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Reflections on Kyle Abraham’s Master Class

By 651 ARTS on October 26, 2011

This blog was submitted to 651 from Katrina De Wees, an audience member who attended the work-in-progress showing of Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion’s Live! The Realest MC followed by a Q&A with the company.  In addition, Kyle held a Master Class with a select group of dancers exploring his style of performance.

I witnessed Kyle Abraham’s work in progress showing of Live!  The Realest MC to check out what I would be getting into with his free master class on October 14 at Mark Morris Dance Center, as part of his residency with 651 ARTS. The energy, precision and speed definitely left me with a few questions as to what my attendance in a highly detail oriented, richly textured repertory classroom may feel like. I decided to give it a try.

We began in a circle, with introductions and suggestions of performances to attend that weekend. I immediately got a sense of Kyle’s consideration of the people in the classroom, a similar sense I’ve had from David Dorfman who Kyle has danced for these past 5 years. We began moving on the floor, with Bartenieff Fundamental style movement, coming out with a few yoga poses and others that felt Afro-Caribbean, such as a pose from Oshun. The combination itself was enough to excite my dance brain. After 10 minutes, the speed on the floor definitely began to settle in. As a dancer, it was important to find my way to fall into the floor with my full body, and visualize the full shape of the transition of the movements. Also similarly to Dorfman, Kyle took a liking to movement in 5/5 time signature. The warm up introduced me to Kyle’s rhythm for repertory, visually rich with character traits and passionate musicality. Where else would I find myself coupéing and releasing into the floor with Kanye West playing in the background?

My only prior exposure to Kyle’s work was an interview I read in Studio Magazine, conducted by my friend and co-worker Thomas Lax. Although the interview was conducted two years ago, I knew this choreographer was someone I must meet, and what better place exists to spark an introduction than the dance floor? In Kyle’s interview, I was intrigued by the still image selected from a previous performance as well as the rich diversity of training that influenced Kyle’s body of work. In person, Kyle mentioned Ralph Lemon as a personal icon and I felt the emotional theatrical richness and vision of a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on choreography. Although we learned samples from the first segment of Live!  The Realest MC the full work will include an intricate set design along with video footage, the choice of a choreographer with a keen visual sense which inspires both his movement and theatrical delivery.

I do not think I have ever attended a 651 event, and left disappointed. I always have an intimate encounter with an artist, with a sense I have truly engaged with or learned about their creative practice. I appreciate the opportunity 651 provided to meet Kyle, and am excited to continue to follow his work starting with his performance of Live!  The Realest MC at The Kitchen in December 2011.






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