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The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance

Alumni Profile

Mary Ann Kellogg (BFA 75)

What brought you to CalArts?

I was studying at the Atlanta Ballet and my teacher was Carl Radclift who was a partner of Bella Lewitsky in Lester Horton’s Company, he also danced with Jack Cole. Bella was doing a workshop and this was in 1970 I believe at Florida State with her company who’s members were Gary Bates, Fred Strickler, Rebecca Bobile, Leslie Brown, Sean Greene, Iris Pell they were all there. The workshop was three weeks long and I just really sparked with Bella. And Bella sparked with me and she invited me to CalArts, which was the first year it moved to Valencia. But my father said NO! you are not going to that fly by night school that just opened, forget it! So I stay at the Atlanta Ballet and in the spring my father said: you really need to go to school! So I go to the University of Utah for one quarter, and I did not like being there because there was not enough dancing.
Then I meet Bella again at Eastern Michigan University doing another workshop with the full company and again she invited me to come to CalArts and writes a letter to my parents telling them of my talent and so they relinquished and allowed me to go to CalArts.

So in the fall of 1972, I arrive at CalArts with Donald McKayle on faculty, Bella Lewitsky and the entire company is there in residence, Mia Slavenska was teaching ballet and Bella invited me to be an apprentice with the company. I am in school from 9 to 6 everyday taking ballet, modern, improvisation, composition, rehearsing and being other student works and then I rehearse with the company from 6 until 10 at night. So one of the first things that happens is Bella is going out on the road. As part of their work in the Institute, the faculty was required to produce work as working artist. They still had to show work, write, compose, make films all that! So Bella goes out on the road and she leaves me at CalArts. So I continue at CalArts and I meet Susan Rose and a lot of the graduate students that were working at that time. And I start dancing with them and I am really enjoying being a part of the School of Dance and the Institute as a whole. At that time there were only 600 students in the Institute and you were able to attend other classes in the Institute. One class I took was an art class taught by Mimi Shapiro and John Baldesarri is in the class. This is the time when the feminist movement is starting to take hold with Tina Metsker teaching classes, and a big influx of women like Judy Chicago, Yvonne Rainer, and Simone Forte coming to campus. At the time there was a lot of support by the government for arts education and artist and a lot of traveling artist were coming through LA and CalArts. It was a time when the faculty were not the only teachers, the Institute brought in artist like Manuel Lume, and these artist would not only speak or teach but set repertory as well. This happened every semester, which you could audition for and get cast in. There was also a lot of Interdisciplinary work going on at the Institute. I remember my first year at CalArts I choreographed a play, and so you were always mixing many, many disciplines at that point.

So in my second year Bella took me on her next tour and I was away a whole semester working with the Lewitsky Company. We traveled through Europe performing but we were doing almost the same thing that was happening in the program at CalArts. Because she was the one that was instrumental in developing the program of dance, touring with the company was an extension of the program. 

We would always have technique class, improvisation (there was a lot of lecture demonstrations on that tour, so improvisation was a big part of the lecture demonstration), so improvisation at CalArts was Bella’s style, which became the syllabus of the course. Also we were made to learn other aspects of touring such as lighting, costumes, management; in other words you learned what is was like to run your own company which I think goes back to what Lester Horton taught his dancers in his company. These aspects were a big part of the curriculum of the dance program at CalArts, even stage-manage. So as a member of Bella’s company, we were required to learn all of these elements when we were on the road. And in those days we would drive everywhere; we never flew. We would get the same training as if we were in school but with a smaller group of dancers. But we were only doing Bella’s repertory. We did not get to work with other students who were developing their own choreography or had the opportunity to work with artist-in-residence.

There was a great group of artist in the company but when we returned to campus I told Bella that I wanted to stay in school to have what I felt would be a richer experience for me and being only 19 years old I felt that I needed that experience to a complete dancer.

CalArts changed my life, it opened up a world not just for dance but a world of art and art making. I received a great appreciation and understanding of visual art, music and the beginning of understanding film making, which is now my career.

CalArts at that time was such a wealth of teachers, and it really came down to who was teaching in the Institute that gravitated me to the program. It was very engaging and prolific and you felt like you were challenged every step of the way.

I also met my husband there, so it couldn’t have been better!

During that time was extremely fertile ground for artist like John Baldesarri, Judy Chicago who are now leaders in the art world. So after graduation were you drawn to New York or where did your path lead you?

Well I graduated in three years since I had already had a semester at the University of Utah and I worked with Bella on tour and I had fulfilled all my requirements of choreography, etc; which at that point I was less interested in and more interested in being a dancer.

So for me the training at CalArts was prominent and it enabled me to be the dancer that I wanted to be. It gave me a solid foundation especially in modern dance and the Horton technique in particular. So after graduation my future husband and I moved to Venice, Ca and I connected with a group of dancers (some of which were former Lewitsky dancers) Fred Strickler, Gary Bates and with dancers coming out of UCLA, Melony Snider, Cathy Copper and we form an eclectic. I was only 22 years old at the time and the rest of them were much older and had much more experience especially in choreography. However, I did teach dance and composition in private high schools based on my training at CalArts. When I wasn’t teaching I was working with this eclectic and we worked in a church in downtown LA creating work, rehearsing and teaching and we had some touring at that time.

You know life was a lot cheaper at that time and I think we were paying $150.00 a month rent in Venice for an apartment and we used public transportation to get around. Life was not that expensive and your wages were a lot less. We did not get paid to dance but we wanted to stay in the field and you did whatever you needed to do to stay in your field. My feeling was (and still is) that if you move outside your field you would most likely drift from your profession. So whatever it took, giving workshops, teaching, you did it to stay in the profession.

Then in 1975, I saw the program Dance in America and Twyla Tharp’s work “Sue’s Leg” was on and I knew at that moment that I wanted to dance for her. So in 1979 with the help of Lynn Daly and Fred Strickler, who knew dancers that had worked with Twyla, arrange for Twyla to see me in class with our company and she said that I did fine but she was auditioning more dancers. So I go to San Francisco to watch the company at Zellerbach Hall perform. Twyla was auditioning a girl from San Francisco Ballet and so I took that audition, which lasted for three hours (I was young, 26 at the time and had nothing to loose) but really wanted to dance for Twyla.

After the audition I returned to LA and three weeks later I receive a call from the company and was told they wanted to bring me to New York with no string attached and no guarantee. They wanted to see me work with the company along with seven other female dancers for a week. And then they will see if I am right for the company. So I go to New York and by the end of the week, Twyla invited me to join the company. I moved to New York and danced with Twyla for the next eight years, 52 weeks a year. We did a lot of traveling and she made a ton of dances during that time with a company of only 12 dancers.

The company she started in 1963 was pretty much still intact along with some new dancers like William Whitener, Chris Icheta and Richard Colton and this company stayed together until 1985 when she choreographs “Singin’ in the Rain” on Broadway. We all were a part of the production and we had to sing and tap as part of the production.
Then life changes and I dance with Martha Clarke. However, I do go back to Twyla periodically but I work with Martha Clarke as Assistant Director and as a performer for five years. Then I begin to transition out of dancing and begin to choreograph, and in 1988 I work on my first film as a choreographer. I am still working in the downtown avant-garde scene with David Gordon and I become his assistant director when he is making the transition from dance to theater or a combination of both.

Then in 1992, I leave New York and I am pretty much finished with my dancing career as a performer.
I then move into choreographing for film and television in 1994 and that is what I have been doing every since. At present I am working on the series “Mad Men”.

In 2008, I went back to school at the American Film Institute and directed my first short film. Since then I am still choreographing for film and television but began moving towards directing and my latest film “Abuelo” has done very well and has been selected for several film festivals around the country.
My latest venture is producing, directing and editing a documentary film on the choreographer Jack Cole. So my roots are always back to dance!

Dance is what I know and CalArts is the foundation of all that.

Being at CalArts and being able to take classes in film, music, and visual art gave you a strong foundation to make the move from a career in dancing to a career in film.

Yes, having had the opportunity to take classes in these other métiers gave me not only a foundation but a way to communicate with film makers, visual artist, etc. which has helped me in my career as a dancer and now as a producer and director.

CalArts gave me the tools necessary to branch out into different areas of the arts and use that knowledge to bridge career paths and at the same time keep me directed towards my life long goal of being a dancer and involving dance in projects.

As I mentioned earlier, if you move outside of your field you most likely will drift from your profession. So my advice to any young artist is to find a way to stay engaged with your art practice and let it be the guiding force in your life and your career.

You have recently returned to campus to attend an alumni reunion. Did you see a difference in the students, choreographic work, etc since you were a student?

Yes, the facilities have expanded and there are more students on campus. However, I got the same feeling of experimentation from the students that I was a part of when I attended. CalArts is a great place to be to work on being innovative and experimental with your art practice. As well as be around students from different art forms that can inform you. Being in a small community allows for making close bonds with fellow artist and these friendships can last and endure through your entire career. Graduates from CalArts are indeed very unique and are exploring new ways to move forward with their art making.

The energy, creativity and commitment of the faculty and students is still present and alive today.

Arianne MacBean MFA '99

Arianne McBean is the Artistic Director of The Big Show Co., a dance-theater group based in Los Angeles. The Big Show Co. has been presented in New York at the DIA Center for the Arts and WOW, and in Los Angeles at the Skirball Cultural Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, UCLA's Armand Hammer Museum, Unknown Theater, Highways Performance Space, and REDCAT as part of Studio and The A.W.A.R.D. Show! MacBean has been a Guest Artist at Scripps College and LA Valley College and is a seven-time recipient from the city of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, most recently, as an Artist-In-Residence. She was also recently awarded a CHIME mentorship exchange grant from Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. She holds a BA in Dance from UCLA and a double MFA in Dance and Critical Writing from the California Institute of the Arts. MacBean is currently the Chair of the Dance Department at Oakwood School in North Hollywood, CA.

What brought you to CalArts?

After undergraduate school at UCLA, I lived in New York City doing the whole dance-scene there. I worked in arts administration at Dance Theater Workshop’s National Performance Network, as Meredith Monk’s personal assistant, and of course as a waitress, artist model, and dancer with everyone and everywhere possible. After three years of all this I felt the need to re-focus. I wanted to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and find my voice as a choreographer and writer. I quickly found out there was no other place I could get a Masters degree in my two passions:  dance and writing. CalArts was really the only option for me because of the particular interests I had. I was lucky it was there… and that I was accepted.

How has your CalArts education been relevant to your professional path?

Because I was simultaneously learning how to articulate myself as a dance-maker and writer while I was at CalArts, I walked out prepared and confident that language was on my side. There was (and still is) so much room in the LA dance scene for someone who has ideas to create a reality for themselves. When I left CalArts, I knew I needed a venue to present my work. There were not too many opportunities for emerging choreographers like myself to get their work produced at that time. So, I wrote a grant and began producing the Dance Moving Forward Festival.  For seven years, DMFF became a place for new choreographers in LA to meet each other, exchange ideas, and grow their audiences. Grant writing was easy after all the writing I had to do at CalArts!

Writing also proved to be incredibly important as I applied for teaching jobs around town. I had been teaching through the CalArts CAP program and then I got a job teaching a one-hour a week Hip Hop class at a private school in North Hollywood. I found out they were looking for a person to start a new dance program there and I quickly put together a portfolio, curriculum outline, and educational statement of philosophy. That portfolio, along with the obvious dance teaching techniques I had learned at CalArts landed me the job at Oakwood School, where I am still the Dance Department Chair after 13 years! Who knew? My education at CalArts gave me the tools and guts to go out into the world and make things happen – not to wait for the world to come to me.

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

I would advise new students to take advantage of any opportunity that connects them with working professional artists or with the greater Los Angeles community. There are so many guest artists that come through the school – in every department – and the faculty themselves are doing some important and interesting work outside of the school. Learn how they balance work and art and how they integrate them. Take as many guest artist workshops as you can, and get involved with programs that will help you discover yourself as a performer, collaborator, or even a teacher!

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

One of the most influential collaborations I have ever had was while I was at CalArts. Through a class in the Music Department I was paired with composer, Terry Dame (’98) to develop a project together. At that time I was very interested in examining stereotypical women’s roles in the work place. Terry had been experimenting with making her own instruments with household objects and we soon realized that we could build on these two interests together. For our final project we created Women’s Work, (Its poster still hangs in my office.) Terry built every instrument. There were songs played on type-writers, tuned wine glasses, strummed rubber bands, staplers, and pie plates to name a few. I created dances that utilized reams of paper, clothes lines, and laundry. We eventually brought the piece to New York and performed it at WOW. I still love collaborating with composers, and do so with another CalArts Alumnus, Ivan Johnson (’03). We have been working together now for seven years.  That first partnership with Terry opened my world up to the amazing gifts composers can bring to creating a complete vision for a dance.

How did the School of Dance fulfill your need to forge a career in dance?

The Dance Program at CalArts confirmed that I was doing what I was supposed to do in life. There were difficult times when my work and ideas were questioned. It was hard to hear sometimes. I remember there was one moment when I walked out of my mentor’s office and I thought, “I don’t want to be defensive anymore. I have to turn these critical words into positive changes.” It was a big step in my maturation as an artist. Sometimes people say things to you and all you hear is negativity. But if you pick through the words, you can usually find some nugget that resonates truth to you. Ultimately, you have to make your own truth. Receiving feedback from teachers and mentors is crucial to developing your own set of principles. The Dance Program solidified my thinking about dance and set me off on my own road, ready to articulate it.

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

I was probably in the best dancing shape in my life when I left CalArts. Being at Cal arts for two and a half years was a precious time for me physically. I was lucky to be able to dedicate so much time to honing my dancing skills – to delve deeply into my own body’s capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and peculiarities day after day after day after day! When you are able to make dancing a daily practice like that, you discover things about yourself that you never knew were possible. Now, as a dance teacher, choreographer and mom of two young girls I am able to stay healthy and strong because I know my body’s capabilities so intimately. Doing the daily dance of juggling career, art, family and my own physical training is actually harder than anything I have EVER done. But because I had that time at CalArts to focus on myself – both physically and intellectually, I have the sense of self that I need to manage all of my roles in life.

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

I remember there was one particular composition class where I was being strong-willed and maybe even a tad argumentative. After one particularly sassy remark, my teacher looked at me and said, “Arianne, what planet are you on?” I thought for a minute and said, “Planet Arianne.” He laughed and shook his head and said, “Yes. Definitely. Planet Arianne.” That moment was significant because even in his frustration the teacher acknowledged my voice and reality. But his question was also a warning for me. I needed to be able to back up my attitude with concrete ideas and also, I risked isolating myself if I moved too far away from the status quo. This balance is still important. I still create experimental dance where pushing and questioning expectations is still a big part of my work. However, I always try to make it accessible through the portrayal real human experiences.

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

Everything I know about technical theater came from DK – including that I don’t know how to take out a light bulb. Literally. There was one class when DK asked me to unscrew a light bulb from a unit and the tiny lamp cracked into a million pieces in my hand. Despite that minor catastrophe, I can talk with confidence about Lekos, Fresnels, follow spots and all the rest of it because of my work at CalArts. This knowledge really helped when I was producing the Dance Moving Forward Festivals. I was presenting productions in big theaters like the El Portal in North Hollywood where all their techies are union members and every minute of over time means going over budget. I was not about to let that happen. As a woman producer, knowing the lingo and technical aspects of production was empowering. I felt comfortable moving in and out of the technical world and because of this people had confidence in me as a producer of large-scale productions.

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

As a middle school and high school dance teacher so much of what I do is mentorship-based. I like the fact that I do not teach in a conservatory where all students are expected to turn into professionals – though some do. At my school, I am guiding students towards a life-long love and hopefully deep understanding of dance – both as a technical discipline and as a means for expression. I appreciate the time I got to spend with working artists in their field at CalArts and the personal attention I received in guiding me in my work. I use that as a model for my own teaching.

On the other hand, I feel like I have never stopped being a “mentee.” I have always sought out feedback from peers and professors whose work resonates with me – even after graduating. I was recently awarded a CHIME mentorship grant for professional choreographers. A project of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, the grants and cost-free studio time are given to support an exploration between artists interested in learning from one another. For the next year, local choreographer, Lionel Popkin will mentor me in bringing moment-to-moment integrity to the dance elements in my dance-theater work. It’s such a gift to be supported as a learner – even at age 37!

Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

I work with so many Calartians – it’s crazy to even try to name them but here are a few that I love and cherish in no particular order: Ilaan Egeland, Ivan Johnson, Liz Hoefner, Rande Dorn, Pablo Santiago, Maggie Lee, Kuo Long Kai, Heidi Landgraf, Brad Culver, Yorgos Adamis, Erin Barnes, Brandon LaBelle, Ken Erhlich, Ben McIntosh, Sarah Wass, Iris Anderson, Hassan Christopher, Kathy Foley, Alyson Boell, Alexander Marchand, and so many more!!!!!

 

About this Artist:

Current position in occupation.

Chair, Dance Department, Oakwood School

Artistic Director, The Big Show Co.

Any other degrees or certifications that you have earned?

Certified Personal Trainer

Links:

www.dancemovingforward.com

Upcoming Performances, Workshops or Exhibitions:

We Can't Get There From Here
Choreography by Arianne MacBean

The A.W.A.R.D. Show!
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater)
January 13–16, 2011 at 8:30 pm
631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA
Tickets: $18
REDCAT Box Office: 213-237-2800 or visit redcat.org
We Can't Get There From Here is a dance-theater duet for a man and a woman. It is about the longing for, and the failure of, action and language to bring mutual understanding. With robust performances by Brad Culver (Poor Dog Group) and Genevieve Carson (Los Angeles Contemporary Dance), the piece explores the relationship between text and movement. It is also a love story.
History about The A.W.A.R.D. Show!: The title of the program comes from an acronym (Artists With Audiences Responding to Dance), and was created in 2005 by choreographer Neta Pulvermacher, producer Marisa König Beatty and Scott Kasen in response to the need for a lab-like space in which dance artists could engage in open dialogue with audiences about their work. The A.W.A.R.D. Show! is now administered by The Joyce Theater (NYC), and it has expanded into a national program with a series in Chicago, Los Angeles, NYC, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

Audiences new to dance often express that they lack an understanding of the art form, and that they do not have the tools to help them through this initial barrier. Often audience members leave a performance without a particular sense of connection. The A.W.A.R.D. Show! aims to overcome this reaction, or lack of reaction, to experimental dance in particular.

The A.W.A.R.D. Show! began with Neta Pulvermacher, who engaged audiences in a preshow conversation about ways to watch dance, and then followed the performance with a moderated discussion between the artists and the audience. This effort to engage deeply and openly with audiences and to foster discussion and critical response remains at the heart of our program.

It was only later, as Neta spoke with a New York funder, Scott Kasen, that the idea of the $10,000 award and audience assisted selection emerged. Would this pot of money empower the audience to invest their attention by turning them into a grant-making panel? If an individual audience member had $10,000 to give to a choreographer, which choreographer would they fund and why?
The Joyce Theater Foundation, in partnership with The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, REDCAT (Los Angeles), Dance Affiliates (Philadelphia), ODC Theater (San Francisco) and On the Boards (Seattle), is pleased to announce the 12 choreographers in each of the six cities who will participate in The A.W.A.R.D Show! 2010–2011. One choreographer from each of these cities will take home a $10,000 award to use toward the creation of a new dance work. The winner will be chosen through a process of performance, moderated discussion and audience voting. Major funding for this program has been provided by The Boeing Company.

Reviews: 

For reviews of Arianne MacBean’s recent work click below:

http://www.dancemovingforward.com/html/said.html

 

Photo Credit:

Headshot photo by Will Taylor

We Can't Get There From Here
To be performed at REDCAT January 13, 2011 as part of The A.W.A.R.D Show!
Performers: Brad Culver & Genevieve Carson
Photo by Leo Garcia at Highways Performance Space

Upside Down photo by Will Taylor

We Can't Get There From Here
To be performed at REDCAT January 13, 2011 as part of The A.W.A.R.D Show!
Performers: Brad Culver & Genevieve Carson
Photo by Dyanne Cano

 

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Anna Brady Nuse BFA '99

Anna Brady Nuse has worked for the past ten years as a choreographer, filmmaker, writer, curator, and arts administrator. Her work in screendance has included directing and choreographing her own short videos through her production company Straight to the Helicopter, as well as producing the cable access television series Move the Frame featuring screendances from across the country and around the world. In August 2006 Nuse traveled to India with a grant from the US Embassy: Cultural Affairs Division, to be an International Resource person at Danzlenz, a seminar on dance film organized by the Kri Foundation in New Delhi. In 2007 Nuse was the Festival Coordinator of the 35th Annual Dance On Camera Festival produced by the Dance Films Association and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In 2008 her paper on curating screendance was presented at the Screendance Conference at the American Dance Festival. Currently she publishes the blog Move the Frame (movetheframe.com) and continues to develop services and programs for dance artists to make and distribute their work in media through Pentacle’s Movement Media Project.

 

Click link below for "Interview with Anna Brady Nuse about CalArts School of Dance":

http://www.vimeo.com/16778654

Current position in occupation

Director, Movement Media
A project of Pentacle DanceWorks, Inc.

Independent dance filmmaker

Director, Straight to the Helicopter, a multimedia production company

 

 

Any other degrees or certifications that you have earned

Graduate Certificate in Media Management, The New School

 

About this Artist:

Links:

Movement Media: http://pentacle.org/movement_media.php

Move the Frame blog: http://movetheframe.com/

Straight to the Helicopter: http://str82heli.wordpress.com/

Upcoming Performances, Workshops or Exhibitions:

Dance Media and Marketing workshop at the American College Dance Festival, Muhlenberg College, PA March 12, 2011

UMove Online Videodance Festival – October 1, 2011 (Live Screening in NYC and online at MovetheFrame.com)

Streaming Video:

Vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/user526063

 

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Cynthia Pepper BFA '84

Cynthia Pepper

CPCollaborations

San Rafael, CA.

Cynthia Pepper was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1961. As a child, she toured with Virginia Tanner’s internationally recognized Children’s Dance Theatre for 10 years performing throughout the United States, including The White House and The Kennedy Center. She performed professionally with The Utah Opera Company, and the dance/theatre companies of Donald Byrd, Loretta Livingston and Bella Lewitzky. From 1985 to 1989, Cynthia worked as a magician’s assistant with Robert C. Pritikin of The Mansion Hotel in San Francisco creating two permanent magic illusions.

Cynthia studied language arts in Denmark as a Rotary International Exchange Student for one year in 1978. In 1984 she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts, and a Masters Degree in the InterArts Program from San Francisco State University in 1991.

Since forming CPCollaborations in 1985 (CPCC) many projects have come forth: teaching and performing in Hong Kong, Spain, Morocco, Hungary, and Denmark. Works by Cynthia have been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Arts Council, Theatre Ballet of San Francisco, Central California Ballet, Dance Outré, The Lawrence Pech Dance Company, The Marin Ballet, and Marin Dance Theatre.

CPCollaborations has received grants from The Marin Community Foundation, The Marin Arts Council, The Zellerbach FamilyFund, Dance Bay Area, The National Endowment for the Arts, Dance Films Association, CITIBANK, Union Bank of California and the Carlisle Pennsylvania Project for Choreography.

Cynthia has produced and directed fashion shows for The Academy of Art, ZOZA and sixteen hair shows for Trevor Sorbie/Redken International hair products. Cynthia choreographed three educational videos for Japan Television for children to learn English through dance. She also choreographed national commercials for Mars Candy, Wachovia Bank, Glaxo Smith Kline, Hilton Hotels and Xanadu Entertainment.

For a combined 24 years Cynthia taught modern dance, and dance composition throughout the Bay Area as a faculty member at The Marin Ballet and Marin Dance Theatre serving as the outreach director for both schools. Two dance in schools programs were created called “Let’s All Dance!” and “Project D. (is for dance)”. In 2008, “Let’s All Dance!” received a $20,000.00 NEA grant. Currently, Project D. serves 2800 children with dance and music for three San Rafael elementary schools funded by The Marin Community Foundation.

CPCC has produced many outreach events including “Invitation to the Dance”, “Dance Reach”, and four “Marin County Festivals of Dance” which brought artists from all over the world to perform free dance concerts for the local community. CPCC created“ FOOTAGE Dance Film Festival” 1n 1997 as the first dance film festival in the West Coast showcasing dance films throughout the world. Her dance films are part of California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) serving as a media database for California performing arts teachers.

Her award winning 50-minute dance collection called FILMS THAT DANCE™ has been distributed worldwide at numerous film and dance festivals. It has also been purchased by Ouat Media/Canada TV. Since the summer of 2000, Cynthia has choreographed 13 plays for the Equity theatre organization, Marin Shakespeare Company. She received a Dean Goodman Critic Circle Award in 2000. Cynthia is a founding partner in Xanadu Entertainment, a dance film production company currently creating dance films for PBS, commercial television and Sesame Street™. 2008, marked the second year with short films in the Mill Valley Children’s Film Festival. Her latest film, CUBE was funded by The Dance Films Association of New York. Cynthia choreographed the Mountain Play “Man of La Mancha” with Melinda Darlington-Bach, directed by James Dunn Spring 2009.
Summer, 2009 was devoted to choreography for The Marin Shakespeare Company 20th Anniversary Season.

What brought you to CalArts?

The wonderful teacher Rebecca Bobele taught a summer workshop in SLC, UT. She died soon after I graduated and it feels like she is still alive.?

How has your CalArts educations been relevant to your professional path?

The most wonderful influence on my life has been the people and the projects and the energy I experienced as a dance student at CAL ARTS. The people are on my mind, the projects are still alive in my creative files, the energy is something I continue to try and re-create with every film, dance, proposal and grant request I conjure up. I still keep in touch with my teachers because they are so talented! Donald Byrd choreographed The Color Purple on B'way, Lesli Linka Glatter directs feature films and television episodics, all the animators up in Marin County have children that are my dance students and friends of my daughters. It is all very cool. The best part is seeing how far they can go with their art.

What advice would you give to our  current or perspective students?

Honor how lucky you are to be at such a magical place. We  didn't have email in my tenure at the school...so keep in  touch BIG TIME with all the cool artists. Send them a card  whenever you do stuff and keep everyone informed. No  matter how small make it sound bigger than it really is!.

How did the School of Dance fulfill your  need to forge a career in dance?

It was already set into my psyche before CalArts...I really  had no choice! I was just born to be part of the dance world.  Thanks to fate I matched it with me.

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

Work, work, work and come early to warm-up helped alot. You meet the musicians that way and your body will appreciate the time to get ready in a slow methodic way. Also, you get to hear all the great gossip that way! Arriving early is such a great thing to do on a film-set, or at the theatre or at a dance class. CalArts made it interesting to be in the space early....!

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

Costumes, lights, camera angles, makeup, timing, high quality standards, backing up everything all were huge lessons for me at school that I implement today....Always hire people that are better than you...usually hire the ones you can't afford! Your final will be superior because of that!

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

My mentor was perfection..he just loved me and whatever I did was cool. I knit him a sweater that didn't fit him. He smiled and blushed because it looked so bad. Every dancer I teach is a mentoring opportunity. My expectatations when they work with me either in a film or a dance show how I feel about guiding them. I am very thorough about being clear about my message. And, yes I try and always have fun...or whats the point of doing anything...well love is a good reason!

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art,  Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and  Theater as well as the Division of Library and  Informational Resources under one roof. As a  student, how did you engage with other members of  the CalArts community and how did it influence your  art making?

I just tried each and every way to bring in artists that I liked from all the other  schools. Sometimes it was groovey other times it was just plain icky! I am a  blabber mouth so I talked, listened and just kept trying to make art a thread to  sew us together!

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

I wish we would have had more. Sometimes I feel like I needed more music training big time. I fake it alot. I focused on art and luckily I got to take classes from the big wigs. You can't have it all...but just try!

Do you continue to work or correspond with any  CalArtians?

Yes! I even talk to the people I didn't really know that well even the ones that didn't like me I keep in touch with because you never know! Actually I like being in touch with the fun people that are hella crazy about doing what they love! The Bay Area  is filled with all types of computer, live-action, clay and CGI animators and I  still think they are by far the coolest, meanest, mega sexiest group.

 Links for this Artist:
 www.cynthiapepper.com

Original Artwork Displayed at:

 Cooper Alley
 Larkspur, CA

 Kismet
 San Anselmo, CA.

 Parsnips Hair Salon
 San Francisco, CA.

 Choreographer of the Mountain Play 2009
 "Man of La Mancha"
  Mill Valley, CA
 www.mountainplay.org

Choreographer 20th Anniversary Season/2009
Marin Shakespeare Company
San Rafael, CA.
www.marinshakespeare.org

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Min Li BFA '07

Min Li was born in China and began study at the Beijing Dance Academy at age 10 for 6 years. In 1999, he joined The National Ballet of China, and after 4 years of dancing with the National Ballet of China, Min was accepted to the BFA program at the California Institute of the Arts. During his study, he was invited by Ohad Naharin to join the Batsheva Ensemble in Israel. In 2007, he went to Europe and was invited by Ed Wuube to join Scapino Ballet Rotterdam in Holland.  Before joining the company, Min came back to CalArts to finish his study and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Upon graduation he returned to Rotterdam and joined the Scarpino Ballet Rotterdam and has been a member of the company since 2007.

What brought you to CalArts?

When I was 20 years old, during my 4th season with National Ballet of China...   One day, YuanYuan Wang     (Choreographer, who graduated from Calarts MFA program) came to make a piece on us. After a rehearsal, we had a small conversation. I told her that I also had Traditional Chinese dance background and would like to try other types of dance too.  She asked me: " Do you ever want to become a modern dancer and choreographer?" I said: " Yes, I would love to  but I don't know if I have enough knowledge for that."  She told me the dean of the School of Dance at Calarts, Cristyne Lawson and Tina Yuan were coming to China to visit Beijing dance academy and if I would like to show them a bit of my Chinese dancing.  So I did and they offered me a scholarship to the program.

How has your CalArts educations been relevant to your professional path?

Being a professional dancer before going to CalArts made me think more clearly what I wanted to learn. CalArts gave me all the possibilities to be creative and productive and that helped me make my own path after I graduated.

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

Be open to this wide artistic landscape, discover what you want to learn and which direction you want to go after school, get as much knowledge as you can before leaving Calarts.... Think you are an aritist, not only a dancer after all.... make your mind creative, trust yourself...

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

I tried to take many classes from other schools, I needed inspiration from all kinds of art forms in order to understand and to develope my own vision of art...  collaboration with students from different schools was the most exciting experience for me, we got to exchange ideas and learn from each other...  

How did the School of  Dance fulfill your need to forge a career in dance?

School of dance offered me not only how to dance  but how to think before you dance......

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

We had modern and ballet classes with different  teachers of different styles every two weeks, and  also guest teachers from different places..... we always had to refresh our body and mind... Great opportunity to prepare ourselves for the different styles we have to jump in after school...

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

I tried to take many classes from other schools, I needed inspiration from all kinds of art forms in order to understand and to develope my own vision of art...  collaboration with students from different schools was the most exciting experience for me, we got to exchange ideas and learn from each other...  

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

Dance history taught me what has been done and what has not; Composition gave me the idea of how to work with the body and the mind at the same time; anatomy protected me from injury...... With all the knowledge I got from different classes, I was able to  create my own vision of dance.

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

At Calarts, we see dance as a whole theater production instead of just a performance itself, that's why we were able to learn lighting design, costume design, stage management, live editing, camera recording, stage crew and I remember we had to build a stage ourselves and be in charge of the whole event.every year for dance ensemble concert, which was tough, but we learned a lot.....

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

I really appreciated the mentorship at Calarts, I needed a mentor to lead me artistically, a mentor I was able to share my thoughts and artistic vision with...  My mentor could support me and at the same time give me the honest feedback, I felt I grew faster with the mentorship at CalArts.

Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

I still keep the contact with many of my friends from Calarts, we share our thoughts. Since I am dancing in Europe now and I am able to see what's going on with art here, meeting new people and getting new ideas... it's very exciting. Hope one day I will be able to collaborate with Calarts students again, would be a wonderful experience for me...

 

Links: www.scapinoballet.nl

 

Streaming Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFYYD5lzCGs

Photo Credits:

Choreography by Marco Goecke

Scapino Ballet Rotterdam

Choreography by Min Li  

Danced by Min Li

Scapino Ballet Rotterdam workshop 2008

Choreography by Min Li for Batsheva Dance Ensemble 2006

Danced by Min Li and Michal Sayfan

Scapino Ballet Rotterdam

Choreographed by Georg Reischl for Scapino Ballet Rotterdam

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Ella Ben-Aharon BFA '03

Israeli born, Ella Ben-Aharon, danced with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company 2.

She moved to California and graduated with a BFA in Dance and Choreography from the California Institute of the Arts, where she choreographed and produced a full evening show “(in)Veiled”.
 
Upon graduation, Ella was invited to create for the Hubbard Street 2 (Chicago) and er video-dance “Im-Possible (2)” was presented at Dance Camera West Festival (Los Angeles) as well as ‘Wigged Production’ on the web.

She carries a Pilates Therapist Certification from Retrofit School of Pilates and a Master Teacher Certificate from PSC – ‘Pilates Sport Center’. Ella headed the PSC – Teacher Training Program and taught private Pilates sessions at the Reebok Sports Club/NY.

Since moving to NYC in 2004, Ella co-curated “Dance Conversations” with Neta Pulvmacher (‘04-’05) and co-founded TEA Dance Company that performed at the FLEA Theater, Merkins Concert Hall, DTW, HERE Arts Center, Joyce Soho and Danspace Project, St. Marks’ Church.

In 2006 Ella established YelleB, a non-profit Contemporary Dance Ensemble, where she combines her vision of the Arts and the Human Body. YelleB performed at Makor of the 92nd St Y, University Settlement, Walpole Town Hall (NH), The Tank, The Ailey Citygroup Theater, The Puffin Foundation (NJ), HomeBase Project and the LABA Festival. Ella was an Artist-in-Residence at Makor and a guest teacher at the University of Florida.

Part A: The Meating, Ella’s first co-creation with new partner Edo Ceder was premiered at the LABA Festival at the 14th Street Y. It has been invited to be performed at eh Goose Route Dance Festival (WV), Dumbo Dance Festival and Wave Rising Series. YelleB taught and choreographed at the World Dance Assembly, University of Wisconsin, the 2009 summer intensive – University of Florida and at the Adaptation Program at the JCC in Manhattan.

Ella and Edo will be presented at the Chelsea Art Museum and their new evening-piece Pericardium will premier at the 2010 season of the Joyce Soho.

What brought you to CalArts?

I first arrived to the US (10 years ago!!!) to designed and teach a dance program at a summer camp in Malibu, CA. A friend mentioned CalArts to me as “really unique Art School.” During a few months of traveling, came the decision to attend school abroad and I started searching for the right place. From the schools I applied and got accepted to CalArts was the most attractive to me for three main reasons:

A – Only an Art school; live in a creative and inspiring environment with like-minded people

B – Small Dance Department; more personal attention

C – Focus on Choreography  

                                                                                                                                       

How has your CalArts educations been relevant to your professional path?

The education I got at CalArts, from technique, to academics, performance, design and collaboration, helped me find my strengths and weaknesses. Through the ongoing practical experiences, I have learned to articulate my intentions and vision, and recognized what is still becoming my own voyage as an artist (There is no perfection… always a progress…) On a less heady note – the 2 main areas I engage in currently; Anatomy (as a Pilates Master Teacher) & Artistic Collaboration (TRIALOGUE – an ongoing collaboration with an Architect and a Video-Artist), have definitely been seeded, watered and sprouted while at school.

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

Take in as much as you can. Even if it feels overwhelming in the moment – you never know when knowledge comes handy… If you already have a sense of direction as for your career (dancer, producer, choreographer, designer…) start utilizing the information you retrieve through those eyes. Creating with the ability to see the bigger picture always leads to a well thought-out and a tighter production.

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

I have engaged in many conversations and interactions with people from other disciplines. I LOVED especially at critical studies – to learn how each person has his so very unique way of approaching the same subject matter; Musicians will pay attention to the rhythm / structure of a text, visual artist will approach it through the images, colors, textures, dancers will relate to the movement, the body and structural spatial arrangements. This observation and exchange had definitely opened my eyes as for different ways and perspectives I can develop towards one subject. It deepens my creative investigation, and allow my work to be more approachable by different types of audience.

During my last semester, I have had the luxury to produce an evening of my own, “(in)Veiled.” The piece was a collaboration with Benoit Beauchamp (Light design), Brian Stearns (Composer), Rachel Eberhard (Costume design), and Dave Cabrera (Video design.) We had a cast of 9 (AMAZING!) dancers and 4 live musicians. Having this experience supported by the faculty gave me a priceless experience of full production that every time I get to produce my own evening I am ever so grateful for! I believe it was a culmination of all the classes, ideas, curiosity, and thirst that developed due to the ongoing presence of art and creativity!

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

Coming from a professional company prior to CalArts, I must say that technique classes were quite a humbling experience. I had a rebellion instinct to begin with (“too early in the morning! – been there done that”) As soon as I started to focus more internally and become interested in Anatomy, the possibilities of the human body, and how to keep it healthy while biting it up J – I took technique not only as craft perfecting discipline (and maintenance) but as an opportunity to explore different ideas while finding my own physique, quality and voice.

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

Without an exception, I find the entire required curriculum to be informative and practical. When I got certified in Pilates, I was pleased to find that my Anatomy Education is very strong. I knew more than other people in the course who have been in the fitness industry for years…

All knowledge and information I got in Dance History, Composition, Tech, Video, and Showings etc. are still an integral part of my thoughts and creative process.

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

One of the most valuable experiences is the technical production requirement. Professionally, it opens doors for many of us to fields of interests and potential future occupation. It allows dancers to learn first hand what goes on behind the scene; how much work is actually being done to manifest each performance. In real life, (i.e out of the safe and nourishing environment of school) time is money – and often you find yourself teching an entire show in 15 minutes. Knowing terminology of stage / lights / sound, arriving prepared with a clear sense of what you want is VERY helpful for the process. Designers and stage managers I work with convey often their appreciation for the clarity of intention and communication while interacting during tech.

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

The knowledge that I had a mentor was always reassuring. I always felt that I have a place to turn to should I needed, and loved to have had someone mentoring and monitoring my process. The benefit of a small department, allowed an open door policy with all faculty members. Since each teacher has an area of specialty and different personality, it was very instrumental in finding the right ear with different feedback during the appropriate times.  

Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

Yes! I have, I am and I most certainly will J

Because of the well-rounded program, CalArts graduates are known for their multiple skills and abilities. Beyond this, there is a unique sense of community and willingness to support each other’s work; as friends, colleagues, dancers, designers etc.


About this Artist:                                            

Links: www.YelleB.org

 

Streaming Video:                                             

http://www.yelleb.org/page.asp?ID=29

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p403pxeY8CM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20LIqqX0Afs&feature=related

 

  ... Patience! Working on a YouTube Page

Reviews / Press:

1. http://77square.com/arts/dance/story_452100

2. http://www.dance-teacher.com/sections/business/128

3. http://www.exploredance.com/article.htm?id=1841

4. http://www.dance-enthusiast.com/features/7/

“The combined talents and experience, painstaking work, deep thoughtfulness, and earnest passion of this bright young company is producing serious art that feels universal, accessible, and expandable…”

 (Starr Siegele, “Attitude: The Dancers’ Magazine”)

Please visit us at: www.YelleB.org

Upcoming Performances, Workshops or  Exhibitions:

 • May, 2009 - premiered “Part A: The Meating” @ The LABA Festival, NYC

 • May, 2009 - Teaching and choreographing at  the World Dance Assembly -  University of Wisconsin

• July 2009 - Teaching a summer program at the University of Florida                                                                          

• July 2009 - Performing at Goose Route Dance Festival, West Virginia

• September 2009 – Performing @ DUMBO Dance Festival, NY

• October 2009 – “Pericardium” (the video) will be presented at the

      Tina B Contemporary Art Festival in Prague, Czech Republic

• October-November 2009 – Performing @ Wave Rising Series, NY

• Invited to create at the Chelsea Art Museum, NYC

• May 2010 – Pericardium, premiere of a new evening piece @ Joyce SoHo, NYC

Photo Cedits:

"(in)Veiled"

Photo by Scott Groller

Dancers: Ryan Anthony Barrios, Norma Fong

CalArts, 2003

 

"Gardens"

Photo by Bruce Macdougall

Dancers: Ryan Anthony Barrios, Robert Lee Dillard, Carmen Nicole Smith, Jenn Weddel, Laurel Lynch, Lynn Huang, Vincent Mcloskey, Ruby Macdougall, Joy Havens.

Danspace Project, St. Mark’s Church – NYC 2006

 
"GoofsA"

Photo by Matthias Neumann

Dancers: Carmen Nicole Smith, Jonathan Fredrickson

MAKOR, NYC, 2007

 
"rooms"

Photo by Adi Shniderman

Dancer: Ella Ben-Aharon

HomeBase Project, Harlem, NY, 2008

"Part A: The Meating"

Photo by Julie Lemberger

Dancers: Ella Ben-Aharon & Edo Ceder

LABA Festival, NY 2009

 Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Jesse Kile BFA '98

Jesse Kile graduated from the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts with a BFA in 1998. She then ran off on Phish tour for the next 6 years, where she developed a nasty rock and roll habit and was known on the scene as the groupie who couldn’t get had. Not satisfied with watching musicians being the only rock stars, Jesse got it in her head to legitimize her groupie antics by founding Groovehoops, a glam rock hoop circus. Groovehoops spent 5 outrageous years touring the US with rock bands like the String Cheese Incident. Sound Tribe Sector Nine, The Brazilian Girls, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. Just to name a few (and because she can’t remember the rest!).

After the grueling Groovehoops schedule tweaked her body as well her mind, Jesse retired from the scene. She now enjoys using her neuroceptors for wholesome pursuits like producing the beautiful film-work by Bec Stupak of Honeygun Labs. As well as being the Dance Mama for boogie genius Malcolm Stuart.

Jesse spent the summer of ’08 acting in Ang Lee’s upcoming feature “Taking Woodstock”. She plays a similar character like the one she used to be when she was on Phish tour. Like the hoop, it all comes back full circle.

 

What brought you to CalArts?

I graduated from Orange County High School of the Arts.  It was a natural progression from there to CalArts. Looking back, it was the only path I could’ve chosen. Most of the faculty at the arts high school were somehow connected to CalArts and they guided me “home” where I belonged.

How has your CalArts educations been relevant to your professional path?

100% of what I have always done professionally comes from my education at CalArts. This sounds like an advertisement, but it’s true. I work in a lot of different realms in NYC artistically and my education qualifies me for that. Whether I’m directing, producing, writing, acting, staging or, of course, dancing, I feel confident in the decisions I make because CalArts geared me up to call the shots.

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

CalArts can feel like a Dionysian paradise, but it’s not. You’re there to work. The party vibe at school can be uber interesting, but other students don’t have to rely on their bodies as much as the dance majors. I guess I’m saying party lightly. Never let it distract you from your art. Also, I can’t stress enough how much the faculty will influence you, so soak it up. They’re like parents, at times what they say may bum you out but in the end, they’re always right.

 

On the set of "Taking Woodstock"

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

I was and am a super collaborator. I learned at CalArts that my real talent is in working with others on their art, making it better and helping them fulfill their vision.

I was really into checking out the music school and seeing what they were up to – and not just because that was where the cute boys were. One of the things I’m so grateful for is that CalArts gave me the ability to work with all kinds of music, with composers, and have actual knowledgeable input. They taught me a lot more than just how to count.

Another thing I was really into was animation. I became a fan of the School of Film/Video. I am now the producer for an amazing filmmaker who is also a motion graphics animator and I know how she does her thing.  It was never foreign for me to work in this medium due to the education I received from being around animators.

I still study Buddhism after taking a Zen and Art classes. So you could say I kinda picked up a religion at school as well.

I was in the CalArts comedy improv group for two years. I was the first non-theater major to join. Christyne Lawson made me audition to help practice getting over an unreasonable fear for auditions. The big surprise was that I got into the group. It was a harrowing two years. I don’t think anything has made me feel more electrified and vomitous at the same time. Comedy improv taught me to put the balls to the wall and go for it. The experience with the group served me well, it gave me the courage to make a complete ass of myself in the hope of turning out some good work. This experience helped me quell my fears and now I enjoy auditions.

 

With Director Ang Lee

How did the School of Dance fulfill your need to forge a career in dance?

CalArts really equips you with the ability to have DIY company and make it first class. I founded a glam rock circus several years ago, called Groovehoops. We started out with no cash and quickly became a cult hit in NYC. The whole thing was totally hippie-rigged and silly. But people loved us and thought we were way fancier than we really were. We produced a light show (thanks DK!!!) and designed and constructed some super rad costumes. We handmade our cirque gear, booked our own shows, made our own website, wrote our own contracts, etc.  We were shameless self-promoters, which I think is something I had picked up at school. There is so much to see at CalArts that you really have to rally people to see your work sometimes. I never felt we needed help achieving success outside of ourselves. Groovehoops was a self-contained entity. Looking back on it now it seemed quite easy. Oh yeah, we were self-taught in our cirque craft as well.

Now I’m the Jiminy Cricket for my favorite dancer/ choreographer/ artist Malcolm Stuart. I help guide him through his career and I try to hand down to him my experience and education from CalArts. He makes me so proud to be able to assist in his development as an artist!

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

The dance faculty ingrained technique so deep into my very being that I no longer have to take class. When I dance I still have all my chops! Though I wish I worked even harder back then so now I’d have even more chops to rest my laurels on!!!

I also left school with the belief that I am capable of creating my own movement technique, which I did with the hoops.

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

I’m a dance history nerd. I totally love all those old school stories. It’s our heritage as dancers. I’m always going back and referring vintage work, like Alwin Nikolai and the Ballet Russes. Those were some far out artists breaking rules. They had a radical outlook. I could daydream about them forever.

I’ve been known to teach a little Pilates here and there (30 hrs a week for 10 years) so the anatomy was really handy.

I’m not a talented choreographer, I learned that in composition class! I am however, a bad-ass rehearsal director. I espeacially love staging work and editing other choreographers work.

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

I am completely at ease with tech crews. I rarely find it a challenge to communicate my needs in production with them. Also, if I’m not lucky enough to have a crew I know how to fake it like I do. I learned how to stage a production top to bottom on a shoestring budget and make it look slick. Again, this was something I learned at CalArts.

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

I am so used to needing a mentor that I keep collecting them. I now have Celia Costas as my production mentor, Michael Hausman as my assistant director mentor, Kathleen Chopin as my acting mentor, and Joshua White as my everything mentor. I’m sooo lucky. It may not be the healthiest thing -but I was very concerned with impressing my mentor at school. Now I’m very concerned with impressing my current mentors, it’s a device I use to kick my own ass into achieving better work than I thought possible. I urge students to continue to source out mentors after school, you never stop needing them.
 
Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

I’m in touch with a bunch of CalArtians. I work with some, and I socialize with some. I continue to have relationships with CalArtians to this day!

Artwork by Bec Stupak, featuring Jesse Kile as the Mushroom Princess far right

Current position in occupation

Producer, Honeygun Labs

Assistant Director, Colorwheel

Any other degrees or certifications that you have earned?

Pilates Certification

 
Links for this Artist:

http://www.honeygunlabs.com/

http://www.colorwheelperformance.com/

http://www.groovehoops.com/videos.html

Streaming Video:

Amanda Lepore,Cotton Candy

Directed by Bec Stupak, Produced by Jesse Kile

Honeygun Labs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54_hTQk9GqM

Barbie's 50th Runway Show

Producer

http://www.barbiemedia.com/?home=1

May 2009

"Taking Woodstock"

A film by Ang Lee

Actress, EarthLight Player

August 14th 2009

Reviews:  

http://www.groovehoops.com/print2.html

 

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

 

Sahar Javedani MFA '02

Sahar Javedani, Artistic Director

Sahar Javedani is originally from San Diego, California by way of Tehran, Iran. Javedani is Artistic Director of compani javedani, a contemporary dance theater ensemble devoted to cultivating an empowered, intelligent and socially responsible community uniting all generations, cultures, races, and religions. Javedani has a Master of Fine Arts in Choreography and Integrated Media from California Institute of the Arts, a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Theater from Hollins University, and was nominated for the 2008-2009 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. compani javedani’s recent performances and collaborations have included the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival “”Dreams of a Caspian Rain,” Abrons Art Center “Maahinen Neito,” Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, Tribeca Performing Arts Center “from Persia, with Measured Love,” Brooklyn Museum “Bazm-o-Razm” with Susan Oetgen and Likeness to Lily, Performance Mix Festival at Joyce Soho “Reparations” with James Scruggs, Triskelion Arts Center, Movement Research at DTW, The Chocolate Factory, Voice and Vision Envision Retreat and Lab at Bard College, Dance Conversations at the Flea Theater, Whitewave Dumbo Dance Festival and Whitewave Wave Rising Series, “In the Valley of Damavand,” Dance New Amsterdam, Empire Fulton Ferry Park, New York Theater Workshop, Fort Greene Park Dance for Peace Festival “Once upon a Time in India,” American Dance Guild’s festival at the Hudson Guild Theater, Dixon Place, The FAR Space, newsteps and Ear to the Ground Series at Mulberry Street Theater, Solar One Dance Festival, and the Chashama Oasis Festival “Story of Devdas and Paro.” Sahar Javedani is currently participating in her second year as an Artist-in-Residence at Tribeca Performing Arts Center and in the 2008-2009 DTW Fresh Tracks Performance and Residency Program and most recently in the 2009-2010 Dance Theater Workshop Studio Series creative residency.


What brought you to CalArts?

I have to thank my dear friend and collaborator of sixteen years Kate Conklin for bringing me to CalArts. She completed both her bachelors and masters degree in music at CalArts and is currently on faculty as director of the Bulgarian Vocal Ensemble.

How has your CalArts education been relevant to your professional path?

As a prospective student for the MFA program, I knew that I wanted to pursue a double concentration in Choreography and Integrated Media. CalArts was a perfect fit, I felt completely embraced by all of the departments including music composition, puppetry, film, and animation. It is through these collaborations that I have developed strong and enduring relationships with fellow artists, a priceless resource of talent indeed!

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

I have a consistent comment that I share with all prospective students that you can have two distinct experiences at CalArts. 1) Stay focused and rooted in your school of choice, perfect your craft, build a powerful repertory/portfolio, etc. and 2) Open your creative heart and embrace the opportunity to diversify your talents in collaborative work with students in other departments.

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

I had the great fortune of collaborating with artists in the various departments at CalArts but most notably in commissioning original music for my MFA 1 Thesis Concert from Kate Conklin and Bryan Landers which included their live performance with guest artist John Bergamo. I studied North Indian Sargam as well as Balinese and Javanese dance. Both years, I worked with fellow artists in the Integrated Media program to develop installations for the annual showcase and collaborated with students in the puppetry program for a thesis performance. I continue to work with composer Bryan Landers, who designed the compani javedani website and commissioned music for a few large-scale performances.

How did the School of Dance fulfill your need to forge a career in dance?

When I came to CalArts, I wasn’t entirely convinced of a future in dance per se, but with a goal to deepen in the areas of performance studies and composition. The MFA program allowed me the freedom to explore various digital modalities and fortify my knowledge of technical theater, design and execution. The unlimited access to desirable resources as rehearsal space, dedicated students/performers, a media lab, etc. all played integral roles in strengthening my voice as a dancetheatermaker.

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

In all honesty, I struggled with technique while pursuing my degree. I don’t believe I was a very good listener in class, and I always wanted to change the dance phrases to make them more meaningful for me, more theatrical, more narrative, I desperately wanted to fall in love with the dance. In retrospect, I believe I tried as hard as I could with the strengths I had at the time. Where I believe I excelled was in composition and in weekly showings where I was able to clearly speak about work in a fiercely honest and critical manner.

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

I believe that I came to CalArts with a very strong background in dance history, anatomy, etc thanks to a wonderful bachelor of arts program at Hollins University. What I quickly realized in pursuing my MFA at CalArts was the imperative requirement for self-discipline and sustained vigor. I spent many evenings locking myself up in the media lab until 4am, editing film, working diligently to hone my vision, how I want the audience to experience that which I have created. This practice has followed me to this day, and yes, cultivating balance in my daily life is a constant challenge and I wouldn’t want it any other way (insert devious and satisfied smile here.)

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

As the daughter of an architect and set designer, raised in musical theater and opera, I came to CalArts with very strong technical skills, which played a great role in communicating with fellow lighting designers and designing costumes for every dance concert presented. The technical education I received at CalArts helped me to clarify in a concise and impactful manner the vision I desired to make manifest with my own work.

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

I believe the strongest mentors I had were in my fellow collaborators and the dancers I worked with, which I believe included nearly the entire first year dance student base. I required unabashed honesty from them and they delivered. I was always very conscious of making their involvement in a project worthwhile.


 

Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

I love this question! You could say I’m one of the strongest advocates of CalArts. Immediately after graduation, I served two years on the CalArts Alumni Board of Directors and continue to sing the praises of CalArts to anyone who will listen. I continue work to with dancers who’ve graduated from the BFA dance program and support the work of my fellow alumnae from the dance, music, theater and film schools.

Current positions in occupation:

Artistic Director : compani javedani

World Music/Dance + Yoga Teaching Artist: Learning thru an Expanded Arts Program, Inc.

Group Exercise Instructor in Bellydance and Athletic Stretch: Reebok Sports Club/NY

Any other degrees or certifications that you have earned?

Master of Fine Arts California Institute of the Arts in Choreography and Integrated Media 2002

Bachelor of Arts Hollins University in Dance and Theater

 About this Artist:

Links:

http://javedani.com/

http://www.myspace.com/saharjavedani

http://www.facebook.com/people/Sahar-Javedani/643748229

http://twitter.com/saharjavedani

http://www.youtube.com/user/saharjavedani


Streaming Video:

http://javedani.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/saharjavedani

Reviews:  

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/arts/dance/27trac.html?_r=1&ref=arts

http://idanznews.com/2009/01/26/and-the-winner-isfresh-tracks-dance-theater-workshop-january-23-2009.aspx#comment-1747212

http://www.offoffoff.com/dance/2009/fresh_tracks_2009.php

http://www.dancespirit.com/articles/1695

Upcoming Performances, Workshops or Exhibitions:  

May 16-17, 2010 Danspace@BRICstudio, Brooklyn, NYC

June 20, 2010 American Dance Guild Performance at the Construction Company

June 14-28, 2010 Guest Artist Voice & Vision Retreat, Bard College

July 23-25, 2010 Solar Powered Dance Series, New York City

 

Photo Credits:

"In the Valley of Damavand" with Angel Vasquez and Megan Sipe

 "In the Valley of Damavand" with Kelley Branch and Megan Sipe

"Dreams of a Caspian Rain" with Angel Vasquez, Makenzi Rasey, and Ruby MacDougall

"in the Middle, somewhat aggravated" with Sahar Javedani

 Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Wanda Gala BFA '05

Wanda Gala is an arts educator and choreographer from the US whose work integrates the somatic perspectives and histories of its participants into the creation and teaching of dance. Her performance works examine the historical and contemporary distortions of individual and cultural ideals, mythologies and fantasies. These," post nuclear family tales" (LA Weekly) occur in theatrical, installation, filmic and site-specific contexts. Individual and collaborative works have been presented in the US and abroad in Poland, Switzerland, Scotland, and Italy. Recent showings include the screening of “Okno (Okna, drzwi, sciany)” at the American Dance Festival and Festival Era Nowy Horyzonty in Wroclaw, Poland. And, The Blue Storm, a site specific work at the North Burial Grounds in Providence, RI: one of Rhode Islands oldest burial grounds dating back to 1700.

Gala has worked with children in public and private schools in the US and has also lead workshops for the past three years at the Thirteenth through Fifteenth International Contemporary Dance Conferences in Bytom, Poland. She has served as an artist in residence (2006-2007) for the Wolf Trap program at the Music Center of Los Angeles and the Beacon Center for Arts (2007-2008) in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BFA in Dance from California Institute of the Arts (2005) and is currently a candidate for a Masters in Ethnochoreology at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.  

What brought you to CalArts?

I found it listed inside of a Performing Arts Handbook as one of  the top ten schools in the country for dance. I was interested in  continuing to live in Los Angeles because I was engaged in the  commercial dance world, but I think most people who know me  would laugh at that reality and its outcome.

What kept you at CalArts?

The continuous inspiration I received from, as well as, the radical  hospitality (charity) of my close friends.

How has your CalArts education been relevant to your  professional path?

My education at Calarts gave me a language for dance: a linguistic  and experiential vocabulary that continually serves me in expressing the forms value. Secondly, yet equally important, it gave me a rhythm, a pace with which to engage the world as an art-maker. This institution gave me a good sense of how much can happen in a day and how I can best go about facilitating that reality for myself.

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

Stick to your guns, if you have a vision follow it through. It is a gift to be a part of a community in which you have the resources to create mindfully. Do something you’ve never done before and don’t stop there. Do it because you can.

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

Studying performance theory, philosophy and anthropology in the School of Critical Studies presented a multiplicity of perspectives within which to interpret the performance act.  These were most influential, next to courses in dance composition, where a whole other intelligence was promoted and actualized. Between these practical and academic discourses came a vision of why I may ‘dance’ in this world today (rather than some other social service) and how to best expand upon that sense.

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

Under the direction of Technical Director DK and Assistant TD Jaime Hunter the lessons I learned within the theatre were invaluable. Having a sensitivity to realistically gauge and communicate your needs to the TD of your host venue not only creates a friendly work environment, but also saves time, money, energy and has insured my mental well being. This aspect of the BFA course in Dance at Calarts has been of great value.

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student?

The dance community at Calarts is tight knit. A personal interaction with each of your professors on, practically, a daily basis is the norm. My impression was that the faculty as a community worked together as my mentor providing me with a solid spectrum of opinions from which to pool and direct my own course of action as an artist.

Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

Yes. I have been collaborating with experimental composer Bob Bellerue (MFA 2003) for the past five years. I continue correspondence with, and keep meeting more, alumnus that share similar addictions to their practical pursuits.  Some of them are engaging in some of the best performance actions out there.

 

Current Occupations:

Independent Choreographer, Movement Consultant, Arts Educator, and Post-Graduate Student

Any other degrees or certifications that you have earned?

Candidate for Masters in Ethnochoreolgy, The University of Limerick 2009

Link for this Artist:

www.crashfall.org

Blog:

www.movementresearch.org/publishing


 

Photo Credits:

Wanda Gala from,” Okna, Drzwi, Sciany” made in collaboration with Kamila Chomicz, in Warsaw, Poland 2006. US premiere, ADF Dance on Camera 2007.

"Lili’I": Performed by Lilia Kibarska. REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA (2006).

"W Ruchu Na Skos": Performed by Brooke Smiley. Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA (2008).

"Dunmore Caves Project": Images from left: Dunmore Caves Ireland, Wanda Gala, Brooklyn, NY (2007).

"Solome ( w/Bob Bellerue)": Performed by Wanda Gala and Bob Bellerue. Galleria Entropia, Wroclaw, Poland (2006).

Activities 2009:

6 March 2009

Student Symposium: Dance Research Forum Ireland

Irish World Academy for Music and Dance, Limerick, Ireland

http://www.danceresearchforumireland.org/

17 – 26 April 2009

IPEDAK 2009 - Intensive Programme in Ethnochoreology and Dance Anthropology                                                      

Norwegian University for Science and Technology                                                                                                    

Trondheim, Norway

http://www.rff-sentret.no

19-22 June 2009

The Society of Dance History Scholars Annual Conference

Stanford and San Francisco, California

http://www.sdhs.org/index.html

28 June- 11 July 2009

Projekty Społeczne  16th Annual Contemporary Dance Conference and Performance Festival

Bytom, Poland

http://15conference.stt.art.pl/

31 July- 8,August 2009

PAF- Performing Arts Forum

St Erme Outre et Ramecourt, France

http://www.pa-f.net

 For short works set on and in collaboration with other performing artists, please visit:
 In NYC: Narcissister, nightly at The Box: http://www.narcissister.com
 

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

Jessica Gaynor MFA '02

Jessica Gaynor holds a BA in American Studies from Brown University and an MFA in Dance from California Institute of the Arts. Since moving to New York in 2003 her work has been performed at Triskelion Arts, Dance Space, Williamsburg Arts Nexus, Jennifer Muller/The Works HATCH series, The Kitchen, Hudson Guild Theater, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, The Merce Cunningham Studio, DancenOw/NYC, The FAR Space, Movement Research and Brown University. Ms. Gaynor is a co-founder of ThisThat Dance Collective, through which she produced two New York dance seasons, and is currently Artistic Director of Jessica Gaynor Dance. She was the repertory guest choreographer at the Fieldston School in 2005, and artist-in-residence at Brown University in 2006. She currently teaches dance at The Brearley School and is the Assistant Director of Alice Teirstein’s Young Dancemakers Company.

What brought you to CalArts?

CalArts was the only place I found where I could truly focus on choreography.

How has your CalArts educations been relevant to your professional path?

CalArts never pushed a particular aesthetic on me. As a choreographer I was encouraged to be an individual, develop my own aesthetic, and take chances in my work. To this day I have continued to explore movement ideas, develop new vocabulary, push beyond my comfort zone, and experiment with new ideas.


 

What advice would you give to our current or perspective students?

Take every class you can and take in as much information as you can. It becomes difficult to fit in dance class, work, and rehearsals in your life outside of school. I never slept through a dance class at CalArts and I think that is one of the best things I did for myself while I was a student.

CalArts is unique in that it houses the Schools of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater as well as the Division of Library and Informational Resources under one roof. As a student, how did you engage with other members of the CalArts community and how did it influence your art making?

I tried to collaborate as much as possible. I really enjoyed the collaborative composer/choreographer class. From there, I met a composer who ended up writing music for my thesis concert. I have since worked with various CalArts composers and musicians in New York, which has enriched my work tremendously. For my thesis concert, I also collaborated with a costume designer, a technical theater major who built a set for my show, and a graphic designer who worked on both the poster and program for my concert. Not every element of the show was successful, but I realized that school was a safe place to experiment, and so I tried to do so in every element of my concert. This idea of collaboration has influenced my work today.

 

How did the School of Dance fulfill your need to forge a career in dance?

Before coming to CalArts I didn’t feel ready to show work in New York. After leaving CalArts, I formed a dance company and began showing work in small festivals in New York City and worked my way up to producing full evenings of work. CalArts gave me the confidence I needed to perform my work in professional venues.

How did the technique classes prepare you for the physical demands of a career in dance?

I never missed a dance class at CalArts. Taking ballet and modern dance everyday both improved my technical abilities and made me understand how important it is to take care of my body through disciplined study. After CalArts I continued to take class on a regular basis, which helped me as a performer and a choreographer.

 

How did the other curricular courses (composition, dance history, anatomy, etc) inform you about the world of dance and how did it prepare you to move forward with your ideas and personal voice?

One of the best courses was the collaborative course between choreographers and composers. Since that class I have worked collaboratively with composers, live musicians, and taped music in an informed way. I am constantly questioning the relationship between music and dance. My favorite class at CalArts was Showings because I learned so much from the open conversation that existed in that forum.

How has the technical production requirements of the program informed the way you communicate about your work?

I was the TA in the theater during my time at CalArts, and I learned a great deal about lights, sound and the technical side of dance as a whole. This knowledge has been so important to my work as a choreographer. I am always prepared when I enter a technical rehearsal. I know what type of lights I want and I have the vocabulary to ask for them.

CalArts has a strong mentoring system for each student. How did you find the guidance and support of your mentor as a student? Have you had the opportunity to mentor young artist in your career?

As an MFA student, I felt like I was able to ask for feedback from many members of the Dance Faculty. I was constantly seeking critique while at school in order to get better at the craft of choreography. I am currently the Artistic Director of my dance company, as well as a full time dance teacher, and Assistant Director of a summer dance company for high school dancers, so I work hard at being a mentor. Similar to my experiences at CalArts, I try to be supportive, open and honest as a mentor to young artists.

Do you continue to work or correspond with any CalArtians?

I currently have three dancers in my company whom I met at CalArts: Sundara Duncan, Blythe Proffitt and Angel Vasquez, and I worked with Katie Diamond, Wan-Chen Chang, Lisa-Marie Elliott and Haley Hauglum in the past. My husband, Quentin Tolimieri, graduated from the Music School at CalArts and I have collaborated with him and many other musicians and composers from CalArts who are now living in New York. There is a large CalArts community in New York and I both work with and correspond with many other CalArtians on a weekly basis.


 

Current positions:

Artistic Director, Jessica Gaynor Dance

Assistant Director, young Dancemakers Company

Dance Teacher, The Brearley School

 

Other degrees or certifications:

BA, Brown University

 Links for this artist:

 www.jessicagaynordance.com

 

Upcoming Performances, Workshops or  Exhibitions:

Gotham Arts Exchange Presents

(x,y,z)
January 5-6, 2011 at 7:30pm

Dance Theater Workshop
219 West 19th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues
Tickets: $20, Members $15
For Tickets Call 212-924-0077 or online at dtw.org

Jessica Gaynor Dance presents an excerpt of our new evening-length piece, titled (x,y,z) which plays with dance as a multi-dimensional form. Through a play of patterns and densities the overarching sense of space both contracts and expands, ranging from cramped, restrictive forms to open, expansive landscapes. The piece examines moments of isolation, juxtaposed with group unity and beyond that, an encroachment of personal space. The evening is shared with choreographers John-Mark Owen and Adam Barruch.

Choreography Jessica Gaynor
Original Music Devin Maxwell
Lighting Design Burke Wilmore
Set Design David Gaynor
Performers Jonathan Ciccarelli, Ashlie Kittleson, Ashley Lindsey, Blythe Proffitt, Jordan Risdon, Julia Sabangan, Angel Vasquez

And due to the overwhelming success of our sold-out November performances at Triskelion Arts, we have been invited back to do an encore performance of (x,y,z) February 12-13 @ 8pm at Triskelion Arts. Save the date!

 March 28, 2009 - DanceNow/NYC RAW Festival  Studio Show at DTW

 April 7, 2009 – 60x60 Dance Festival at  Galapagos Arts Space

Jessica Gaynor Dance returned to Triskelion Arts in the spring of 2011 to revive the evening length work "x,y,z". The company will premier a new work "One" November 17-19, 2011 at Triskelion Arts.

Streaming Video:

http://www.youtube.com/jessicagaynordance

Photo Credits:

Enlarged to Show Texture (2008)

Choreography by Jessica Gaynor

Dancers: Sundara Duncan, Angel Vasquez, Ashlie Kittleson, Blythe Proffitt

Photo by Yaniv Schulman

 

Enlarged to Show Texture (2008)

Choreography by Jessica Gaynor

Dancers: Angel Vasquez, Renee Kurz, Ashlie Kittleson, Blythe Proffitt, Sundara Duncan

Photo by Yaniv Schulman

 

Enlarged to Show Texture (2008)

Choreography by Jessica Gaynor

Dancers: Renee Kurz, Blythe Proffitt, Angel Vasquez, Ashlie Kittleson

Photo by Yaniv Schulman

 

Perched (2006)

Choreography by Jessica Gaynor

Dancers: Sundara Duncan, Katie Diamond, Ashlie Kittlson, Blythe Proffitt

Photo by Maribel Arce

 

Standstill (2007)

Choreography by Jessica Gaynor

Dancers: Renee Kurz, Angel Vasquez, Jin Ju Song

Photo by Maribel Arce

Return to webpage: www.calarts.edu

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