ETD 2018 into 2019: Glancing Back and Blazing Forward by Andrew Tran

Every year has its ups and downs, accomplishments and challenges. The end of the year is an ideal time to assess how all that happened over those past 365 days might shape the new year to come.

I always encourage my company members, ETD Outreach instructors & participants and the recipients of the annual New Choreographer’s Grant to “find your fire.” In 2018, they all did in their own unique ways that dazzled the eyes and moved the hearts of those who encountered them in their element, and further ignited my own imagination and passion for the power of dance and movement to transform lives. There were so many accomplishments this year, here are a few highlights from Eryc Taylor Dance in 2018:

Photo: Nikola Bradonjic

Photo: Nikola Bradonjic

January 14

The Acacia Network officially adds ETD Outreach Movement Workshops to PROMESA’s Detox/Rehab treatment program. Acacia Network Community Residences have four supportive housing buildings with 115 diverse residents — some who have physical or mental disabilities, substance abuse issues or are elderly. Through teaching dance and movement, ETD encouraged the residents to express themselves, communicate with each other, socially interact, exercise, energize and share joy.

April 2

The Marta Heflin Foundation continued to support Eryc Taylor Dance and ETD Outreach for the third year consecutively with a grant in the generous amount of $10,000. These funds have directly increased the reach and impact of each of ETD’s programs from nearly two dozen weekly workshops on our home turf of NYC to opportunities to perform ETD’s works internationally.

May 14

In a collaboration supporting the Felix Organization, ETD instructors — Michelle Cole and Danielle Criss — worked with students from the Mott Haven Academy Charter School in the Bronx to create “Da Felix Dance,” the official dance for the 2018 Dance This Way Fundraiser at Arena NYC.

June 12

The ETD company dances repertory favorites including: “Cycles,” “Chaise Lung” and “Grand Duo” in an open-air performance alongside other NYC dance companies for The Bryant Park Contemporary Dance Program with the iconic skyline of Times Square as their backdrop. The performance garnered them a rave review on Broadway World Dance.

July 20

ETD performs “Cycles” at the Guild Hall in the Hamptons as part of the Dancers For Good benefit for the Dancers Resource, a branch of the Actors Fund devoted to the specific physical, mental and emotional needs of dancers. The Resource was created by Bebe Neuwirth, a dance, stage and screen legend, being honored that night alongside another icon — the multiple award-winning dynamo Chita Rivera. The dancers’ emotional depth and athleticism were lauded in the Broadway World review and thrilled the audience at the sold-out fundraiser where ETD shared the bill with Paul Taylor and Martha Graham Dance companies, among others.

August 4

ETD principal dancers Nicole Baker and Chris Bell (choreography and guided by Eryc Taylor) are featured in a provocative and poignant film shot throughout NYC by Italian photographer & filmmaker, Clarissa Lapolla.

September 27

In celebration of artist, Chris Tanner’s exhibition,Here’s Looking at You,” ETD Dancers perform “Grand Duo” and “Song for Cello” at the HOWL! Happening gallery in the East Village.

October 15

The ETD New Choreographers Grant held at the Martha Graham Studio sells out both showings and received critical praise for the creativity & approaches portrayed in the three dances: “Veil,” choreographed by Kanon Sapp, “Awakenings,” choreographed by Melanie Ramos and “Railways,” choreographed by Jordan Ryder. The three women stated that the most impactful and meaningful part of their experiences was their one-on-one session with Eryc Taylor to help better understand the business side of dance being of equal importance as the creative vision.

November 25

Released on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the short film, Although,” featuring Chris Bell & Nicole Baker, explores the internal fears and external traumas experienced by victims of abuse, as well as the possibility of empowerment, standing up to mistreatment and regaining one’s self worth.

So it’s sufficient to say that in terms of finding your fire — this year was a hot one! But things are heating up even more in the coming year. If 2018 was a blaze, 2019 will be an inferno!

Here is a sneak peek into what’s in store for ETD in 2019 and a request for your help to keep fanning the flames:

ETD is performing at APAP on January 7, 2019 at City Center at 12:30PM Free and no reservations needed!!

Everyone involved with ETD is thrilled and honored to announce that our biggest and most generous supporter, The Marta Heflin Foundation, has outdone themselves and awarded ETD a grant for $20,000 to commission a new work titled, E A R T H.

This grant gives us the crucial seed money for our most ambitious project to date that acts as an extension of ETD and the NCG program: In 2019, five of the most impressive and innovative alumni of the New Choreographers Grant will be chosen to set an original work on members of Eryc Taylor Dance company as part of and evening length work tilted, E A R T H. This is an unprecedented opportunity for these emerging artists to expand their visions even further and work with a professional company as a guest choreographer. And since collaboration, inspiration and uplifting others has always been at the heart and core principles of ETD, this extension is a natural progression.

However, this comes with a caveat — in order to achieve this exciting and important undertaking, we have to raise an additional $20,000 to match the grant. This is where you come in! While everyone is making the “ask” at the end of the year, think of the vast reach that such an opportunity will produce? Not only for the dancers and choreographers directly involved, but for the thousands of people who will see them perform, watch their choreographic creations and perhaps even enjoy a class or workshops under their guidance for years to come.

If this past year is any indication of what ETD can do, let the matching grant challenge we are posing to our patrons, supporters, friends, family, lovers of dance, physical expressions and empowerment of all kinds act as an inspiration to urge all of us to greatness and to take that leap of faith when something feels too important and necessary to ignore.

If you have ever been a part of our ETD family and the greater dance community of NYC and the wider world, or if you believe in uplifting those in need or giving chances to those who show such promise and merit but who may not have the means, then I encourage you to open your hearts (and yes, your wallets) to support ETD in our ambitious mission for 2019.

May your fire find you in the New Year. Onward and upward! HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at ETD!

Become a part of our family and donate HERE for a 100% tax-deductible donation!





Being a Beacon of Light in the Darkness by ETD

Today, December 21st, is Winter Solstice -- the shortest, darkest day of the year in terms of sunlight. This is a stark contrast to June 21st, Summer Solstice, where the sun shines longer than any other day of the year and if you are in NYC you might enjoy just soaking up some sun at an outdoor cafe. But right now, if you are in NYC, not only is it the darkest, shortest day of the year but the gray skies and pouring rain make the gloominess utterly pervasive.

Winter blues are real, and many people feel especially lonely, overwhelmed and depressed during the holiday season -- a time when we are constantly reminded through the speakers of every store or restaurant blasting Christmas songs to celebrate and be joyful and merry. To those who feel hopeless, this feels like a dismissal of their sorrows. 

There are ways to reach out to and uplift others. Giving back in the spirit of gratitude is a boomerang -- it will circle back to you. By taking care of others we assure that we too will be taken care of in our own times of need. And more than anything, giving back feels good! This is one of the main principles and cornerstones of the ETD Outreach Program. We view dance as a healing modality and have seen its power to transform lives, especially of those in more vulnerable communities. Sometimes all it takes to get negative, heavy energy moving is to move your body. This is how my company and I choose to share, give back and spread light but there are a multitude of ways you can use your own skills, passions and open minds and hearts to offer a little bit of relief (and maybe even some joy and festivity) to those lost in the darkness this holiday season. Lending a hand and giving back is truly the gift that keeps on giving. 

So I challenge you to take a day, a fews hours or even mere moments out of your hectic holiday schedule to be there for someone else who is in need. And it doesn't have to be glum -- why not turn it into a fun family or friends activity? Getting others involved makes the ripple effect even greater. Giving back is an excellent way to end the year and begin a new one. 

Here are some ways to help, please spread the word and share your own ideas:

Donate or Volunteer:

The IRC https://www.rescue.org/

NYC Rescue Mission http://nycrescue.org/

DanceNYC https://www.dance.nyc/about/donate

Animal Haven https://www.animalhavenshelter.org/

The Equal Justice Initiative https://eji.org/

Books For Africa https://www.booksforafrica.org/

Meds and Food for Kids https://mfkhaiti.org/

Eryc Taylor Dance http://ETD.nyc/donate :)


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Everyone at ETD wishes you all the best this Holiday Season!

Sincerely,

Eryc Taylor

ALTHOUGH | A Dance Film | Elimination of Violence Against Women by Andrew Tran

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women created in honor of the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic who were assassinated because of their participation in movements against the dictator Rafael Trujillo's regime). The date, designated by the United Nations General Assembly, marks the beginning of 16 days of remembrance and activism concluding with International Human Rights Day on December 10th. Though a single day, sixteen days or even many years is never enough to remedy this global issue, it ought to at least give us all a moment to pause and reflect during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to think about what we can do and to stand in solidarity with the massive amounts of women worldwide affected by violence, many right in their own homes.

Statistically, about 1 in 3 women have or will suffer some kind of sexual or violent abuse in their lifetimes by someone who is not their partner. According to a report by the United Nations, 19% of women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence “by an intimate partner” that in some cases has resulted in her death, while other studies show a staggering 70% rate of abuse at the hands of a partner. (Next time you’re in a group of women, look around and let those figures sink in). This gender-based violence spreads to the especially vulnerable: young girls and trans or queer-identifying women in the LGBTQ communities.

In honor, awareness, and solidarity of these sixteen days and for the women, girls and all people affected by any act of violence against them or their loved ones, I wanted to share a film I am very proud of that ETD was a part of this past summer. This incredible short film, ALTHOUGH, was directed and filmed by Clarissa Lapolla with Music by Massimo Bonuccelli, choreography by me, Eryc Taylor, in collaboration with ETD performers Chris Bell and Nicole Baker.

I was both honored and moved that she asked me to collaborate and participate in this meaningful project and intrigued about why she sought ETD out for something with this kind of subject matter. She was initially looking for dancers more along the lines of an ABT style and was a bit hesitant about Chris and Nicole, but I pushed for them because I know what they are capable of both physically and emotionally and the power of their presence on and off stage and screen from working with them for years. In addition to that, they have a special, intimate bond from working with one another in the company plus they are regular dance partners and also have done outside projects and multiple photography sessions together -- so that absolute trust is there. They both ended up exceeding my expectations (and Clarissa’s) as they always do which just makes me beam with pride and gratitude for my extraordinary company members.

I definitely learned A LOT more about this painful topic from working on the film (which I was initially apprehensive about because I am aware of the sensitive nature of the subject matter and didn't want it to come across as reductive in any way) and about the complications of filming in general. The video couldn't follow the original script because we had a location issue with rain that day. So a three-day shoot turned into a one-day shoot of 12 hours because of scheduling. Filming poses different challenges than a live performance. The experiences with working on this film and additional investigative research on these issues further broadened my awareness to the vulnerability many women and girls face daily at the hands of abusive men in a patriarchal society that doesn't seem to be getting better.

Thinking of those statistics makes me wonder every time I am in a group with women -- how many of those I know and care about (as well as acquaintances and even strangers) have been victims of some kind of abuse? How many of our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts grandmothers, partners, and friends -- who all probably thought it could never happen to them -- are holding in torturous secrets?

But if I know one thing about women from having the rock-solid support of my magnificent mom, my beautiful best female friend Beth and the many dancers, associates and other delightful divas I have had the privilege to know, it is that women are STRONG and resilient. They can overcome enormous difficulties and adversities and I believe there is hope and with love, support and taking action, there can be healing and the power to change as well. When women band together they can and do transform the world! Already 140 countries and counting have laws in place to protect women and girls from domestic violence and sexual harassment. But it all starts right here at home and with each of us doing our part.

Here is what you can do over the next 16 days and anytime to help others and/or yourself by taking the steps to raise awareness and work to end violence against all female-kind:

  1. Use #HearMeToo to help spread awareness to End Violence Against Women and Girls

  2. View our film here:https://vimeo.com/302575690 and #Repost

  3. If you are or know someone in need call: National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

  4. Join or donate to an organization that empowers women, stands up to defend and protect the vulnerable and eliminates violence and sexual abuse against women and girls. Here are a few:

     5. Do the research -- Here are some other resources:

https://mainweb-v.musc.edu/vawprevention/

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 by ETD


Thanksgiving may mean many different things depending on who you ask, but for me it serves as an opportunity to do exactly what the title requests -- give thanks for who and what is in your life, knowing that an attitude of gratitude is the only way to ensure such blessings will continue. It also comes at an interestingly appropriate time of the year, November, when the seasons have changed but it’s not quite the end of the year, where one reflects on what has transpired over the past year, or the beginning of the new year where goals and intentions are set. It is a time for an assessment before all of that and what better way to examine your life at present state than by crediting who and what you’re grateful for?

I have a long list which could be added to infinitely (I would definitely be one of the people they have to play the music for as a cue to exit the stage at an awards ceremony) but here are some standouts (old and new) that have carved an eternal place in my heart: 

First and foremost I'm grateful for my higher power, for without that connection nothing is possible and to FIRE -- the passion that motivates all great actions; I'm grateful to AA and ACIM for promoting LOVE, forgiveness, acceptance, and healing; to Marianne Williamson for keeping me in tune with my daily spiritual journey which helps keep my fear and ego in check continually reminding me to come from a place of love and forgiveness as best I can, one day at a time; for my magnificent husband -- the greatest gift of this year was solidifying our bond through marriage -- I could write a zillion things but you know what’s in my heart; to my mother who has been my biggest fan, constant cheerleader and the greatest support in my life; for my twin brother who I recently rekindled a friendship/kinship/brotherhood bond with for the first time in 40 years when together we recently brought horrible darkness into the light; for Roxy and Zak who brought so much joy to our lives; for all of my fabulous friends and for best friend since childhood, the terrifically talented Beth Hart. 

I am supremely grateful for every single member of Eryc Taylor Dance -- past, present, and future including all of our dancers, collaborators, costume designers, composers and photographers we have worked with. Some of these special souls include all of my ETD dancers from years gone by and our current crew: Nicole Baker, Chris Bell, AJ Guevara, Taylor Ennen, Alex Tenreiro Theis, along with the three new choreographers (Kanon Sapp, Melanie Ramos and Jordan Ryder) who were the 2018 recipients of the ETD New Choreographer Grant, as well as their performers and all of their fellow recipients since the award was launched in 2013 -- I have watched you blossom and have learned so much from all of you as a dancer, choreographer and as a human being. 

Gratitude is due to the outstanding composers I have worked with such as Gerald Busby, Daniel Tobias, and Salomon Lerner,  -- your music gives wings to my movement and allows the dancers to soar to new heights; to the costume creators who adorned the dancers with garments both fantastic and functional like the brilliant Scooter LaForge, and a special thanks to Patricia Field for her support and inspiration over the years. 

A huge thank you goes out to the many phenomenal photographers I have been honored to work with, who capture such exquisite expressions of explosive movement in a single frame: Lois Greenfield, Nikola Bradonjic, Maria Panina, Steven Menendez, Kristina Zaidner and Rachel Neville.

Everyday I cherish and feel thankful for our important and meaningful programs: Eryc Taylor Dance, Eryc Taylor Dance Outreach and ETD/New Choreographer Grant and the organizations who make it ALL possible including: Postgraduate Center For Mental, Health, The Acacia Network, Jacob Barak, Lorraine Coleman, The Marta Heflin Foundation, Douglas Sills of The Sills Foundation, CWT, MAC, and in the recent past thank you to The International Festival Avant Garde, New York Live Arts, The Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street Y, and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, among others.

Sincere appreciation goes to those who have shaped and sculpted my career and my self -- my instructors from LA County High School for the Arts, London Contemporary School of Dance, Le Centre de Marais, Group Motion Dance Company, Second Avenue Dance Company, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and Ruth Andrien who recommended me for a full scholarship to Jacob’s Pillow which transformed the way I choreograph.

Much love and gratitude to my devoted and tireless team: my PR rep Adria Rolnick, ETD board members Marsena Farris, Diane Rosenstein and Gerald Busby, Andrew Tran, IVY Social Media, Nicole Baker, Michelle Cole, Cindy Sibilsky and to Broadway World, Fran Kirmser, The Dance Enthusiast, Dance Magazine, Ruth Walker of W42ND Magazine and to all of the fans, patrons, supporters, press, and organizations that makes ETD and all of its programs successful and my life richer and more wondrous each day. 


From the bottom of my heart -- THANK YOU ALL!!!

2018 ETD/NCG Rehearsal Visit: Melanie Ramos by Andrew Tran

Last weekend I attend Melanie’s rehearsal at the SUNY Purchase studios. I traveled to White Plains, NY to see this young choreographer work with her dancers and give feedback on her progress so far.

Melanie’s piece is contemporary ballet and features three men and two women on pointe. She entered the room with clear and precise directions for her dancers. She knew exactly what she wanted to get done and worked straight through. Respectful of her dancer’s bodies and their time, Melanie did an amazing job of being as productive as possible while respecting their time.

One element she and I discussed throughout the rehearsal was the use of transitional movement. We worked on creating movements that would smoothly transition between sections of strictly ballet versus more pedestrian-inspired material. She took notes and began working on creating these moments. Another challenge for Melanie was working was the inconsistent tempo of the score she choose. Steve Reich is famous for his offbeat and uneven tempos. The more she worked with the piece, the more challenging it became to regulate the counts. My advice to her was to forget the counts and try to find musical landmarks. Sometimes trying to be too precise can stifle creativity and make the piece feel heavy and predictable.

I cannot wait to see her piece on October 13th (at the Martha Graham Studio Theater, at 7PM and 8:30PM). Do not forget to reserve your tickets to see it as well!


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