‘Tis the Seasons: Beginnings and Introductions

‘Tis the Seasons: Beginnings and Introductions

Frame | Work Interviews News & Updates

So far, 2019 in Houston has been wet, but at least the plants are happy. It’s been chilly, but the northern transplants (like me!) who suffer through the summer are happy in their scarves and underused winter wear. It’s been cloudy and gray, but…the…people who worry about skin cancer are happy, I guess? Oh, forget it; it’s bleak out there, folks. I truly love weather that inspires one to sit inside and read, but even I – and definitely my eight year-old – could use a little more sun and little less puddle-making rain here at the end of our holidays.

There has been one big bright spot shining at Frame Dance headquarters, however, and I am excited to share it – or, rather, her – with you all. Yesterday’s post was a misty-eyed goodbye, but today’s is a bright hello. It is my great pleasure to introduce Frame Dance’s brand new Program Manager, Bobbie Hackett! Bobbie is a grad student in Arts Leadership at UH who has worked with ROCO and the Houston Arts Alliance, so she’s already family in terms of the Houston arts and nonprofits community. Look for Bobbie at upcoming Frame Dance classes and events, and here’s a little “Bobbie Hackett 101” to encourage you to say hi.

Intro to Bobbie: Very Important Questions

Bobbie, tell us: salty or sweet?

I like a good combo of both, but if forced to choose, I’d choose salty.

Coffee or tea?

I drink coffee more often, but I prefer tea.

Slide or Swings?

Swings!

If you could turn anything into an Olympic Event, what would you get the Gold medal for?

Laughing so hard that I cry over something completely arbitrary and not being able to explain why it struck me as funny.

What songs have you completely memorized?

I’m so bad with song lyrics it’s unreal, but I most often sing along with Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, or Taylor Swift.

What is your personal arts background?

I’ve always been involved in the arts in some way. My mom is a pianist and she and my dad were church worship leaders for awhile, so I started as a piano and choir geek pretty early on.

I have an associates and a bachelor’s degree in music/voice/opera, but I really just wanted to know how to sing, I never considered being an opera singer professionally. In hindsight, majoring in music was not the most practical decision, but it’s not one that I regret. I love what I’ve learned and I’m certain none of it was a mistake.

Can you tell us about your masters program, and what led you there?

Yes! I’m in my last semester of the Arts Leadership program at the University of Houston. The Arts Leadership degree is essentially an Arts Administration degree, but it differs from other programs in that it was designed to produce good leaders as well as good administrators. While we learn all the hard skills of administration like financial management, strategic planning, etc. we are also encouraged and trained to learn, explore, and develop soft skills and our personal leadership styles.

Because I never intended to make a living as a musician, I was pretty limited in terms of jobs after finishing undergrad. I floundered around a little and worked for a bank, did technical support for a tax prep company, and taught voice lessons on the side. I was really struggling with a combination of poor managers, low pay, and feeling like I wasn’t doing anything meaningful, but I also didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I started to see a pattern in all of my jobs though; I consistently had leadership and management roles thrust upon me, but I was always reluctant to accept them. I was really afraid that I wasn’t cut out to manage or lead. Those fears didn’t really stop me from thinking of ways that my managers could do things better or differently, though. I finally realized that if I kept wanting things done differently then maybe I should just do it myself. I bit the bullet and started looking for Arts Administration programs.

I stumbled upon the Arts Leadership program by accident. I had already been accepted to another program in Ohio, but my parents really wanted me to stay in Texas, so I applied to the University of Houston to appease them. Once I got my acceptance letter from UH I was overwhelmed about choosing between Ohio and Texas, but in-state tuition won in the end. I enrolled in classes and I’ve never been happier!

You actually know a lot about Frame Dance, even though you’ve just started! Can you tell the readers about how you learned about Frame Dance (and what you learned?!)

I do know a lot about Frame Dance! I took a Strategic Planning course in the spring of 2018; rather than just having my class learn about strategic planning, my professor put us all into groups and paired us with various arts organizations in Houston and asked us to create a strategic plan for them based on their needs.

My group was paired with Frame Dance, so I actually created the fundraising portion of Frame’s strategic plan. It was a lot of hard work, but it was so rewarding. I remember being grateful to be paired with Frame because everyone in the organization was so gracious and kind. Frame was really open with us about what they wanted and needed; they were also flexible and willing to let us bring in new ideas and plans and shake things up a bit. I was really drawn more to the people than to the organization, but at the end of the day, the people are the organization. 🙂

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m really looking forward to working for Frame Dance. I don’t have a lot of dance knowledge. I took a few classes in undergrad and really enjoyed it, but I’m a rookie at best.

I think every job is a new learning experience and I’m excited to learn and help!

Isn’t she amazing?! Bobbie, welcome to the team. This is going to be great.

Lydia Hance Interview – Part 2

Lydia Hance Interview – Part 2

Interviews

Interviewer: Kerri Lyons Neimeyer

Interviewee: Lydia Hance

K: How did you become interested in dance film? What was your entry into that? Because I think most dancers, especially early on, think about being on stage and that is what they think of producing for. Although, you’re right that screens are ubiquitous now, so it does make a lot of sense that you would use that in the service of dance if you can.

L: I think I was drawn to dance film because I am so interested in and drawn to dance in other environments. I mean, I can’t always take an audience to where I want to make a dance. It allows me to offer things about dance that you can’t really get on the stage. For example, getting really close to a dancer. I mean, you can get close in small venues, but I’m talking really close. What if you want to see a wrinkle on somebody’s face? Also, the beauty of editing allows for the brain and the eye to see dance in a different way. You can tell a different story because you can make things happen really quickly; you can change location; you can change how you are seeing a dancer. A lot can be told through the choreography of editing. Oh, and another thing, you can ask a dancer to do things infinity times when you’re going back on a video. The human body gets tired. When I’m with the dancers and we’re working on something, I have to ask them to “do it again. Do it again. Do it again.” I don’t have any trouble asking a dancer on the screen to do it again while I watch it, and go through it, and get really focused and detail oriented. When you’re dealing with something that is recorded, there’s just more capacity to focus on detail.

And textures. I am so drawn to textures. And colors. And use of light. There is an importance to the theater, I mean, live performance is magical in a way that screened dance can never be. But screen dance does offer a lot in terms of storytelling, and tricks of the camera, and location. I would say number one, it fulfills my desire to make dance in a space that I couldn’t bring people to.

K: I am going to ask you to talk about the Frame Dance vision and what it essentially is; the ideas and beliefs that hold all of these things together, from the Little Framers to the film fest, from the times of hard work to the times of applause. What is it that runs through all of it that makes Frame what it is?

L: I’m trying to hold on to those things right now because I always get really nervous before the beginning of a season. I hear lies in my head, you know? Like, “Why are you doing this?” And I keep coming back to this idea that everybody is and can be an adventurous mover, and that when we dance, we become better humans. What keeps me going is seeing people’s lives change, or shift. Seeing their hearts open. I grew up in a very technical, career-bound dance environment, which equipped me to do what I’m doing. But there were a lot of times when my heart was pulled out of my body, it felt like. I was constantly asking myself, “Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? Are they going to like me?” I want to help people get their heart back in their bodies and move. And then to use that movement to find out more about themselves, about who they were made to be. All with the belief that they don’t need to change who they are to be a dancer. I mean, technically we want to grow, but, dance is this gift, and I want everyone to experience it. I think that in a lot of ways dance has become for a select few, and that makes me really sad. We find out so much about who we are and the world that we live in through moving and through dancing. This is how we are on earth; we are in a body. The capacity for the body to move and do these incredible things, small or big, changes how we think, changes how we see each other, and it changes how we feel about ourselves. When I walk out of MultiGen on Saturdays, I see people who have found out who they are again. Dance has the power to do that. I have to remember that that’s the work. When I get discouraged, or things don’t seem to be going in a way that I think that they should be going, or things seem a lot harder than they should be, I have to remember to trust the work itself. One really great example of this happened after I had Micah. When I was pregnant, I just didn’t feel good. I moved, but I didn’t like moving. I didn’t like being pregnant. And then I broke my tailbone during delivery. So, after delivery, I just felt awful. All you’re doing is sitting down and nursing with a newborn, and I couldn’t even sit down without being in unbelievable pain. Then I went to this workshop with Anna Halprin when Micah was about 40 days old. So, I flew out to California to go to this workshop, and I remember we were doing all of these very simple human movement things, and I was there but also sleep deprived. I danced and I moved as much as I could. And then there was a part of the workshop when we started activating our voices in order to inform our movement, and we started humming. It was the smallest movement, but we started doing it at the very base of our pelvis, and with just that tiny movement from humming down where my tailbone is, I felt it starting to heal. It was like, “Oh, yeah. I can trust dance. I can trust the work.” And it’s not just me. It’s me, and this community gathering around this really powerful thing called dance. When I remember that, when I remember that it’s healing – for myself, too – I remember that there’s a reason why.

K: It makes me think, too, about how it is in everybody. It’s so natural. With Micah you probably learned all over again just how born with it we are; how we are born with movement, and rhythm, and expression through non-purposeful movement, which is dance. Like, not reaching for the ball, but moving to move.

L: Yeah, so the next summer I started doing this thing called Daily Dances because I was trying to figure out how to dance in my everyday life. I talk about how dance should be in everybody’s life, so I was like, “OK, Lydia, do that. Do that yourself! Don’t just encourage other people to.” I started out for a month, every day doing something in my life where I was just dancing, or I was dancing to accomplish another task, moving my body, I guess like you’re saying, in a non-purposeful way, or in the least direct way. Now it’s pretty awesome because Micah is like, “Mommy, dance! Mommy, my dance! Mommy, let’s dance.” He asks for it, and I don’t know why I’m surprised. I love that it’s part of him, that it’s part of his experience growing up. When he’s really excited he starts dancing around, or I’ll turn around and he’s doing something creative with his body. But I also wonder when he’s thirty and starts telling stories about how he would walk outside and his mother is rolling around in the grass, and what kind of implications that’s going to have. Hopefully good.

K: Any last things?

L: I want everyone to know that they are welcome. We want them to be a part of our community, whether it’s in a movement class or dance class, little child, pregnant mom, youth, mom with a sixteen year-old. BOYS. Men. Everybody’s welcome. There’s no pre-req for what we do. We believe that dance is for everybody and that there are a lot of ways to do that. Dance is life-giving and brings joy. Moving the body does incredible things for the heart and the mind. I just want everybody to dance.

Lydia Hance Interview – Part 1

Lydia Hance Interview – Part 1

Interviews

Interviewer: Kerri Lyons Neimeyer

Interviewee: Lydia Hance

Kerri: Lydia, tell us what’s going on with Frame. What are you working on? What are you excited about?

Lydia: Well, I just had a conversation with Laura Gutierrez, who is going to come on board with the youth ensemble, and [will be] teaching the Junior Framers with me. That makes a trio of Jennifer Mabus, Laura Gutierrez, and myself. I feel excited about that program and what we’re offering kids, because I think it is something that is not  happening anywhere else. We have the best of the best professionals working with them, and that’s not a common thing, to get these experienced professionals working with kids in a program that’s just a little bit out of the ordinary. We’ve been talking about making makers. I think that’s such a beautiful way of putting it. They’re also getting photography from Lynn Lane, and costume design from Ashley Horn, and repertory from Jennifer Mabus’ professional dance experiences. I’m really pumped about the future of that program. I am so thrilled for the students, and also to be working with them to build this program, because I don’t think a post-modern maker’s dance program is out there, especially not in Houston. I’m collaborating to discover what is possible with these really smart, creative kids. Because, we don’t want to put them in a box, and we want to bring them the highest level of teaching and education, but do it in a way that opens doors for them, and opens their creativity and their exploration, and their technique, and doesn’t necessarily send them all down one path.

And then the film festival. I’ve had a lot of fun curating that with Rosie Trump, and creating these three distinct film programs. So, the first night is going to be called “Cozy,” and it is dance films that center around the idea of intimacy and moving towards or away, emotionally. It’s also in our coziest setting at the Ronin Art House, which is a more intimate performance space. The second program is the slightly more “Experimental” – I had a really hard time unpacking this word – films. I would say there is a lot of play with techniques of editing, techniques of the camera, techniques of movement, trying to open up new ways of seeing dance on film. Then the third evening, I’m calling “Silken,” and the films are slightly more mysterious, and there’s a lustre to these films. There are a few documentaries on there, so it’s a peek inside someone else’s world. In each film you dive into a different, sometimes a really different, environment. I’m really excited about that, and about bringing in filmmakers to Houston. We have a filmmaker, Paris Wages, who is coming from Australia. And we have Rosie Trump, who is coming from Reno, Nevada. We have Jennifer Terazzi-Scully coming from North Carolina, and Jordan Fuchs who’s coming from Denton, and Alexandra Mannings from Alabama, who all have films on this program. We’re going to be able to offer panels, and ask them questions, and have more interaction with audiences. Dance film is kind of a niche thing, and I want to make it accessible because, I think, in the end it is an accessible medium. It’s a familiar context and format for the average person because we’re so used to screens. I want to give more artistic insight from the filmmakers because they’re all so different, to help people dive in a bit more to feel really comfortable, and enjoy the festival.