I’m currently a teaching assistant for our new dancers’ modern technique class; most of the students are freshman, and a giant handful of them come from studio-based backgrounds…like me…
I recently sat in (…and painfully facilitated) a few of their mid-semester evaluation conferences (we split the semester in half, so each section of modern technique has two teachers/semester…so technically, this is quarter semester, but who’s really paying attention…), where we discussed both their strengths and weaknesses…in a very candid way.
There was something about those meetings that really struck a chord with me; these students, mostly all new to dance in higher education, were in that confusing period of phasing out of what they’ve known for years at their studios, and into this world of postmodern dance through Bartenieff fundamentals and release technique…a phasing period I know all too well.
I’ll justify the following analogy with a little open disclosure: I’ve recently (re)binged on the Twilight Saga…at home, in theaters, even paperback form…I’m not sorry…
That being said…the transition period between competition-studio dance (where technique class is code for “competition choreography”, and where your sole goal is to make it on Hall of Fame’s website so that people can jack your style for next season) into modern dance at the university level (where you finally learn how to plie efficiently…F-off external rotators, my knees were working just fine…) is a lot like phasing for werewolves. (I said it.)
You’re not really sure why life has to change all of a sudden, especially when you were doing just fine, but all of a sudden EVERYTHING has changed.
You start to realize that dance, that thing you’ve done for years every day after school for fun (!!!), was a lot harder and smarter than you ever imagined—and there are days when you worry it may even be smarter than you…
Amidst the self-doubt and various degrees of resentment and resistance, a flicker of hope shows its face when you least expect it. As a new werewolf (I mean, modern dancer…) you start to realize what your current patterns of movement are and how they either support or oppose this new information; there’s no set timeline, but eventually you begin to make adjustments that fit your body’s needs. Before you know it, you’re alpha, teaching a modern technique class to other dance majors, claiming that your understanding of release technique is enough to feed theirs.
That shit cray.
Even after you’ve settled into this new way of life, self-discovery becomes your new BFF…or maybe sometimes, that person you actually can’t stand who never seems to go away. A lot of that transition requires you to go back to the basics, and realize that technique class isn’t a performance; it’s your lab to experiment and make crazy shit that may blow up in your face and everyone else’s around you. That’s okay.
You’ve claimed to have been making art your entire life, and don’t get me wrong, you have! Think of studio-dance as shading with crayons, whereas dance in the university is finally outlining those pictures in marker; it’s all the same picture (at least that’s what I’m arguing).
I encourage you to join our pack…we really are nice people.