A dance writer's word to the Wise Fool

Journalists say they’ll go anywhere for a good story, but dance writers are the ones who really put their bodies on the line.

Maybe that’s why this writer signed up for one of the physically demanding movement classes offered by Wise Fool New Mexico as part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts.

Last weekend’s LakeFest performances by the daredevil dance company were, as expected, thrilling and flashy. But nothing prepared me for their classes. This seasoned critic’s sore muscles prove that when it comes to dance instruction, nothing pushes limits like a “fun” theatrical dance company.

Demonstrating exuberance and offering encouragement, two of the company artists delighted a dozen or so of us wannabe performers and a handful of gawkers at Howard Community College Friday morning.

Wise Fool offered Howard Countians a taste of their classes in circus arts and puppetry. The two women seemed thrilled at the warm reception at HCC, then  focused on individual movement and personal development.

They saved the serious training for professional performers and the “Partner Acrobatics for the Whole Family” workshops for Sunday morning.

The process of learning circus activity is not only fun, it helps students to develop self-confidence, learn teamwork and practice trusting. Get good enough at this and you could just end up in a big group pyramid project during the grand finale at the Lakefront.

For me, the fun of the Columbia Festival of the Arts is in these hands-on events with the visiting artists — or just nosing around behind the scenes to see how things work.

Wise Fool New Mexico is headed home now. They are concerned about the safety of their homes in Santa Fe, not far from raging fires.

Still, everyone had a blast at Saturday evening’s Group Dance Party.  It was a hoot, especially doing the Bollywood numbers.

Personally, I had to pass on Sunday afternoon’s free Walking on Stilts Performance Workshop, but neighbors told me it was a smashing success with the kiddies.  

Rounding out the special workshops at this year’s Columbia Festival of the Arts will be the Celtic Crossroads Irish Music and Dance Performance Workshop at the Jim Rouse Theatre, Friday, June 24 at 4 p.m. Here’s your chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture of traditional Irish music and dance. The registration fee is $10.

Following a Q&A session with musical director Michael McClintock, the workshop concludes with a performance on stage by the entire company. It’s a community event, suitable for students of all ages, but capacity is limited.

Time to make a call to 410-715-3044. Or go to www.columbiafestival.com.

A ‘Buddy’ to dancers

Local dancers lost a dear friend last Tuesday evening with the passing of  Humbert “Buddy” Anderson. How Buddy loved to dance — especially with Columbia legend Eva Anderson, his wife of over 50 years.

Though not a trained dancer, Buddy sure could swing his partner to a jazzy tune. He loved life and was a tireless supporter of the Eva Anderson Dance Company, the modern dance troupe which Eva founded not long after their marriage.

Buddy was known to help any artist in need, often paying unemployed dancers out of his own pocket.
Musicians, dancers and visual artists flocked around the Andersons’ Columbia home. You could usually find Buddy downstairs surrounded by friends, some listening to a jazz combo, others trying out a new dance step.

Always smiling, he greeted everyone with a hug or a kiss or a firm handshake. He will be missed.
Funeral services for Buddy Anderson were held at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center  June 13.  The family suggested that in lieu of flowers, donations could be made to the Misako Ballet Company, where Eva’s dances are now performed as part of the repertory.

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