So this past weekend, actually including today (I’m still here), I traveled with my comrades to Penn State University to attend the Northeast regional conference of ACDFA. Having never attended one of these conferences before, I didn’t really know what to expect; I wasn’t nervous, but I also wasn’t totally calm and collected either.
We arrived Friday afternoon and took a few hours to explore this new environment, and to officially check in and claim our blue bracelets. The conference had officially started at 8am, and since we arrived in the midst of the first adjudication concert (and we were tired and disinterested), we decided to take a pass on the first showing. Just a few hours later the informal show was to start, and we needed to rest up before our fierceness was attended to.
After watching the first half of the informal performance, I found myself really frustrated with the quality of the work being shown; was this a mediocre version of So You Think You Can Dance? Everything felt really slow and superficial, I was missing the tension and even more importantly, the inspiration. Now, I may be partial, but I felt that our piece (choreographed by Brooklyn) seriously tore some shniz up. First of all, the house music alone was enough to spice up ACDFA’s life, and second of all, Brooklyn choreographed a fabulous piece of art for us to perform. It was magical and fierce, and I was so honored to be a part of it.
Saturday: Decided not to take any classes in the morning thanks to Mr. Oklahoma (cool ballet readings!) but knew that my dancing quota would be filled later that evening when we would perform for adjudication, so I didn’t fret, and completed my readings like a good student.
So we performed our modern piece to music by Joseph Hecto Fiocco, lots of flowing lines, lots of cannons, lots of running and lots of windows. It’s one of those pieces that you need to be really warmed up to do, you need to have time to run it at least twice before you can feel good about anything, and you need to keep your eyes open for everything that’s going on around you. After our performance, everyone walked off stage experiencing a collective feeling of magic and serenity. The piece just kind of happened, and the energy on stage was so alive and present; It was awesome.
We eagerly anticipated the post-performance feedback session, which also happens to be where the “womp womp” moment of the weekend lives. In between the “ummms” and “uhhhh’s” of the adjudicators, the feedback was limited to unsupported and meaningless jargon (unless you were one of the two pieces they happened to laHv).
Yes, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and yes people are allowed to be tired late at night; but when you are being paid to give constructive feedback in an anonymous forum (so as to serve educational purposes) you sure as hell have something to say, and you might as well be awake to say it.
The three adjudicators took turns in a rotation explaining their thoughts on each piece; it usually started with the kind of notes you write down to remind yourself of what you saw (which should spark deeper thoughts when you start speaking out loud), except that it was all spoken out loud, eating about one of the two minutes allotted per person.
The first piece from our school choreographed by Sassy-Dutchess of Japan got fabulous feedback, they couldn’t stop drooling and giggling like little school-girls. Holler. Our Fiocco piece however, was not appreciated to the same extent; arguably, not at all. Rather than observing the piece for what it was, structured, continuous and fabulous, they suggested that we were trained to be obedient dancers;
I think they pictured our rehearsals full of screaming and threatening whip lashings.
Amongst all of the running and spatial patterns (which took hours of rehearsal…), they would have LOVED to see someone fall…more conflict, maybe even a problem child. Fine if you wanted a little more friction, but to not even appreciate what was shown, what the piece actually was, not okay…
…I don’t really know what to say, I also can’t decide what the adjudicators were looking for, some fabulous work was selected for the gala, but also some silver-worthy dances (…by Hall of Fame standards) were selected…annoying…
The gala performs tonight, we’ll see it how it goes.
Sunday: Took a few classes. Still bitter, not ready to move on…
Monday: Ready to move on; with all of that behind us, I taught a hip-hop class at 8:30am this morning. Half expecting just my six friends that I threatened if they didn’t show up, my class had about 30 dancers in attendance. Hopped up on lots of Dayquil and caffeine, I had more energy than a golden retriever puppy; it was so fun. Here’s a little sneak peak on the class I taught. I’m in the red Mario shirt…obviously that’s what I’d wear to teach at a conference…