Monday, May 28, 2012

Jordan: People and Places

DTSB&Co  company members with friends at the University of Petra

DTSB&Co company members at Petra

Dancer Sarah with camel friend

Monday, May 14, 2012

DTSB&Co in Jordan: Teaching and Sightseeing in Amman

It's hard to believe that today is our last full day in Jordan. Our last few days here have been so full that they've gone by unusually fast.

On Saturday we came into Amman to teach workshops at the Princess Bosma Center for Youth. We taught two sessions; one for young women and one for young men.  Most (if not all) of them had never studied modern dance, so we were introducing them to some of its most basic concepts.  Unlike our classes at King's Academy, many of these students did not speak English, so we worked with a translator to communicate. We were all impressed by how gracious the kids were and how hard they worked at something that was entirely unfamiliar to them.

We also got the chance to walk around Amman a little bit. We visited a neighborhood called Sofia, which was very Western and had many of the shops that we were familiar with from the states.  Another neighborhood, El Hashmi, gave us more of a flavor of Jordanian culture. We tried some excellent pastries there called sambousek that were baked fresh in a small shop. It was just one of many delicious things we've had to eat on this trip.

We'll send updates soon from our performance at the Zhakarev of Motion festival, which we were set to perform at on Monday evening.

--- Sarah Halzack

Friday, May 11, 2012

DTSB&Co in Jordan: Petra - A True Wonder

Today we took a brief break from performing and teaching to visit Petra, an ancient city that has been named one of the new seven Wonders of the World.  

We all agreed it was an unforgettable experience.  The site dates back to about 400 B.C., when it was originally inhabited by the Nabathean tribe, and then was later inhabited by the Byzantines and Romans. The detail and ingenuity of the construction of the tombs and monasteries were awe-inspiring; it's hard to imagine that our ancestors were able to build something so magnificent and efficient without the help of modern technology and tools.  And because so many different peoples had made their homes there throughout history, the architecture is a singular mishmash of styles. 

In addition to the man-made structures, the site is full of unique rock formations and deep canyons.  In one area, our tour guide explained to us that the rift we were standing in was caused by an earthquake millions of years ago.  Erosion had gradually widdled the canyon to its current width.  Again, it's pretty wild to contemplate the depth of the history that exists in such a place. 

It was a long drive out to the ruins and a long, hot walk to get through them, but I think all the dancers agreed it was worth the trek!  

Tomorrow we are headed into Amman for the first time since we arrived.  We are all looking forward to being in an urban environment and seeing what the city has to offer. 

-- Sarah Halzack

Photos from Petra!

Monday, May 7, 2012

DTSB&Co in Jordan: Our day at the King's Academy

The Academy is an international boarding school outside of Amman.  It is quite an amazing facility  built as a major complex and educational think tank in 2007. It is surrounded by vast green gardens in the middle of the desert.  Every student speaks English, most are bilingual and the professors graduated  from top tier schools and Ivy's in the  the States.  Today we presented a lecture demonstration focused on introducing modern dance to the students while touching upon the cross disciplinary effects of creativity, as well as how art can build a positive self-identity.  Because so many students are from all over the world, identity whether it is tribal or national or  familial seems hyphenated.  Everyone somehow belongs to two or more groups.  The first question after our showing came from a freshman who asked, regarding the Palestinian crisis, if dance could be used to express and heal this situation.  I explained that many choreographers do focus specific works over their careers on political situations in order to voice the hope for resolution.  He was quite brave to want to know how art can create change in the world. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dancer Profile: Tati Valle-Riestra

Tati Valle-Riestra performs "Island." (Photo: Mary Noble Ours)

Tati Valle-Riestra of Lima, Perú has performed with Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company for more than 12 years. In addition to dancing, she has an interest in painting as well as marine biology. When it comes to her art, she primarily works with watercolor and ink on paper creating images of human figures and beautiful landscapes.   

According to Tati, she doesn't have just one favorite piece that she has performed with DTSB&Co. "I love each and every one of them in their own special way," she said. If she had to choose though, she admits she especially enjoyed dancing "Images from the Embers," "Island," "Tracings" and "Chino Latino."

When asked where she sees the DC dance community in 20 years, Tati said she imagines the community "evolving naturally with new artists and talents creating new works." As for herself, she hopes to be back in her homeland of Perú.
For now, she has truly enjoyed dancing and learning with the company. "What I enjoy most about being part of DTSB&Co is simply being part of Dana's company. He is a special person with an incredible charisma," she said. "Being part of his group has been a great opportunity to learn from him continuously for so many years and I feel motivated by his beautiful movement and his artistic vision. A very important part too is the group itself, dancers and other members of the company. I feel closely linked to all of them and enjoy immensely the routine time we share together in class, warm ups and rehearsals." For more information about Tati, read her dancer biography.