American Dance Festival
In 2017, the American Dance Festival marked its 40th anniversary in Durham. Over several weeks in the summer, the ADF welcomes dancers & audiences from around the world to attend its performances & classes. Their summer workshop is an integral part of their program & mission as it helps participants develop as dancers.
[mystical electronic music]
- [Jen] Okay, group one.
- I wake up and then, I come here
and I'm greeted by the heat and the atmosphere.
We start sweating in, like, the first five minutes.
Being able to know myself and being able
to warm up the right way, I swear,
I just learned how to warm up the right way.
Learning about your body and learning about
your body anatomically through the outside and the inside
is just so important.
It's so important.
- My foot helps me go around.
My foot transitions my pelvis.
- [Aija] Jen talks a lot about sharing
the weight with the floor.
- Nice, Owen.
Let yourself fly open.
- [Aija] The ground is giving you as much energy
as you're putting into the ground.
- One, two, three, two, two, three, one.
And, you have to work on your focus.
- You know, people, often times, witness the glamour
of what it is that we do,
but we're constantly preparing ourselves,
disciplining ourselves to engage in this work
to be masters of our work.
The mental capacity in which you must possess
in order to prosper in whatever class
that it is that you're taking,
this is not for the meek.
- I've been dancing for four months.
Here, I was like, what am I doing here?
I was like, just pack your bags,
don't be crazy, you know?
Yeah, that was a big jump into the unknown.
- What are we going through?
What got us here to this point
to be all together, collectively,
from different parts of the world to where we are right now.
And then, how do we make this work?
- [Madalena] One day, one of the classes,
Nialove told us go outside and choose a place
that you're gravitated towards,
and when I chose that place, I don't even know
why I chose that place.
- With all art, it all begins from improvisation.
Often times, we don't know what it is,
what it is we're inspired by,
but we know we're inspired to create.
Here, we've been going out into community
and developing a movement dialogue,
movement phrase work.
We ask ourselves, what is dance?
And, I think that's what we are doing,
is we are sitting with the idea of what is dance?
What is movement?
It could be dance to whomever is watching.
- I had to audition for Gregory Dolbashian,
who's based in New York, a choreographer
and it was my birthday, was my callback audition.
So, I was like, I really hope I get in
and then, I got into Gregory's piece.
Just the trust, I feel like, that goes into that,
trusting you with their work,
but also you trusting them with showing you in a good light.
- You used to acknowledge the whole group right there.
You were in your own world today.
See that because when you engage yourself with other people,
you dance way differently because you feel like
you have something to respond to
and you have something to invest in.
So, when you find those places where you know you thrive,
we have to use them and find ourselves in those places
as much as possible, right?
- Dance is all about the unknowing, you know?
And, being perfect means you know everything
and you know yourself, you know what I mean?
And, you're in this place where you don't
have anything to learn.
I've learned so much more about how to
really break the barriers of myself
of when I'm afraid to go there
and then, I get there and I'm like,
what was I so afraid of?
- And you're that powerful that you can
literally reconfigure a space.
Every single day is a new discovery,
but we're in different places, you know?
And then, the space is always yielding.
To occupy space is really super important.
Where do I know myself?
But, lots of times, we don't know
what we know about ourselves until we get tested.
- First weeks of ADF, I was all entangled inside of myself.
Maybe levels of insecurities and doubts that I had?
I didn't know what happened our how I got there.
The particles changed.
It was a beautiful communication between me and the space
and the site
and at some point, I'm not Madalena anymore
and the site is not that site anymore.
We connect and melt each other together
and create an organism.
That place gives me the ability to be whatever I want,
the possibility to express things that I didn't know
that I had inside of me.
So, it's a liberation feeling.
It's like a freedom.
- Dance is numerous things, but a great portion
is physicalizing and expression.
I think that's what a lot of art is,
it's like creating and not understanding
where the creation is coming from,
but understanding that, later on, stepping back
and saying, oh, that's what that moment was.
- This is a reminder of the standard that we have,
this is a reminder of the goals we're working for,
and this is a reminder of the culmination
of all of this time and practice and work
that we've been going for, so I've seen a lot
of transformation in these six weeks.
So, please, don't stay where you thought you were.
That has passed.
Go into the unknown of what's happening to you.
[cheering and laughing]
- This experience is extremely magical.
I've learned so much about myself
and moving with other movers.
The energy that is cultivated by all the people together,
it makes everything worth it.
It's so fulfilling.
- Here at ADF, it's inspiring,
it's made me fall back in love
with art and creativity again.
Something in my life may seem impossible
or that I might be coming up against a wall.
Dance reminds me that I'm more than capable
of taking on that task.
- It has been a crazy trip.
What I got from all of this,
I'd rather perform more, like I give you some instruments,
but you, as a person, you find your own way.
What ADF brought me was I'm gravitating more
towards this parallel between dance and psychology.
Use it to access that state
that each one of us has
because I believe every person can do amazing things.
If going to a certain state of creativity,
it's much more finding your voice and your light
inside of you.
- Every time you move, no matter what movement you're doing,
you have the chance to be remembered.