Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Dec 17th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Moving Closer

ae1 caselGerald Casel brings his vision of a united dance community to National Dance Week Santa Cruz

Everywhere he’s been, Gerald Casel has found divisions in the dance community—highbrow vs. lowbrow, uptown vs. downtown, experimental vs. classical. As a renowned choreographer who has worked across the country and around the world, it is something that no longer surprises or disappoints him. But that doesn’t mean he’s willing to accept it. 

“It’s important to share movement as a language with people you don’t know,” explains Casel. “Especially in dance, where we can get tunnel vision about what we should be doing and how it should look. I’m very open to seeing what people are doing and showing them what I know — rather than telling them what they should be doing.”

Casel has only been in Santa Cruz since last summer, but he hasn’t wasted any time building his dance network locally. On any given day, he can be found teaching on the UCSC campus or downtown, collaborating with local choreographers, or participating in dance events. His knack for forging relationships with the talent around him reflects the theme behind an upcoming Santa Cruz tradition: National Dance Week Santa Cruz (NDWSC).

Running April 24 through May 3, this is NDWSC’s seventh year of bringing together members of the Santa Cruz dance scene. The event showcases an impressive range of styles between the many dance studios, instructors, choreographers, and hundreds of performers that participate. For the entire week, the public is treated to performances, public exhibitions, and free classes.

For his first NDWSC, Casel will be premiering “Visiter,” an evening-length piece running May 2-3 at Motion Pacific. He will also be a participating choreographer in the latest addition to the NDWSC event lineup: a walking tour of dance in downtown Santa Cruz. This is not to be confused with the “Dance in Unlikely Places” events that feature dancers performing in coffee shops, on street corners, in cross walks, and anywhere imaginable. The events kick off with “Dancing in the Streets,” where more than 30 groups will perform on three outdoor stages.

“When I started dance week in its current incarnation 7 years ago, the objective was to increase awareness of dance, its contribution to the larger community, and to support collaborations between local dancers,” explains Abra Allen, founder and director of Motion Pacific Dance and the main organizer behind NDWSC. “It’s kind of funny that Gerald embodies why we do dance week, because he’s only been here since July, and this will be his first dance week experience.” 

In his short time here, Casel has become a bridge between UCSC, downtown, and the professional dance communities that make up the Santa Cruz scene. A Professor of Dance and Choreography on the UCSC campus, Casel also teaches somatic-based modern dance at Motion Pacific. Earlier this month, he choreographed a piece for the annual Looking Left dance festival. If that wasn’t enough, he is also one of four Participatory Performing Artists in Residence at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. As a member of many diverse dance communities, Casel is always encouraging cross-pollination between performers and choreographers.

“An important part of being an artist is interacting with other artists and expanding your perspective,” says Damara Ganley, a local dancer and student of Casel’s. “The experiences that Gerald has as a national and international performer and a choreographer are important elements of what he offers to [NDWSC] and this whole community. He has a breadth of experience that a smaller town doesn’t always have access to.”

Organizers like Allen hope that Casel’s desire to connect the smaller sections of the dance community will serve as an example for the rest of the scene. In her years of experience, Allen says it is natural for dancers studying different forms to stick closely to other performers in their field.

“If you are a ballet dancer committed to that form, and that’s what you want to do with your life, there is nothing wrong with that,” says Allen. “But do I think there is opportunity for collaboration outside of that circle? Absolutely. My drive to bring people together is to give them a forum to inspire each other, and some really amazing relationships and collaborations have come out of [NDWSC].”

Casel hasn’t even attended NDWSC, and he is already flush with ideas for what comes after the weeklong festival. Expanding and increasing the number of local dance festivals is at the top of his to-do list. He also has visions of inviting choreographers from the national and international communities to Santa Cruz for residencies, where they can teach and share their creative processes with locals.

“I believe in sharing resources. Together, we can better showcase our talents and collectively bring larger ideas to life,” says Casel. “Dancing is community. I can’t stay in my classroom and expect the community to come to me — I have to go to them.”


National Dance Week Santa Cruz administrators are located at C/O Motion Pacific Dance, 131 Front St., Suite E, Santa Cruz, 457-1838. For more information, visit scdanceweek.com. For more information on Gerald Casel, and his show “Visiter”, go to motionpacific.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire