Tag Archives: holly shaw

Resonating With Our Solutions


I’m off! I’m off to Three Rivers to teach this new workshop, Dancing Beyond Borders.  I’m excited because I have often included somatic exercises and meditation practices into my dance classes, but this will be the first time I advertise it as such.  It will be interesting to see who it will attract.  I’m really looking forward to this new workshop because it is the culmination of many years of inquiry and practice in movement, creativity, and manifesting.  Maybe next year, you’ll join me?


An Unfinished Duet


This was filmed some time ago. It was unfinished at the time, but we wanted to get a recording of it.  Well, as it turns out, life moves on and we are both onto other projects so it is still unifinished.  I looked at it today and thought, that is worth showing so decided to go public with it. I liked where the choreography was going and think it is worthy of developing and finishing in the future at some point.  Enjoy:) And if you have time, tell me what you think:

Video Schmideo


Well obviously when I give a performance that I feel very good about OF COURSE something will go awry and I will not get it all on video.  In this instance, I had too many videos (um er, ahem) on my iPhone and so it ran out of space after just a minute of dance. Well clearly some things are not meant to travel past the ephemeral. But I did get this:  

Holly LIVE! at the Salon


I’m so excited! and I just can’t hide it! This Saturday I’ll be presenting a new piece at the LEVYdance Salon in San Francisco.  If you want an old tidbit of it you can look at my entry from March 27th: https://365dances.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/effort-and-the-triumph-of-being/ 

I took that and worked on it, changed it, added some cinnamon and cardamon, stretched it, rolled it out and baked it and now it is rising rising rising.  I’m going to try to post another newer snippet of it before Saturday, but honestly my main focus is mounting the full thing Saturday.  If you are in or around the Bay Area and you haven’t seen me dance live yet, you should come check it out.  It is a really chill and fun event. There are some seriously great artists, dancers and choreographers gonna be presenting too so you will definitely get your 10 bucks worth! See all the details below.


The Salon 6.2.12
On Saturday June 2nd, LEVYdance hosts its quarterly party and art showcase, The Salon. Artists of varying disciplines are offered ten free hours of studio space to play, take risks, explore and collaborate. Each artist or group creates five minutes of new work to share at this art extravaganza! Comfy couches, free snacks, an all-night cheap cash bar, and an eclectic line-up make for one of the best performance viewing experiences in the Bay Area. Plan to shake it at The Salon’s raucous post-showcase dance party!


 doors @8:30, showcase @9, shake it @10
LEVYstudio, 19 Heron St
San Francisco 
6.2.12 Line-Up Includes:
Summer Shapiro
Jana Meszaros Work
Sally McIntyre
Palanza Dance
The Blind Tiger Project (Bianca Cabrera)
Justyn Zolli
Centrifugal Force
Holly Shaw
Brandi Brandes
and more!


Ten bucks at the door
Pre-purchase tickets for only eight bucks

For more information visit The Salon Page



Blast from the Past


I’m getting ready to pull together a summer performance workshop for teens (cross fingers) and I needed to get this video together for a proposal.  This  is a piece I worked on with a group of students I called, “The Elixir of Youth Dance Company” back in 2009.  They performed this at a show I produced called “Eyes of Eve” at Julia Morgan Theatre, September 12, 2009. 

Some of these kids I still work with.  And they are so big now:( It gave me such a funny nostalgic feeling when I looked at this video. I know it doesn’t count as part of the 365 challenge, but I just wanted to share.  I think these kids are awesome.

Clarity and Ambiguity


Have you ever noticed that sometimes you and the people close to you have similar experiences in clumps?  I’ve been noticing this a lot with my close friends lately.  We’ll all have individual things that happen to each of us which bring clarity and learning of a similar lesson to all of us.  Very recently it was this: Everything decision you make should be either a ‘hell yes’ or a ‘hell no’.  Basically if it isn’t a “Hell Yes!” then the answer should be “Hell No!”*  I know a lot of people tuning into their own emotional guidance, getting clear on what they want and what they don’t want, and living directly from it.  And so as my friend Sasha and I set out to make a bit of art reflecting this, that was our intention.  What I find interesting about this piece is that what we ended up exploring was not clarity, but rather that feeling of ambiguity.  Should I stay or should I go?  As I watched the clips later I see that we were exploring that toxic relationship that makes you second guess yourself and get looped back in.  That makes you tell someone to bugger off, only to turn around and invite them back in.  So I guess the aim is clarity, but there’s always gonna be those experiences that test you.  By the way, I know it would appear that I am kicking Sasha’s butt near the end there, but I assure you that no Sasha’s were harmed during the making of this video!

Holly and Sasha in their more natural happy faces.

*I know I got this “Hell Yes, or Hell No!” idea from something I read, but I cannot remember the source.  If someone knows who it is, then please let me know as I’d like to credit the originator and direct people to that resource if possible.  Thank you!

Transplanting Movement


For those of you actually interested in my process, I’ve posted another video showing the evolution of “Effort and the Triumph of Being.”  In April, I’m going to be performing with Caminos Flamencos at the San Francisco Opera House and I have to create a solo to the trumpet part of Ravel’s Boléro.  After working on it for awhile, I listened to Os Meus Olhos and the movement seemed like it would be really interesting to it, so I started working with it to that song instead. I do this often with choreography.  Create it to one song and then “transplant” it to the song I’ll be using in the end (although in this instance, I will be using Boléro in the end, but perhaps Os Meus Olhos down the road.)  This can sometimes help me avoid cliches or ruts.  If I’m dancing to the music all the time, then the choreography can land flat. Also, this is helpful when I’m stuck with something and the ideas are not flowing with a particular piece because I’m just not vibrating with it at the time.  I’ll put on some music that I am vibrating with, that makes me WANT to dance and then allow the creativity to flow through that avenue. 

Effort and the Triumph of Being


For the last six weeks, I’ve been teaching a dance class to 8 teenage girls in Oakland.  What began as a simple hip-hop class has evolved into a weekly exploration of self for these girls.  Not quite meaning to, but in response to the desires I felt in them, I shaped a sort of discovery of self  thru dance – class.  Before we get to the hip hop we spend time breathing and exploring movement and our emotions of the present moment.  It has been challenging for them at times but they have really risen to the occasion and it is breath-taking to witness.  Anyhow, last week, we did a dance of resistance and allowing – which can be some pretty difficult work.  I chose it specifically for them because week after week I would feel their resistance clearly as though they had cartoon bubbles speaking to me over their heads.  Even though they kept showing up to class, they had so much resistance to dance “are you kidding me?!!!”, resistance to try  “omg that is so not cool!,” resistance to me, “who is this lady expecting so much out of us?”  Teenagers feel resistance to their very core as they are challenged to become the whole sum of who they are.  They are fraught with fears of it but full of passionate desire for it.  “This is your ‘Hell NO! Dance'” I encouraged them, “You hate this exercise? Then dance that!” I was relentless. The process was rocky and took a long time, but eventually the movement came and then I slowly transitioned into the Allowing Dance, the “Hell Yes! Dance.” The energy in the room lifted like a hopeful bubble, “Ah, now that I’m dancing a little this isn’t so bad. I can do this. . . hmmm that’s kind of interesting. . . never done that before” 

Afterwards, as I tried to transition into a fast paced hip hop warm up, I paused to look back at them and saw dazed delicate faces still immersed in the images they had just summoned from the depths of their beings, sweat glistening on their confused foreheads.  Realizing they weren’t quite ready to move on, I stopped what I was doing and had them write some of their thoughts down and then allowed them to seal them into envelopes for their own comfort.  Never have I seen them take up their pens and paper with such voracity and purpose.  Dancing your resistance and allowing is powerful work.  

 And so I’ve been doing my own dances of resistance and allowance the past week or so.  After watching this bit of movment, I realized that this also is one of them.

Pina, the movie


Admittedly this post will likely end up being filed under Reviews since I need to file it somewhere, but I should state that I don’t feel as though I can really give it a formal educated review for two reasons: 1. I had very little exposure to Pina Bausch prior to seeing this movie and 2. I read a bunch of reviews after seeing it so I don’t feel like I can be impartial.

Anyone who hasn’t gone to see this movie while it is in theatres is missing out. I loved this movie so much I’ve been to see it twice and could probably be convinced to see it again.  I think it is worth mentioning that the first time I went with my nine year old son who sat through the entire 1hr and 45min without complaining or falling asleep.  (I used to call Aleister my little “sucko-meter” because I’d take him to performances and if he didn’t like it or got bored then it definitely sucked, but if he was riveted to watch then it was good – kids are honest. They don’t intellectualize why they should like something.)  So tested by the best and already winning awards from others, it goes without saying that Pina is a great movie.

For those of you not in the know, Pina is a feature-length dance film in 3D with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, featuring the unique and inspiring art of the great German choreographer who died in 2009.  Pina Bausch was a very influential modern dance choreographer and created very emotionally dramatic works that can be fall easily in the realm of dance theatre.  Let me just say that 3D movies often make me motion-sick so my first thought while putting on the glasses was a snobbish one “Why do they assume that in order for dance to be amazing on film we need to see it in 3D? Dance can stand on its own, damnit! Besides, 3D is so gauche,” but oh how I was wrong.  The effect was anything but tacky and I found out later that the maker of the film, Wim Winders, chose 3D specifically to highlight Pina’s works as Winders felt there was no other medium in which you could get a sense of the real performance.  I have to agree.  The film weaves the audience through some of Pina Bausch’s major works, with interviews, solos, and duets, from the dancers sprinkled throughout.  The vignette device makes the film very accessible although I would have liked to see Café Müller without interuption – the effect from the sustained drama of the piece is lost I think.  What makes this film especially gorgeous is the dances are filmed in many different locations throughout Wuppertal, from industrial buildings to cliff sides. One solo is set next to an indoor pool where it appears swim practice is going on as usual (Hey, they always say “don’t run” near the pool, but I’ve never heard, “don’t dance,” heh.)  The effect of the various locations is stunning and inspiring.  You can imagine, being someone who loves to dance, well, everywhere possible, that I was just beside myself with pleasure. 

The last great thing I want to mention about this movie is that the cast of dancers, which are Pina Bausch’s own ensemble, vary in age from approximately twenty to sixty.  It was so strikingly refreshing to see older dancers that it made me want to go live in Europe where you see more of this kind of thing. And I’m not praising them here because I’m trying to advocate against agism.  Nothing so heroically political as that.  I liked it simply because the older weathered dancers were so delicious to watch.  Their movements are distilled – their emotions so palapable, their stories deep. I love seeing older dancers, not only because I’m headed there (aren’t we all?), but because every year, they really do just get better.

Holding Space


Holding Space seems to be a theme in my life right now.  Sitting with the open spaces of my life as opposed to trying to fill them up with needless activities, people, movement, etc. I know a lot of people who are holding space, otherwise known as waiting (although waiting has a impatient sort of component to it don’t you think?).  It seems like it can be a tough thing to do sometimes – hold space.  It is easier to just accept whatever crosses your path in just so you don’t get bored or fidgety. Whether you are waiting for a moment to attack a movement as you dance, or waiting for the perfect relationship or job to manifest, holding space is something that takes practice.  I’ll have to say that my flamenco mentor, Yaelisa, really taught me a lot about holding space.  In flamenco you have to hold space a lot before your “attack” or while waiting for the singer to begin the next letra.  It is a good practice for life, I think.  How to be, to enjoy where you are while maintaining a positive outlook and anticipation of what is coming. I really wanted to explore this physically through dance, so that is what I did here.  This is the most “non-movement” movement exploration I’ve done. . . er, because I’m. . y’know holding space. Not filling it with a lot of movement. This video is for all the people trying to stay positive and allowing the light to seep in – this is for all the space holders out there.