PRACTICES: WEEK 1 > JANUARY 2- 6, 2017 > ALTERNATIVA, Sara Shelton Mann, Jess Curtis

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Project Details
January 2-6, 2017
Project Description

FRESH2017 Alternativa, Jess Curtis, Sara Shelton Mann


Monday-Friday, January 2-6

10am-5:30pm | Joe Goode Annex [401 Alabama Street, SF]

$100 – Practice | $550 – 6 Practices | $1100 – 12 Practices

FRESH PRACTICES are 3 weeks and 3 weekends of  immersive research and training in dance and related forms facilitated by innovative artists for serious practitioners and interested bodies. FRESH PRACTICES explore corporeality, somatic awareness, movement techniques, improvisational modalities, creative processes, performance experiments, embodied theories and human potential.



GUT Motives

ALTERNATIVA [Kathleen Hermesdorf + Albert Mathias]

GUT Motives is an alternative contemporary dance class and ongoing research by ALTERNATIVA investigating corpo-reality and the act of motion from internal impulse to external expression. The work utilizes a hybrid of forms to encourage deep awareness and understanding of the body and the body in motion, motivated by multiple interpretations of GUT, including viscera, center of gravity, courage, instinct, intuition, revelation and vulnerability. The practice is a progression of energy cultivation, hands-on investigation, somatic improvisation, technical experiments and methods of falling, flying and inversion, culminating in dynamic, 3-dimensional phrase work. The class is an intimate, animated arena for physical and artistic exploration, deeply informed by live, original music, and cultivating sensate virtuosity, kinetic efficiency, physical perception, interactive intelligence and performance-level dancing.


Moving Alchemy (space jumping quadrant)

Sara Shelton Mann

inside out/deepening your touch, writing and dancing for the joy of it

Scramble technique, chi cultivation, research of the day. Finding more room/riding the breath, rhythm of the heart, the divine spine and the empty limb exit/ Where’s the beat? The space and the lift off of partnerships/finding scenario within scenario within scenario/ The walking base and the pelvic ground/space diving and interactive tracts of information – the imaginal realm/Head, heart, pelvis/ underneath the collarbone/slanted space/interium spaces/ Dancing with the world/eye of the hurricane


Embodying Theory

Jess Curtis

Too often critical theory about the body is only examined through the experience of reading, writing, speaking and listening while seated at tables and in chairs in seminar rooms. At the same time, even as contemporary dance practice utilizes more theoretical discourse in the production and reception of new work, the ‘thinking’ often comes into the studio only through the voice of the dramaturge or director, the books themselves remain outside. This course is designed as a place for the meeting of theory and practice. We will bring written theory about the body, performance and everyday life into action (and question) through reading, moving, seeing, sweating, speaking, feeling, breathing, sounding, listening, and writing. We will examine physical practices as the production and transmission of knowledge and reflect critically on them in relation to the historical lines of their transmission and their relation to other discourse. Each day one relatively short reading will be examined in relation to embodied processes from the world of body-based artistic practice.

Readings will include articles by Michel de Certeau, Robin DiAngelo, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Susan Foster, Jacques Derrida and Amelia Jones. Embodied processes will include practices drawn from Mr. Curtis’ career of study of interdisciplinary performance including the forms of contemporary dance, bodywork, contact improvisation, contemporary circus, musical and vocal work, referencing through embodied transmission the bodies and physical practices of (among others) Rudolf Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff, Alwin Nikolais, Remy Charlip, Sara Shelton Mann, Steve Paxton, Meg Stuart, David Zambrano, Annie Sprinkle, Kirstie Simson, Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Fakir Musafar.


ALTERNATIVA, directed by dancer Kathleen Hermesdorf with musician Albert Mathias, is an apparatus for deeply integrated contemporary dance and music via collaboration, creation, improvisation, performance, production, curation and education. Active in San Francisco since 1998, the organization supports the creative work of the directors, known for research, practice and performance pieces that explore human behaviors and conditions, corporeality and other ineffabilities. Activities, including an annual FRESH Festival, workshops in the Bay Area, residencies at universities, festivals and studios worldwide and PORCH/Ponderosa/POSSE in Germany, engage an extensive population of artists, audiences and participants. ALTERNATIVA is fiscally sponsored by Dancers’ Group and has received support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, William + Flora Hewlett Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, CA$H Grant, CHIME/MJDC, San Francisco Arts Commission and The Suitcase Fund.

Kathleen Hermesdorf is an international dance artist, educator and producer, and the Director of ALTERNATIVA in San Francisco. She has been dancing in the Bay Area since 1991 and teaches, performs, improvises, creates, curates and mentors around the world. Hermesdorf gained invaluable experience as a member of Bebe Miller Company, Contraband/Sara Shelton Mann and Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. A collaborator at heart, she also co-directed Hermesdorf & Wells Dance Company with Scott Wells and Collusion with Stephanie Maher, with whom she has co-directed PORCH summerschool at Ponderosa in Germany since 2010. Hermesdorf brings over 20 years of experience from the field, studio and stage to her work and holds a BFA and an MFA in Dance Performance + Pedagogy.

Albert Mathias [Audio/Video artist] has been performing in San Francisco and abroad since 1991.  He is a multi-disciplinary musician who creates live composition and recorded sound design for dance, theater, film, video, and audio media(s). He also produces and performs his own solo music under the name StRiCtLy AlBeRt. Mathias is Music Director of ALTERNATIVA and works independently with choreographers, improvisers, musicians and visual artists.  In 2000, he was nominated for an IZZIE Award for Original Sound Score for BLUE 2000, and in 2006, received a BESSIE Award for Bebe Miller’s Landing/Place. He was also featured in Miller’s Necessary Beauty. Mathias was a member of the multi-disciplinary performance group Contraband from 1995-97, and is the drummer/percussionist for LiveHuman, the internationally acclaimed improvisation-based trio with DJ Quest and Jazz upright bassist Andrew Kushin.  Albert attended California Institute for the Arts, training in tabla, voice and accompaniment with masters Amiya Dasgupta, John Bergamo and Leonice Shinneman, and has had the honor of private Tabla study with Pandit Swapan Chauduri, Sri Ravi Bellare, and snare drum technique with Tony Williams. He is currently investing his energies into his mobile solar music studio, creating live sound scores for all types of motion and continues his daily practice, since 1995, as live electronic music accompanist for dance classes. | | |

Sara Shelton Mann has been a choreographer, performer, teacher since 1967.  She was a protégé of Alwin Nikolais and Murray Lewis in N.Y.C. before moving to Canada where she met Andrew Harwood and fell in love with contact improvisation. In 1979 she moved to SFCA and started the Company Contraband as a performance group and research ground combining the principles of contact, systems of the body and spiritual practice into a unified system of research.  Among her awards are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 6 Isadora Duncan Awards,  Djerassi Artist in Residence Awards, Headlands Center for  the Arts Residency 2016,  Lifetime Achievement Bay Guardian Award, Foundation for Contemporary Arts artist award 2016. Her Movement Alchemy training is an ongoing teaching project and is influenced by certifications and studies in the metaphysical and healing traditions. Sara’s performance work is a platform for collaboration and research in consciousness.

Jess Curtis is an award-winning choreographer and performance artist committed to an art-making practice informed by experimentation, innovation, critical discourse and social relevance at the intersections of fine art and popular culture. Curtis has created and performed multidisciplinary dance theater throughout the U.S., Europe with seminal group Contraband, the radical performance collective CORE and the experimental French Circus company Cahin-Caha, Cirque Batard. From 1991 to 1998 he co-directed the ground-breaking San Francisco performance venue 848 Community Space with Keith Hennessy and Michael Whitson. In 2000, Curtis founded his own trans-continental performance company, Jess Curtis/Gravity, based in Berlin and San Francisco. In 2011 he was presented the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts for choreography. Curtis is active as a writer, advocate and community organizer in the fields of contemporary dance and performance, and teaches Dance, Contact Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Performance for individuals of all abilities throughout the US and Europe. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of the Arts in Berlin. He holds an MFA in Choreography and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies  from the University of California at Davis.


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