PRACTICES: WEEK 3 > JANUARY 16-20, 2017 > ALTERNATIVA with Stephanie Maher, Abby Crain, Keith Hennessy

You are here: Home - - PRACTICES: WEEK 3 > JANUARY 16-20, 2017 > ALTERNATIVA with Stephanie Maher, Abby Crain, Keith Hennessy

Project Details
January 16-20, 2017
Project Description

FRESH2017 Alternativa, Abby Crain, Keith Hennessy


Monday-Friday, January 16-20

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 [Ponderosa-style]

ALTERNATIVA [Kathleen Hermesdorf + Albert Mathias] with Stephanie Maher

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.


Practicing for the Unknown, Practicing with the Unknown

Abby Crain

What if we practice with the unknown as our dearest partner?  What if we cultivate curiosity, courage, flexibility, responsiveness, connectedness and resilience in lieu of looking for answers, shortcuts or all encompassing paradigms? If we assume we cannot know, understand, nor predict what our practice will uncover, and furthermore that we cultivate openness, delight and respect for whatever this may be, what do we stand to learn? How can we prepare to meet surprises with openness and availability. What amazing and surprising things happen when we do?

This is not to say that we navigate foolishly and without foresight. This isn’t to say that we will be checked out or passive. We will utilize our very best, imaginative, anatomical and practical frameworks to get where we are going. We will be rigorous with our practice and attention.  We will listen deeply. We will see in the dark. Most of all, we will  MOVE!

Classwork is rooted deeply in the images and methodology of Open Source Forms, the wild stepchild of Skinner Releasing as filtered through Stephanie Skura, as well as practices informed by Body Mind Centering, the work of Andre Bernard, Cranio Sacral Therapy and kinesiology. Please bring paper and something to write with to class, as well as layers of clothing.


Assume Best Intent (aka Social Dancing aka Negotiating)

Keith Hennessy

Five days of research and play in dancing together, with an/other, in collaboration. Shared experimental practice in the blessings and crises of social relationships. Through a range of mostly (but not only) duet activities we’ll negotiate improvisation and composition, touching and not touching, meaning and perspective, speed and space, unity-in-difference, gestures and objects. Potential tactics: observation, unison, post/contact, refusal, solidarity, companionship, endurance, swamp, and prayer. Anne Lamott suggests that prayer is Help, Thanks, and Wow. How to dance in a new era where rhetorical violence inspires actual violence amid the collapsing solidarity asserted by neoliberalism? This dance class experiments with negotiated and improvised collaboration as prayer-magic-ritual-dancing-performance-action.


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. | | |

Stephanie Maher – based in New York and then San Francisco 1989-1995. Known for her breathtaking physicality and for creating works that express a unique blend of intimacy, sensitivity and wild humor. In 1998, Maher relocated to Berlin, Germany, where she continued to perform, organize, develop and teach in the community-based settings of K77 Studios and founded the Ponderosa in Stolzenhagen, Germany with Uli Kaiser and PORCH with Kathleen Hermesdorf, a 3 month module-based program for aspiring professionals. Improvisationally structuring and unknowingly creating a life of curating dance between the urban environment and nature, Maher’s focus has deepened towards the small networkings of the international dance scene, creating avenues of support for self-realized and non-profit organizations. This includes the facets of liminal, spontaneous, curious and outspoken performance installations that occur within the permissible space of Ponderosa work and art made at home. Maher recently finished an MFA in Choreography from Smith College.

Abby Crain is an Oakland, California based artist who makes dances and other structures for performance. Most recently she has been engaged in year long epic collaboration with Mara Poliak and Maryanna Lachman called Snake Talk,  a disquieting feminist gothic sublime transformational spectacle for the stage that premiered last april at Counterpulse Theater. She also works in the field as a teacher, performer, writer, and curator.   Her solo and collaborative work has been presented in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Los Angeles.  She  teaches annually at the FRESH festival in San Francisco, the Drop Your City Armor Retreat in Dos Rios California with Jesse Hewit and Sara Shelton Mann, Ponderosa Tanzland in Stolzenhagen Germany, and has additionally taught in New York City through Movement Research.  As a performer, she has worked extensively with Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People  ( 2001-2009), Sara Shelton Mann (1999-2001, and 2010 present), and has has also worked with Jesse Hewit, Guillermo Gomez Peña, Jess Curtis Gravity, Kathleen Hermesdorf, and David Dorfman Dance. Her writing and interviews have been published by Itch Performance Journal (LA), PAPER FRONT (Portland), Critical Correspondence (NYC), and the Off Center (SF). Her curatorial projects include the NO THANK YOU SHOW, which asked artists to represent or stage work that has been rejected by granting organizations, theaters, collaborators, or the artist herself, the NON MAJOR SHOW, which asked artists to show work was not in their primary medium, as well as being on the curatorial panel of the FRESH festival.  Her work is influenced by an ongoing polymorphous teaching and research project with Margit Galanter called Art Workouts, and a collaborative dialog around language and performances with Oakland poet, David Buuck. She was certified by Stephanie Skura to teach Open Source Forms in 2014.

Keith Hennessy dances in and around performance. Born in Sudbury Ontario, he lives in San Francisco and tours internationally. His performances engage improvisation, ritual and public action as tools for investigating political realities. His awards include Izzies, a NY Bessie, and the United States Artist award. Practices inspired by anarchism, critical whiteness, punk, and queer-feminism motivate and mobilize Hennessy’s teaching, writing, dancing. Keith started practicing contact improvisation in 1979, the same year that he discovered body-based performance art. 2016 was a huge year with 5 premiers created in collaboration with Meg Stuart, Scott Wells, Blank Map, Jassem Hindi, and Peaches. Hennessy directs Circo Zero and was a member of Contraband with Sara Shelton Mann, 1985-1994. Keith earned an MFA in Choreography and a PhD in Performance Studies from UC Davis.


Related Works

Back to top