Caleb Teicher & Company: Moving Forward

Dear friends and fans of Caleb Teicher & Company,

I write today to ask you to consider donating and supporting the future success of my dance company.

(Determined to donate without reading further? Click the text above to head straight to the donation page!)

It’s been an exciting year of exponential artistic growth for our company:

  • Six World Premieres in 2016: Not So Impossible, Chet or Just The Way He Sings, Small & Tall, Etude, Variations, and Nathan & Caleb Meet Ella (Dec 2016).
  • Nineteen dancers employed: Tap dancers, Jazz dancers, Lindy Hoppers, Modern dancers. A diverse group with unique backgrounds and experiences.
  • Two year-round artistic residencies at the American Tap Dance Foundation and CUNY Queens College (through CUNY Dance Initiative).
  • Numerous artistic collaborations: Music recordings by Peter Mintun and Tamar Korn. Costumes designed by Marion Talan and Chase Brock. Animation designed by Isabela Dos Santos. Lighting designs by Kathy Kaufman and Serena Wong. A web series directed by Casey Brooks.
  • Several sold-out performances in NYC and Martha’s Vineyard.
  • Free community classes in Lindy Hop, Vernacular Jazz, and Tap Dance in many locations across the Northeast.
  • Several free, public performances plus many performances with affordable tickets (< $30)!

Our Mission:

Tamisha Anthony & Craig Fuchs in Chet or Just The Way He Sings. Photo by Em Watson

Tamisha Anthony & Craig Fuchs in Chet or Just The Way He Sings. Photo by Em Watson

As one of the few companies dedicated to presenting traditional American dance forms in a modern context, we are reaching audiences with dance work that inspires, connects, and reflects an understanding of our own American heritage. In a time where many of us question what it means to be “American”, we remind audiences of the joy, sorrow, and inexplicable beauty that has saturated American music and dance for centuries.

We want to do more. We want to share the work we’ve made with more audiences. We want to give our favorite American dance forms a stronger presence in the dance world. We want to make more work. But, we cannot do it without the support of people like you.

Lindsey Jones and Macy Sullivan in Small & Tall. Photo by Hayim Heron courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance.

Lindsey Jones and Macy Sullivan in Small & Tall. Photo by Hayim Heron courtesy of Jacob's Pillow Dance.

How to Donate:

Any amount you can donate will support the work we do. Click here to donate! 

Every donation to Caleb Teicher & Company through Fractured Atlas is completely tax-deductible.

The Perks:

By becoming a supporter of Caleb Teicher & Company, you’ll be invited to open rehearsals and work-in-progress showings. You will also be the first to know when tickets go on sale for future performances, and you’ll have unique opportunities to engage with the company and their work.

We are so thankful for the support we’ve already received, but to move forward, we need you!

 

Caleb Teicher

Artistic Director

Caleb Teicher in Variations. Photo by Sally Cohn at The Yard.

Caleb Teicher in Variations. Photo by Sally Cohn at The Yard.

Not So Impossible Process Log: Entry #2

In 2013, I enrolled in Phil Schaap’s Jazz History 101 course at Lincoln Center’s Swing University. There are many great quotes from this experience, but one sticks out at me today. Before playing an old jazz record, Phil Schaap said this:

“I’ve listened to this record, arguably, more than anyone who’s ever lived on this planet.”

It’s a funny thing to think about— Could one, perhaps, have listened to a song more than any other human?

Well, iTunes has counted that I’ve played “Impossible Soul” by Sufjan Stevens 64 times (partial plays are not counted). That doesn’t seem like much, but the track is 26 minutes long… Here’s a bit of math: 64 plays x 26 minutes = 1,664 minutes. 1,664 minutes divided by 60 = 27.73 hours.

Therefore, as of today, I’ve officially spent a full day of my life listening to “Impossible Soul.”

Whether or not I can put myself in first place, these are the horrifying statistics that make the labor-intensive experience of choreographing so silly sometimes. My company and I have completed our first week of rehearsal for our new piece, Not So Impossible. We began by tackling the longest section, playfully nicknamed “Pep Rally”, and continue working our way towards a completed rough draft. By the end of the first rehearsal, my collaborators are endlessly humming the tune, and we’ve all begun to settle with the thought that, yes, we will hear this song many more times before the month-long creative process is over.

My collaborators have brought great patience, professionalism, and positive attitudes into the rehearsal room. Some are familiar faces (Gabriel Winns has danced for me for several years), and some are brand new (I saw Aimee Smyke dance for the first time just a couple months ago). They leave their 9-5 jobs to rehearse, they run from school to make it on time, and for that, I am very grateful.

I am allowing the piece to take shape in the room— in past experiences, the rehearsal experience has been so compressed that there was little time for process. To that extent, this rehearsal process (40 hours with the group) seems luxurious… But when you consider that we’re creating a piece that’s 25 minutes long, the ratio of rehearsal hours to minutes of choreography becomes more daunting.

At the end of Week One, 10 minutes of the work are complete. Only 15 to go!

Why I Don't Like "Tapper"

Here's a common scene:

“This is Caleb! We did XXXX together, but he’s a tapper!"

Tapper is a common short-hand to refer to tap dancers. There’s no malice intended, but I don't like it. It's been happening a lot recently, so I’ve spent some time meditating on the subject… And here it is:

“Tapper" removes the word, dancer, and it downplays that tap dancing is indeed, a dance form. Tapper reminds me of juggler or fire-breather; it relates tap dancing to a specialty skill. We don’t call contemporary dancers “Contemporaries” or House dancers “Housers”. We first associate them as dancers and then describe what kind of dance they primarily do. When someone uses “tapper”, I feel as though they have unintentionally removed me from considering myself a dancer, which, above all, I do.

Perhaps I’m overly sensitive because I’ve spent a good amount of my life arguing that skills as a tap dancer DO relate to abilities in other dance forms. Trouble picking up choreography? Practice tap dancing. Weight changes are difficult? Take a tap class. Difficulties with musicality? Tap. Dance.

I don't want to be separated from the greater community of humans who enjoy moving their bodies to music. We (tap dancers) do that, too. We do it in a different way, and we have a sonic product from our movement, but we are still dancers. I want to feel connected to these people, and in a subtle way, "tapper" distances us.

For those of you reading who have innocently used tapper and don’t understand all the fuss, you’re right! It’s not a big deal. BUT, if we’re evolved enough to discuss preference, tap dancer would be my preference... Here are thoughts on the subject from other tap dancers:

“I very much dislike the term tapper, especially if used in written statements. It's like calling a trumpet player a blower. Simply expressed the lack of understanding and often respect for the art form.” - Max Pollak

“It gets on my nerves when professional dancers of other genres refer to me or someone as a tapper… I think it neglects my dedication to the movement and music through tap dance (“music dance”). Personally, I prefer tap dancer over “hoofer” because I investigate movement along with music… I don’t make the musical aspect the same priority that hoofers do.” - Demi Remick

“I must say it bothers me too and I never call tap dancers ‘tappers.’  It feels trivializing; we don't make little nicknames like ‘ballet-er' or ‘jazzer’ or ‘show-ers’ (ahem) for musical theater performers and ‘tapper’ sounds like someone who just makes tap noises rather than someone who dances.  I also never liked when some ballet-oriented folk called me ‘a modern.’” - David Parker

“Personally, I have a preference for the term tap dancer. The term tapper has always seemed a little hokey to me, and I feel like I don't have a full enough understanding of the term hoofer, so I leave it be (lots of contrasting ideas of what it is to be a hoofer). But at the end of the day, it's all tap dancing, so I try to give my attention more to what someone is saying with their feet than what they call themselves.” - Gabe Winns

"I'll be ok being called a Tapper when a Swing Dancer is ok being called a Swinger.” - Tasha Lawson

“Tappers do tricks for the gratification of audience applause, while tap dancers pay respect to the art form of dance and are rewarded by a feeling of pride in their authenticity and roots.” - Dario Natarelli

"I've been called all sorts of things as a dancer - Tapper, Hoofer, Tap Dancer, Foot Percussionist - with many not even realizing there is a difference in the terms. I used to fight a lot about this, but now I just want to know if you respect me and my work. Then we can have a fruitful conversation about language and terms.” - Andrew Nemr

Impossible Soul (Working Title) Process Log: Entry #1

June 19 2015 was the first day I said aloud, “I’d like to make a piece to ‘Impossible Soul,’” but it was not the first time I thought about it. The idea first struck me about a year earlier, but I kept it to myself.

But then the song played over the car stereo. I voiced the idea to Nic Gareiss, and he offered friendly validation for the idea… So I decided in my mind that the piece would be made sometime in the near to distant future.

Now I find myself in that future, half a year later, sitting with proposed budgets and rehearsal schedules and notes in front of me preparing for 3 performances that are still 4 months away.

I can’t share too much from early rehearsals for fear of risking a safe space for creativity… But I will share what I can. I believe that the making of art is a community effort, and I’d like to involve you, whoever’s reading, before you buy tickets to see it.

So here’s what I’ll share for now: I’m making a piece. It may or not be called Impossible Soul (can’t decide), but it will be set to Sufjan Stevens’ epic track of the same name. It will be premiered as part of the American Tap Dance Foundation’s Rhythm In Motion in April of 2016, and yes, it will be 25 minutes long.

More to come.

- CT

Favorite Dance Videos of 2015

It was a fantastic year for dance in the reasonably-short online video department… I’d love to give a shout out to some of my favorites:

Gemini Vibe — Sarah Reich (Tap Music Project)

This video brings so much to the table— exciting new music composition, great tap dancing, and a positive social atmosphere for the two to meet. Sarah has made many videos online this year through her association with PostModern Jukebox, but her self-produced work with Tap Music Project is by far my favorite.

Wallflower — James Whiteside & Cassandra Trenary (JBDUBS)

What’s better than a beautifully shot and exquisitely danced video featuring James Whiteside and Cassandra Trenary? According to me in October of this year, very little. (I must’ve watched this every day that month)… It’s one of the sexiest/strangest things I’ve seen come out of classically trained dancers, and the hyper slow-motion is the perfect way to appreciate Ms. Trenary’s technique!

Sunday Candy — Chance The Rapper & Ian Eastwood (Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment)

My love for Chance The Rapper is no secret, but his collaboration with Ian Eastwood takes the cake as my favorite production video of this year. One beautiful continuous shot with Chicago Footwork baked in? <3 <3 <3

In The Castle Of My Skin — Jarrel Mathebula & Pantsula dancers (Sons of Kemet)

Come for the filters and stay for the beautiful sonic compositions by Sean Jackson. He’s working in new mediums for tap dance appreciation and I’m diggin’ it!

— 

I made two forays into online dance film-making this year (a “Fred and Ginger” duet with Darien Crago //  and a Flatfoot-inspired duet with Elizabeth Burke), but a goal of mine is to produce more content for online consumption in 2016… Stay tuned!

(What were your favorite dance videos of 2015? Please feel free to online-yell at me about your personal favorites!)

xo

CT