We are delighted to welcome Lillian Ransijn as our Winter Artist in Residence. The Winter and Spring AIR cycles draw from within our staff and student community to support artists offering something exceptional at the intersection of genre, style, and discipline. (The summer AIR cycle is open to the public and the applications open around March.) We have seen Lilli perform at 'WORKINONIT' in the summer of 2018, as well as in Lily Kind's work at 'WORKINONIT: Deluxe' this past summer of 2019. Lilli is found getting her sweat on in many classes at UMA, especially Ron Wood's Movement Flow and Vince's House and Waacking classes. We are also grateful to the Lilli as a work/study who has been with UMA for two years. It is with a LOT of love that we offer her space to dig into it this winter. She will present a works in progress showing in January of 2020.
Lillian Ransijn is a Dutch/American dance theater artist. Raised in Wyomissing, PA, she followed her Magnolia-mouthed mama’s footsteps down to Emory University in Atlanta, GA, where she earned her BA in Dance and Movement Studies and trained and performed with Susan Eldridge/DENSE, Catellier Dance Projects, and Out of Hand Theater. In 2008 she founded her own ensemble, Ground Delivery Dance Theater, as a vehicle to experiment with the dance theater form. A 2016 graduate of Uarts/Pig Iron’s MFA program in Devised Performance, she is dedicated the cross-pollination of artistic forms through ensemble-driven work. Lillian has choreographed and performed with Amanda Byars, Blake Beckham/The Lucky Penny, Claire Porter, David Dorfman Dance Theater, Dance Truck, Duende Dance Theater, Ellisorous Rex and the Dance Machine, Fly-By Theater, Helen Hale Dance, 7 Stages, Theater Emory, and Wolfthicket/Lily Kind. She is a proud member of Moving in the Spirit's community, where she was as a teaching artist from 2008-2011 and guest choreographer for the Teen Apprentice Corporation National Tour. She feels most alive digging intimately into universal questions through the communal pursuit of artistic questioning.
Vince and Alex star in Episode 2 of Weirdos for Wellness has arrived.
Episode 2 “Getting Into Your Meat” introduces self-myofascial release techniques for pain management and improved performance. Fascia is a connective tissue that envelopes muscles and organs in order to distribute forces on the body properly. It's like an envelope that holds you all together so you don’t collapse into a giant meat bag. Sometimes the fascia and muscles develop what are known as “trigger points,” or “knots” that create sustained contractions in the tissues that do not release on their own. These knots can cause pain, stiffness/tightness, and muscle weakness. This can be caused by overuse of the muscles, sitting or standing in one position for too long, sudden contractions, etc. the list goes on.
But do not fret! You can resolve your pain and manage future issues by getting into that meat anytime, anywhere! The techniques in the video provide you with examples of how to release these knots through direct pressure and foam rolling. Research suggests working on particular muscles/facial areas or knots for at least two minutes to create lasting change. Set that timer and get to work!
Weirdos for wellness is a video series designed to fix all the problems in the world, starting with your own ouchies and boo boos. In addition to teaching yoga at UMA, Alex is an acupuncturist and body worker harassing intersecting Eastern and Western modalities to help athletes, physical performers, and everyday folks heal and prevent injury.
DONT MISS IT!
Saturday October 19, 2019
Rashaad Pearson, one of the most renown popping style dancers in the world, will be teaching a workshop at Urban Movement Arts on Saturday, October 19th 5-7pm. Popping is a style that features undulation, animation, contractions, speed change and lots of body control. Specificity and clarity are the name of the game. Rashaad is respected around the world for his musicality, funkiness, precision and soul. He is a great technician and historian of popping and hip hop in general. Folks in Philly often ask for a poppin' OG. Here is your chance Philly! Let's show up for Rashaad!
$20 online advance purchase
$25 at the door
We present to you, Episode 1 of Weirdos for Wellness featuring Vince Johnson and Alex Brazinski. Filming & Editing: Adriana Imhof
8-9 pm Beginner Lesson: Laurel Card
9 pm - 12 am Open Dance Floor: Dj Valentin - practice and party with us and our super inclusive salsa vibes
Performance by Leilani and Michael (pictured)
$12 online/$15 at door. It all goes down at our studio home: 2100 Chestnut St. 2nd Floor, enter next to Poi Dog
Ever try to go out Salsa dancing but feel kind of intimidated? Us too. It can be kind of overwhelming at first. That's why Laurel created this practice party for students of salsa to come get their feet wet and meet other beginners. It's a great time!
All levels are welcome in Afro Club. Don't miss this special class offered only at UMA.
Sundays 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Sanchel Brown was in Senegal for several weeks this summer, working as a teaching assistant and generally upping her game as a fierce footwork dancers who walks with folkloric dances of the African continent and the club dances of her hometown of Baltimore.
Sanchel's class, formerly known as B'more Afro House is now, more simply, Afro Club is back with new material and a deeper connection to the lineages it weaves together. Sanchel is particularly invested in Saba, a dance style of Senegal that is polyrhythmic, complex, and fast paced. Saba, like Baltimore Club, is a quick stepping, high kicking, hold nothing back dance of power and spirit.
Below, Sanchel talks about having to proove her dancing game in front of a very critical audience of neighborhood kids on her most recent trip to Senegal.
I’d never imagined the day when children could make me so nervous while dancing. After years of dancing on many stages, platforms, and auditions the need to prove myself couldn’t top my test to prove my skills to the Senegalese children of Mbour. Mbour is a small village right outside of Dakar, the capital and central city of Senegal, with tons of cement buildings, dirt roads, buses, taxes, and the beautiful reminder of nature’s elements existing all in one time.
Concluding my two week training program my friend, who is also a drummer by profession, showed me around his home village. He welcomed my request to dance with some of the top dancers of the village whom also perform with a local company of four generations, Sillaba de Thiaroye. When the time came, the drummers of the village gathered their materials and a young dancer signaled me to follow along. As the drums struck the complex rhythms of Sabar children came by the doves to see what the noise was all about. Five, ten, fifteen, and several showed their faces in what now was a huge crowd and my heart sank. My only intention was to sharpen my skills and gain some great footage to place in the film version of Home to Homeland (shameless plug). I wasn’t expecting to perform.
I didn’t intend to lose my freshly gained Africa approved “card” so as the rhythms began and my feet burned on the hot grounds I started to dance Sabar. I struggled to catch some of the steps that seemed so natural for my dance partner. Some children chuckled. Some tried to show me how it’s really done. Some watched to see if I’d be able to get it. Some of the dancers encouraged me to use my arms simultaneously with the legs and to catch the hidden rhythms. Soon I picked it up and gave a final performance of the movements learned. I caught a small applause from my tiny critics! Had I done a good job with capturing and performing the hardest dance of centuries?
In March of this past year, UMA produced the premiere of Sanchel's show Home to Homeland. If you're interested in supporting the show, contact Sanchel: email@example.com
Dance is a life changing habit.
THURSDAYS 7 - 8 pm
We know you want to dance. Here's how:
Vince is offering a new class every Thursday for folks who feel like they are starting from zero, or maybe even less than zero. This class is for folks who self identify as having "two left feet." We absolutely believe anyone and everyone can learn to dance, no matter what age, body type, gender, or previous experience. We understand that dance can be terrifying. This class will give you the building blocks to start dancing, to find your groove, and to change your life. Vince breaks down the mechanics of basic movements and musical concepts slowly and with individualized support. Have you literally never ever ever not even once taken a dance class of any kind? But you love music and wanna boogie? This class is for you! If that sounds too good to be true, it's because this kind of class for adults, taught by acclaimed professionals is indeed uncommon. But UMA is uncommon too. We're not just about that fast food dance experience. We got the veggies you need.
Dance class can be a like going to the gym, going to church, and getting on stage, all on in one hour. It's like going to the gym because you will get your heart rate up with solid cardio without endless hours on a treadmill. Drilling movements and learning choreographies in different rhythms you will build fast and slow twitch muscles. Over time this leads to both explosive power, precise agility, and physical endurance. It's like going to church because you can let go of the rest of your life for a hot minute. You can offer up a part of your spirit to the groove, let go, let loose, release, and reconnect to the pleasure of being in a human body. It's also like church -- or any sacred community -- because it's an opportunity to share your hard work and your bliss with those sweating around you. UMA is built around dances of the African diaspora and American folk dances, all of which have a social and cultural function to bring people together in sadness, grief, rebellion, sensuality, joy, ecstasy, and more. It's like getting on stage because dance class is a place where we can practice being seen. Being seen as our imperfect selves striving towards a goal, a moment of arrival. Learning to be seen in class or on stage is a practice of self-acceptance. We learn to let go of what others think and strive towards our own vision of ourselves.
Come through! You can take one class as a drop in. Buy a 5 class or 10 class card. Or sign up for an Intro Month (30 days of unlimited classes for $40!)
photos: Terrell Halsey, from WORKINONIT DELUXE on June 1 at the Performance Garage.
pictured: Sophianne Mahalia, Nick Roach, Major Curl, Jenna Horton, Raluca Area, Helen Nolan, Camille Halsey, Lily Kind & Dancers.
The artists in residence this summer are both incredible humans, merging strong choreographic experience with their own personal journeys in house, hip hop, and identity. Save the date: Their combined show is July 13 in our Rittenhouse studios.
The morning of May 5th, the Queen of Swing joined the ancestors. She passed away at her home in Florida at the age of 99. Miller is a much celebrated figure in the Lindy Hop and vernacular jazz dance communities across the globe. A true OG's of Lindy Hop and jazz dancing, Miller was invited to join Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, a crew of young black jazz dancers from NYC who trained and showed off at the world famous Savoy in Harlem, NY. With Whitey's crew, Miller famously won the 1935 Harvest Moon Ball Dance contest. Whitey's Lindy Hoppers went on to gig internationally, spreading the joyful and rebellious spirit of swing across the globe. She is one the featured dancers in the infamous, high-speed dance scene from Hellzapoppin'. In the thirties and forties, Norma directed her own company of dancers with whom she choreographed and performed multi-genre dance works. She continued to hustle even in her nineties, teaching all around the globe, keeping vernacular jazz dancing alive at home and abroad. Rest in Power Norma!
Check out these article to learn more about Norma Miller's life and work.
2018 NY Times Article about Miller's work teaching around the world
NY Times Obituary
today's jazz roots bad asses
In celebration of Norma's life and legacy, I want to celebrate some of my other favorite jazz dancers. In this blog, we've already shouted out Latasha Barnes on as a powerhouse working in both jazz roots and house dance styles. Last month, I was in Paris attending the Jazz Roots festival and got to take class with young jazz star Helena Kanini Kiiru. Here is the video of her 2018 performance at Jazz Roots that inspired me to book my ticket.
Florence Mills was the Beyonce of her day. She sang, acted, and choreographed. She had her own show, The Blackbirds Revue, that toured the globe. Mills voice is often described as "birdlike" though no recordings of it remain. She was outspoken in her advocacy for civil rights and racial justice.
Katherine Dunham forever stands as the goddess and scholar who elegantly bridged vernacular jazz and concert dance theater. She was a choreographer, dancer, ground breaking anthropologist, and an activist speaking her mind until her last days. Dunham's legacy is apparent in several classes at UMA, not just Solo Jazz and Lindy Hop. Her influence is felt in Leilani Chirino's Afro-Cuban class, in Sanchel's B-more Afro House Class, and also Majestique's class.
The clip below is an iconic party scene from Cabin in the Sky, choreographed by Katherine Dunham.