Spotlight: Amy Morrow (Dancer & Teacher)

Dear Barazans,

This is my dear friend, Amy Morrow. Before we begin the interview about Gaga (the movement language I’ve been promising to tell you about), here’s a little background info on my fabulously intriguing friend.

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“A native of Fort Worth, TX, Amy graduated from the inaugural Gaga Teacher Training Program. Her first Gaga experience was with over 200 international artists in a 111-year-old gymnasium at the American Dance Festival in the summer heat of Durham, NC. Amy graduated with a B.F.A. in Dance with Honors from Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi. Representing the Visual Arts and International Relations departments, she performed at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, Thalia Mara Hall, Ferst Center for the Arts, and E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall among others. In collaboration with Jesse Zaritt, Amy presented her senior thesis, Contextualizing Art Cross-Culturally, to diverse audiences in unconventional venues. She performed as a guest artist for the International Ballet Competition, studied Nikolais/Louis technique with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, and directed educational outreaches/benefit performances across Texas. Working for the American Dance Festival’s 2009 and 2011 seasons, she served international choreographers, musicians, critics, production artists, and teachers. Currently, Amy travels and teaches Gaga, ballet, and Indian dance forms across the States, India, and Israel.”

picture via here

Without further ado, please enjoy our interview!

Amy wants to emphasize the importance of “groove” in Gaga classes. “Groove” is your availability for any rhythm, therefore, some classes may be conducted with or without music. It’s what you bring to your walk, your dance, or your movement. Even if you’re not moving, your body, your blood is moving and has its own groove, whether you realize it or not.

I understand how this concept could be ambiguous, or could be hard for dancers and non-dancers alike to grasp, especially not having experienced it for oneself, so here’s a little more information about the specific classes:

Gaga/people: “Gaga/people classes are open to people ages 16+, regardless of their background in dance or movement. No previous dance experience is needed. Gaga/people classes last for one hour and are taught by dancers who have worked closely with Ohad Naharin in the Batsheva Ensemble or Batsheva Dance Company,” or Gaga Teachers Training Program. “Teachers guide the participants using a series of evocative instructions that build one on top of the other. Rather than copying a particular movement, each participant in the class actively explores these instructions, discovering how he or she can interpret the information and perform the task at hand. Gaga/people classes offer a creative framework for participants to connect to their bodies and imaginations, increase their physical awareness, improve their flexibility and stamina, and experience the pleasure of movement in a welcoming, accepting atmosphere. Participants should wear comfortable clothes and be prepared to dance barefoot or in socks. It is advisable to bring a bottle of water and a towel for use after class.”

Gaga/dancers: “Gaga/dancers classes are open to professional dancers or advanced dance students ages 16+. These classes last for an hour and fifteen minutes and are taught by dancers who have worked closely with Ohad Naharin in Batsheva Dance Company,” or Gaga Teachers Training Program. “Gaga/dancers classes are built on the same principles as Gaga/people classes but also employ the specific vocabulary and skills that are part and parcel of a dancer’s knowledge. The layering of familiar movements with Gaga tasks presents dancers with fresh challenges, and throughout the class, teachers prompt the dancers to visit more unfamiliar places and ways of moving as well. Gaga/dancers deepens dancers’ awareness of physical sensations, expands their palette of available movement options, enhances their ability to modulate their energy and engage their explosive power, and enriches their movement quality with a wide range of textures.”

For a taste of what to expect before class, read these “work instructions.” My personal favorite: “If you are late, give up. Go do something else that is pleasant. Come tomorrow.” : )

My experience at Amy’s Gaga class was incredible. It was liberating and honestly boosted my confidence, as a dancer and as a person. I think Gaga would have helped me in my college dance classes, to conquer some of my fears in the different styles I was uncomfortable with and to find my own personality through movement.

Friends, I hope this inspired you and didn’t sound like hocus-pocus. And I hope you dance (or move)! What do you think? Would you take a Gaga class?

Yours Truly,
Erin

“We become more aware of our form. We connect to the sense of the endlessness of possibilities. We explore multi-dimensional movement; we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are ready to snap, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it. We change our movement habits by finding new ones. We go beyond our familiar limits. We can be calm and alert at once.” – Ohad Naharin

Find a Gaga class here. See the Batsheva Ensemble in action here.  Find out why it’s called “Gaga” and see how dancers from New York’s Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are implementing it, here.

Questions? Amy will answer any in the comment section below!

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