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GretchenStar

Livestream of RDA National Festival (5/3/17 to 5/6/17)

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GretchenStar   
GretchenStar

In case anyone is interested - the performances at Regional Dance America National Festival is being livestreamed Wed 5/3/17 through Sat 5/6/17 at 7pm PDT.

http://www.rdanationalfestival.com/live-stream-page.html

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Victoria Leigh   
Victoria Leigh

Thank you, Gretchen! 

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GretchenStar   
GretchenStar

Unfortunately, I don't have time to watch all of the performances but I have some thoughts on yesterday's performance (Wednesday) and the 1st part of today's (Thursday):

I wonder how the programming for each night was decided.  At previous national festivals (if I remember correctly), each performance was devoted to one region so the adjudicator for the region arranged the order of the pieces.  Felt there were too many modern pieces in a row on Wednesday - there were few classical ballet pieces and maybe a couple of contemporary ballet (en pointe), but I think mixing up the order would have helped.

I have a couple of constructive criticisms ... double lame duck turns are not a good step to do as a group or even with just 2 dancers because they are difficult to do in unison.  Also, 1 girl (in a piece with 8-10 girls?) seemed slightly behind the others and her arabesques / developpe devant were low (maybe 60 degrees) while the rest of the girls (mostly) had extensions higher than 90 degrees.  These are technical issues (for sure), but I feel it's more of a choreographic issue here - the choreographer or the director needs to decide how high or low the legs should be. And if the double lame duck ends in a chasse tendu, and people are kind of stumbling into the tendu - maybe a different ending needs to be chosen for the lame duck.

Technical 

  • Pointed feet on ballet walks (in pointe shoes) please! No shuffling like a penguin when on demi pointe.  
  • Steps facing enface that start from a 5th position (pirouette, double tour) - you better make sure the 5th position is a good 5th and not a separated 3rd (or worse yet, a turned in 4th).
  • Some dancers appeared to have difficulty getting over their pointe shoes.
  • What's with these very meager tour jetes?  They don't have to be full split grand allegro jumps but a lot of them looked like assembles that didn't "assemble" in the air.

Choreography / Costumes / Props

  • Cannons can look chaotic - if it's not done well, it looks like the dancers are just out of sync.
  • Some choreography was overly complex, and/or seemed beyond the ability of some of the dancers.
  • So many of the pieces had little or low light - my mom would have said "why's it so dark?!"
  • Some of the costume choices were odd: there was one piece with gorgeous sequined long dresses, but it was a modern piece and the costumes just didn't go with it. A couple of pieces with bare midriffs - not saying that it's necessarily bad, but it felt a little competition-y.  Also, a white trim on a maroon v-neck ballet dress - made the v-neck look much lower (almost inappropriate) from a distance.

Now, onto some of pieces that stood out for me:

Ballet 5:8 (Wed) - modern piece. Girls in blue leotards w/ black tights (lead girl in purple leo w/ black tights).  Good unison.  The theme I got from the piece was outsider/outcast.  The lead girl’s hair was becoming a little messy - intentional? (The other girls’ hair were glossed back).  Bows - did the lead girl not come back on stage or did I just not see her?

Ballet Yuma (Wed) - my fav of the night.  Contemporary on pointe.  Leotards w/ skirts (no tights?), guy in short unitard. 1 girl slipped/fell during chaine turns but hopped right back up and continued on.  Rare for a guy to have equal technique to the girls (so many pieces usually relegate the guys to partnering) - he was featured in some solo sections.   Good solid technique.

Crockett-Deane Ballet (Thurs) - a tutu ballet!  Yay - pointed feet! Movement was crisp.  Saut de chats (intentionally small - not a split leap) had nice straight legs and pointed feet. Some of the steps were fairly elementary (tendus, etc), but I find it a bit charming.  The ending sequence was a repeat of the beginning - I would have liked a little more energy (to keep up the same energy from the beginning).

Lastly - a few companies did not consent to be livestreamed, so the performance cut away (or will cut away) when those companies perform.  I can imagine there's a variety of reasons why a company would opt out, from privacy to choreographic / music rights.  Obviously it's up to the individual company to decide, but overall I'm glad that the vast majority of the companies opted in.  

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MBdancers   
MBdancers

What an interesting commentary! Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts. I will be watching tonight and tomorrow. 

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Eligus   
Eligus

Thank you Gretchen Star!  As a parent, I find it helpful to have more knowledgeable people educate my own eye.  While I understand that opinions are not gospel, they are still helpful to hear and sort through.  Honest, respectful feedback (which you have given) should always be appreciated, IMO.

 

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jwolfenden   
jwolfenden

As a mom to one of the Crockett Deane dancers I appreciate your kind comments and will pass on to the girls! One thing I would like to mention is that there seem to be too much angst in the overall festival pieces. Dark lighting, heavy themes general misery! Would like to see more upbeat happy pieces. I know these are teenagers but my goodness there is only so many dark angry pieces I can watch in one night! 

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Ballet Day   
Ballet Day

Thank you GretchenStar for your comments! I'm one of the Crockett-Deane dancers, and I'm excited that our performance was a standout to you! :D

 

We are probably the only company that does a tutu ballet EVERY year, lol

 

One of my favorite performances that I watched was The Incredible Petes performed by Midland Festival Ballet. The choreography and "music" choice was very cute and funny, and the dancers executed the movements VERY well.

p.s.   Hi Mrs. Wolfendon!

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jwolfenden   
jwolfenden

Hi! Well done last night! Love you all!

 

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GretchenStar   
GretchenStar

Aww, thanks for the words of encouragement! I've posted previously about RDA performances but not since I stopped dancing several years ago. I think it's a very good exercise to have dancers think about and explain what they like and don't like about a piece. We tend to focus on high legs and multiple turns - they're nice to look at, sure, but there's got to be more than just that in ballet / dance. 

Ballet Day and jwolfenden - ah, Crockett-Deane Ballet! I was in your region so I've seen your company perform many times! There was a ballet with Razor scooters (I think I saw it at 2 festivals, actually!). And I love that you guys do tutu ballets (my favorite!). They must be fun to do but challenging too.

And I agree with the too much angst. Is it a programming issue (will we see two full nights of happy peppy pieces?), is it just what choreographers want to express these days, or what?  Also, I'm curious what other pieces were adjudicated but not chosen. 

One last thought - since only the company names are posted on the live stream site - we don't know the titles of the pieces, what music will be used, the story (sometimes there's a blurb), or even how many dancers will be in the piece. The element of surprise adds to the excitement :)

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GTLS Designs   
GTLS Designs

It is worth noting that the evenings are broken up into 3 parts.  Each part is 1 region and each region was adjudicated by a different Adjudicator.  Each Adjudicator programmed their portion however they wanted.  Thus we should only judge the pacing of the Act onto itself, not judge the pacing of the entire evening as a whole.  If you are noticing the vibe of a whole evening (angst vs peppy) that is happening just by chance, not by design.

Tues = Southeast, Midstates, Southwest
Wed = Midstates, Pacific, Southeast
Thurs = Pacific, Southwest, Northeast
Fri = Northeast, Pacific, Midstates
Sat = Southwest, Southeast, Pacific

As for the cleanliness of the ballets and/or how they are presented, that is up to the companies, not the Adjudicators.  Each region has a different way of establishing their standards so you might be able to see those standards within the 3 parts of the live stream?!  Even within standards, there will always be companies who are super strong, and companies who need more work..... That is part of the experience of RDA.  We are ALL here to do our BEST and continue forward growth.

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GretchenStar   
GretchenStar

GTLS Designs - thanks for the explanation about the programming and how the performance is broken into 3 parts!  I was wondering about that.

-----------

Regarding the cleanliness of the pieces or how they are presented - I firmly believe every company's goal is to perform their best and the directors and choreographers have spent many hours trying to get everything as neat and tidy as possible.  There's a certain basic expectation for companies in RDA, isn't there?  There's a reason why prospective companies have to audition and go through the process.  The minor issues I'm talking about is not so much about technical skill - it's about the choreographer (or director) deciding what they want, and making sure every dancer on that stage can do it.  It's live theater so anything can happen (fouettes center stage at festival?  Oof - I've been there and it did not go well for me).  But you have to decide if the bows will be feet together in parallel or if you want an open stance.  Do you want a cheerful smile or a grim look?  Unless the theme is "whatever goes" - that's a valid choice too, but is it a conscious one?

I watched about 2/3 of tonight's (Friday's) performance and overall there was a lighter tone.  The one thing that I keep thinking about are the costumes - I'm sorry to say that there were a couple that made me think "huh".  I really don't like the look of leotards without tights (my personal preference).  

It's an interesting perspective watching the livestream to be able to see the entire stage from the back of the house POV, because you are "forced" to see the big picture.  You get to see the patterns on stage much better (and notice when lines aren't perfectly straight - this doesn't matter to an audience member sitting 10 rows back).  But you miss nuances and are at the mercy of the camera operators who may stay wide even if there's only 1 dancer on stage or zoom in when there are multiple groups on stage dancing.  The camera operators are doing a fantastic job, btw!

I don't know if it's a typo on the website, or if the order was changed, but Canton Ballet performed in the slot that was listed for another company.  Their Don Q piece was nicely performed (technically and artistically) and there was absolutely nothing wrong with the piece, but I think I would have preferred less iconic music if that makes sense. 

I very much liked Philadelphia Dance Theater's piece - does anyone know the name of the music?  I've heard it before but I couldn't place it.

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Mobadt   
Mobadt

Yes I definitely was not a fan of seeing so many modern or contemporary pieces in a row.  And Wednesday night, my older daughter and I watched about half of it, but had to go to sleep because we were on the east coast. My favorite that night was the nicely done number on Pointe with the swing music. It was very well danced and the costumes were spot on - so beautifully they flowed with the dancing. The amusement that night was how many times we could see choreography set to Philip Glass music - and there were 2 pieces in a row that were the same exact music played by different instruments. My older DD was in a piece set to that music and we know it's a favorite, but that was a little too much. The 2 music pieces were extremely similar if not the same. The music in some pieces was so repetitive it made me uncomfortable. The point perhaps, but I needed to escape after too many with alike music in a row.

I would like to applaud and congratulate RDA however for giving me a memory I will never forget: this was my younger DDs last time at the festival as she is a graduating senior. I could not go to the festival for the first time in 5 years - I missed Montreal 5 years ago but have been chaperone and attendee for the last 11- my older DD went of course too. To be able to see her dance on that stage in that festival - one more time - Priceless! THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. ??

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GretchenStar   
GretchenStar

My favorite piece of the night was by San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet (the 2nd piece of the night) - my first impression was birds because of some of the arm movements and the flowing blue/aqua dresses reminded me of the sky.  Then I thought of sea anemones.  It was really quite exquisite how the movements seamlessly transitioned from one bit of choreography to the next.  

I liked how the choreographer made use of different groupings - that can be chaotic if there are a lot of dancers on stage or if the choreography is complex, but since there were only 4 dancers, it worked really well.  Dancers A,B,C would be doing the same choreography and Dancer D doing her own stuff, and then it'd be Dancers B and D together and Dancers A and C together for a few bars, and then it would change again.  It was not like Dancers A and B would always do the same choreography over here, and Dancers C and D would be doing different choreography over there.

The piece reminded me of humans/people.  How each one of us belong to different groups and how we seamless move about them.  We're part of this group for a while (e.g. dancers), and then we join this other group (e.g. Californians), and then we join this other group (e.g. people who wear glasses), and then back to the dancers group.  I'm probably not explaining it very well :) , but the piece made quite an impression on me.

Thank you RDA for livestreaming the performances and to all the dancers, directors, choreographers, parents, volunteers, and everyone else who made it possible!  It was great to see all these companies perform and it brought back so many memories of my RDA dancing days.  

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Temps de cuisse   
Temps de cuisse

GretchenStar: PDT music was Dance Macabre by Saint-Saens

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GTLS Designs   
GTLS Designs
On 5/5/2017 at 11:21 PM, GretchenStar said:

Regarding the cleanliness of the pieces or how they are presented - I firmly believe every company's goal is to perform their best and the directors and choreographers have spent many hours trying to get everything as neat and tidy as possible.  There's a certain basic expectation for companies in RDA, isn't there?  There's a reason why prospective companies have to audition and go through the process.  The minor issues I'm talking about is not so much about technical skill - it's about the choreographer (or director) deciding what they want, and making sure every dancer on that stage can do it.  It's live theater so anything can happen (fouettes center stage at festival?  Oof - I've been there and it did not go well for me).  But you have to decide if the bows will be feet together in parallel or if you want an open stance.  Do you want a cheerful smile or a grim look?  Unless the theme is "whatever goes" - that's a valid choice too, but is it a conscious one?

I watched about 2/3 of tonight's (Friday's) performance and overall there was a lighter tone.  The one thing that I keep thinking about are the costumes - I'm sorry to say that there were a couple that made me think "huh".  I really don't like the look of leotards without tights (my personal preference).  

Again, the standards between companies & regions vary.  Some companies are more particular about the details that you mention (expression, feet together during a bow, costume, etc), whereas other companies will let the little details slip.  The evaluation of standards between regions is also different; some regions vie for performing on the last day, whereas others are more focused on multi-tiered evaluations.  What you saw in the livestream/performances is the variety of standards excepted within the 5 regions.

As an Artistic Director of a RDA company, I always do my best to prepare the dancers for the show, and the standards in our region are rather particular, so I feel like I'd be letting my dancers down if I didn't push them to always do their absolute best.  That said, after the 1st night of performances I realized that I overlooked a small detail during my rehearsal process, and I addressed it the following day in a "hallway rehearsal."  It took seeing said 'mistake' on other companies to realize that I had not addresses the same issue appropriately; without watching the performances I would not have addressed the issue, and while the dancers would have looked fine on stage, I was able to add another layer of refinement on the spot.  For me this is part of the RDA experience.... to use every aspect of the experience to find growth with the dancers, company, and my own teaching & directing.

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