ChEckiT!Dance is an all female modern dance company based in New York City founded by Artistic Director, Allison Brzezinski in 2010. Through the creation and production of new works that seek to empower women and explore what it means to be a woman, we seek to create a crack in the stereotypical infrastructure of female archetypes and standards most commonly portrayed on stage. It is our goal to both promote awareness and gender equality through our own work and provide a platform for emerging female choreographers and dancers to share their talents.
The ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival is the culmination of all of ChEckiT!Dance’s efforts to increase performance opportunities for emale dance makers. This annual outdoor festival, now in its fourth year, is curated and produced by ChEckiT!Dance each July at Summit Rock in Central Park. The ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival is a platform designed specifically to provide female choreographers the opportunity to share their work with an eager audience. The work is enriching, lively and thrilling, and the eclectic styles of dance presented by performers hailing from all corners of the globe, builds a truly global community of female dance artists. In addition, the ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival is entirely green and entirely free of admission, providing access for all.
ChEckiT!Dance has performed throughout New York City at The Ailey Studios, The Kraft Center at Columbia University, The Gershwin Hotel and Dixon Place; Regionally in New Jersey (Sukha Arts Center) and Pennsylvania (Muhlenberg College); and will make our international premier at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August (The Gryphon Theater).
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ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival Recap
ChEck Us OuT Festival was a huge success! What a beautiful day and performance space we were able to have! I was so impressed by the creativity each choreographer brought to the stage. The morning of the festival itself was stressful for sure, wondering if we had everything, hoping we covered all that we needed to, and praying for no rain, but in the end everything worked out wonderfully. And the heat was a concern, but lucky for us it cooled off by evening. After sitting through tech all day, I had the chance to see each of the pieces a couple times before the actual performance and each choreographer’s process. Each of the pieces were so different from each other but seemed to flow so well in the performance order.Posted on Aug 18, 2011
One of the most memorable pieces for me was the piece choreographed by Melissa Jackson. It featured a trio of dancers, and the beginning of their piece began in silence as they approached the audience coming up the top of the hill and making their way down to the performance space. It was so stunningly executed, the whole audience sat in silence. What a beautiful intro to use in that space. All of the choreographers really took full advantage of the space placing their dancers all over the grass and gravel of Summit Rock. Michelle Micca’s piece featured dancers barefoot in the gravel, creating this very earth centered and almost primal feel as they kicked up clouds of dust while they were dancing. While I’m sure this piece was probably not created intentionally for an outdoor venue, it fit so perfectly I can’t imagine not having that stunning element of dust and gravel. I absolutely loved that we were able to integrate so much nature in this festival and that we were able to work in such a beautiful space. It was such a supportive atmosphere, and the pure passion and joy for dance that everyone shared was a huge factor in attracting so many bystanders to stop and watch the performance. It was such a fun way to spend an evening, and a wonderful way to celebrate the incredible talent of all of these female choreographers. This festival needs to become an annual event for sure!
Have you committed to living green? I am happy to say that ChEckiT!Dance is fully dedicated to supporting all of the “going green” initiatives we can. We are very excited to be developing an e-program for our upcoming ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival and to continue to promote eco-friendly methods of advertising and communicating to our audience. As part of our social media outreach through twitter you can find new weekly updates where we will be posting a living green tip as a simple way you can make a difference and reduce your carbon footprint. We have also developed an online newsletter, which you can access here , to keep up with all of the latest ChEckiT News! As we continue to grow we are looking forward to finding more ways to support the going green initiative!Posted on Jul 12, 2011
With all of the technology now available, it surprises me that more organizations are not taking advantage of these easy steps to be more eco-friendly. There are so many new options to reach audiences in a more accessible way. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t pay too much attention to being environmentally friendly, but the more reading I do about these issues, I’m starting to see how easy it is to make even the simplest changes. Check out some of these eco-friendly sites where you can find easy to follow tips about living green and interesting articles/blogs about the latest projects and initiatives to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle!
ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival Update
Now several weeks into our rehearsal process, and only a few weeks away from our festival, things have been quickly picking up. As one of ChEckiT!Dance’s interns, I have had the opportunity to experience all of the different aspects of the company from rehearsals to the behind the scenes administrative work. Right now we are preparing for the ChEck Us OuT Dance Festival we will be hosting in Central Park on July 23rd. We will be presenting ten other outstanding female choreographers who will share their work at a beautiful outdoor venue. Part of my responsibilities in organizing this festival have been to come up with ways to make this event as eco-friendly as possible. We are working on things like an e-program to advertise the concert information and other Internet friendly options to make available to audience members. One of the things we decided early on was to make the show somewhat of a picnic. This way people will be able to sit outside on their blankets and have a more intimate experience while watching the performances. Beyond organizing the pieces and the concert in general, it is important to create a comfortable atmosphere and enjoyable viewing environment for the audience so we can bring them into our world for the few hours we are together.Posted on Jun 27, 2011
As I’ve been trying to bring all of these elements together, I have also been attending rehearsals for the concerts each week. One of the pieces we began working on is called “The Women of Oz”, a piece that looks at female stereotypes through the characters of “The Wizard of Oz” in a contemporary and thought provoking way. Each dancer was given the opportunity to develop a character and create phrase work they felt made sense for that character. We were able to build a great foundation to start from in this first rehearsal and I am very anxious to see where everyone’s characters go, and how this piece develops. This piece was created for a video previously, and I am curious to see how this group of dancers adapts it to make it their own.
The creative process has been incredibly successful so far due to the positive energy each dancer brings. The collaborative rehearsal atmosphere allows dancers to contribute their movement to develop their character. During each rehearsal there is usually a time to learn choreography and time for each dance to improv and create material they feel fits the character they are portraying or the tone of the piece. There is ample room to experiment and try different things.
The other opportunity I have been given as an intern was to help “create” an improv piece to be presented at the festival along with Brittany, our other intern. We were able to work together with the dancers to create a fun piece that will allow for a lot of dancer and audience interaction. I have only been with ChEckiT a few short weeks and I have already had the opportunity to help with behind the scenes arts administration tasks, choreograph, rehearse, and dance with the company. The opportunities have been incredible and as we are moving forward the process is only becoming more exciting. Less than a month until the festival!
When I saw that Elizabeth Taylor had died, I automatically clicked the link that led to her New York Times obituary. My right pointer finger pressed down on the left-click button of the mouse, independent of any conscious command fired from my brain for it to do so. My instant desire to read someone else’s commemoration of her life stemmed not from person familiarity or fandom, but from a real desire to actually learn who this lady with enormous hair was famous. Admittedly, I know nothing about her... and the few things I know are generally wrong or not even directly about her as a person.Posted on Jun 23, 2011
Here are the things I know:
1. On Sex and the City, Charlotte’s King Charles Cavalier Cocker Spaniel is named Elizabeth Taylor. True story.
2. She was a close friend of Michael Jackson.
3. She has her own perfume and the advertisements for it are terrifying.
4. I confused her with Liza Minelli. (More specifically I thought it was her who got in trouble for abusing her cadaverous husband/ boyfriend/ consort and not Liza... oops!)
Not a whole lot and certainly not the most relevant or pertinent information. As a result, reading her obituary, which was written six years prior to her death was a total learning experience and what I was most touched by was not her Oscar nominations or wins, not the number on her paycheck, but her work as an HIV/ AIDS activist.
At the start of the AIDS epidemic, Taylor invested herself, and her considerable starpower, in raising awareness about AIDS and raising funds to support research into the, then, new and terrifying disease. By placing herself squarely in the crossfire of the public controversy, Taylor gave AIDS a powerful voice and beautiful face, that worked tirelessly to ensure that AIDS patients were treated with respect, concern and competence and that they would eventually receive a cure. At the time of her death, Taylor was actively involved in several organizations, including her own, and was the recipient of several awards for her tireless efforts.
While it is fashionable or for celebrities to be actively engaged in politics, lend their time and money to charities and engage in other socially conscious activities, there are few whose commitment can ever match the level of Elizabeth Taylor’s. Her activism was honest and grounded in a real desire to do good. She stands as a role model to the world, showing us what it is to truly devote yourself, selflessly to a cause because you believe it is the right thing to do, not the fashionable or advisable thing to do.
On the “About the Foundation” section of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAP) website, they provide a brief overview of Taylor’s legacy as a pioneer in AIDS research, support and philanthropy:
“Elizabeth Taylor began her work as a spokesperson and fundraiser in the struggle against AIDS in the early 1980s. A mysterious virus had appeared in the community, a fatal illness of unknown origin that sent shockwaves of fear across the nation. Great stigma accompanied this fear, and Miss Taylor's determined outspokenness was indeed controversial.
Miss Taylor’s work began with fundraising for an AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) dinner, the first major AIDS benefit ever held. This support marked the debut of her public commitment to raising funds and awareness for AIDS.
In 1985, Miss Taylor joined with Dr. Mathilde Krim and a small group of physicians and scientists to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). As amfAR’s Founding National Chairman, she used her celebrity to take the issue of HIV/AIDS to the mainstream media.
Miss Taylor became a potent force in mobilizing the entertainment, arts and fashion communities to step up their initiatives in connection with AIDS, traveling extensively to speak at conferences, concert venues and benefit events around the globe. She testified before Congress to ensure Senate support for the Ryan White CARE Act, spoke before the National Press Club, and addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations on World AIDS Day.
In October 1991, Miss Taylor established The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF). With a focus on direct services for people living with AIDS, ETAF provides funding to AIDS service organizations throughout the world to assist those living with HIV and AIDS. Throughout her lifetime, Elizabeth Taylor’s advocacy efforts served to raise much-needed funds and awareness of the AIDS pandemic. She continues her legacy of humanitarian service and commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS through the work of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.”
Taylor’s unwavering support helped to better the lives of AIDS patients everywhere and the organizations she created and participated in mourn her loss and celebrate her life.
At the 11th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Taylor is quoted as saying, “What it comes down to, ultimately, is love. How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding, and God knows, from hate and from ignorance.” In the spirit of this message, I believe that is important that we find things that we love and invest ourselves fully in them. We, in the privileged U.S., live in a world of antiseptic comfort. Anything upsetting, gross or even vaguely dangerous that happens we find a way to distance ourselves from or find a way to detach. We care only to the point that is convenient or safe for us. Instead, we need to follow Taylor’s example and invest fully and unselfishly in the world around us. We should support those around us who are discriminated against and inform ourselves against the unfamiliar.
If we do not follow Taylor’s example, her legacy is not sacrificed. Her work as an artist and an activist are testaments to her humanity and nothing can challenge those gifts. But, imagine a world where people cared about one another with depth and commitment. Imagine how much stronger we could and would be, how much more beautiful we could and would be...
So that is what I learned. I learned of the power of one person’s commitment, and how that commitment made a difference to thousands of people in that moment and will continue to make a difference for thousands more in the future.
ChEckiT!Dance Audition and Rehearsal
As a recent college graduate, completely terrified of the real world, I had almost no idea where I was going or which direction I would be heading in. I have always loved the arts, as a dancer and an audience member, and I knew that I needed to be surrounded by it as much as possible. So, what better opportunity could I have been given than to work with ChEckiT!Dance. I officially started my internship with the company in June working mostly on arts administration tasks specifically, helping out with the two upcoming concerts this summer, one of which ChEckiT! is hosting, and the other that they are participating in.Posted on Jun 7, 2011
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