Tag Archives: Dance

Spring-spirational Music

-Rache’ll Brown

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the Sperrys are out—that’s right, it’s spring again! A new term, great weather, and endless opportunities for fun require something special, and what better way to start off this season than with some music to sink into? Whether they are old or new, these musicians will be the anthems to every shenanigan I get into this spring.

Hoodie Allen
I’m not sure where he has been all of my life, but I do know that his music will be the main component to every playlist I make this spring. Energetic beats, clever verses, and a carefree vibe make this hip-hop star better than the rest. Check out “No Interruption” and become as obsessed as I am.

Imagine Dragons
Okay, so I know they aren’t exactly new. In fact, most people are already starting to get sick of them. But since I don’t listen to the radio, that’s an issue I rarely face. They’re catchy, fun, and inspiring; plus, everyone loves a song with a group chorus. This to me is the epitome of feel-good music; “On Top of The World” just makes me want to smile.

A$AP Rocky
I was first introduced to A$AP through Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem” video (a.k.a. the best music video in existence) and was immediately intrigued. Now everyone I know loves him and all of his problems (I commend all who get that reference). Anyway, I expect to hear “Wild for the Night” at at least half the parties I attend this spring.

Florida Georgina Line
I know I’m probably one of the last people in America to hear about this band, but better late than never, right? I’ll be honest: I’m not the biggest country fan. But they make some really great tunes. They sound like how I feel when floating the river on one of those late-spring-so-hot-you-want-to-die days. “Cruise” is definitely worth a listen. Or ten.

Zedd
Nice weather is one of the main driving forces for my weekend all-nighters. On a warm spring night I get lost in a good dance party and the next thing I know the sun is up and a good portion of my life is just gone. I blame the music, and Zedd makes some of the best electronic dance music around. Listen to “Clarity (feat. Foxes)” and dance the night away.

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The Candle Room

Shake It, Eugene is a video series about Eugene’s underground dance movement. Although they remain relatively unknown, places to go dancing in Eugene come alive almost any night of the week as people of all ages turn toward dance as a way to relax and meet new people. This series provides a look at some of Eugene’s most joyful and inviting dance venues.

An Exploration in Movement

[deck]A Eugene Ballet Company dancer’s Venezuelan heritage inspires his first choreography piece.[/deck]

Passionate about the shape of the body and how it moves, Duran is always looking for interesting ways to present himself both as a dancer and a contemporary choreographer.

Passionate about the shape of the body and how it moves, Duran is always looking for interesting ways to present himself both as a dancer and a contemporary choreographer.

[cap]T[/cap]welve dancers, clad in leg warmers, sweats, and baggy t-shirts, stand before him ready to begin. Tension and anticipation fill every limb to capacity. “Ready?” A dancer crosses herself. Ominous music fills the room and the dancers launch into quick-paced, heart-racing, intricate movement. “This is who we are, this is why we are here,” says Gillmer Duran in his Venezuelan accent. Duran is a dancer with the Eugene Ballet Company who is changing his focus from dance towards choreography.

He sits bolt upright in his folding chair at the front of the studio. Duran watches and feels his choreography come to life. His muscles tense along with the dancers; his ears hear the music with the same anticipation as the dancers. The room is filled with the sound of pointe-shoed foot falls, heavy breathing, and Duran’s encouragement, “elegant, elegant, nice.” Duran knows exactly what he wants. Each finger, each head movement has its place. Each breathe, each drop of sweat is important. It is at the Midtown Arts Center in Eugene, Oregon that Duran rehearses his dancers for the premier of his newest piece “Without the Cover.”

Duran, born in Venezuela, was introduced to dance through traditional Venezuelan folk dancing as a child. But in Venezuela there was an “if it’s not baseball, what are you doing?” attitude, Duran says. This mind-set; however, has not stopped him. “Once you start liking it,” Duran says “you never stop liking it.”

Duran teaches his dancers through example during rehearsal at the Midtown Arts Center, home of the Eugene Ballet Company.

Duran teaches his dancers through example during rehearsal at the Midtown Arts Center, home of the Eugene Ballet Company.

Duran, 37, is captivated by movement and is taking that captivation to the next level, from dancer to choreographer. His serious ballet training didn’t begin until he was 21-years-old. In an industry where dancers are primed for ballet at the age of four, it is a remarkable feat to accelerate as quickly has Duran has. “If you are a musician you can be a musician until you are 80 but when you are a dancer things are different,” Duran says. “For a lawyer, 37 is his prime,” but for a dancer this is not the case. But age is only a number; a small bump in Duran’s the road.

Before he was a dancer, Duran was a loan officer.  Perhaps he caught the eye of the director of Ballet National de Caracas because he effortlessly stands, moves, and looks like a dancer. In Venezuela, Duran danced with Ballet National de Caracas. While in the United States with a tourist visa, Duran was hired by Tulsa Ballet in Oklahoma. His unique path towards becoming a dancer has influenced his choreography greatly. “I have seen dance in many places,” Duran says. This is evidenced in hints of Venezuelan folk dance and contemporary movements he picked up in his early days of dance.

Duran’s latest piece, Without the Cover, premiered with Eugene Ballet Company’s Dark Side of the Moon on February 13 and spoke to his past and path towards becoming a dancer. Inspired by fellow Venezuelan Gabriela Montero’s interpretation of J.S Bach’s Spontaneous Compositions on Themes, Duran sought to explore the constraints we face in society and the pigeon holes we can be placed in, something that he is familiar with.

A natural leader, Duran directs his dancers with ease, professionalism, and a clear vision of what he wants out of his choreography.

A natural leader, Duran directs his dancers with ease, professionalism, and a clear vision of what he wants out of his choreography.

Throughout his piece, sheets of plastic hang in front of his dancers. They are covered by what society expects of them. As each movement progresses the curtains rise and the dancers can be seen clearly for who they are, without any distractions or distortions. Duran’s goal was to be as honest as possible, to be vulnerable while still displaying strength. “I am very fond of his ability to combine flow of movement with staccato and slightly quirky steps or moments,” says Jennifer Martin, principle dancer with the Eugene Ballet Company.

Without the Cover showed Duran’s understanding and firm grasp on human relationships and intricacies of human interaction. His understanding is directly imprinted on his dancers. “He is sensitive to the dancer’s abilities,” Martin says, “and yet has a gift for pushing us beyond our area of comfort and in turn helps us to expand and grow artistically.”

A choreographer’s ability to communicate and relate to his dancers is the greatest tool in his arsenal. When there is this connection, the choreographer’s ideas can come to fruition and then be related to the audience. Duran has this and it is evident in his rehearsals. “Horrible,” Duran says after they have finished running the piece, but the dancers don’t even bat an eye because horrible is quickly followed by “very nice.” He walks around the room to give corrections to the dancers. There is a playful quality to Duran’s rehearsal process – he refers to Martin as “Jenny from the block” – but there is also an honest quality to it as well – “it was all your fault” he says to one of his dancers to which she replies “ya, it was me.” This combination of playfulness and honesty allows the dancers to be themselves and be a part of Duran’s creativity. It is his love of music and movement that propels Duran to create and to share his explorations with dancers and audience members alike.

Salsa: Not Just for Chips

Shake It, Eugene: Episode 1

[caps]I[/caps]t’s Friday night. Taylor’s, Rennie’s, and The District are buzzing. Meanwhile, dancers are strapping on their shoes and heading to the Vet’s Club for one of Eugene’s most delightful secrets: a night of salsa dancing. Although it remains somewhat unknown, Eugene has an extensive Latin dance culture.  Friday nights at the Vet’s offers locals a chance to relax, meet new people (including some very talented dancers), and let loose on the dance floor.

Jose Cruz, the coordinator of one the main programs in town, tells us about Eugene’s ever-growing salsa scene. Salsa dances are held every Friday night at the Veteran’s Club on 17th and Willamette.  As soon as you step through the door you’re led to the dance room by the sounds of salsas, cumbias and merengues filling the air. Lessons are from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m., and the social dance goes from 10:30 to 1:00 a.m. No partner?  That’s no excuse. The Vet’s Club is one of the most welcoming dance venues you’re likely to find in Eugene.

Throughout the video it becomes clear that there is one main factor contributing to the growth of Eugene’s underground salsa movement. Sure, there’s the music, the flavor and the rhythm. And there are those who have been drawn in after falling prey to movies like Take the Lead or Step Up 2. But more than anything else, what keeps people coming back is the joy dancing brings. Once you hit the dance floor, school, work, bills – they all fade away into a different time and place.

Shake It, Eugene is a video series about Eugene’s underground dance movement. Although they remain relatively unknown, places to go dancing in Eugene come alive almost any night of the week as people of all ages turn toward dance as a way to relax and meet new people. This series provides a look at some of Eugene’s most joyful and inviting dance venues.