Recent dance happenings – Summer 2012

It’s been a few busy months, but now with a regular schedule I’ve been able to take some time to update my blog! Near the end of May 2012, I finished teaching in the children/youth dance program for SKIES in Vicenza, Italy. SKIES is an art/activity program for military children abroad. Since January I had the amazing opportunity to teach dance to talented and creative children. I enjoyed teaching a beginning Hip-Hop class for 7-8 year olds as well as a Contemporary Jazz class for 10 and up. In May, my classes presented their co-choreographed works at the Spring Recital in Vicenza. It brought back a lot of very sweet memories when I was a child waiting backstage to perform. They were nervous, excited, maybe a bit fearful, but they did an amazing job. Following their performance, they were beaming with pride. I didn’t expect to spend time after receiving my MFA to teach in a children’s program, but the SKIES program has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of 2012.

Following the end of the SKIES program, a colleague and I worked collaboratively on a dance film which premiered at Core Project Chicago’s “Going Dutch”. Camille Spencer and I filmed two solos in Italy and Scotland. With our recent moves to Europe Lost/Found explored ideas of space, identity, displacement, and discovery. It was a unique challenge to choreography and share material via the web only, as well as find ways to edit a film long-distance. We presented the duel film on two screens that flickered back and forth between me in Italy and Camille in Scotland. It was a very fulfilling project and a great way to keep working when resources, rehearsal space, and time were limited.

Following the Core Project Chicago event, I focused my time on finishing a paper for the WDA/DaCI global summit in Taipei, Taiwan. For the last year, Marin Leggat,Associate Professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, and I have worked on researching and writing a paper on empathy in ares in conflict. We focused on artists and directors teaching youth in conflicted areas in the Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Israel. We presented “Constructions Of Empathy: Exploring perspectives & biases of empathic pedagogy in classrooms abroad” on the final day of the week long conference. The paper will be published in the WDA/DaCI fall journal.

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Soon after the Taiwan conference I packed up my bags and returned to the states. I am currently teaching in the Contemporary Dance Department at Brigham Young University. Teaching, choreographing, and working with such exceptional students has been such a fun experience. I have a heavy technique focused course load and I am setting a new work on BYU’s DanEnsemble.As We Are. The students are excellent dancers, choreographers, and performers. I will post more as the semester continues. More dancing to come!


Choreographing for “Il Ratto dal Serraglio”

The past two weeks I’ve been working with a group of musicians and opera singers organized by the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza. Every summer the famous Teatro Olympico holds weekly musical events and this year the season opener is Mozart’s comedy, “Il Ratto dal Serraglio” (The abduction from Serraglio).

Since this is a first for me working on an opera I didn’t really know quite what to expect. My assignment was to create a fun and funny dance to Mozart’s Turkish Dance for a choir of 25, each of whom needed to dance with a newspaper. The choir members were very good sports as they listened carefully to my beginning Italian teaching them the steps and sequences to the dance work. I think for many of them this was their first time learning and performing a strongly choreographed section – and they have performed exceptionally well! Beyond setting a short dance work I’ve been helping with staging and some minimal choreography for the main characters in the opera.

It has been a thrill to work with a full orchestra, choir, and masterful singers in such a stunning venue! The opera opens tomorrow night, May 20 at 18:00 at the Teatro Olympico and will run until Wednesday, May 23. Click on the link for more info about the show.

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“Widows, Temporarily” premiers at Artist, Interrupted “Initial Impressions” March 23, 2012 at the Sugar Space in SLC.

“Widows, Temporarily” is a dance film I directed and choreographed with a group of current military spouses stationed in Vicenza, Italy. The film is continuation of my military arts work I have been exploring since May 2011. The work will be presented at the national Artist, Interrupted performance “Initial Impressions” on March 23, 2012 at the Sugar Space in Salt Lake City. Two performances that evening at 6:00 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.! If you are in Utah, please support the A.I. artists!

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“Gray Matters” premiers March 2 & 3 at Ohio Wesleyan University

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“Dancers dart through shafts of light on an empty stage in “Gray Matters” by guest choreographer Kristen Jeppsen Groves. A military wife interested in the current political unrest in the Middle East, Groves uses explosive movement and dynamic partnering to explore social media as an agent for social upheaval or mindless complacency.” – Ohio Wesleyan University

Ohio Wesleyan to Present ‘Orchesis 2012’ Dance Performance.

“Gray Matters” will be presented at Ohio Wesleyan’s Orchesis 2012 Dance Concert at OWU’s Chappelear Drama Center next week, March 2 and 3, 2012. Here are a few images from my week-long guest residency. With my move to Italy and spending a lot of time in the military community, most of my work now has revolved current crisis of the Euro zone and military conflicts. The work explored crucial “action/reaction” moments of individuals and how those can relate to actions/reactions of governments, economies, and militaries. The students were exceptional to work with and I was very happy with the outcome of “Gray Matters”. Good luck to Orchesis as you prepare for your concert!