|The audience celebrates Elaine Summers' life and work|
I spent most of
Saturday, February 28th
at Judson Memorial Church, in NYC,
rehearsing for, and then performing, and celebrating in Absence & Presence:
Memorial for Elaine Summers.
Elaine Summers was my teacher. She had a deep impact on my development as a
dancer and artist. My Branch Dance Series has been deeply informed by my training with her and her seminal work with dances in projected environments.
I met Elaine in 1978
when, as a CETA artist with the Cultural Council Foundation, I was assigned to
dance in a series of performances she was conducting throughout the city that
summer. The exuberant and loving Tedrian
Chizik, a dancer in her company who was to become a close friend and
collaborator, urged me to study with her and I joined her next 10 session
Kinetic Awareness course in the Fall. I was
hooked. Elaine was enormously knowledgeable, generous, supportive, and
patient. As a teacher, Elaine introduced
me to a theory and practice of the lived, improvising, dancing body—detailed,
mobile, aware, energized, spirited, connected.
Here, at last was someone who could guide my quest to transform my body
|Elaine teaching with balls|
I continued to study with Elaine for seven years. For about
three of the seven years I stayed with her, we moved infinitely slowly, a
practice that was both difficult and transformative. Later, I loved
her three-hour classes where we would do long, long, warm-ups, meticulously
articulating all the parts of the body,
and then, in that heightened state of awareness,
we would go, go, go— exhilarating
deliciousness pushing the edges of the possible.
KA practices such Letting the Body Stretch
Itself, Bone Hugging, Slow Walk, Slow Rise and Descent, were extraordinarily
challenging and thrilling once mastered; they continue to be a source of
investigation and great pleasure.
In those years I danced in several of her works— Illuminated
Working Man, Chance Dance, Dance for Lots of People, and Solitary Geography. I
remember being fascinated with Elaine’s
work with projections.
I was therefore delighted to be invited by
Thomas Kortvelyessey to perform in Crows Nest during the memorial.
Although I had never performed the piece, I had
seen Dana Reitz perform it several times during a weekend season at Riverside
Church in 1978 or 1979.
you can see in the video below, the work clearly has impacted my Branch Dance
I thoroughly enjoyed performing in Crows Nest last Saturday.
The energy in the room —300 + celebrating Elaine’s
life and work, Juliette Mapp’s gentle
my fellow dancers— Laura
Quattocchi, Alissa Cardone, Gabriella Hiatt, the flickering light of the film
on the body, the sounds of the audience performing Pauline Olivero’s Tuning
Meditation— lifted the spirit and connected us all to Elaine and each
Thank you Elaine for the many gifts.
Thank you Thomas and Juliette for organizing
the event, to Laura, Alissa and Gabriella, for your dance and kindness, Marion Ramirez and Patti Bradshaw for your fierce and gentle friendship.
Video of Crows Nest performance 2/28/15
. Camera: Long Cheng.