Through our ongoing “New View” series, we introduce newcomers to the dance community. This month, we asked Hallie Dalsimer a few questions about herself and her role in the dance community here in the Bay Area. Hallie grew up in Santa Fe and has danced with choreographers there as well as in New York, Tel Aviv and at festivals around the world, in addition to presenting her own choreographic work. She is a teacher of Gaga, the movement language developed by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.
Dancers’ Group: What brought you to the Bay Area?
Hallie Dalsimer: I’ve considered moving to the Bay Area a couple of times before, and decided to spend a few months here last spring to feel it out. The Bay seems to have all the basic elements I’ve been looking for in a long term home – a vibrant artistic community; proximity and ease of access to some staggeringly beautiful nature; and a general pace of life that is neither driving nor plodding. As someone who has moved quite a bit, it is exciting to find that there are so many potential lifestyles here; one could make a significant personal shift without having to leave their community and start over somewhere else.
DG: The Bay Area is…?
HD: Vibrant. Varied. Full of possibility.
DG: What’s your gig(s)? How do you spend your time?
HD: My primary gig is teaching Gaga at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. It has been a wonderful place to land – Summer Lee Rhatigan has been welcoming and generous with her support (both of myself and fellow Gaga teacher James Graham); the students are receptive to and excited about exploring this work; and we hope to see more and more interest from the wider dance and non-dance communities. I’m working on a few projects of my own, one of which is a roving site-specific piece that I hope to have up and running this coming spring/summer. I am also open to finding collaborative opportunities and freelance gigs as a dancer.
DG: What’s your secret spot in town?
HD: Not so secret, the top of Mt. Davidson offers a spectacular view of the city and is a great spot for a little morning yoga/qi gong practice.
DG: What’s your favorite food?
HD: Green chile – it’s a northern New Mexico thing (and nothing like Texas style chili). Also figs, persimmons and blueberries.
DG: What event(s) will we find you at in 2013?
HD: The News on January 8th, curated by Laura Arrington. La Alternativa & Alternative Conservatory’s FRESH Festival, December 31st – January 12th. I haven’t gotten much past January yet. Oh yes, and [Bay Area] Dance Week. It’s such a great opportunity to see who’s doing what and try new things, and we will likely be offering some Gaga classes.
DG: What’s your favorite Bay Area institution?
HD: There is so much I have yet to explore both in dance and in the wider community. So far, I am finding myself drawn to the programming at KUNST-STOFF arts, and am really enjoying what Yannis Adoniou, La Alternativa, and THEOFFCENTER are offering there. Also, The Lake Merritt farmers’ market is pretty awesome.
DG: First dance memory?
HD: Choreographing a solo to Sweet Home Alabama in my living room around age 11. I don’t remember many of the details, but I started doing lyrical jazz around that time so there were probably some layouts and fan kicks in there…
DG: Guilty dance pleasure?
HD: Watching So You Think You Can Dance. I’ve had a lot of discussions about the ramifications of dance being presented in this commercial form/ forum; and while I agree that it problematically reduces dance from art to entertainment, I do think that opening people’s minds to the possibility that dance is interesting/ exciting/ relevant to them is a good thing for such a marginalized art form. And some of those kids are really fantastic.
DG: Shortlist of inspiring people, books, moments, classes, etc?
HD: What comes to mind as I write this: The Little Prince. Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart. P.O.R.C.H. and Witch Camp at Ponderosa. Gaga intensives in Tel Aviv (especially 2009 and 2012). A workshop with Matanicola in Berlin last August.
My dear friends Ariel Cohen and Stephanie Miracle, both passionate and dedicated art makers.
Teachers Kathleen Hermesdorf, Jules Beckman, Patricia Beaman, Jennifer Nugent, Elise Gent, (African dance), Tzipi Weiner (yoga), Sean Teabor (yoga), Jonathan Cutler (Sociology), Ann Wightman (History/ Latin American Studies).
A moment in a class with Ronn Stewart when I was 16 – his neighbor had shot his dog and the pain he was feeling was so evident in the movement, I felt like I was a channel for his raw emotion. It was my first experience of transcendence through dance.
Meditating in the jungle in Koh Phangan Thailand – getting a glimpse of how someone could sit atop a mountain without moving for years on end…
Building the Due Return (a giant immersive art installation centered around a 75’ long, two-story ship) with Santa Fe art collective, Meow Wolf. The wonderful community brought together by the dance parties of Team Everything (Santa Fe). The music of Nils Frahm.
DG: What’s heaven to you?
HD: Being present enough to appreciate all the gifts I am constantly receiving and to recognize the gifts in the challenges I am confronted with. Loving friends and supportive community.
DG: What’s hell to you?
HD: The feeling of chasing after things (people, friendship, opportunities). Getting mired in bureaucracy and political games/ posturing.
DG: What question do you wish we asked?
HD: Why do you make art? The short answer is, to raise questions and spark dialogue about how people engage with one another and with the wider world. The language of dance is not literal, and I believe this space – the space between creative intent and viewer experience – is one of the communicative strengths of the art form. I aim to make work that is accessible to a wide range of people, work that engages the viewer and invites them to dive into their own experience. The key to creating this invitation is to cultivate awareness and become more present within our own physical experience because the witnessing of a fully embodied moment resonates on a universal, human level – it invites everyone into the conversation.
Hallie Dalsimer grew up in Santa Fe, NM, graduated from Wesleyan University in 2005 (BA Government), and has recently relocated to the Bay Area. Hallie is one of the first Gaga teachers to come from outside of the Batsheva Dance Company. In addition to her current classes in San Francisco, Hallie has taught in Santa Fe, New York, Tel Aviv, and as the full time Visiting Artist for the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the fall of 2011.