On May 21, 2010, as the DANY Studios Master Class Series continues, contemporary choreographer Stephen Petronio and dancer Amanda Wells will lead a class that focuses on energetic flow, polyrhythmic initiations,and the fearlessness thorough phrase work that is exemplified in Stephen Petronio Company repertoire. After seeing a clear sense of these three elements in such high energy and vibrant work as MiddleSex Gorge (1990) and Ghostown (2010) at The Joyce in early May, I am certain that this class will be dynamic, expressive, and brimming with vitality.
Earlier in the series, Alberto del Saz, Artistic Director of the Nikolais-Louis Foundation for Dance, taught a Nikolais Technique class. Nikolais’ approach to building and executing movement was fully embodied through aspects of shape, space, time, and motion. To augment the movement being taught during the class, del Saz led interesting discussions about Nikolais’ philosophies and how they relate to a contemporary performer. Caine Keenan, a member of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, a Utah-based company that specializes in Nikolais repertoire, joined us in class. With expert demonstration of Nikolais Technique from Keenan, the class engaged in a movement practice for body and mind.
The Nikolais floor-barre exercises were performed in silence, with the exception of a few rhythmic utterances and movement instructions being called out by del Saz. In this quiet space, students formed hollowed spaces with our torsos, arched our backs against the floor, and focused ourselves. Class continued with an excerpt called Sextet from Niklolais’ work Graph (1984). Mr. del Saz painted a clear picture for students to envision as he explained the rules of the dance. “The stage was literally graphed, and every step was different, each square was a different size. That really challenged the dancer. You had to be able to do the dance and pay attention to the space around you, being careful never to step on a line.”