The truth? Dance is great but can feel like an “expensive hobby,” even when working at a professional level. The competition for work in dance is steep. It’s easy — and valid — to complain (preferably over a favorite beverage), but let’s talk solutions right now.
From teen celebrity, to art school dropout, loser misfit, and rebel-clown choreographer; my dance talents, for better or worse, have yanked me through life.
As a shy little Oregon boy, literally living on a dead end, in the middle of a forest, just off a pissant town, I was completely hidden from the world. When not quietly making friends with local trees, I was hungrily consuming movies that dared me to live large... by performing.
These films weren't just entertaining. Their greasy hands reached through the screen, pressed into my soft skull, and told me that performance (especially dance) could...
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Our skin is scorched. A set of divisions woven into the founding of a nation, and remnants of a civil war clearly without closure, the friction created by the U.S. melting pot is boiling over once again. A torrent of toxic tribalism splashes down, burning and re-blistering old scars. The most current facade of American altruism is crumbling, a scaffolding built on racism and misogyny unmasked. With painful, high definition clarity, this new-old reality is seen in the rise of modern day white nationalism/nazism and a crushing wave of sexual abuse stories starring some of the world's most visible and powerful men. We can hope that these dirtbag demonstrations are dramatizing a near-final gasp of wasted privilege. We can hope that we live in a world that's -finally- growing too tired to tolerate asshole-ism. I'm personally old enough to know better. Considering this, I'm proposing that those of you reading this, while cussing aloud in solidarity, join me in some creative group therapy.
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Moons and moons ago, while adrift in a sea of gay men at Seattle’s Timberline bar, I tripped into the city’s first lube wrestling championship, and won. That night, lonely exhibitionists were given the chance to be lathered up in KY Jelly and slammed against the floor of an inflatable, lube-loaded pool. What did I win again… um prestige maybe? A story for the grand-kids? I certainly didn’t get a trophy for my efforts. That being typed, it was a stellar night. As I get older, dredging up more and more fodder for #ThrowbackThursdays, I find myself reflecting on lesson’s learned. Here’s some stuff I learned that’ll likely help you too.
Click for full article (and images) at San Diego Gay and Lesbian News
As part of this month’s series on dancers who facilitate their own dance practice outside of a major institution, New York based Jamie Benson attempts to make sense of his dance practice, how he keeps the wheels turning, and the “why” that drives it all.
How often and in what kind of situations do you perform?
Boy every day of this wild existence is so different, but I seem to have one or two performances/screenings a quarter on average. That being typed, I’ve had three separate performances within the same week before too. In the past, performances mainly occurred in black box theaters, but in recent years I’ve adjusted to performing site-specific work almost entirely (invading streets, piers, parks, museums, bathrooms, bars, etc.). Theater performances are a bit too removed from the guts of my work, which conjures situations and themes experienced in daily life. I’m also transitioning from doing more live work to more film work in order to access a larger online audience.
Click for full interview at Stance on Dance.
Lights come up on a lone ballerina, innocently perched on stage. You recognize the scene, from one of the many Nutcrackers we inevitably endure, but this time it’s different somehow. After leaving her lofty throne, you see an elegant pointe shoe flush what was a toilet all along. And then, IT happens. A dancer, dressed as dung (head-to-pointed-toe), claws his way to the ballet beauty and incites a dance battle for the ages. This satire-drenched ballet, called Bowel Movement, was part of my first show as a choreographer. The whole thing, called Bathroom Follies, remains a seminal part of my strange dance revolution. Below, I’ll set the stage (pun intended) for how such a thing came to pass (also pun intended).
Click for full article on Medium.
Lights come up on a lone figure, the one burdened with putting a trance over a packed house of smart phones. It’s a tall order to be sure. You don’t just have to dazzle, you have to captivate, ooze an indisputable it-factor that dares an audience of TV brains to look away, as if they could. The best/worst part is that you probably put yourself in the position to be this dance mystic. It’s your fault.
It’s your solo after all.
Click for full article at 4dancers.org
Thanks for your inquiry. You asked a more profound question than you may realize. I relate, as a male dancer who takes ballet class but has no intention of performing it. Stepping into the, very specific, realm of ballet can be intimidating for anyone but especially for men. Sadly, even in the 21st century, ballet can challenge our ideas about what masculinity should look like.
Click for full response on Ballet to the People
I know. I totally get it. You work too much. You’re getting up too early, eating lunch at your desk, and getting home too late for any sort of extra-curricular excursions. Maybe you’ve got kids. THEY are you’re life now. You would feel silly taking dance seriously at your age. You’re too fat, too lazy, too burdened with too many responsibilities. It’s just too much, too hard, too crazy, too scary. You, and much of the modern world, suffer from The Terrible Toos. Even I, as a dancer, suffer (daily) from this affliction and, after 19 years of dancing (yikes), still fall prey to the intimidation of taking a dance class. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try it. Maybe you loved it as a child but thought it was only for children. Read on to discover how dance can replace your physical and psychological burdens (both chemically and emotionally) with pure joy.
Click to read in full on Thought Catalog
As an aspiring or even established dance instructor, you’ll likely be hired at some point to take on the task of inspiring the less then serious student. It’s blasphemous I know, but many of your students are casually exploring a hobby while in your class. Heck, with the economy the way it is, dance can even be seen as frivolous (gasp) to the more recreational dancer. In this article, you’ll find a few proven methods to increase student retention while becoming a more formidable instructor.
Click to read in full on Dance Advantage
"I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jamie Benson, a former Los Angeles-based choreographer and dancer making a new home within the New York dance scene. Benson is presenting a dynamic new work entitled Bowel Movement, a self-stylized “satirical ballet” meant to blend both technicality and tradition with a heavy dose of humor and irreverence."