So once again I vanished off the face of the planet for 6 weeks to go the American Dance Festival. While I was there I learned a little something about dance lineage (well I learned a crap load, but this is just one thought). In the new dance age of contemporary/modern/whoknowswhatelse it’s becoming harder and harder to pinpoint instructor’s techniques. For the most part, when you dance in a company or take a master class from a certain choreographer you’re learning a particular aesthetic or a variation on a particular technique. Some younger choreographers often don’t think to name drop or pay homage to the techniques that inspired their aesthetic or fusion of techniques. Of course there will always be elements of ballet or Limon or Graham in a lot of work, but what about a shout out to Bartenieff method in a floor excercise or maybe Horton during some crazy contemporary adagio work or even just stating the influence of a certain choreographer’s style, like Kyle Abraham, in a new phrase?
Since my last 2 ADF experiences it was brought to my attention that I tend to have a strong connection with African Diaspora. Variations of hip hop and instructors that come from traditions of strong African American contemporary dance really make sense on my body and have begun to pop up in my particular contemporary aesthetic.
While I first learned how to move from social and family influences, I took my first real contemporary classes with Rodney Brown who comes from a strong tradition of Horton technique and Chicago House. He, in turn, went to school with Teena Marie who has been my Hip Hop guru mentor for academia at the American Dance Festival.
Through Teena’s contacts, I met with Aquaboogy and Goldi Lox who taught me a lot about the pedagogy of Popping and waving.
From the Horton Lineage side I fell in love with the aesthetic of working NY artist Nia Love. I had the pleasure of working my butt off in her class for three weeks this summer before taking from another Strong African American woman and artist, Marjani Forte. In the following three weeks, I worked through her class and I discovered that she has strong ties with Urban Bush Women which is run by none other than Jawole Zollar who teaches at my current Alma mater, FSU.
And to complete that lineage line, I also took class with Atlanta’s new hotness, T. Lang, for 6 weeks. I also had the honor and priveledge to perform in her short piece for the faculty concert dubbed “Post up/In the House”. And it just so happens that T. Lang studied under the tutelage of Nia Love years before.
Now whenever I teach class in my own aesthetic, I make sure to name drop where my ideas and exercises come from. I think it’s great that we are breaking so much new ground in the field of dance but as a member of academia I believe it is also my duty to preserve it’s origins and influences. The last thing we need is for these new kats to forget where we’ve been and who’s shoulders they stand on.