Dana Lawton Dances continues to be committed to celebrating multi-generational dancers, and we are so grateful to all our fans and supporters. Please consider an end of the year tax-deductible donation as we embark on a year of creation and collaboration. 2020 brings us to the Farallon Islands in the late 1800’s. Our full-length evening work, premiering at the Cowell Theatre in the spring features original poetry and music, new choreography, and promises to transport the audience into living Bay Area history during the Gold Rush.
Our summer Thailand tour was extraordinary! Please enjoy Dana’s humorous moment to moment recap of what it takes to put on a show in Bangkok (using iTranslate)
Good morning (Thai time) everyone,
It was AMAZING!!! I will be posting more pictures soon when I come off the cloud I am floating on after our two days in Bangkok performing.
10am We arrived on the morning of the 7th to meet with the tech crew and see the theater. They call it an auditorium, but rather it was a lovely 200 seat proscenium stage with all the bells and whistles. Wood floor, wings and lighting and sound that was state of the art.
Only 5 dancers (John, Robin, Colin, Jennie and Garth) and Jon were able to be there for the tech in the morning and I was able to use my translator app to communicate all the cues to the crew who only nod and didn’t speak English except “black out”… it was hilarious. I would talk into my phone with comments like “Can we bring the high sides up to 30%” and the phone would speak out the request in Thai and they would all nod and the lights would change, this took about three hours to light all the dances. They had not received the cues from Linda (and they could not read English anyway) and at the beginning everything looked the same, Ashes was no different than Holding Space. I was very sad that we had all this technology and we might as well have been doing it in a gym with bright lighting and blackouts as the only options.
The dancers were great, spacing while I was “speaking in Thai” up in the booth, Jon was getting sound and everyone was gesturing as much as possible, hoping that modern dance would be the form of communication when I wasn’t using my phone and John McConville (the only person who is fluent in Thai) wasn’t dancing.
1pm Tola, Little Leah, Michael arrived and we could do more spacing, more talking into my phone (maybe some color please???) Of course they just got off the plane and were looking a bit googley-eyed… but they danced!!! More phone conversation via iTranslate, perhaps a cue to cue???
Oh and did I mention that we were asked the day before to incorporate two students from the International School of Bangkok??? Two sweet 15 year olds, Jeslyn and Natalie joined us and I brainstormed on how to incorporate them into a show that was set to sail in 36 hours. I decided to use them as a foreshadowing between pieces, so in addition to dancers on stage I had others working in the aisles of the theatre teaching them phrases from the different dances; Stars, Holding Space, You’re That Wish… etc. They learned 8 phrases in 8 hours!
6pm everyone was exhausted with all the learning, communicating, adjusting, dancing and we headed back to the hotel. Previously I had been told this would be an informal showing, but then became aware of all the press (many on-line articles), the large poster in the Bangkok Arts & Cultural building and all the pre-ticket sales (over 100)… I had to up my game.
I didn’t sleep much that night and woke up at 4am on show day to look over notes, both choreographic and technical…. (missing Linda A LOT!!!). Had two strong cups of coffee and met everyone in the lobby at 930am to take crazy taxis called ‘tuktuks’ to the theater a mile away.
August 8… game day. 10am… Vera has arrived, we are all here. Garth is my point person and co-captain. Our the schedule for the day:
10-11 warm-up, dancing on stage, finding our feet and the new time zone in our bodies
11-12 fix spacing (add Vera since this is her first time in the theatre) meanwhile two young dancers review all the phrase work they learned yesterday (we videoed everything on their phones so they could work overnight—ambitious thought. I have 2 teenagers, right?)
12-1245 incorporate dancers in-between pieces, re-communicate through my phone about lighting cue changes now that we have interludes… see if the lighting designer was able to read Linda notes… color anyone?
1-2 tech run- pretty rough! Entrances, lights, music and then sound… NO WAIT… sound then music!!! Not THAT music!!! Black out!!! Not yet… now, now Now, NOW!!! I needed a drink.
2-230 notes. John McConville translates. More nodding and bowing. I am smiling…. a lot.
230-4 lunch in the beautiful cultural center, just like a high end museum with galleries, delicious cafes, atrium… views of Bangkok (it’s 9 stories high and we are on the 5th floor) For those more adventurous (Colin, Garth) there are food stands with chicken feet, frog eyeballs, noodles, pad Thai, mango with sticky rice… and McDonald’s in the mall next door. Something for everyone, that is how I am thinking of Bangkok.
430- our presenter, Tip, walks in. She is the Director of Friends of the Arts, an organization that has been bringing international dance companies to Bangkok for 30 years. She is dressed to the nines and very wealthy, her shoes, jewelry, clothes are impeccable, I am feeling under-impressive… (dance clothes and bare feet anyone?) We chat, she tells us that she has invested a lot in this performance and has invited the politicians and ambassadors of the city. GULP! She wants to watch the run. DOUBLE GULP!! “Of course!” I am smiling and nodding, I am learning Thai 🙂
445- Dress A few hiccups but it goes a bit smoother, still no color, but the lights do change from 100% to 50% (sometimes in the middle of the dance?), the two young dancers mostly remember the phrases, everyone is dancing beautifully and Jon’s guitar and vocals are fantastic!
6-7 notes, food, more water (Really needing a drink right now), Tip not too thrilled that we have two 15 year-old… not very professional. I smooth feathers, “What an opportunity to show how truly multigenerational we are and how inclusive…” I don’t know if she buys it. I translate into my phone about missed cues… color??? Letting that go. Checking in with dancers who are sore and getting sleepy. Oh! There is going to be a pre-show talk where I speak about the company and the work? No problem! Smiling, nodding. Put on shoes and make-up… try to look like the director of an internationally touring dance company who is worthy of ambassadors and donors.
7, circle time… angle cards… manifest dance… deep breaths and gratitude. Here goes noth’n!
710 Curtain speech went well. I thanked everyone in Thai “Sawadi-ka” and spoke about the importance of dance as a healing medium to bring diverse people together. How the multiplicity of human bodies dancing on stage can be transformative, and reaching across borders to make new friends and connections is more potent than ever before. I was brilliant. ☺
720- lights go down to a house with 150+ people. My heart is pounding. “are the going to understand it?”, “like it?”, “clap in between pieces?”, “laugh at the funny bits?”, “be bored with Ashes?”… oh and those cues that never have been right one time… where IS that drink???
830 The pride was overwhelming. The dancers were incredible and danced even better than I had ever seen before, even the younger ones brought everything they had to the stage. Jon’s music was sublime, every note, lyric, chord progression was magical. Only one lighting cue miffed (down from 40) and all music cues were on the spot. Still no color, but I didn’t care.
Bows, flowers, applause. The lobby filled with people with tears in their eyes. “Never seen anything like it.” “I didn’t know that dance could move me like that.” “So beautiful to see so many different dancers on stage but a true ensemble.” They got it! “What was your favorite?” -Ashes, Shenanigans, Song of my Heart, Holding Space-. But others had questions and wanted to talk at length about This Life and, You’re That Wish.
Interview on True TV, lots of photos with people wearing clothing that costs more than I make in a year. Hugs all around and many new friends/fans in Thailand.
930 DLD t-shirts to the crew and young dancers… clean the dressing room, pack up and say good night.
10—find a BIG drink down the street.
Midnight—fall into bed elated, proud, happy and grateful.
DLD is off again! Come get a glimpse of the wonderful work DLD will be sharing the the citizens of Bangkok, Thailand as part of “The Fluid Tour.” Join us on Sunday, July 29 for an afternoon of performance, community, and fundraising!
Audience favorites from Beyond This Moment, HOME and DLD’s recent anniversary season. Live music performed by Jon Lawton and a Q&A with dancers and Artistic Director, Dana Lawton.
Doors open 3:30pm
Two preview performances are set at 4 pm and 6 pm.
Light appetizer and beer/wine bar.
$20-2000 gets you in!
Can’t attend this event? You can still donate to support this tour.
You can donate online via PayPal: email@example.com, or give at the door.
How the money raised supports the company and this tour:
$30 a day per dancer per diem
$60 a day per dancer lodging
$10 a day per dancer transportation
$100 sponsors a dancer for a day
$700 sponsors a dancer for a week
$1,500 sponsors a dancer for the whole tour!
Come and pay-what-you-wish to support this exciting tour to Thailand!
Fresh off of celebrating their 10th Anniversary Season, Dana Lawton Dances (DLD)is headed to Thailand in August for two weeks for “The Fluid Tour.” A coed company with dancers of all different ages, DLD is under the direction of Dana Lawton, a tenured associate professor at Saint Mary’s College of California, a faculty member of the Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and Co-Director of the Enchanted Ridge Dance Retreat. This is the first Asian tour for the company.
DLD will travel to Bangkok, Thailand for “The Fluid Tour” which includes series of performances and workshops. On August 8th, the company will host an open rehearsal at the Bangkok Arts & Culture Center with a special invitation to press and social media professionals. At 7:00 pm that evening, the company will give a performance sponsored by Friends of the Arts, Thailand. On August 9th, Lawton will lead a Contemporary Dance Workshops for students and professionals at the Bangkok Racquet Club Soi 49, from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.
Dana Lawton Dances will then engage in a one-week residency at the International School Bangkok, an international K-12 private school, from August 10-18. Over the course of the week, the company will teach master classes ranging in areas from choreography to technique to mentorship at rehearsals. DLD will also choreograph a performance piece for advanced dancers at ISB and the company will perform with the ISB students on August 17 and 18. This is the third international tour in the company’s 10 year history. In 2015, the company toured Belfast, Ireland presenting their work Home (2015). Prior to that, the company performed in Royère de Vassivière Festival in France in 2014.
Holding Space is an evening-length concert which features selections from acclaimed past DLD performances of Beyond This Moment (2012), Home (2015) and DLD’s most recent 10 year anniversary season (2017). The works presented in Holding Space span the emotional spectrum from poignant, sentimental dances to lighthearted romps. The 10 member multi-generational company highlights the unique perspective of the rich multiplicity of human lives, provides the audience with a new perspective on what constitutes a dancer, and inspires people to reimagine what is possible at any age.
Lawton founded DLD in 2007 with a mission to celebrate social diversity and develop meaningful collaborations with other artists. Based in Oakland, CA, DLD is a multi-generational modern dance company. “My company ranges in age from 25 to 70. “Dance is not a static, inflexible art form, but rather an adaptable, transcendent form. My dances emphasize the imperfect emotional message I want to share with others, rather than promoting an idea of perfection. Utilizing dancers of all ages helps to reinforce this idea,” says Lawton.
One of the company members, John McConville, taught dance for ten years in Bangkok and established the Dance Program at the International School. “Both the International School Bangkok and the Friends of the Arts Organization have been long-time supporters of the arts and to return to Bangkok and to perform for them with Dana Lawton Dances is a wonderful and unexpected joy,” says McConville. For Lawton, one of her favorite parts of touring internationally with DLD is the opportunity to transcend language barriers through dance. “When you get to share work, you are sharing a part of yourself. This helps to create a deeper connection with others,” says Lawton.
BERKELEY, CA August 31, 2017 – The Dance Up Close/East Bay program of Shawl-Anderson Dance Center presents Dana Lawton Dances and her company in their 10th anniversary performances. Artist-In-Residence at Berkeley’s Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in 2007, Dana Lawton Dances (DLD) was founded to bring together a group of dancers spanning a wide range of ages committed to Dana’s artistic vision. A key focus of her work in the last decade has also been collaborations with musicians and composers to support her choreographic explorations. The anniversary performances will highlight Lawton’s dancers, feature live music and revisit a decade of Lawton’s dances, which have become a beloved part of the fabric of East Bay contemporary dance.
“My original reason for starting the company was to celebrate social diversity and develop meaningful collaborations with other artists. My company ranges in age from 23 to 67. Working with dancers of diverse ages offers a unique perspective into the rich multiplicity of human lives, provides the audience with a new perspective on what constitutes a dancer, and inspires people to re-imagine what is possible at any age.”
This anniversary season will showcase the range of dancers and composers that Lawton has collaborated with in six pared down evenings of music and dance. The run will embrace simplicity in design and visuals, punctuated by elegant lighting design by Linda Baumgardner, in order to reveal the essence of the relationship between movement and sound and celebrate the emotional impact of Lawton’s work. Each weekend will feature a different program of dances and musicians, so audiences are encouraged to attend more than one show.
In honor of the 10th anniversary, audiences will also have the opportunity to kick off each evening at 7pm to mingle over pizza, wine and chocolate. The performance begins at 8pm each night. Tickets for the performance only are $25 and tickets including the 7pm reception are $35.
Collaborators include Lawton’s core company of dancers and several of the musicians that she has worked with in the last 10 years.
Musicians & Composers:
Musician Schedule by date
Ted Curran; Arwen Lawrence, Jorge Liceaga & Dina Zarif
October 14-15 (SOLD OUT)
Sean McCue & Michelle Beauchesne
About Shawl-Anderson Dance Center:
Shawl-Anderson Modern Dance Center provides Bay Area dance students of all ages and levels with high caliber training in both contemporary and traditional movement forms in a welcoming, non-competitive environment. The Center is a non-profit organization founded in 1958 by Frank Shawl and Victor Anderson. Shawl-Anderson Dance Center is committed to nurturing and mentoring the growth of dancers and choreographers; cultivating a healthy and supportive atmosphere for creative expression; sustaining traditions essential to excellence in the field; and, fostering the evolution of the art of dance.
About Dance Up Close/East Bay:
The Dance Up Close/East Bay series offers local audiences an intimate space to see professional level work, and supports local choreographers who want to produce their work for several weeks in a row. With the help of two grants in 2008 from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission, the presenting series is run by Shawl-Anderson Dance Center. It was launched in late May 2008 with Paufve Dance and has been followed by such artists as: Nina Haft and Company, ahdanco, Dandelion Dance Theater, Urban Jazz Dance, Angela Demmel & Dancers, Fog Beast, Stranger Lover Dreamer, Right Brain Performance Lab, ka·nei·see | collective and Mid to West Dance Collective.