The End Is Near

Through reading previous intern’s blog posts, I have noticed there are many common themes between them; one of them being that the time spent at AXIS goes by much too quickly. I can’t believe how fast time has flown by! With only a couple more weeks left of my AXIS internship I am left wondering where the time went.

Although it is not over just yet, I am still able to reflect and be incredibly grateful for this experience. Another common theme between all the interns that I have seen is the feeling of overwhelming inspiration. It has been so refreshing working as part of a small, tight-knit team of passionate people all doing something they love. This experience has reaffirmed my desire and need to work in a setting where I feel fulfilled by not only keeping kept constantly busy, but also being involved with an organization that has such a strong and meaningful mission and purpose.  I have learned that at AXIS there is no typical work day, and the challenges and bumps met along the road are best met with a smile.

I have had a tremendous amount of highlights while being at AXIS.  Recently, I was able to attend the performance at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and see the beautiful choreography by Sonsheree Giles.  It was wonderful seeing the AXIS Dance Company members come together with the community members. They both molded together perfectly to create one cohesive team and dance.

A photo I took at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

Just around the corner is AXIS’ Summer Intensive, where participants from around the world come to learn, grow, and of course dance! I am fortunate enough to be able to participate in some of the intensive, which I am greatly excited about. I will report back after my summer intensive experiences to share what I learned!

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About Victoria Marks

“…A choreographer of superior intelligence, lyricism, and wit….” – Elizabeth Zimmer, Village Voice

Victoria MarksVictoria Marks creates dances for the stage, for film and in community settings. Marks’ recent work has considered the politics of citizenship, as well as the representation of both virtuosity and disability. These themes are part of her ongoing commitment to locating dance-making within the sphere of political meaning.

Marks is a Professor of choreography in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA where she has been teaching since 1995. She is a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and has received recent grants from the Irvine Foundation, the NEA and the Cultural Affairs Council. In 1997, Marks was honored with the Alpert Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography. more

Over the course of her career, she has been the recipient of multiple grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the London Arts Board, among others. She has received a Fulbright Fellowship in Choreography, and numerous awards for her dance films, including the Grand Prix in the Video Danse Festival (1996 and 1995), the Golden Antenae Award from Bulgaria, the IMZ Award for best screen choreography and the Best of Show in the Dance Film Association’s Dance and the Camera Festival.

Victoria Marks will be creating Contingencies for our 25th Home Season

“I propose to develop a work for and with AXIS based on a central formulation of logic: “If/Then” statements.

“If/Then” thinking while quite practical (If the sky is blue, you won’t need a raincoat.) also works to order an unruly and unknowable universe. In my autistic son’s hands, however, these statements give rise to something I can only call “magical thinking.” (If my laces are uneven, I will die.)

I would like to study ways in which we reasonably make sense of conditionality and ways in which this procedure creates unreliable truths.” – Victoria Marks

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AXIS Waves Goodbye to dancers Rodney & Alice

These fabulous dancers have given so much of themselves and their incredible dancing over the years and AXIS has been stronger for it. We wish them all the best as they continue in their dance careers.

We just finished our final tour of the 2012 season, and with it Alice and Rodney’s final performances with the company.  Needless to say it was a cry and cuddle fest that last night all together. Although we intellectually understand the need for transitions and the fact that none of us would be in the company if others before hadn’t left, emotionally it is a big hole they leave behind. I feel so lucky to have worked with these two remarkable artists and cherish the happy moments we have shared the past 9 months. I thank them for the work they have done and the work they will continue to do in their future pursuits. Much love and admiration to you both. – Juliana Monin ( AXIS dancer)

Here’s a small taste from ALL the dancing they’ve done over the years:

AXIS Collage

Collage created as a tribute for Alice & Rodney. Photos courtesy of AXIS Dance Company and photographers: Andrea Basile, Ron Essex, Dave Golden, Pak Han, Trib LaPrade, John Spicer, and Rachel Wolf.

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— n 1. change or passage from one state or stage to another
    2. the period of time during which something changes from one state or stage to another

1545–55;  < Latin trānsitiōn-  (stem of trānsitiō ) a going across, equivalent to trānsit ( us ) (past participle of transīre  to cross; compare transit) + -iōn- -ion

After 4.5 years with AXIS, this is my first sense of transition with the company. Before now, I’d be quick to use words like ‘expansion’ or ‘growth’ to describe the feel of the company.  Now: words more like  ‘shift’ or ‘transition’.

When I step back to think about it, of course I’m feeling this here in the office. Our dancer make-up is shifting. Instead of working towards an end-of-year Home Season production, we’re pouring energy into planning for next year’s Anniversary celebration, our Board of Directors is in a season of change and more…

Perhaps as evidence of the transition we’re in or a product of the transition it seems like there have been more moments for reflection: a newly implemented goal to have quarterly Staff Retreats; attending the recent Dance/USA conference in San Francisco; grant reports that ask us to summarize what we’ve accomplished in the last funding cycle; Mollie’s recent findings from interviews conducted for a Leadership Development Institute she is participating in.

I imagine this reflective state to be what makes up the literal ‘period of time’ during which something changes from one state or stage to another.  When you start to wrap your head around where you ‘were’ in an effort to think about where you are ‘headed’ and feel aware of the transition you are in the midst of. Often times this is where discomfort and fear can enter, where sadness may coexist with anticipation and excitement. But somehow, that literal ‘period of time’ is necessary to get to the next place, to transition.

With our 25th Anniversary around the corner it seems totally appropriate to be in this time of ‘transition’. In fact, we’ve been brainstorming ways to remember, celebrate AXIS’ milestone birthday, and look forward to the next years and where we’re heading.
So that’s where you can find me, alongside the other Company members, walking through the transition with AXIS. Uncertain in moments, but very excited & intrigued to see what the next state of AXIS will look like!

Post by Christy Rotman, Marketing & Office Administrator

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Will you be ‘falling up’ on Saturday?

AXIS at YBGF 3This Saturday, July 14th from 1-3pm, catch AXIS dancers & guest performers for falling up, a new site-specific work by Sonsherée Giles utilizing the beautiful garden to connect art with landscape.

This is Sonsherée’s third year choreographing for the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and we were curious about this particular piece: 

What is exciting about this year’s outdoor piece?
SG: The group of dancers are mature, experienced and sophisticated. I am able to do lots of experimenting with the structure of the dance and challenge the dancers to explore greater degrees of subtly and complexity.

AXIS at YBGFYou’ve choreographed two other outdoor pieces for YBGF, what has been different about making this piece?
SG: This piece is the first piece that does not use concrete or any hard surfaces. We are on soft grassy surface the whole time which allows for a different quality of movement and risk taking that some people might be apprehensive to explore otherwise.

AXIS fans and supporters have the opportunity to dance alongside AXIS company members, how does it feel to ‘grow the company’ for this project?
SG: I enjoy working with lots of people, it AXIS at YBGF 2is fun and allows for new options. I can design the space and magnify the dance in a way that is just not possible with only 6 dancers. I can keep it simple by having the whole mass doing the same thing or layer it with lots of people doing different things. Many of the dancers have worked with me before so that adds a richness and knowledge, allowing the whole process to deepen and flow.

Photos: AXIS Dance Company performing in the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival 2011. Photography by Megan Wolfe.

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Back from the past

Browsing through some old pictures we just came across this beautiful photo with Megan & Stephanie.

We are so excited to have Megan joining us again for the site specific work “falling up” to be performed July 14th at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.


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a powerful bridge for our students

One of my favorite components of AXIS’ education program is our in-school assembly. What better way to give you an experience of what an assembly is like by sharing this story by the principal from one of the schools we recently visited. – Annika Nonhebel

AXIS Dance Company Assembly
By Laura Shain, Principal

We came together last week, kindergarten through eighth grade, to enjoy and learn from a performance in the gym with the AXIS Dance Company. This assembly was sponsored by our Diversity Leadership Group after our teacher Mary Kay was inspired by a performance one evening in Oakland last fall.

Sonsheree spins on Joel’s wheel during an excerpt of “the beauty that was mine”

The AXIS Dance Company dancers performed excerpts from their longer pieces and spoke to us about the connection between the word axis and access. We were moved by dances that integrated two wheelchairs – one motorized and one manual. The dances evoked emotion as only dance can – the beauty of the first dance brought tears to some eyes. The dancers incorporated the wheelchairs into the pieces by choreographing movements that utilized new possibilities.

We learned about our visiting dancers; how they came to the dance company and how dance is important to their lives. Perhaps most importantly, we were able to see beyond the wheelchairs, and the students were given an access point to know the dancers in the chairs.

Students talking to the dancers after the performance

During one dance, volunteers were brought up from the audience. Students partnered with the AXIS Dance Company dancers and were invited to connect physically, then to connected with another pair to form a new shape. This touching through dance was a powerful bridge for our students. When the assembly ended, many students rushed to the stage to talk with the dancers.They asked about their experiences and made personal connections as they met up close.

(From the AXIS website)  “AXIS Dance Company, one of the world’s most
acclaimed and innovative ensembles of performers with and without disabilities, will change the way you think about dance and the possibilities of the human body forever. Founded in 1987, AXIS has become a jewel of contemporary dance and disability culture. AXIS has paved the way for a powerful contemporary dance form – physically integrated dance – performing nationwide, as well as in Europe and Siberia.”

Prior to the passage of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) in 1975 and its amendments in 1977, disabled students were often segregated from regular education students and in many cases did not attend school at all. Inclusion promotes higher achievement academically and behaviorally and affords students the basic right of access to education. General education students also benefit from the exposure to students who learn differently and have different abilities. Teachers present material in new ways that benefit all students, such as with more thorough visual support and repetition. General education students develop empathy and acceptance, as well as learning to relate and interact to diverse peers. They also learn peer tutoring skills that boost their self-esteem. They grow up more able to create positive communities for all.

Larry’s Open Classroom first and second grade students wrote poems for the dance performers after the assembly. (This is a selection Includes minor editing for readability.)

Students' poems

Students’ poems and artwork. Do you recognize the dancers?

Joel’s Dance by Dyson
Dance Joel Dance!
He is great
Dance! Joel Dance!
I love his Dance
Dance! Joel Daaaaaaaaaance!!!!!!!!

Dance at Dawn by Hudson
I dance all the time I dance on my bed
Dance at night oops I think I stepped in cement
I jump when I dance
Dance at night I like to dance
I dance slow and I dance fast
Dance at night and dance in the day.

Axis Dance by Jubilee
Sonsheree’s on her hands…
AXIS dance
Joel’s on the ground…
AXIS dance
And they’re racing down the stage
AXIS dance

Dance at Dark by Taylor
I danced on stage
Dance at dark very scared
Crowd staring at me
Dance at dark oh no!
I missed a step!
Dance at dark but I still dance.

Dance Dog Dance by Will
Mom dance with me no…
Dance dog dance
Please dance with me no…
Dance dog dance
Please dance with me…
Dance dog dance.

When I Dance by David
When I dance I’m happy.
When I dance I’m excited.
When I dance I smile.
When I dance I dance by myself.
When I dance I move my feet.
When I dance I dance to a rhythm.

Ballet Ballet by Skyler
I am 8 it is May
Ballet is great to me
Big performances twirling
Ballet is great I have so much fun.
Dance in the Dark by Amber
Dance in the dark
I love
To dance with the stars
I love
To twirl and spin
I love to dance in the dark

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