Emily Running and Bevin Victoria discuss her life and career in dance. Bevin talks about how she started as a gymnast, “retired” at 13 due to injury, and then rediscovered dance through a whole new lens. Additional topics include body image, cross-training between dance styles, taking yourself seriously as an artist, and Bevin’s personal artist statement for both her dance and life.
Raise your hand if you've ever felt too old, too fat, too inflexible, too uncoordinated, too shy, too masculine, too ____________ to dance. The truth is, even professional dancers feel those things all the time because everyone plays the comparison game. At Dance Wire, we are determined to erase those stigmas. Dance is for EVERYONE.
Rhonda graciously agreed to tell her story to launch our new series Dance CURIOUS. Follow along especially if you are new to dance or working to reconnect with it. If you have a story you'd like to tell, email email@example.com using subject line Dance CURIOUS Story to Tell
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Briley was a rebel. It wasn't that she drank beer, or smoked, or went to parties. That's one expression of rebellion. Hers was different. Growing up she was ballerina and went to a prestigious ballet school where her instructors acted as though becoming a prima ballerina was everything. As is common in the classical ballet world, they also pressured her to be thinner. This is where her rebellion showed. Many of the other girls at the studio did things like brag about having only two grapes for lunch. Both dancer and teachers viewed acts like this as signs of discipline and dedication. But when her teachers would approach Briley to suggest that she consider losing some weight her response was "that's messed up!"
As she continued dancing she also continued to encounter a near constant barrage of negativity. "You can do better," "that wasn't good enough," "try harder." Finally, it came to a point where it didn't feel worth it anymore. She dreaded going to rehearsal and obsessively watched the clock counting down the moments until it was over.
Just before she quit for good, she went to one last summer intensive at a different school that changed her mind. At that intensive she realized what she had always known deep down, that negativity and destructive behavior are messed up and not for her AND that she could still achieve her dreams without them. To this day Briley believes, with conviction, that sacrificing ones physical and mental well-being to dance is unacceptable.
As the Artistic Director for PDX Contemporary Ballet she is creating a different company culture. "I know I do my best work when standards are high, expectations are set, and achievement is the result of positive encouragement. So that's what I'm creating, leading by example. I hope that letting go of any behaviors that contribute to a negative company culture will be a relief for dancers." She wants each dancer to have room to be who they are, no apologies.
Whether or not the positivity element of the company is apparent to their audiences, it's critical in the creative process and the day to day experience of the dancers. She regularly tells her dancers, "Dancing together is not about being on the same counts at the same time. Dancing together is about being a supportive community to each other." Artistically PDXCB dives into some heavy topics like women's rights or existentialism. "That's when it becomes really necessary that we respect and are there for each other."
The company is now entering it's 5th season. Briley continues to approach dance for what it "could be" instead of what it "should be" and encourages audiences to do the same.
In this Artist Stories interview, 2018 Ambassador Kathryn Harden sits down with Laura Blake to discuss their life and career in dance. Just one month in to discovering bellydance it occurred to Laura that bellydance was all they wanted to focus on. Laura says the only way to describe the feeling is that it was a similar feeling to falling in love with someone. Listen to that and more, plus watch Laura's kick ass moves in the video below!
Imagine a family where everyone communicates through movement and music and everyone is driven, kind, and genuinely supportive of one another. According to Kelsey Leonard, Co-Founder of the Portland Tap Festival, that family exists, and she calls it the "Tap Fam." This is not a real family of blood relatives, but rather the international community of tap dancers who are bonded over their shared love of tap. "Anyone can be in it, it's very inclusive. As long as you have a pair of tap shoes and are dedicated, people will welcome you." And the Portland Tap Festival coming up Memorial Day weekend, is a great place to experience that sense of community for tappers of all ages and levels.
For those who just want to dip a toe in the water, there are performances every evening of the festival that showcase world-class tappers. For those who have experience in tap, this is a gold mine of opportunity.
An all-star cast of faculty will be teaching everything from Tiny Tap for kids as young as five to adult drop-in style master classes to mini residencies where students learn choreography over the course of the three days to present at the student show on the final night. Kelsey points out "Festivals like this are often the place where the big companies, like Dorrance Dance or Syncopated Ladies get their dancers. These festivals are really just the best way to connect with everyone in the tap world." It is also a place where the "Tap Fam" sentiment blossoms and lasting connections and mentorships form.
Which of the tap greats might you learn from and be seen by? Dianne Walker - also known as Aunt Di, Lady Di or the Ella Fitzgerald of tap. She has a 40 year career spanning Broadway, Television, Film and International Jazz Concerts and Tap Festivals. Bril Barrett - the founder of M.A.D.D. Rhythms (which stands for Making A Difference Dancing). Nicholas Van Young who spent a decade performing with STOMP and is now co-creating for Dorrance Dance. Sarah Reich who at the young age of 15, was featured in Dance Spirit Magazine’s article, “20 Hot Tappers Under 20” and was named one of the “25 To Watch” by Dance Magazine in 2009. The list could go on (and it does on the festival website), but that should be enough to get the dance nerds excited and at least pique the interest of the dance curious.
If this sounds incredible to you, you're not alone. Over 200 tappers from across the world come out for this festival. And if you ask Kelsey, the best way to describe the vibe and energy you'll find is "purely magical."