I'm a little bummed to type that I have yet to make good on my live music desires this year. I've come close but not seen it through yet. I also have yet to see a dance performance, but that'll change tonight when the dude and I head to Chanhassen Dinner Theaters to see friends in "Holiday Inn." That said, shaming myself for what I haven't done isn't the purpose of this post: it's to note that I HAVE been making good on getting out to class.
So far, I've been to two tap classes (one at BallareTEATRO with Kaleena Miller and one at Zenon with Dorian Brooke), a house session (thanks for organizing, Straightline Dance Fitness and Ozzy Dris!) and a West African class (with Whitney McClusky and Fode Bangura of Duniya Drum and Dance). I'm hoping this writing will help me continue my practice, in a documented way, of noting similarities and differences between these different yet related forms that draw me.
The first and most obvious connection I've noticed was in West African class. We were taking steps from Kassa (a harvest dance of the Malinke people - I'm trying to improve my practice of noting the specifics so I can revisit them later!) across the floor, and I noticed I started to 'house' the steps. In other words a double hop-tap from foot to foot went from being a straight rhythm to a syncopated one when I danced it, and the suspension that I felt as a result felt like the steps would in a house context. I tried to perform the step in a straight rhythm, but it was really hard to get myself to break what I felt was a kinesthetic habit! I'll also add here for posterity that we spent most of the class working on Bao, a forest celebration dance originating from Guinea).
There is of course the notion that specific footwork moving between straight and syncopated rhythms ties ALL of this together. When being that general, one could argue that this could apply to ALL folk dances from anywhere in the world, so that pushes me to specify the connection between feet being flat and dropping into the ground and release of the knees and pelvis that encourages the rest of the body to experience ease in the joints. This sense of kinesthetic freedom is another important piece to the puzzle of how African dance forms (West in particular, from my written and embodied research) and their travelled diaspora form the base of the sets of American vernacular movement that inform the kind of dance I like to make for the stage.
There is so much more here, but other tasks call. To be continued as I continue to amass class and rehearsal experiences this year. Hoping to be back soon with writing about a live music or dance show. Perhaps I'll get myself back to write about "Holiday Inn" very soon!