Stage Write: Intro to Modern Dance

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Hi! My name is Carrie Adams, and I’m a freshman here at Brown. On my column, Stage Write, I will be filling you in about all the drama at Brown (no, not who sat with whom at the Ratty, but actual glorious theater!). Each week I’ll be highlighting different theatre groups on campus and shows that are being performed. All of Brown’s a stage!

Hey guys! Well, this is the last week of my first semester as a college student. It’s bittersweet. I’ve gotta say, I probably won’t miss the embarrassing moments when I tried to go in and out of the wrong doors at the library or struggled to say Smith Buanononanaonaoanoanao before learning to call the building simply “Smitty B.” I am officially no longer a newbie at good ol’ Brown University, but there are definitely things I will miss about this semester. One of these things is my first class in the TAPS (Theatre Arts and Performance Studies) department, Intro to Modern Dance. There was (thankfully) no previous experience required for this mandatory pass-fail class, which met four times a week from 1-2:20 all semester long. I LOVED this class. Sure, it was hard to drag myself out of bed at 12:55 (don’t judge, I’m nocturnal and always went back to bed after my 9am) to get to class, and changing into leggings and a t-shirt midday really interrupted my daily sartorial efforts. However, I would not give up the opportunity to take this class, which was taught by Julie Strandberg and Michelle Bach-Coulibaly.

Julie is the founding director of dance at Brown and was in charge of us on Mondays and Wednesdays. Julie’s classes were technique classes–We learned about the technical stuff you need for dance (like arms, jumps, leaps, and relevés). We started with the basics and continued to build on our skills throughout the semester, and I really felt myself improve all semester long. Julie’s class was very structured, so I generally knew what to expect and what wewere learning. Plus I totally got abs in her class. Dance is a workout!

Michelle’s classes (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) were more about the ideas of modern dance and the emotional connections we make to dance. We spent time in her class doing contact improv, learning some combinations, experimenting with our eyes closed, and really letting loose of our inhibitions to become more connected with our bodies. I literally NEVER knew what to expect in Michelle’s class, which I loved!

In addition to coming to class every day, we were expected to attend Brown’s Family Weekend Dance Concert, the Fall Dance Show, and one outside show and write reviews for all three. We also watched three in-class films we were expected to write reflections on, and we kept a dance journal throughout the semester. We had visiting instructors throughout the class who taught us different styles and techniques, and we developed our own mid-year and final performances. Our mid-year performances were on-site, and groups danced in stairwells, the greenhouse, Faunce, and even the shelves of the Rock. These dances were performed without music, which allowed the atmosphere to really shape the performances. Our final performances could be site-specific, but everybody chose to perform inside Ashamu, where classes met all year and the Fall and Family Weekend shows took place. We had several in-class days to prepare our final dance and performances lasted about six minutes. For these dances we got to use music, and people chose classical music, Florence + the Machine, and even Disney music for their performances.

I seriously loved this class and became close with the forty people in it. I’m not sure exactly what my schedule will look like next semester (I do know I’m taking an acting class!), but I would really like to take Intermediate Modern if I can fit it in! Have an awesome winter break everyone, and I will see you next semester!

Questions? Comments? Want to Skype and practice monologues together? Not sure if that last one is actually possible, but for the other two, feel free to email me at Carrie_Adams@Brown.edu!

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