Wednesday, March 7, 2007

PAS du tout

In high school: began and nearly ended my dancing life with jazz on pointe taught by a crazed Austrian, dancer Felicity Foote. No prior training of any kind. Next her ballet class, making matters worse. Escaped after two years to an outpost of the Hartford Ballet where Madame Laurent, formerly of the Ballet Russes, taught Russian technique. Exposed through master classes to Alvin Ailey, then Paul Taylor. On to college where Helen Priest Rogers, an early Graham dancer and co-founder of the Dance Notation Bureau, taught us the fundamentals of contraction, release and dance notation. Also with her pageboy and intelligent earnestness, exposed us to proper bluestocking bohemianism. Dropped out and studied at Manhattan School of Dance with Margaret Craske and Dorothy Hill, combing through Jill Johnston’s reivews in the Voice for deeper grasp of the avant garde. Discovered Yvonne Rainer. Listened obsessively to John Cage’s 1950’s prepared piano works, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. Fled West. Found Beth Jahn, formerly of the Metropolitan Ballet, studied with Marni and David Wood and encountered Cunningham technique for the first time at Margy Jenkins' studio. Spent 10 years studying and dancing with Brynar Mehl, protege of Craske and former dancer in the Cunningham Company. Began writing about dance in 1984 when I founded In Dance at the SF Bay Area Dance Coalition. Was the dance critic for the East Bay Express for 12 years, the Oakland Trib for 6, SF Weekly for 3, part of the SF Chron stable of part-time dance crits for 1.5. and have contributed to The NYT and online to danceviewtimes. Edited various sections of Dance Magazine and launched Young Dancer. Also contributed a chapter on Lucas Hoving to an anthology on Jose Limon. Look forward to writing a book on dance.