This past year (September – June), I have been a mentor for three students: Coulter Cluett and Lisa Spencer once a week, and Denise Casey once a month. They have developed relationships with other teachers – Sara McMahon, Rebecca Dietzel, Lida Winfield, and Susan Borg – whom they see mostly once a month. In addition, each has attended classes at Contemporary Dance and/or through FlynnArts, and taken a variety of workshops to deepen their understanding of their own expressive body.
It is a gift to witness their courageous efforts and a delight to see their individual skills develop. My gratitude to all those who gave financial support to Lisa and Denise’s mentorship. You helped make their training possible.
This past year, I returned to the world of teaching improvisational skills through a succession of workshops presented by FlynnArts. The Improvisation Laboratory offered, to those new to the form as well as those with experience, a setting for exploring solo, duet, trio and group movement scores. What a privilege for me to see the participants opening to this world of the unknown. Each month, they grew in their ability to be present with themselves and others.
For the third year, I was the curator of a cycle of master classes for contemporary dance artists called Looking Deeper. With the help and partnership of Lida Winfield, we offered the dance community a chance to heighten their improvisation technique with some of the best teachers residing in the state.
Next year, we will be partnering with the Flynn and UVM Dance Department to present four intensive weekends of improvisation: Two Saturdays will be led by Lida, and two by me (Improvisation Laboratory); Two Sundays will be led by Susan Sgorbati, and two by Penny Campbell (Looking Deeper). Each day will be from 10-4. Saturdays will be for those new to improvisation as well as those with training in the technique. Sundays will be for those with extensive improvisation experience. The dates are October 15-16, December 3-4, February 11-12, and April 8-9. More information will be forthcoming.
Stepping in for Laurel Jenkins (who got an offer she could not refuse – a major presentation in a prestigious LA festival), I will be making, with those in attendance, a site-specific piece at Shelburne Farms, July 18-22. We will be working in and around The Breeding Barn to create Figure/Ground2 with a showing on Friday the 22nd at 7pm. This is part of the summer contemporary dance offerings by the Flynn. For more information please go to FlynnArts.
Creating new work
Of late, I have been merging my art practice into my everyday life (practice), seeking to erase the seams and differences in the dance I do in the studio and the “dance” I do in the garden. The duet with Sara McMahon this winter, as part of Clare Byrne’s in-progress series – Eat my Art Out, was one such melding. At the last minute, Sara came down with a cold and stayed home. We decided we would present anyway, she in her bed, I at the Montpelier studio, reminiscent of our distance dances when she lived in Alaska and I was in Vermont. At 8:10pm, she and I danced our improvised duet to a raucous electronic score by David Severance and lots of sighs on my part.
Finally, I have been given permission to be in an abandoned quarry near Barre this summer to experiment and discover what is entailed in making a piece for a liquid setting. I will be proceeding very slowly as this is a complex project with many new challenges. If it seems possible, then you will be hearing from me with photos and proposals as I seek the needed support. This time around, I am determined to work with a producer. If you have a suggestion, please be in touch.
Thank you for your continued interest. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others, and visit my newly reconstructed website www.hannahdennison.org
Have a lovely summer.