Author Archives: Grier Cooper

The True Meaning of Freedom and Independence

Ironically I spent the 4th of July in London this year, and while I didn’t celebrate (for obvious reasons), I did spend time thinking about freedom and independence. The two words are often paired together but they’re really quite different. We can be free but not independent, independent but not free, but there’s real power when we are able to achieve both. How do we embody them, make them a part of life? Read More »

Dance Meets Earth: Dance & The Elements, Part III

When you think about dance, where do you picture it happening? Likely you conjure up images of a Zen-like studio setting or an air-coniditioned theater…settings far from the origins of dance: The Earth. Most indigenous cultures still maintain this connection, unlike most modern, Western cultures. Luckily there are some exceptions because there’s nothing like changing things up and getting back to putting our feet back on the ground.

Trails and Vistas is one such exception. Every year since 2004, Director and Founder Nancy Tieken Lopez has been scouting out idyllic locations in the Tahoe area for this site-specific mutli-media festival. Audiences hike through gorgeous trails, stopping along the way to take in live dance, music, and art installations. It’s an amazing way to get in some exercise and a healthy dose of culture. What more can you ask for? Read More »

Dance Meets Water: Dance & The Elements, Part II

In the never-ending quest for new ideas, sometimes it makes sense to return to simple things. The posts in Dance & The Elements, an ongoing series for the month of June, take a look at how dance companies have used the elements to create some extraordinary work. This week, just days before Summer Solstice, when many of us are already thinking about ways to beat the summer heat, it’s all about water.

Pilobolus has long been a favorite dance company, not just because they are from my home turf (Connecticut) but because they are one of the most creative dance companies on the planet. They’re known for their weird name (they are named after a fungus), super-human feats of strength, and the continued quest to do the unexpected on stage.

When I saw them a few years ago, they performed a piece called “Day Two”, where the dancers came up with the curtain call to end all curtain calls: sliding across the stage on a surface strip suddenly filled with water. (See this video here). The dancers had so much fun with it I felt like kicking myself for limiting my dance career to ballet.

Of course you have to wonder about all the cleanup…those poor techies. What about the setup? It can’t be easy to coordinate adding water to a performance (and it must involve lots and lots of plastic), but it brings a surreal quality to the movement.

No one understood this better than dance pioneer Pina Bausch. Her dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, was (and still is) known for its cutting-edge choreography, always interwoven with the fantastic…and theatric. In her own words, “I’m not interested in how people move, but what moves them.” Learn more about her through Wim Wenders’s documentary about her, “Pina.” 

Don’t you feel cooler after watching this? Happy Summer!


Dance Film Favorites

The Human Alphabet With Pilobolus

New Ways of Looking at Dance