Accessible Dance Initiative

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Inspired by The Dance Complex’s first ground-level studio space, The Accessible Dance Initiative is joining the landscape of programs, such as  Dance for PD and adaptive dance, being offered to make dance an available activity and means of expression for people with various experiences. The Dance Complex and Mass General Hospital have partnered to make these classes free for all participants and open to those facing many different challenges such as having Parkinson’s Disease or using a wheelchair.

A few of our students have shared their ways of finding out about the program and a number of them involve great efforts on the part of open-minded and encouraging neurologists, such as Doctor Diler Acar at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Others found out about the classes by word of mouth, tagging along with a friend or neighbor, seeking out a community or bringing their own community with them. Bob and Gwen Lintin, who have lived in the Boston Area for most of their lives brought their daughter Heidi, who was visiting from California, with them to the first class they attended. Leaving the studio, Gwen shared with us that her favorite part of the class was the level of comfort she felt while dancing: “You know sometimes I need a chair to lean on, but when we were walking around, I felt like I could hold on to anyone and just lean on them.” Heidi shared her gratitude towards the teachers and The Dance Complex for being a great and welcoming space.

These kinds of conversations, usually happen at the end of each class during the built-in time for sharing stories and experiences, making sure that you get to know people that you hold on to. Sandra Corsetti and Yasmin Byron have both been a part of the first session of Accessible Dance Classes and have come back for more. “After doing it for the first time I started paying more attention to movements that I do around my house on my own, stretching and having fun” — Sandra shared with us.

It is precisely this attention to micro-movements and the great joy that can come from natural movements that interests Sarah Friedman, a dance, choreographer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. Sarah has been working closely and collaborating with Rachel Balaban who has been spearheading Dance for Our Aging Population at Brown University and is a Dance for PD Coordinator for Connecticut and Rhode Island. Sarah and Rachel have been both working hard on raising awareness about the benefits of dance for people with movement challenges in a variety of circles. Medical Students have been co-teaching classes with Rachel and a symposium on Artist and Scientist collaboration has been held at Brown University last spring for the first time. This year Sarah is hoping to share her film explorations and Rachel is hopeful that symposium will help secure funding and support for the program. Rachel shared her enthusiasm about the classes being held at The Dance Complex and the beautiful facilities that make them possible.

Studio 7, a newly renovated ground-level space with views of Central Square and historic stained glass artwork opened its doors to a variety of students. Fatou Carol who has been teaching West African at The Dance Complex for many years and co-teaches the Accessible Dance Class shared that she has always hoped to see a handicap accessible dance studio open and accommodate a more diverse group of dancers.  Last week we welcomed Cindy, Alejandra and Alison, a group of young women in wheel chairs who have contributed so much in terms of movement, joy and support.

The success of the program owes so much to Fatou Carol and Kara who take terms teaching the class and the non-judgmental welcoming environment they create. Students who have come back since last session speak highly of the friendships they’ve developed with each other and teachers as well. Yasmin shared that is was great to “return to class after the break and see two instructors again. We give each other hugs – that feels good, too!”.  

This session of classes will wrap up by the end of the year, but as the community grows we will definitely see more next year. In the meantime, we are working on documenting the class and sharing the video with the larger community to raise awareness and start new conversations. If you know someone who might benefit from the Accessible Dance Classes or would like to learn more, do not hesitate to reach out to Kara Fili at kara@dancecomplex.org We are always inspired by and grateful to all of our students for their curiosity and open minds about the power and possibilities of dance.

Until soon,

Polina

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aMaSSit Mentoring Lab with Peter DiMuro during Class Exploration Week

It is only appropriate that it was Wendy Jehlen’s Movement Exploration class that kicked off the Class Exploration Week here at the Dance Complex. And it was a huge success, bringing in both new and familiar faces to what turned out to be one of the most well attended Movement Exploration classes.

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Another highlight of this week is certainly Peter DiMuro’s aMaSSiT Mentoring Lab that is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct 26th from 8-10. The Dance Complex first introduced the aMaSSiT Mentoring Lab in the fall of 2013, and has since received recognition from dance professionals both locally and nationally, including praise from Dance Magazine. The program features a series of lab sessions that focus on dance making skills and tool building for all dance makers, whether seasoned professionals or those still building their practice, in  all dance genres, ranging from modern to tap to burlesque and everything beyond and in between.  

In this special one night aMaSSiT “preview,” Peter DiMuro will whet our choreographic palettes with an overview of a few tools focused on helping choreographers explore ideas around knowing and un-knowing: how to allow a dialogue between the dance-maker and their ideas.   
 
The session will be reminiscent of the full multi-session course, which includes choreographic tools workshops, facilitated peer discussion and response,  and dialogue with guest artists.  
 
If you have interest in participating in the full course, scheduled to resume in February 2017, this workshop will give you a great idea of what is in store! 
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In the meantime, check the full Class Exploration Week schedule and share with all those who have been wondering what you are up to at the Dance Complex. Tell your friends, families and local baristas about it. At least that’s what I did — and got a free coffee in return!

Happy Exploration,

Until Soon,

Polina

The Dance Complex in the Press

14457284_10154595338388593_757865611552912917_n As many of you know, The Dance Complex turned 25 this September — an occasion that prompted a day of celebration and a revelation of a number of exciting events on the horizon. “25 & Dancing On!”, a newly unveiled anniversary celebration naturally sparked a lot of interest among local press and media outlets, which generously covered the history of the Dance Complex, Executive Director Peter DiMuro’s vision for the Complex and the kind words that the Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern’s had to say about the role that the Dance Complex plays in preserving the local community and “its flavor”.

A story by Natalie Handy in the Cambridge Chronicle beautifully traces the mission of the Dance Complex from its early days under the supervision of Rozann Kraus, to its ambitious plans for the future. It celebrates the success and perseverance of the Dance Complex that is rooted in the “access, openness and being welcoming and non-judgmental”, its past but also “dancing into future”.

Read the full story here: http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/news/20161006/central-squares-dance-complex-celebrates-25-years-in-cambridge and to learn more about the new Accessible Dance Initiative, stay tuned and check the Writing Dance Center Blog later this month.

Until soon,

Polina

Student Spotlight: Cassandre Charles

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Cassandre Charles, Boston native and arts enthusiast, lights up the Dance Complex with her warmth and love of moving. Anyone who knows Cassandre speaks to her loyalty as a student, work-study, and supporter of the Dance Complex.

After her health declined due to an autoimmune disease, Cassandre adopted dancing as a vehicle to recovery. The work study program at the DC allowed Cassandre to return to work and afford ballet classes. Cassandre uses the Dance Complex both as a rehearsal space, and as an opportunity to explore and improve her own technique.

Where at the DC can you find Cassandre?

Among her favorite classes are ballet with Roseann Ridings and Anna Myer, Modern Connections with Jenny Oliver, movement exploration with Wendy Jehlen, Ethno-Haitian with Jean Appolon, and Modern Jazz Blues with Adrienne Hawkins.

In addition to being a dedicated student, Cassandre utilizes the Dance Complex as a rehearsal space.  As a member of Paradise Lost: A Movement Collective, Cassandre fuses her love of dance with storytelling and improvisation. She also uses the studios to choreograph for her own, heels (!!!) dance fitness classes. Most recently, Cassandre organized and led a book drive in the newly-renovated studio 7 to fundraise for Jean Appolon’s Expressions Dance Company. Working at the DC has also familiarized Cassandre with tech production, and now, she applies her knowledge to her work as a stage manager for theater and dance performances.

Cassandre has, for the past three years, embraced every opportunity to grow as a person and artist. What sparks this love of dance? Cassandre says, “I am surrounded by ‘co-workers’ who live to move”. The inspiring students at the DC, paired with the guidance and thoughtfulness of the instructors, motivates Cassandre to take risks in her own movement.

“Here, [Dance Complex patrons] hear about every kind of dance. Our work-studies, patrons and staff have such vast backgrounds–one is bound to be exposed to new movement”.

Charles says that many of her performance opportunities are a result of networking at the DC, where she has met out-of-state teachers, professional dancers, and arts administrators. She premiered a piece at the Dorchester Art Project, entitled “Body, Spirit, Soul” in which she shares her story–a transformation from sickness and immobility to dance. She says, “my dance-family from the Dance Complex are hugely responsible for my motivation”.

We’re so grateful to have Cassandre as part of our DC community–her spirited energy inspires us all!

Until next time,
Augie

Know Your DC History!

 

Did you know that in 1992, The Dance Complex hosted the Mark Morris Dance Group? Mark Morris is a renowned dancer and choreographer known for his unique musicality and vivacious work. He formed his company in 1980, and since then, has created 150 works– 20 of which have been commissioned by ballet companies (markmorrisdancegroup.org).

During his time at The Dance Complex, Morris offered a choreography workshop, while his company members led a repertory workshop.

Check out the program below, courtesy of the Cambridge Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For a the full Dance Complex timeline, visit:

http://www.dancenarratives.org/boston/dancecomplex

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The Festival of Us, You, We & Them

 

June 24th-26th, the Dance Complex presented The Festival of Us, You, We & Them–a dynamic weekend of workshops, performances and free classes that celebrated movement and art-making in greater Boston. The Dance Complex took to the streets of Central Square, where  crowds were drawn to the joyful energy coming from both the outdoor dance tent and the beautiful, newly-opened street-level Studio 7.

Kara Fili, Engagement & Education Manager of the Dance Complex, explained that the initial goal of the festival was to broaden the community’s experience of the arts by creating an event that was both physically and financially accessible.

The enthusiasm of the Dance Complex community throughout the festival encouraged new students to engage with art in a refreshing way. In Carl Alleyne’s New England Lock Shop class, students (as young as 7 years old!) were introduced to basic hip hop vocabulary, while outside on Mass Ave, vivacious tap dancer Valery Marcantonio guided a community audience through rhythmic exercises. Later in the day,  belly dancers took the stage while True Story Theater entertained festival participants with spontaneous, improvisational performances in the lobby, and Brayton Dance navigated the main stairwell as a vehicle for movement. Nearly every nook and cranny of the DC facility offered something different to see and enjoy!

In an effort to promote the wide range of classes at the DC, the festival offered free class passes to new students. Many faculty members agreed that the option gave students the opportunity to explore new dance styles, which, in turn, brought a greater turnout and new energy to their weekly classes.

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Check out what DC faculty had to say:

“I loved the diversity of the group – men, women, of different ages, backgrounds and dance abilities. But everyone was able to learn, and participated 100%. It also felt great to have the room so full of students. I can imagine it would be awesome to have that many on a regular basis!”

A great way to give dancers an opportunity to try something new without the burden of spending their last $13 to do so…I believe that access is important and I’d be happy to do it again.”

“Having more people always amps up the energy and it was really fun to have a full house!”

Looking forward to the DC’s next festival, Summer Sizzle, Fili said, “My hope is that the sense of community, the openness to trying new things, and the support of new forms and people is carried through to any event we have at the Dance Complex”.

The weekend was a true illustration of the warmth and inclusivity of the Dance Complex community. Thank you to all who made The Festival of Us, You, We & Them such a success!

Until next time,

Augie