Dance Of Life
Cheryl Chaddick brings modern dance to Central Coast Summer Fest.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Photo: Cheryl Chaddick (above and below) explores the heart through dance.
Peninsula dance lovers are in for a treat this Saturday when Cheryl Chaddick, founder and choreographer of San Francisco''s Company Chaddick, takes over Marina''s SpectorDance studio with her brand of Jose Limon-inspired modern dance.
SpectorDance, the year-and-a-half-old dance studio founded by Fran Spector, is in the middle of its first Central Coast Summer Fest. On each of five weekends this month and next, a different Bay Area dance company is teaching a master class in the afternoon and then performing an evening concert in Spector''s handsome 200-seat theater. The idea behind the festival is for Spector to act as a liaison between the Monterey Area and--in this year--Northern California dance makers. (Future years will focus on artists from other regions).
One doesn''t have to be a professional to show up for the Saturday morning classes, offered at 11am. For some the classes offer an opportunity to broaden their perspective and pick up a new skill or two. Others take them, says Chaddick, because "they have an appetite for movement and that''s one way they can satisfy it."
With more than 20 years of experience, Chaddick is one of the top modern dancers teachers in the Bay Area. Her classes at the San Francisco Dance Center regularly attract new students as well as experienced dancers. Besides a thorough understanding of the body''s physical structure, which allows her to adjust her teaching to the individual need of her students, she brings an unabashed humanism to her work. "The body," she says, "is our best way to communicate with each other."
Born in Texas, Chaddick, like thousands of little girls all over the country, started taking tap and ballet in her hometown of Corpus Christi at the age of six. She soon gravitated to Graham technique, which she admired for the strength and groundedness it encouraged. One day, she had an epiphany: She took a Limon class where the movement emphasis was on continuity and flow. She was hooked. Chaddick may not have realized it at the time but she had in fact found the two complimentary pillars of modern dance from which all other techniques have since evolved.
As a choreographer, Chaddick has a voice distinctly her own, one that reflects her deeply held belief in the communicative power of dance. In introducing the program for her 18th season last February--a program which she will bring to Marina this Saturday evening--she wrote, "I strongly believe that one of the most important parts of life is to make a connection with each other while we are here and to find a certain freedom in knowing that our soul and spirit share similar experiences." Out of these beliefs Chaddick creates full-bodied dances that breathe, that are beautifully phrased, and that explore matters of the human heart.
One of Chaddick''s recurrent themes concerns the demands working and living in the modern world make on our overall well being. While her perspective is definitely skeptical, she is anything but dogmatic in the way she deals with contemporary conundrums. The jauntily flingy "Wasted," performed to music by Nomad, looks at the rat race from the perspective of three strong assertive women. In "Interiors," an amusing yet thoughtful dance theater piece that combines personal confessions with movement, she takes on the fears and habits that keep us stuck in no-longer-functioning relationships, whether they be personal or professional.
The other two works, "Bread and Water" and the gorgeous "Scattering of Light" (with music by John Adams) show Chaddick''s talent for lyricism. "Bread," inspired by Pablo Neruda poetry, presented here in both English and Spanish, was inspired by her accompanist Daniel Berkman who one day brought a kora, a 14-string African harp, to class. "It was so beautiful, I just knew I had to make a work to it," she remembers. Out came a piece full of tenderness and small human gestures, with original music by Berkman.
When she sets out to choreograph, Chaddick sets herself three goals: Be honest in the work you make, take the risk of going inside yourself, and carry humor along the way. It''s not a bad way to make dances. Nor to live your life.
Cheryl Chaddick teaches a master class July 19 at 11am, and Company Chaddick performs at 8pm, both at SpectorDance in Marina. Call 384-1050 or visit www.SpectorDance.org.