By Marissa Subik
On Wednesday March 11th, 2015 a group of Brockport dancers and faculty traveled to the American College Dance Association Conference (ACDA) which was held at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Jordan Lloyd’s solo “Pieces of Intention,” Andrea Montez’s duet “Rockaway,” and my group piece “Switching Gears” were all invited to present at the conference alongside over 20 regional colleges and universities. Our adventure began by going to see a concert promoting and sharing current Philadelphia artists and choreographers works. Witnessing these diverse works was a wonderful way of kicking off the conference.
Thursday morning the group shuttled over to the campus and participated in classes from 8am to 6pm. Being able to choose from at least five or six classes in each block was amazing and a great way to meet new people, see familiar faces, and learn to take class from different people. I began my day with a contemporary technique class taught by a faculty member at Lockhaven University. The class was a great introduction to the conference and also a nice transition into dancing with new bodies in new spaces. There is something invigorating about taking class with people you do not know because it forces you to dance with different bodies—it makes you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, and it allows for different perspectives to develop in the ways in which you view dance.
After chatting with my fellow peers from Brockport, I was curious as to what they thought about these experiences. Sometimes, taking a class that maybe does not fit your idiom, helps engage your mind and body in a different way. Learning how to take class from different instructors is informative in the sense that you learn how to take class for yourself. Knowing how and when to listen to your body is a really important skill for a dancer to have. Witnessing different approaches to how the instructors taught their classes really informs you of which teaching method works for you and what does not. For me, this conference felt like research in the sense that all of us were seeing and doing and it was all informing our relation to dance and how we can articulate the way we talk about it to people who may not be so familiar with it.
My favorite part of the conference was the concerts we were able to see. I must have seen at least forty or more pieces and each and every one informed my ideas and research about dance in a different way. I was able to see works that shared similarities with mine and works that were completely different. I witnessed different musical choices and costume designs, lighting choices and choreographic choices that I would have never even thought about before. These performances opened up a whole new world to choreographing for me because I saw what I liked and what challenged me to think about dance. I was able to discuss what I was seeing with my peers and learned how to talk about it, which only made us more confident in our articulation later on in the conference. I also was able to sit in on one of the feedback sessions for the adjudicated concerts and listen to the feedback and information the three adjudicators gave for each work in that specific concert. Listening to how these adjudicators used their language and talked about what they saw only taught me how to see and discuss dance better.
The American College Dance Association Conference is an incredible opportunity to experience and be a part of. Being able to watch my fellow Brockport peers perform, sharing my own work, and witnessing all of the creative and extraordinary talent throughout the conference is a gift. There is something really special about the dance community; we all have this common and admirable respect for one another, an endless support system. Although our work may have different aesthetics and qualities we appreciate and relate to sharing art with the community. I, along with my fellow Brockport peers, feel so grateful and so blessed to partake in this conference and witness all of the amazing art that took place.
(Pictured above: Jordan Lloyd in his solo “Pieces of Intention” at ACDA 2015. His piece was selected for the Gala Performance.)