Dancing in Big Apple

I have always been attracted to places, which provide opportunities for learning more about dance art. I was lucky to experience it in London, where I completed course of jazz dance, contemporary but also hip-hop at London Studio Centre and Pineapple. I studied also through the Erasmus program in Vienna at the Konservatorium Wien and I visited many workshops here in Slovakia at Laban atelier, Elledanse or in New space and more.

img_8864New York is one of the places that I was longing not only get to know and see, to experience its atmosphere, but also spend some time here, attend different dance classes and places for dance. NYC was for me a kind of order, where I did not go with the feeling that I have to conquer the dance world, I wanted to learn something new and bring back the most enriching experience. (And I’m glad I did. Now I have all acquired information that I have received and processed to benefit from professionally and also personaly .)

I spent there three beautiful summer months in 2013, which was beneficial for me as to whether a dancer, teacher, and especially for me as a person.

img_8858That time I was a student of Master Degree at Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava in pedagogy of modern and contemporary dance. Therefore it was natural for me to choose a program and a school where I could practice dance interpretation in modern and contemporary field. My primary interest was contemporary dance and contact improvisation. Before hollyday in New York I attended a workshop Impulstanz in Vienna, where I heard about International Student Open program that offers dance school in NYC. I looked all over the internet and I found a school that offers such a study opportunity. I decided for Peridance because I had good references from friends who already were in NYC and studied. School Peridance provided freedom of choice I needed. This means that I could form my own schedule as it suited me. I selected classes according to what I was wondering. Weekly I had to go through 11 dance classes from what three must be classical ballet and the rest was my choice, it means mostly conemporary, lyrical jazz, modern techniques or street dance classes.

img_8862Contemporary dance in the United States has several forms. From more commercial version, which is a fusion of several styles of jazz dance to street styles. They call it contemporary jazz, contemporary lyrical, street jazz. I found also places close to our european understanding of contemporary dance, which focus more on bodymind awareness . I was trying to sensibly combine all these types the most effective way to me. I’m a dancer, who also needs a “dance off” sometimes as everyone, but who is working on improving technique as well. On the other hand I feel the need to develop my own original movement vocabulary that I can gain through studying contemporary dance. It’s a different perspective and approach to the movement and the body and I figured out that I need a combination of both, so I was satisfied with my choices. At the beginning I tried different classes with different teachers, after time I found few teachers and claases that fit me the most, so I used to attend these classes regularly. (Warm up and technical exercises were more less always the same, so it took time until I learned some of them and the dance routine used to be new, or we had been were working some time on it.)

img_8863For me personally were interesting as educators Brice Mousset, native Frenchman, whose work with the movement impressed me the most of all, a fusion of modern contemporary movements and improvised routine has always been based on an interesting movement material. Another interesting person was the teacher Diego Funes, originally from Spain. I attended his classes of contemporary lyrical. Even if his routines were technically challenging to me, it was always about emotional selfexpression, that is why I liked it so much. The movements were coming into my body very naturally, so I loved going there. I took also classes of M. Graham technique, taught by lecturers from the Martha Graham Company. It was definitely inspiring to me, because at school it was one of my favorite technique. I would also like to mention more teachers Oliva, Vignoulle, Esperanza … and many others from which I could draw new inspiration and ideas to teach. Each of them had their own way and distinctive style. I experienced many classes with many teachers. Some of them were good, but there were also few classes which disappointed me. I discovered very fast, that even dance classes in NYC are not always perfect. I really have to state that Slovakia has excellent dancers, teachers and educated people in the field of dance. And life as a dancer in NYC? Nowhere in the world it is easy for dancers and artists. I met with several professional dancers who among other things were working in restaurants, shops and have other jobs to make a living. I have to say I am happy for my life in Slovakia, because I am able to make money form “dancing” only and it fills me.

img_8859In addition to lessons in Peridance I had been attenging the classes of contact improvisation, because I have this issue addressed in upcoming diploma thesis – Touch in contact improvisation and the possibility of its using for a dancer. The movement methods listening, fallowing and leading a partner in the contact improvisation excite me. It is like a game without words. You must trust your instinct, you must get know the partner, his way of body language, you have to have very fast reactions to many different situationa, which are happening during the dance. I attended classes and contact jams in 100 Grand Dance and Movement Research. It became my Saturday’s ritual where I changed a few sweaty shirts. There was an excellent atmosphere and especially I could learn a lot of new information by practising. I would like to mention a teacher Tim O Donell, who inspired me by his charisma and his classes were always like a moving bomb full of energy and my mind and body was fully focused on tasks and that is what I truly appreciate. It is not easy to motivate people and lead them through the class always engaged in the process. I met here very nice and kind people, I will never forget them.

img_8865Regarding the financial issues, I paid everything by myself with the support of my family as well. I did not count exactly how much my dance adventure cost, probably I do not even want to know 🙂 I can just say, the student visa are not cheap, fly tickets, school fee, accommodation, food and life in NYC in general, is very expensive , but the experience was priceless.

When it comes to New York City, it will stay always deep in my heart, even if it took me a month to feel at home there. I was asking myself, well, so this is New York? Okay 🙂 I was not that excited about it like many other people, of course it has its own atmosphere and I really love it, but I take it realisticly probably. It is different to be a student there, or just spend some amazing time there and it is differnt  to live there everyday life. Step by step I started to get used to even the rubbish in the street and the constant noise, chaos and busy streets, but what really made me to feel comfortable there were the people I met. My life is about people, not about the places I go to. Free time I spent with friends, we were discovering the city, the people, the culture. From this period of my life I have very nice memories and valuable experiences. Traveling, exploring and learning from life itself by his living actively and fully is the best thing I could recommend to everyone, just “move-you” !!

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