How to do a sashay in dance
Sashay - Definition, Meaning & Synonyms
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To sashay is to walk with an exaggerated flounce. Fashion models sometimes sashay down the runway.
When you sashay, you're showing off — but in a deliberately casual way. Kids playing dress up might sashay, and the most popular middle school students might sashay into class on the first day. You can also use sashay to describe a dance step, both a sideways square dance move and a ballet step; it's a mispronunciation of the French ballet term chassé, "gliding step," or literally, "to chase," since one foot "chases" the other.
Definitions of sashay
walk with a lofty proud gait, often in an attempt to impress others
cock, prance, ruffle, strut, swagger, tittup
perform a chasse step, in ballet
(ballet) quick gliding steps with one foot always leading
a journey taken for pleasure
“after cautious sashays into the field”
excursion, expedition, jaunt, junket, outing, pleasure trip
a square dance figure; partners circle each other taking sideways steps
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Mirror Mirror - KAMILLE
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original sound - RuPaul’s Drag Race
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Buttercup - MixAndMash
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original sound - Maya Johnson
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original sound - Paramount Plus
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original sound - Zumba
Sasha Kukin and his dance freedom
April 17, the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater hosted the first day of the St. Petersburg festival of contemporary dance "Pyatiletka", which takes place every 5 years. Its appearance is inextricably linked with the activities of Sasha Kukin, the legendary choreographer and teacher. This evening we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Sasha Kukin and the 30th anniversary of his Sasha Kukin Dance Company, the first professional modern dance company in Russia.
When at 1997 in the building of the Palace of Culture. The school of jazz-modern dance "Canon Dance" appeared in the first five-year plan, and there was not a single modern performance in the repertoire of the Mariinsky Theater. Later, productions by William Forsythe, Sasha Waltz, Angelin Preljocaj appeared on the stage of the Mariinsky Theater. Modern dance is in constant development, despite the fact that its main problem in Russia is the lack of proper funding. Festivals such as "Open Look", "Pyatiletka" are held so that we observe and study the graceful movement of modern choreography, its rapid development, both in Russia and around the world.
In April 2000, in the same Palace of Culture im. The first five-year plan was the opening of the Alternative Stage "S'Tancia", the first in Russia, which was given over to modern dance. Performances were shown there, Open Look, the International Jazz Dance and Music Festival, the Competition for Young Choreographers, the Swing and Lindy Hop Festival were held, and many master classes were organized. But in 2005, the Palace of Culture was destroyed in order to build a new theater. Despite this sad news, the process of development of dance culture, which originated in the Five-Year Plan, could no longer be stopped.
In his long interview, Sasha Kukin tells how after Paul Taylor's troupe arrived in Leningrad in 1978 with the play Esplanade, his world turned upside down, and from that moment he wanted to dance and compose something similar. After 11 years, in September 1990, together with six dancers, the first professional troupe Sasha Kukin Dance Company was created. At that time, this became a real challenge, since the main task of the theater was to present a different dance culture to the society, which is a supporter of classical ballet, and to do it in such a way that the intellectual spectator would accept and fall in love with it. The number of viewers at the premieres was incredible, 1000 on March 1993rd at the Opera Studio of the Conservatory and 900th in April 1994 on the stage of the Baltic House. Sasha Kukin professed classical modern dance in its American version. In those years, he was the only one who visited the United States several times and studied at the classes of the American Dance Festival, in the Cunningham troupe and with other American choreographers.
Before the dance program of the first day of the Five-Year Festival, we were shown a short version of the film Another Beauty directed by Pavel Skorobogatov. The film was made for the 70th anniversary of Sasha Kukin and the 30th anniversary of Sasha Kukin Dance Company. This film traces the story of a man who devoted his whole life to one cause, with the due passion of a creative person and the scrupulousness of a true professional. The film featured interviews of Sasha and the dancers of his troupe of different times, in which they talked about how the work on the productions was built, what ups and downs his company experienced.
After watching the film, we saw Sasha Kukin's dance theater with the work "A Conversation with Merce". This is a choreographic canvas, a tribute to the memory of the legendary choreographer of the 20th century, Merce Cunningham, and an attempt to combine the dance language of the master with the technique of Sasha Kukin in a small performance. The performance consisted of three types of dance phrases - Merce Cunningham, Sasha Kukin, composed of elements of the techniques of these choreographers. We know that Cunningham often used the principle of random selection in his work, this applied both to the dance itself and to the music. Kukin retained this principle in his work "Conversation with Merce", therefore, each time this performance takes place to different music, unknown to the artists in advance. Dancers Anastasia Sintsova, Irina Yatsenko, Polina Dubrovkina were involved in the performance, and they did an excellent job with this idea. It was impossible to take your eyes off the inspiring beauty on stage.
After a short intermission, we saw an excerpt from the sensational ballet "1234" in St. Petersburg performed by Alexander Chelidze, who was once a member of the Sasha Kukin Dance Company and Sabina Yapparova, an artist of the Mikhailovsky Theater. The fragment was short and very different from the general program of the festival. Yuri Smekalov's choreography is only developing in a modern direction, and he has a long way to go to move away from the canons of classical ballet.
The next in the festival program was the work of "INNER I", Inner Company, a joint project of choreographer Konstantin Keikhel and composer Konstantin Chistyakov. Inner I is a teaser for the performance, which will premiere on May 6 at the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre. The concept of the dance company is not to name the work, so as not to impose a false perception. Art is more intimate than is commonly understood, and it always carries on a dialogue in the inner language of a person. This work is a story about the path from non-existence to non-existence, internal dialectics, loss of self-control. The choreographer managed to convey this idea through the dance language of each dancer, the work turned out to be multifaceted and very interesting. We look forward to the premiere!
At the end of the evening, we saw Sasha Kukin's "Freedom" performed by his troupe, in which such concepts of modern dance as independent, nonconformist, technically authentic, uninhibited, but at the same time maintaining order and organization, fit in to create a clear choreographic statement. Not only the current dancers of Sasha Kukin came out to bow, but also those who at various times were in the Sasha Kukin Dance Company.
We hope that someday the situation with modern dance in Russia will change for the better, independent troupes will be funded and supported by the Ministry of Culture, perhaps the Alternative Stage will return to embody the most daring ideas, and Sasha Kukin will delight us with her creativity for a long time to come time.
Maria Dolgorukova especially for MUSECUBE
used photos of Svetlana Avvakumova
Sasha Kukin: a large interview
Interview-18 April, 2021 in Sanctors festival of modern dance "Pyatiletka". Its emergence is connected with the activities of Sasha Kukin, the founder of the first professional contemporary dance company in Russia. This festival is timed to coincide with two major anniversaries - the 70th anniversary of the choreographer and the 30th anniversary of his troupe.
Svetlana Ulanovskaya talked with Sasha Kukin about his studies in the USA, the relevance of Merce Cunningham's creative heritage today, and about the peculiarities of working on a dance text.
“It was a challenge”
— What prompted you to take up modern dance in St. Petersburg, a city with centuries-old ballet traditions?
— For some reason, I didn't really remember the traditions when I started studying modern dance. The impetus was the arrival in Leningrad in 1978 of the troupe of Paul Taylor. His "Esplanade" just turned my world upside down. From that moment on, my life could not be the same. I wanted to dance and write something similar. The very next year, I organized a studio at the Institute of Finance and Economics, where the first steps were taken towards understanding modern dance. 11 years later, on September 1990 years, together with 6 dancers of the troupe, the first professional troupe was created - Sasha Kukin Dance Company.
Sasha Kukin in the 1980s at the Financial and Economic Institute
In a sense, it was a challenge. When we prepared our first program in 1992, we understood that all the ballet dancers, all the bosses of the academic stage would come to watch us. And so it happened: the stars of the Mariinsky Theater, Boris Eifman and other famous people of the ballet world were at our performance. Why did we show the first program only 2 years later? Because we wanted to do everything professionally. Of the 10 people in the troupe, 6 were graduates of the choreography department of the Institute of Culture, which at that time was headed by Boris Bregvadze. Dance disciplines were taught there at a fairly high level, but all the same, modern dance had to be learned. Therefore, we agreed that for the first year we would not show performances, but would work hard and study. At the same time, we also composed - in the end, by 19In 1992, we had produced production material for as many as 2 programs. The number of viewers at our premieres of that time now seems incredible! In March 1993, there were 1000 spectators in the Opera Studio of the Conservatory, in April 1994 in the Baltic House - 900!
At the time of the organization of the company, our mission was the very fact of creating a professional modernist troupe in St. Petersburg and Russia. Later, when preparing our first program, we felt our mission more deeply: to present to a society convinced that nothing could be better than classical ballet, a different dance culture based on different ideological and technical principles. Present so that a thoughtful and intelligent viewer will accept and even fall in love with this culture.
Sasha Kukin, 2020
“I could have been an American choreographer for 30 years”
— You studied dance in the USA. What did this experience give you?
- In America, I realized that I urgently need to eliminate gaps in technology, attend as many classes as possible. At ADF (American Dance Festival - editor's note) in 1992 there were only 2 crazy people: one dancer from Ecuador and me. We took 5 classes a day for 3 weeks. I studied with Ron Brown, Linda Hodes, Betty Jones, Jeff Slayton and Woody McGriff. Later in New York, I took classes at Westbeth Studios, as well as Doug Varon, Stephen Petronio, Ralph Lemon, Paul Taylor, and many different choreographers. I tried to use every opportunity to learn, and almost everyone influenced me in one way or another, on my understanding of modern dance.
- Would you like to stay in the USA?
- I would not say that I wanted to, but there was such an opportunity. In 1992, I met Cunningham dancer Emma Diamond, she liked my work, and she brought me a manager. He said that you can try, and offered to recruit dancers and start working. If I had agreed then, I could have been an American choreographer for 30 years. But I asked for 3 days to think and in the end refused. I could not imagine such a situation: I formed our first professional troupe and remain in America ... What would happen to my dancers who were waiting for me? What would they say? This is not patriotism. It's more of an attitude towards people. I just couldn't do it, although later I began to regret it. I was inspired by the American experience and it seemed to me that the situation would change, that the state would begin to help modern dance. Nothing like this! What do we have today? There are 5 or 6 troupes that are funded. It's very scarce.
Let me tell you a telling story. In 1996, the French troupe Atlantic Ballet came to St. Petersburg under the direction of Regine Chopineau. Regine brought not her work, but "Angel Leap" by the late Dominique Bagouet. At a briefing on the occasion of her arrival, they said something like this: “We are glad to welcome you! We also have modern dance, there is such a choreographer as Boris Eifman…”. And Regin answered: “I don’t know Boris Eifman. But I know that you have Sasha Kukin, bring me to him." As it turned out, she learned about me from two dancers whom I met at ADF, both of whom worked in her troupe. So, in the midst of a rehearsal, a group of Frenchmen of 10 people unexpectedly appeared in my hall. Rezhin invited us to joint classes and a performance, after which there was a buffet table, where a lot of officials were present. The first toast she raised was to my health and the well-being of our troupe. And then I immediately realized: that's it, we will never get money. Just by the principle of the contrary. Even at the buffet table, she told the officials a seditious thing: “If someone here does something outstanding, they put a bust on him during his lifetime. You are obliged to put a bust on this person, ”and she pointed at me. Regin is a very correct person. She thought that she was doing better for me, but it seems to me that it would be better if she did not say this - our officials are annoyed by such statements.
I liked Regine's troupe very much. In general, there are a lot of good troupes in France. The best French choreographer for me is Dominique Bagouet. I am very interested in how he worked with movement. Although it is impossible not to recognize what a strong influence Cunningham had on French modern dance. This can be seen in Dominic, but he also has a lot of his own. And Philippe Decoufle. For me, this is a great master.
Sasha Kukin with dancers of the Kim Robards Dance troupe after the premiere of his works for the Kim troupe in the studio "B Colorado ballet", 1995g.
“There is no contemporary dance technique”
— For you, as well as for Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, dance technique is fundamentally important, work on it. What does the process of creating your own dance technique consist of?
- For me, the dance text is close to the poetic one. An experienced choreographer, like a poet, always cares about the quality of the text, construction, logic (or anti-logic, like Cunningham) of phrases, and this is a complex process. I was somehow struck by Pushkin's drafts. It would seem that he should compose easily, but sometimes out of 7 lines 6 are crossed out and only 1 is left. This suggests that he did not write impromptu, but carefully worked on the text. A real master always doubts himself, always looking for the best options.
In general, I like the concept of “dance language” more than “technique”, technique is more of a working term. To create your own dance language, you must have strong dancers, because the technique is not composed in the head, as many believe, it is developed directly in the classroom. For example, you study material for the first production with the troupe, then find new material and do the second, maybe the eighth or ninth production. .. And only by the tenth production will the outlines of some of your form appear, obvious, repetitive elements of the dance language, which form technical class.
What else is the problem? The technique itself is good, but you have to teach it to your dancers, who can also change, and with new ones you have to return to the initial stage. So, you need to make a class. The difficulty of this situation is that you can have your technique, but still not make a class. Ideally, you should have several classes that you need to build so that in the process of training the dancers learn your technique, improve, and at the end they can teach it to others. This is a very difficult job, not everyone wants to do it. Maybe that's why choreographers are not very active in creating their classes, we don't see a lot of techniques in modern dance. Ultimately, what is your own technology? This is your type of movement.
— What can you say about Russian choreographers in this respect?
- When people come to open classes, I send everyone to the library to read books. Unfortunately, the theoretical base of those who practice modern dance in our country is very weak, people do not really understand what they are doing. For example, I see an ad for a dance school that teaches contemporary dance techniques. Well, there is no such technique! As there is no technique of modern or postmodern dance. The technique is authentic, it is always author's. This is the difference between modern dance and classical ballet, which has taken the path of unification. There are different methods of teaching classical dance - Vaganova, Kostrovitskaya, Bazarova and May, but their numerous creators use the same systematized technique. Hence the word "combination", in classical dance it is important to be able to combine elements. You can do it in your own way, adding some nuances, but still it will be the use of the developed unified technique. In modern dance, we say "phrase", and it needs to be composed. Each choreographer creates his own technique, his own way of speaking in the language of dance. This must be understood. For example, if a choreographer from Israel comes to us and gives classes in modern dance, we should always ask where he danced and what technique he uses. If he is a company dancer, then he has mastered the technique of its leader. Or maybe he came up with his own technique. It must be understood that the technique in modern dance is private, authorial. For example, Jeff Slayton adopted the Cunningham technique, but added a lot of his own to it, so he rightly writes "Jeff Slayton technique".
What do our choreographers do? They are making a play. They picked up something somewhere, they have some forms, combinations learned at workshops, but this is not their technique - it is a stolen technique. And in the early 1990s, I understood this very well: either I will be a thief all my life, or I will come up with something of my own. My technique evolved under the influence of different choreographers. For the first 2 years we worked with the Graham technique, in 1992, when I arrived from ADF, we switched to the Cunningham technique, and in 1995 I got acquainted with numerous postmodern dance techniques, contact improvisation - and also included all this in their classes.
Doris Humphrey is also worth mentioning. Why? Humphrey has influenced most choreographers around the world. The history of modern dance began with the activities of two troupes - Martha Graham and Humphrey-Weidman. If Martha tried to create a complete technique with clear ideas and principles, then Doris worked differently. She proposed various movement ideas, for example, the idea of gravity. In modern dance, this means an imbalance, a fall, a shift in the center of gravity. But how the dancer will work with this idea technically is his business, Humphrey let the dancer do it himself, without giving him clear instructions. That is, in her technique, the same idea can be implemented in many different ways. Or the idea of dance energy. What is important here? What works more - joints or muscles? Humphrey has joints, and it was a kind of revelation - the whole postmodern dance is built mainly on the work of the joints. And the Graham technique is based on the antithesis of muscle contraction and release. That is, Humphrey has a completely different approach - he is based on freedom, lightness: if you want to be like that, then the work of the joints is more important than the work of the muscles. And again, Doris allowed everyone to implement this idea in their own way. So all the followers of Humphrey work in a similar way, but they are all different. Some of it spilled over to Anna Halprin, Trisha Brown, from Trisha to Stephen Petronio and many others. Humphrey's technique is fundamentally unfinished, and therefore its influence is felt to this day.
— Is your equipment finished?
- In my technique, about 25% of the realized ideas are from Cunningham, but I would not say that it is finished - I constantly move somewhere, transform. In working order, I call it "mobile technology". In general, there are not so many choreographers who have created a complete technique - this is Graham, and this is just Cunningham.
The first part of Sasha Kukin's troupe, 1990
Conversation with Merce
- You dedicated your last work to Merce Cunningham. What can a modern choreographer learn from Merce?
- If you want to be authentic so that you have your own dance language, you need to work on it. This is what Cunningham has been doing all his life, and this is what makes him interesting. In addition, his work is a unique example of all kinds of collaborations with outstanding, innovative-minded composers, artists and designers. This ability to create an unusually nutritious creative environment around you is worth learning.
He also constantly, in almost every work of his, experimented, went beyond the predictable and unambiguous. This was manifested in everything: in the ratio of dance and music, and in technique, and in the illogical construction of dance phrases. This is a completely different approach to choreography, many decades ahead of its time.
And, of course, Cunningham is a great master. When you look at his work, you can see it immediately. Yes, some of them may be less liked, seem too abstract, but his skill as a choreographer is impossible not to see - it amazes a professional.
Another very important point from my point of view: Cunningham actually destroyed his troupe. In his will, he ordered it to be dissolved, although not immediately. Yes, the Merce Cunningham Trust periodically brings together former dancers for shows at Westbeth Studios, participation in festivals, filming, but nothing more. Cunningham's act is extraordinary and has no analogues in the dance world. Merce was well aware that after his death the authenticity of the troupe would be lost. Of course, the dancers will try to keep it, but it's only a matter of time. Authenticity is determined by the leader, its bearer, and cannot be conserved after his death. And there can be no fault of the dancers here, such is the peculiarity of our profession. Therefore, when they say "Petipa's ballets", it's just funny to me - there is no Petipa there, this is a delusion. Although the classics, of course, are more stable, academic, but even in it the technique, the dance language of the choreographer are not preserved unchanged.
Lopukhov did a lot of damage to our choreographers
— How do you choose music for productions and how do you work with it?
- This is difficult. I don't collaborate with composers often. The troupe's repertoire included a work called "Tuesday 15". "Tuesdays" are improvisation evenings hosted by Yura Kasyanik, a talented St. Petersburg composer, multi-instrumentalist, and improviser. He spends these evenings every week since 1993 years to this day. Their number must have already exceeded 1500. I used to visit these "Tuesdays" regularly, and on the fifteenth evening I really liked the improvisation. The result was a work that I included in the third program of the troupe.
This is how I approach music. First, I always use strong, well-written music. Secondly, I try to understand whether a particular music can exist outside of any visual range. If music is so self-sufficient that nothing else is needed besides it, I don't take on such music. And if I feel that I can enter there and interact with the music, I enter.
Following Cunningham, I like to change the music in the same work. For example, new music is played at each screening of "A Conversation with Merce". In addition, the artists hear it for the first time during the performance, which Cunningham also did. At the last show, I only told Nastya: "Skip the beginning, and when the rhythm starts, start dancing on the fourth beat." She did just that.
Music for me is always a reason to experiment. I constantly put on different music in class. Dancers know this and know how to adapt to it. They know how to keep the pace where it's needed. For example, there is an acceleration in music, and they continue to dance at their own pace. We are used to working like this.
I can't help but mention the famous Lopukhov approach to music, which we still impose on students of choreographic universities. Lopukhov considered the highest, most perfect type of relationship between music and dance to be “dance to music”. In my opinion, this is a purely Dalcrosian idea. I believe that Lopukhov is absolutely wrong in this respect. With this expression, he greatly harmed our choreographers and choreographers, limiting their imagination. You can't do it like that: do what you want, put movement on any music, argue with it! There is no need to be afraid of anything, you need to do - and that's it. The main thing is the self-sufficiency of the dance phrase, it must be built, harmonious. If you manage to compose such a phrase, take any music - it will look great. In one case it will be counterpoint, in the other it will be a rhythmic coincidence. It doesn't matter, because it will still work out well. It all depends on the quality of the material being joined. In general, I believe that you can not refuse anything. Dalcroze's ideas can also be used, but as a dominant approach, this should by no means work. Alternatively, yes.
Conversation with Merce, 2020, current troupe
— In what direction do you think Russian contemporary dance will develop? What would you like to change in the current situation?
- There are a lot of creative people in our profession, there are, albeit modest, but conditions for growth and development, but we create them mostly ourselves. This was the case in the early 1990s, and it continues to this day. In Russia, unfortunately, there is a certain public rating in the arts. In the first place we have writers, then come representatives of other types of art, but choreography, ballet, I'm not talking about modern dance, we are consistently in last place. I do not mean culture as a whole, but the ordinary consciousness of people. Something needs to be done about this. I think that the media could somehow change the situation, but they do not. If the state invested resources, and we created special theaters like Dansstationen in Malmö, Dance Scenen in Copenhagen - that is, spaces designed exclusively for modern dance, then we could attract the audience. During the year, there would be a repertoire, classes would be given, festivals would be organized, and the viewer would know that in this house, in this center, modern dance troupes - Russian and foreign - always perform. Then the situation might have changed. Moreover, unlike ballet, modern dance is closer to people, it is more natural, it has many interesting ideas that could interest an audience of different ages. Such support would help to increase the importance of modern dance in people's lives. I would like the concept of professionalism in choreography to extend beyond classical dance, and that there be healthy competition between ballet and modern dance.
It is also necessary to involve children more actively in modern dance. This requires appropriate educational programs in schools, and the American experience would be very useful here. I taught in American schools - both regular and art schools. They have dance classes in schools - this is a must. In addition, there are special programs in the USA that introduce students to modern dance and modern music. Moreover, this is not rock, not jazz (children often listen to such music), but experimental music. Many regional contemporary dance troupes have programs made specifically for children. We miss that kind of experience.
I have repeatedly said that professional troupes need help, without which real progress is impossible. In 2009, I even wrote a desperate letter to the then chairman of the Committee for Culture, Anton Gubankov, about the difficult situation with modern dance in St. Petersburg, proposing a concept of its support. So what? Many of the issues discussed are still relevant today.