Ongoing classes beginning September 8….Tuesday Thursday Friday and Saturday…check link ongoingclasses
Zero Balancing and Movement private sessions are ongoing
Performances as part of the25 Anniversary of Movement Research at Judson Church AND the 25 Anniversary of their Artist in Residence Program September 12 in works by Karen Bernard and myself. www.movementresearch.org and the http://www.Queensborodancefesival.com, at the Secret Theater in Queens October 18 and 23,
Workshop and Performance in Santiago, Chile September 28-October 2
Barbara Mahler on the Intersection of Choreography and Teaching …interview for Dance Enthusiast, by Trina Maninno
Performer, choreographer and educator Barbara Mahler returns to the Performance Mix Festival with her solo IT OcCurS to mE. Mahler has known festival founder Karen Bernard for years, beginning when they shared their work in the same program in the ‘70s. They continued to bump into one another in their Tribeca neighborhood where they both lived and worked at that time.
The two came together again this past May when they revived one of Bernard’s works Vinyl Retro (1999) for a Dance and Process performance at The Kitchen. “It was rare for both of us,” Bernard says. “For me, to be working with someone and for her to be dancing in another person’s work.”
“I was on another planet,” Mahler says with a chuckle. Bernard’s dances are peppered with props and video while Mahler is drawn to work where the body alone is the focal point. Despite their contrasting approach, the two veterans had great fun working together.
Mahler didn’t grow up dancing like her counterpart. Instead, she stumbled upon it while studying at Hunter College. “I walked into the dance club which was on Wednesday afternoons. There was Dorothy [Vislocky] and her infamous drum.”
Barbara Mahler in Bellas Dance. Photo: Rachel Thorne Germond
She soon enrolled as a dance major, taking any classes available. It was at Hunter where she first learned of Susan Klein’s Klein Technique™ through Vislocky — both of whom had a deep impact on Mahler.
After graduation she began studying at the Klein/Barry Studio while working a host of jobs including as a bank teller and house cleaner. “The technique was the only thing that gave me a language that I could understand myself as a mover,” she says.
Today, she continues to teach in the Klein Technique tradition in New York and abroad, describing it as “an original method of developing movement and posture through deep understanding of skeletal and muscular structure of the body and its expressive possibilities.”
The venerable artist has trained hundreds of dancers and non-dancers while continuing to create solos and dances for small groups that are pregnant with nuance and skill. She spoke with The Dance Enthusiast about how her teaching and choreographic life intersect. Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
Barbara Mahler in We Do Weddings Too. Photo: Julie Lemberger / julielemberger.com.
Trina Mannino for The Dance Enthusiast: What parallels, if any, do you find in your teaching and choreography?
Barbara Mahler: All of my work and research in the realm of re-educating my own body has laid a foundation for me… My teaching, in turn, inspired my dancing and choreographic life. In the beginning of my dance making, I was choreographing mostly solos. And those dances were usually too hard for me. I was constantly challenging myself to get better.
TDE: Does Klein Technique™ influence your choreographic process?
BM: I’m not sure it informs my process, but the work is in my body which is what I use to create the movement. I work best with people and dancers who have studied with me. There is a particular clarity that I look for, self-understanding and grounded-ness [that comes from studying the technique].
TDE: How has your choreographic work evolved?
BM: It started off being more emotional, simple and sparse. I went through a narrative period. It’s continued to grow technically, but it supports the simplicity and preciseness of my early work. At its best, it develops slowly.
TDE: Over the years, you’ve taught hundreds of dancers and non-dancers. In what ways, has “taking class” changed?
BM: Taking class has gone through many phases; from being a purely physical practice to a conceptual practice. Yoga, Pilates and weight training have had strong influence on dancers. Financial stresses have created more teachers in the dance community for that kind of work, and in turn, have affected the bodies and minds of many — which is neither good nor bad. Survival has become more and more difficult.
The time for the development of work is not as available and so the artistic process has changed for many to accommodate these real life situations. In some ways, I see the mind and intellect has — at the present time — a stronger emphasis than the body or the spirit.
HORSE DANCE COMPANY, Taipe, Tawain
July 10th 2016
The Klein Technique is an ever-evolving technique designed by dancers and for dancers to promote a healthy and efficient ways of moving with and through the major structure of human body. Wu-Kang Chen, the Artistic Director of the Horse Dance Company, invited Barbara Mahler, a MASTER TEACHER, CONTRIBUTOR and internationally known teacher of the technique as well as a professional dancer/ choreographer, to Taiwan for a four-day workshop with a simple and fundamental impulse, to learn. Chen also invited me to translate for the workshop for we share the same interests of wanting to learn more about the technique and hope to share this interest to dancers in Taiwan.
This workshop attracted dancers, actors, dance teachers, athletes, and dance therapists alike to participate and evoked discussions from various point of views. However, Mahler was able to acknowledge all questions and curiosities and guided all back to the basic focus of the technique. As a result, the experience addressed individuality, differences, and simplicities meanwhile sparking greater curiosity about the Technique and its applications.
Speaking from my own experience alone, as a translator learning the Klein Technique for the very first time, I had the opportunity to process the theory and its principles mentally before practice it physically. Mahler knew the complexities and difficulties of my job and deliberately simplified the theory and made her instructions succinct enough for me to follow, and our collaboration allowed participants to also focus and work deeper. As a result, not only COULD I embody the technique BOTH INTELLECTUALLY AND physically as an individual, BUT the workshop as a whole also generated a positive and profound experience as a community. The feeling is that there remains a great space to learn and dance, or live, – an amazing realization.
This workshop, made possible by the generous support from the Asian Cultural Council and the National Cultural and Arts Foundation, is a great introduction of the Technique for the community in Taiwan. We all have anticipated to continue the practice and to invite Mahler to come back for further explorations. We also look forward to sharing the knowledge and experience.
RETURN SCHEDULED for April 2017