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On The Road With Raja-ImPulzTanz

On The Road With Raja-ImPulzTanz

Published on September 7, 2012

Back from an amazing summer abroad, Raja Kelly, known for his artistry and ability to juggle east and west-coast dancing gigs: (David Dorfman Dance,zoe juniper, Christopher Williams Dance and Reggie Wilson's Fist and Heel Performance Group)shares his new experience of "Emerging as a Choreographer."

On The Road with Raja- Familiarly Unfamiliar

Diary of an Emerging Choreographer (Part 2)

September 2012

Raja Feather Kelly for The Dance Enthusiast
(Read Diary of an Emerging Choreographer Part 1)

Raja Feather Kelly
There is a moment when unfamiliar territory feels familiar, when you ask yourself, “Have I been here before?”

Even if it feels familiar, you still feel lost. The ImPulsTanz International Dance Festival in Vienna is one of those places.

I have been “at home” in a five-week-long festival of over fifty artists and companies from Austria and abroad. It feels like the first day of school, traveling to a city where everyone speaks a different language. But,in this case, everyone speaks a different dance. ImPulsTanz includes over 100 performances, and nearly 100 teachers presenting over 214 workshops with -all together- 3,000 students and professional dancers.

I first attended the ImPulsTanz Dance Festival in 2009 on a Dance Web scholarship (a scholarship  given to 67 professional or professional-track artists from 35 different countries— about 2 artists per country). The purpose of DanceWeb is the exchange of ideas and experiences, training, and career orientation without the oceans in between.

My return to the ImPulsTanz Dance Festival is not what made being here familiar. My purpose this time is different, the stakes are higher - even the dance studios have a newness to them. They are layered with the power of three years of information since I was here last. Believe it or not, I can feel this difference.
ImPulsTanz Dance Studio

Here is another moment in the familiar /unfamiliar paradox:
You walk into the dance room and somehow feel, “I  know someone here.” Maybe you do,the dance world is very small. Chances are you see familiar faces, and have no idea form where you know a person. Someone will come up to you and ask if you are someone who you are not and because to them the similarities are so uncanny, you become "a place-holder" friend.

“But you’re so much like my friend, it’s crazy,” the person says, and before you know it, the two of you are laughing and hanging out after class each day as if you have have known each other for years; a lifelong friendship born of a mistaken past.

Attending the ImPulsTanz Dance Festival is the second of three components of  my choreographic residency. It is as important to understand one’s/my own voice as a creator as it is important to learn how other creators have proceeded. One of the most spectacular programs the festival offers young choreographers, the Coaching Project, can only be participated in through letters of motivation (a personal statement describing what motivates you to participate in said Coaching Project). These letters of motivation are reviewed by the choreographer leading the program, then a small pool of young choreographers are accepted.

This year, the festival offered 13 Coaching Projects for 15-20 young choreographers. In this program, internationally renowned choreographers mentor professional dancers or young choreographers in independent five-day projects.

Some choreographic mentors include, Anne Juren, Benoit Lachambre and Robin Poitras , Keith Hennessy and Jaseem Hindi and the two choreographers who were most important to me: Phillip Gemacher and Wim Vandekeybus. I decided I would apply to work with both Gemacher and Vandekeybus in hopes of getting two opposing perspectives on creating dance. Somehow, this fits my own bi-coastal living and dual identity. I was lucky to be accepted into both coaching projects.

While Gemacher’s interest lies in choreographers mapping out their concepts, experiences, and practice of movement, Vandekeybus relies and trusts the guidance of intuition and challenges me to leave behind the desire for results, or in Vandekeybus’ own words, “How fragility laughs at strength and how failing is much more attractive on stage than showing off." 

I am back in school!
Raja Feather Kelly's Work Space


*Read Diary of an Emerging Choreographer (Part 1)

*Day in and day out dance festivals from all around offer workshops, performances and social hours that in a sense update the field. What’s new, what’s happening, how the pioneers of dance developed, how have the makers been influenced, what are the conversations around dance as an art form and where else in the world are these conversations happening all happen in this immersive dance festival environment.
Here is the list of all the workshops and performances I took and saw.

Week 1
Pilates for Dancers- Gabriella Cimino
Drumming Repertory -Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
Ultima Vez Vocabulary- Laura Aris
Yoga Ballet- Franca Pagliassotto

Weekend 1
Forsythe Repertory- Francesca Harper

Week 2
Flying Low –David Zambrano
Some thoughts, possibly related, on time- Claudia La Rocco
Ballet- Bettina Schaefer

Week 3
Phillp Gemacher- Coaching Project
Miguel Gutierrez- Ineffable Intangible Sensational
Weekend 3
Writing Dance- Jonathan Burrows

Week 4
Wim Vandekeybus- Coaching Project
Partnering- German Jauregui

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