Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Save the Date!


Save the Date
“Fly Me to the Moon”

Saturday April 12th
6- 9pm
Brownies 23 East Ardmore

A fundraiser to help us continue to bring hope and community back to the kids of New Orleans through music and dance

For More Info About Our Mission visit:

Contact At: First Position Movement Arts Center 610-853-9656
Invitation to follow

Indigenous Pitch Dance Collective
Mission Statement
We are a collective of Philadelphia-based dance companies whose goal is to perform works of artistic excellence that reflect and highlight the diversity of our city and its native, homegrown dance styles. Through the art of dance, we also seek to assist and nurture children who have been affected by natural, environmental and/or economic disasters. We further this mission through performances, residencies and workshops throughout the United States and abroad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Car Accident

I had a car accident yesterday. My first one ever. I'm so mad at myself, as I believe it was my fault. Thankfully I am fine, he is fine, my car is not too bad, I can still drive it at least. And this is why we have car insurance, to pay for these things. I still feel pretty dumb.

It emphasizes my control-freak, perfectionist mentality. I can't handle making a mistake. Or acknowledging that there are areas in my life where I do not get to dictate what happens. That is scary!

Monday, February 11, 2008


I have a horrible earache. I haven't had an earache since I was about 2, I think. It is so miserable. I had to do two employee wellness meetings this morning and the entire time I was talking I just wanted to stop because I was making my own head hurt! I could hear my voice inside my head (which is always annoying) and it was making my head vibrate. I took some 8 hour Tylenol about 5 hours ago. It wore off 3 hours ago, but I feel obliged to not take any more until 5PM.

Anyone have a sure-fire earache cure? Chris's is ear candles. I tried that last night. It worked for a while; I could hear and the whole left side of my face didn't throb for about half an hour. But it clearly wasn't a cure. Maybe if I do it again? I don't feel sick, my nose isn't stuffy, my glands aren't swollen, I don't have a fever, I just want to cut my head in half.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Follow up to prior

Another reader posted that there was no way jazz was going to make it, as it did not nearly approach the greatness of the masterpieces of prior centuries. Which prompted the following from me:
I've been to Chartes, played works by all of the above composers and seen the Mona Lisa, Degas' dancers and countless dance companies. But I also know that most people my age (25) have not done, or have any desire to do those things. Maybe the problem is not that our creative culture is barren, but that we are not raising a culture of artistic appreciation. As you know, I teach dance. My husband is an elementary school music teacher. Kids today really have NO idea who even Bach or Beethoven are, let alone Gershwin or Coltrane. We have created a culture that wants easy and accessible. Art, good art, is not either of those things. As I have said before, it requires engagement. Today we want something that just makes us "feel good", not something that makes us think.I fear if we do not cultivate artistic appreciation the works of the geniuses of not just the 20th century, but of all time, can be lost to the ideals of "entertainment" and "instant gratification".

Theology and the Arts or Why Jazz Will Always be Around

I took 2 classes on this at Eastern. Not that all of my music and dance related courses didn't have some theology worked in, but 2 dealt specifically with the topic. So, imagine my joy when one of my favorite blogs "Crunchy Con" on Beliefnet had a related post over the weekend.

It went something like this "Charles Murray has said that no great American works of art were created after 1950. Do you agree, disagree, why, what's your list, etc?" I wrote an inital post with a lot of modern dance works and Coltrane's "A Love Supreme". Another reader commented on Coltrane's "My Favorite Things", which prompted the following from me:

Richard, how did I forget "My Favorite Things"? The kindergarten jazz class that I teach is doing that for recital. Not all 13 minutes, just the first 2. (I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. Stick with me.)
I catch some flack at the studio where I teach because of my ideas of "jazz". When I have students in my jazz class, they dance to jazz music. Gershwin, musicals, any of the Great American Songbook stuff, Coltrane, Carmen MacRae, even Harry Connick Jr.'s big band stuff. They do not dance to Disney songs, Cheetah Girls, Britney, Christina, or any of the other songs that somehow have found their way into "jazz" classes.
Jazz, especially in dance, is sometimes considered a catch-all because it is often understood as "the vernacular" or "not classical". But I think jazz is communication. That's where that "vernacular" definition came from- the music of the day for the people of the day. Jazz gave them a voice, and an audience who wanted to hear it and could understand it. Communication from musician to musician, musician to audience, musician to dancer, dancer to dancer, etc. But most importantly, it is communication to "the art". The musician lets the music guide him, as does the dancer. Today's music often found in "jazz" classes is not communication; it is entertainment. We don't want to listen, or think, or do. We want to watch, to be titillated or impressed, to escape. True communication does not inspire escape, but engagement. This communication becomes improvisation.
Improv is the truest form of jazz, music or dance; and is, I would argue, incredibly spiritual. Not only in the Christian sense, as we believe any act of creation is proof that we are in God's image, but just in the lack of desire to promote yourself. When you improv, you let the art work. You "check out" so to speak from conscious decision making about what YOU WANT to do. It becomes about what the art needs, does, and creates for itself. Improv forces you to be the listener, before you can be the doer. A useful life lesson.
Wonderfully enough, kids get this. They love to explore, create, and interact. Give kids a structured improv and they practically do the work for you! They don't think "Oh No! What should I do next?", "I don't know any 'steps' for this.", or "This is too much pressure. I can't possibly function." They listen, they watch, and then they do. They feed off of each other and the music. They work together, while at the same time are totally devoid of the anxiety and fear of judgment adults would feel in this situation. When we first started "My Favorite Things" we did an instrument improv. That piece has sax, piano and drums. We spent time trying to hear each instrument separately and move that way. I had bouncy drums, strong, striding pianos and wiggly saxes. When I put them in groups, it was fantastic! They had to listen, to watch, to move, to cooperate; try doing that to Britney. You will get shaking booties every time.
And so, 500 words later (Sorry! Thanks for reading it!), communication and improv are why jazz is going to make it. And "me-centered" pop/rock will continue to change and morph and will have very few memorable (in a good way, not train wreck way) characters and moments.