Magazine article Dance Teacher

Clear and Concise

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Clear and Concise

Article excerpt

Electronic music for advanced students new to contemporary improvisation BY KRISTIN SCHWAB

Watching Sidra Bell's work is like entering a mysterious couture circus. Her strikingly costumed dancers isolate body parts like puppets within her highly designed movement. But what appears complex actually stems from clarity. "Simple movement really shows who a dancer is and allows it to speak to many different kinds of people," says Bell, who sets work on college and high school dancers across the U.S. as artistic director of Sidra Bell Dance New York.

Most of her work is created using aspects of improvisation-a heavy focus in her classes in New York at Peridance Capezio Center, the Joffrey Ballet School and the Movement Invention Project, "Improvisation is really just an exploration further connecting you to dance," says Bell, who trained at the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, The Ailey School and Purchase College. "I want my students to find something new about their dancing that they can take away and apply to other work."

Though they're technically advanced, many of her students in these pre-professional programs have little experience with improv, so for Bell, the simpler, the better. "Dancers tend to want to make 'the best thing ever,' so I give them a task. If it's about keeping a point connected to another person, then it's literally just about that," she says, suggesting that newcomers break down the body into separate explorations. "Improvisation isn't about making a masterpiece. It's about understanding yourself and becoming content with who you are. …

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