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Meet the dancers: Andre Silva

This season we welcome Andre Silva to the stage for SKETCH 6 with 13 years of professional dancing under his belt. He began dancing for want of being around at his mother’s dance school. Andre’s favorite part of performing is “the moments before going on stage, during, and after. The sensations and emotions that rush through the mind and body.” He’s enjoying this process because “Imagery allows you to collaborate to the creation process with a more relaxed, open minded environment between dancers and choreographers. When he’s not dancing, Andre is in nature, reading, teaching, and choreographing. See Andre in his first performance with ASI in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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    Meet the dancers: Beth Ann Maslinoff

    Beth Ann Maslinoff has been taking dance seriously since she was a teenager. She began dancing for the sake of correcting alignment, but not dances to “get totally lost in the music and the movement” and “to get to experience a moment of freedom.” She states that this particular work, “Neil Gaiman’s poem…is what I mulled over the most.” She even “bought the children’s book of it”! When Beth Ann isn’t dancing, she is hiking in the beautiful Bay Area, and loves “how many beautiful trails there are close to the city and the ocean.” See Beth Ann in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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      Meet the dancers: James Gilmer

      Dancer James Gilmer finds his love of dance in the fleeting moment on stage and the community feeling of telling a story. In SKETCH, James finds a different choreographic process with “room to explore what you’re physically capable of doing.” He’s been dancing since he was 5, simply because he had been dancing around the house to anything that was playing in the background. In the past, he feels that SKETCH has given the “opportunity to organize, refine, and explore new movement.” When he’s not dancing, James is at the gym or dreaming up new meals! Come see James on stage performing in SKETCH 6 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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        Meet the dancers: Kelsey McFalls

        This season we welcome Kelsey for her first season with ASI! She found dancing at age 8 by way of living room dancing to The Brian Setzer Orchestra, and she keeps on dancing because she loves “the perpetual challenges it presents.” We’re so excited to see Kelsey on stage for SKETCH 6. When Kelsey’s not dancing, she’s working as the chief operating officer of a Berkeley-based technology company – talk about multi-talented! She loves performing because it is “an opportunity to temporarily transform an audience member’s reality… while observing the performance, the audience is given the change to forget about their bills, work, or stressors.” Kelsey will be performing in SKETCH 6 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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          Meet the dancers: Sarah Griffin

          SKETCH 6 Dancer, Sarah Griffin has been with every Sketch since 2010, and we’re so happy to have her performing with us. At a young age, she was shy but after seeing the Nutcracker when she was three, her mom put her in dance classes. In her own words, she dances because “it’s the one thing that fulfills me on all levels: physically, creatively, intellectually, and spiritually. Dance is my highest form of expression and the medium in which I feel most present and free. There is always something new to learn, so the adventure never ends!” When she’s not dancing, Sarah is reading, writing, swimming, working out, and traveling. See Sarah in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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            Meet the dancers: Peter Franc

            This is Peter’s first season with SKETCH, but he’s been dancing professionally for 12 years. For him, SKETCH is a unique process because you get to experience so many new people and influences in such a short amount of time! As a kid he “fell in love with the convergence of athleticism and musicality,” and he still dances for the conveying of “different emotions and telling a story without using words.” He says, “I experience a tremendous rush of energy and presence like nothing else when I perform.” When he’s not dancing, Peter is outside hiking, climbing, swimming, and camping! Come see Peter on stage at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason for SKETCH 6: Use Your Words, July 8-10!

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              Guest choreographer Nicole Haskins on SKETCH 6

              When I started my piece two weeks ago, I had a general outline of how I wanted the piece to progress and a general sense of the mood I wanted to create. I truly wanted to take advantage of Sketch’s mission to foster risk and innovation. Usually I come in with a specific plan, usually I’m working with large groups and music that drives the piece, usually I have thought out the entire structure of a piece, but usually I have thought less as to what the piece means relying on the music to inform where the piece goes. For Sketch, I threw away all of my “usuals.” I showed up a little nervous that I would be standing around for 3 hours with nothing for the dancers to do, but also a little excited to try something entirely new. Having a jumping off point that the piece had to be inspired by or about words, already gave me a new challenge. Finding the quote “life is too short for fake butter” sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts and ideas about not taking life for granted and not wasting a moment, not just being mindful, but relishing each moment. So instead of coming in with steps and formations, entrances and exits, I came in with a notebook full of scribblings of my thoughts on life, relationships, growing up, feeling alone, feeling a part of something, change, and growth. To my surprise three hours went quickly. The piece came together faster and with fewer bumps than almost anything I had created before. By starting with a single challenge: use your words, and then having the complete freedom to interpret it, Sketch gave me a direction but not a map. I was able to create my own path. Sketch is exactly the environment of challenge all choreographers need, because without challenges, without being taken out of our comfort zones, it is extremely difficult to grow and become more than a one-trick pony. I can only try to express my gratitude to Amy for asking me and trusting me to create for Sketch. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to create a piece using the exceptional dancers of Imagery, and have it performed alongside works by such established and revered choreographers. It has indeed pushed me outside of my comfort zone and into a new place where I simply feel comfortable.

              Pictured: Nicole in rehearsal with the Smuin Ballet. Photo by Keith Sutter.

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                Meet the dancers: Annali Rose

                Annali Rose has been with ASI for four Summers and we’re so glad to have her with us for SKETCH 6! She began dancing at age 8, because her mother thought it was something every child should have the opportunity to do (we think so too!). With a background dancing for ballet and ballet-based companies, Annali feels that working on a piece for SKETCH is “a much more collaborative experience,” and challenges her “to be creative in a different way and explort outside of normal ballet parameters.” A fun fact about Annali is that she’s hooked on Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends, two games that she spends her time out of the studio on! Come see Annali in SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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                  Meet the dancers: Scott Marlowe

                  Scott Marlowe joined ASI in 2016 and was once a championship swimmer until he skipped a championship swim meet to audition for the dance program at Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. And he hasn’t looked back since. He says, “I wanted my high school experience to be just like those kids in Fame.” When he’s not dancing, Scott has been singing: in the shower, in the car, while doing dishes! His favourite thing about performing is finding connections, “both with other performers and an audience,” something he calls “magic.” Come see Scott’s magic on stage for SKETCH 6: Use Your Words at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, July 8-10!

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                    Sarah Griffin on SKETCH 6: Coming back around

                    Five years ago, I performed for the first time in San Francisco in Imagery’s SKETCH: New Works program. I was 25 years old and still shedding my bunhead tendencies to embrace a more contemporary movement sensibility. Adam Hougland’s “Cigarettes”, created in just two weeks that summer, proved to be a significant opportunity for me to expand on my classical instincts and employ my natural dramatic qualities. This summer I have the distinct pleasure of revisiting this work that has stuck so poignantly in my body, mind, and heart.

                    Adam’s choreography resonated with me then and stays with me now because it is suffused with emotional intent. His movement language evokes powerful physical imagery, bringing meaning and purpose to each step. I have always enjoyed creating character and mood on stage, so choreography feels really good to me when I don’t have to just layer emotion on top of an arbitrary sequence of acrobatics. The intrinsic emotional qualities in the music and movement for “Cigarettes” made it come together so quickly and naturally that I didn’t give much explicit thought to my character. In performance, I remember the steps coming vibrantly alive, as if I were dancing them spontaneously as a deep and natural expression of myself. It was an incredible experience and certainly an important moment in my personal artistic trajectory.

                    The living, present nature of dance means that no ballet is ever danced the same way twice. Of course there are choreographic and musical goals to achieve, but the movement’s texture and quality are always alive and new. I strive to shape and sense my body in the moment with each rehearsal and performance, not to recreate an idealized execution of sequential steps. After a few days spent studying the video of “Cigarettes” from 2011, I had to let go of the images I achieved back then in order to take a fresh approach free of assumptions or affectations. I’m not setting out to embody the physical or emotional state of 25-year-old Sarah, because things have changed a lot since then. I’ve grown and matured as an artist and as a person, and let’s face it, my knees are a little creakier too!

                    In the restaging process, it’s important to study the physical structure of the piece while leaving room to channel the movement naturally into the body. Ben Needham-Wood and Gabe Williams—both in the original cast—did a great job of interpreting and communicating the work to us in just a few days, and Katherine Wells continues to polish us up with her fresh, intelligent insight. There is always something new to discover in the intricate physical dynamics of dance and partnering, as well as the deeply satisfying minutiae of musicality, and I’m really enjoying the work in the studio this time around.

                    I dance with three men throughout “Cigarettes”, and to be perfectly honest, this is quite a dreamy cast. I have history with all of my suitors: James Gilmer from the past three SKETCH seasons, Peter Franc from a season at Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Scott Marlowe from a some wild and crazy projects with Imagery earlier this year. We already feel very connected and comfortable working together because of these valuable shared experiences and friendly rapport. This level of trust allows me to feels the steps in a new way, deepen my exploration of character, and begin a dialogue of relationships with the rest of the cast. Although the feeling and sequence of the movement came back to me naturally, with different partners it’s like a whole new ballet. I can’t go on autopilot or anticipate the same sensations from different bodies, and that’s really keeping me focused and present in the work.

                    I’m exploring a few things to deepen this role and expand my character. I want to find individual physical textures to express my relationship to each man and to myself. With one man I feel trapped, combative, and yearning, with another perfunctory and resigned, and with the third I can be tender, honest, and intimate. The brief moments in which I escape the clutches of my partners to dance alone are introspective pleas as I strive to find myself and hold my ground in the face of conflicted emotional chaos. A simple shift of gaze, posture, or muscular tension can speak volumes, and I find myself making new choices with every rehearsal. It’s quite a treat to have the time and perspective to explore “Cigarettes” again as a new woman, and I’m so excited to share this and so much more in SKETCH 6!

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