the windows, making a perfect performance space for our creations. Here is what the groups came up with. Simply breathtaking work! I was wishing that I could join in, it looked like a lot of fun. Very inspiring...

Group 1

Group 2

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