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20 | #TDIF2019

On this episode your co-hosts YeaJean and Reyna interview artists, teachers, performers, and attendees at the annual Texas Dance Improvisation Festival (TDIF). On this episode, we go behind the screen of TDIF facilitating a roundtable discussion with Blake Nellis, Chrissy Nelson, and Lily Sloan of Big Rig Dance Collective. We uncover their varied career paths and relationship to dance and improvisation. We discuss and define improvisation in relation to processes, practice, and transferable skills. We share conversations on how the current issues of consent in relation to the #metoo movement affect the culture of improvisation. We unpack the evolution and offerings of TDIF.


[1:39] Reyna introduces Lily Sloan

[2:22] Reyna introduces Chrissy Nelson

[3:47] Reyna introduces Blake Nellis


[4:07]YeaJean asks: “Can you briefly describe your career path? How do you define yourself?”

[4:19]Blake Nellis Responds

[4:48]Lily Sloan Responds

[4:39]Chrissy Nelson Responds

[6:44]Reyna asks: “What is improvisation to your? How do you define improvisation?”

[7:07]Lily Sloan Responds

[7:50]Reyna asks: “Can you define spontaneous composition?”

[8:38]Blake Nellis Responds

[10:08]Chrissy Nelson Responds

[11:13]Reyna asks: “Can you talk to our audience about what it is like to go into the space with someone you don’t know?”

[13:42]YeaJean asks: “What are the boundaries in contact improvisation or in an improvisation jam with touch?”

[18:30]YeaJean asks: “Can you tell us more about your class you are teaching at TDIF?”

[21:58]Reyna asks: “Can you talk about your experience with TDIF?”

[26:00] Reyna asks:

#FLASH4 Blake Nellis

1- If you had to recommend a resource to our audience what would it be?

2- What was the first dance you saw?

3- Do you think social media has a positive influence on the dance world (yes or no)?

  • Both “I love/hate it but I more hate it because I am being censored”

4- What is your favorite social media platform?

  • MeWe or OnlyFans

#FLASH4 Lily Sloan

1- If you had to recommend a resource to our audience what would it be?

2- What was the first dance you saw?

3- Do you think social media has a positive influence on the dance world (yes or no)?

  • Yes “I think it’s positive for the networking”

4- What is your favorite social media platform?

  • Tapstack

#FLASH4 Chrissy Nelson

1- If you had to recommend a resource to our audience what would it be?

2- What was the first dance you saw?

3- Do you think social media has a positive influence on the dance world (yes or no)?

  • Yes “In Boulder that is how we are getting people to know about shows”

4- What is your favorite social media platform?

  • Facebook

#TDIF Recommended Resources

Connect with #TDIF2019:

#TDIF2019 Dance Behind the Screen Roundtable Bios:

Blake Nellis is an artist, educator and improviser who creates work with the body. His work is deeply rooted in human connection, physical touch and shared emotion. He graduated from Luther College with a degree in Theater/Dance and later taught in the Visual & Performing Arts Department (2013-15).

Chrissy Nelson, a mama/dance artist/physical therapist/Pilates instructor, received her MFA in Performance & Choreography at CU-Boulder focusing on Somatics, Dance Wellness, and Interdisciplinary and Improvisational Performance. During her time at CU, she performed in works by Onye Ozuzu, Gesel Mason, and Chris Aiken & Angie Hauser, and has shown her collaborative work in CU’s Nexus (2010), Naropa University’s Somatic Arts Concert (2011), and in the ATLAS Black Box (2012, 2014). As a long time resident of the Denver/Boulder area, she has performed with many local companies, including Joanna and the Agitators, kim olson/sweet edge, Haan Dances, Third Law Dance Theater, and Hannah Kahn Dance Company.Nelson has shown her collaborative work in the Failure Festival (created with Blake Nellis – MSP), the Boulder International Fringe Festival, the 2014 Body-Mind Centering Annual Conference (Saratoga Springs, NY), and at the Dairy Center for the Arts (Boulder), Todd Reed Design Studio (Boulder), Eliot Street Collective (Denver), Pirate: Contemporary Art (Denver), and LABCO’s Black Box X (Pittsburgh). In 2005, Nelson curated and produced In the Foreground, a collection of post-modern and contemporary dance works created by emerging Boulder dance artists, along with the work of professional artist, Gabe Masson. In November 2012, Nelson completed her interdisciplinary research, Skin & Pulp, where she re-configured CU’s Irey Theater into a gallery of merging performance installations, challenging the temporal, vertical, and proscenium lenses through which we may view dance, performance art, and life. Chrissy has taught at CI IA, EarthDance, and the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival, and is adjunct faculty at CU-Boulder where she has taught Somatic Conditioning, Improvisation, and Injury Prevention, all highly influenced by the work of Jane Hawley, Movement Fundamentals. She also continues to provide rehabilitation, conditioning, and guest teaching as part of the THDN Wellness Program. As part of her desire to build community among artists, Nelson facilitates Fieldwork sessions for Boulder performing artists, and longs for the next FRASS evening with the elusive dance artist, Jeanine McCain.

A Michigan native, Lily Sloan received her M.F.A. in dance at Texas Woman’s University with the Outstanding Graduate Student award. Currently, she is a Co-Director of Big Rig Dance Collective and an Adjunct Professor at Texas Christian University and Texas Woman’s University, all while living in Denton, TX with her husband and son. She has performed and/or presented work across the United States and in Mexico, as well as in Italy, where she was a guest artist in site-specific dance at La Bella Vita Arts Workshops. She has performed works by choreographers such as Amii Legendre, Rebecca Bryant, Mark Dendy, Jordan Fuchs, and Sarah Gamblin. Simple Sparrow Dance Company, Flatlands Dance Theatre, and Texas Christian University have commissioned Lily’s choreography and her writing on site-specific dance has been published in the Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship. Lily sees dance making and performing as unique opportunities to problem solve in a physical and spontaneous way. She strives to continue exploring, performing, and creating innovative performances, often combining her interests in improvisation and site-based work. ​

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