by Katherine Kain
From one amazing opportunity Repertory Dance Theatre has brought me right into another.
Last Friday was the final day of RDT’s SummerDance Limon Workshop, the perfect segue into yet another opportunity beginning this week to develop as a professional dancer.
But first . . . more about the Limon Workshop.
During the week-long workshop with artist-teacher and Limon Mater Nina Watt, I learned so much valuable information about myself and my own technique, and I learned some of the basics of Limon Technique. For example, learned that rhythm, gesture, gravity and breath are some main elements that need to be understood in order to do Limon Technique correctly, and together the participants (24, not counting RDT’s eight dancers) worked on these four concepts throughout the week:
Rhythm – Wow! Limon uses a lot of different, difficult rhythms that change constantly throughout his choreography. We practiced rhythm, counterpoint, and mixed meter in the morning technique class and in the afternoon pedagogy class with Nina, and truly got to utilize it during the repertory class taught by the RDT dancers. We worked on counts of five and six in the crossing section of Limon’s “Psalm.” An underdeveloped Limon work originally created in 1967 with music by Eugene Lester, Limon Company Artistic Director Carla Maxwell recreated “Psalm” in 2002 with a new score by Jon Magnussen before it premiered right here in Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics. We also worked on counts of 10 in a section of one of his most beloved works, “Missa Brevis.”
Gesture – I learned how all movement is gestural in Limon. To gesture means to convey meaning with the body. Every movement in a piece of choreography needs to express something, have some intention, even if the intention is just to do that movement. Nothing can be thrown away. Every movement counts because every movement is essential in the meaning it carries. I experienced the full effect that gesture has while learning “Crucifixes,” a solo section of Limon’s “Missa Brevis.”
Gravity – It turns out that actually trusting in gravity and truly allowing yourself to fall through space is really challenging. Just as difficult is negotiating how much rebound you need to use at the bottom of the fall in order to suspend out of it.
Breath – This is something I discovered you have to do while dancing, and that it, shockingly enough, helps to breath while dancing.
Many of the concepts I learned last week I can carry with me into any dance class, including Part 2 of RDT’s Summerdance Workshop this week: Andy Noble’s week of master classes.
This morning I came in eager and excited to move, but also not knowing what to expect. Andy, who is an RDT alum dancer and now co-artistic director with his wife Dionne Sparkman Noble of NobleMotion Dance in Houston, was a ball of energy, and I assume he will be very upbeat every morning.
We started moving right away with a walk around the space, acknowledging everyone in the room, and then we got started with a warm-up combination that was filled with weight shifts and spinal articulations. We continued on, with just a couple seconds spent on corrections and general feedback after every combination.
This morning the movement throughout class was loose and buoyant, but had a quick snap to it. The combinations contained so many weight shifts, drops into gravity, suspensions, and successional movements of the torso. Andy kept yelling over the music, telling us to use our breath to help us find length and elasticity in the movement. My mind was in overdrive trying to remember the quickly taught combinations, all while trying to connect the many dots I found between Andy’s movement and all the Limon Technique I learned.
Andy’s class is jam-packed with movement so juicy it takes up the full space, movement that brings a smile to your face, movement to upbeat pop songs that makes you want to groove on the side while the other group takes the space. The two hours flew by, and when we came to circle up to do a final cool down and stretch, I couldn’t believe we were finished.
I am so excited to continue connecting dots between Limon and the work we do with Andy, and I’m so excited to be doing so much movement that is expansive and, honestly, just fun!
There’s still time to sign up for Andy Noble’s 2-hour, daily master classes this week during RDT’s SummerDance
Click here to learn more.
Katherine Kain is originally from the Salt Lake Valley, and has attended RDT performances, workshops and classes regularly for many years now. She was first introduced to the Company by RDT Artistic Associate and former RDT dancer Nick Cendese at the studio she attended as a child. Nick eventually bought the studio and hired members of RDT to teach, including current RDT dancer Lauren Curley. Currently, Katherine is a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, but she is back in Salt Lake City for the summer where she is spending much of her free time dancing in RDT community classes and workshops.
You can watch a video of choreographer Andy Noble’s work featured on TV’s American Crime here.