I just got back from Lagos, Nigeria where I had a residency to teach and perform at the Society of Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN). During my stay, I taught two master classes at the studio, worked with four SPAN dancers on flag dancing and performed a solo at the Lebanese Women’s Society gala.
SPAN was founded by Sarah Boulos who is a passionate dance fan and advocate for the arts. Right now the physical complex consists of two small dance studios occupying the former offices of a real estate developer. But Sarah has ambitious plans to expand the center into a complex including an amphitheater, studios, classrooms, dormitories, a cafeteria, gardens and a library. The students take classes in hip-hop, Latin, contemporary (African) dance, jazz and ballet (Russian style, with a former Vaganova Academy teacher). They have little or no exposure to “modern” dance. It’s a special experience to teach people who are so eager to learn what you have to offer and who have no pre-conception about what you’re going to do.
My master classes incorporated the use of fabric, derived from my Loie Fuller-style work. The concept behind the fabric work is about tuning into energetic forces. Simply by standing, you displace air. When you move, you cause rippling currents to emanate from your body. A silk scarf can make these swirling vortices visible. By seeing and becoming aware of such forces, you can begin to control the impact you have in the space, literally. The dancers took to the fabric immediately and improvised with fluid invention. Slim, a tall lanky fellow, moved in an especially captivating way with his scarf, drawing on his training in capoeira.
Above are some photos from the classes. More thoughts to follow.