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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: 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 4: Dance and language

                  The Imagery dancers and choreographers have finished up the last full week of rehearsals, and now we prepare ourselves mentally and physically for a week in the theater and a week on tour to Walla Walla. This year’s SKETCH has been a real joy. We have all eight dancers from last year’s project, and that familiarity has brought so much ease, intimacy, cooperation, and laughter to the process. I’m fortunate to have worked with both Adam and Amy in the SKETCH environment in previous years as well, so I’m also familiar with their movement languages and creative processes. In the few days before opening, I focus on adding nuance and thought to my work with the performances in mind. It’s important to find my footing, timing, spacing, and breath, both on my own and with my partners, so that we can develop a cohesive and consistent approach to performance. All of the work continues to evolve on stage, with each performance unfolding in a new way. The greatest joy of performing is the feeling of total presence and immersion in the “now”, the complete trust in the moment and in my body, my partners, and the musicians. It’s a great privilege to have live music in performance, and I’m very excited to begin working with the musicians and to see how my appreciation of the music may change. The energy of an audience also adds an element of communication to the work, particularly in an intimate theater like ODC. 10527325_10152162190551954_7023030529856162662_n The theme of SKETCH 4: Music Mirror is that we are dancing two ballets to the same piece of music. When Amy proposed this idea to the dancers months ago, I was intrigued. I am an attentively musical dancer, and have found few challenges in this process. I’ve been getting to know the music the way I would any piece of music I dance to, and I’ve been learning choreography the same way I would approach any new movement. If anything, dancing (and watching others dance) to the same music in very different ways has made me appreciate a broader idea of what dance and music can be in relation to one another. I feel that I’ve learned the music more instinctively with a depth of perspective informed by two very different approaches. Another way to explain it is with a language analogy. I’m fluent in both English and Spanish. I know that when I speak Spanish, different parts of my brain are working; my thoughts are in Spanish, my inflections and tone of voice change, I use my mouth and tongue differently, and even my body language changes. Movement language is very similar. Both Amy and Adam have very distinct movement languages, and the two ballets they’ve created couldn’t be more different for me. I dance en pointe in Amy’s work, defying gravity and stretching phrases in long, curvy, precise balletic fashion. Her choreography requires a flexible posture and highly articulate feet, and the partnering work is intricately cooperative. Amy relates to the music as a musician (something I’ve always liked about her), carrying around her score and helping the dancers hear the music as it’s written. In Adam’s ballet, I dance in socks, which radically changes my connection to the floor and the way I articulate my feet and legs. His movement feels more weighted, and has a fluid, almost relaxed muscularity, with release and a sense of surrender to gravity underlying moments of tension or stillness. Adam approaches music with the mind and ear of a dancer, so there are some unison sections that we count and others where timing can develop naturally with the movement and may vary slightly with each performance. In these ways, it’s nearly impossible for me to confuse the two ballets simply because they use the same music; my body feels so completely different, and the way I process the music intimately reflects how my body feels. I’m sure a fancy brain scan would show different parts of my brain working for each ballet, much like synaptic patterns with multiple spoken languages. I’m so grateful to have been a part of SKETCH from the beginning, and I look forward to the future. The opportunity to learn and grow in an open and encouraging environment is a blessing that few people enjoy in any career. The creative skills and invaluable lessons I’ve learned from the dancers and choreographers through the past four summers have made me a better, stronger, smarter, more joyful dancer. I’m moving to Portland to join Oregon Ballet Theatre just a few days after we return from Walla Walla, and I feel that SKETCH has given me a great advantage in approaching new work and repertory work in the context of a larger company. Thank you, dancers, choreographers, audiences, and supporters. And thank you, Amy, for taking a chance on me.

                  Show Comments (3)
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                    Ben Needham-Wood on SKETCH 4

                    Sketch 4: Music Mirror is underway and I could not be more excited. I have been a part of Imagery’s Sketch series since it’s inception in 2011 and every year it continues to exceed my expectations. The dancers get stronger, the work gets more innovative, and the atmosphere continues to exude confidence and joy in every artist that shares in the collaboration.

                    This is the first time where the Sketch dancers have remained the same from one year to the next, and after only one week of work we can already feel that same, magic bond that grew over five weeks last summer. It is rare to find a company where there are no egos or personal agendas that inhibit the overall progress of the work, but Imagery is exactly that; every artist in the company shares a mutual respect and admiration for everyone else in the studio, allowing us to continue bettering ourselves with confidence knowing that our colleagues are supporting us through every step. Looking around the room and absorbing Private’s incredible partnering, Sarah’s long lines, “The Puppy” Wes’s strength, Katherine’s clarity, Annali’s technique, James’s fluid articulation of movement, and Rachel’s flexibility, it leaves me in awe and inspires me to push my own limits and strive for more.

                    All eight of us are very different dancers from one another, and it takes an amazing choreographer to successfully highlight those individual strengths within the context of a single, cohesive work. Amy Seiwert and Adam Hougland are two such choreographers. I first worked with both choreographers while I was a Company Artist with Louisville Ballet. I can honestly say that I would not be the dancer I am today without their influence. They are both nurturing and invest completely in their work and their dancers. Each day in the studio with them brings new ideas and insight that helps us dancers to push our boundaries and rediscover our own limitations.

                    Amy Seiwert's Imagery, Rachel Furst and Ben Needham Wood copy Photo David DeSilva

                    This amazing combination of Amy, Adam, and the eight dancers in the company have become my summer family and I love every opportunity I have to work with them. We are having such a great time already and the work we have accomplished thus far in the process is truly remarkable. I can’t wait to see how this project resolves and I can’t edit to share it with the audience.

                    –Ben Needham-Wood

                    Pictured – Ben Needham-Wood and Rachel Furst in 2013′s SKETCH 3: Expectations. Photo by David DeSilva. Rehearsal shot of Mr. Needham-Wood by Andrea Basile.

                     

                     

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