Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dancer Profile: Shizu Yasuda

Shizu Yasuda
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21

Shizu, originally from Japan, joined Ad Deum Dance Company in 2004, and is the Rehearsal Director for the company. She has performed throughout the USA and internationally with the company. She also has served as a modern dance instructor in the Houston area and as a demonstrator in the modern dance classes at Houston Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. Currently, she is the official modern dance choreographer of Dance of Asian America.

Interview Fun:1.) Nick Name: Sushi
2.) Where are you from? Kochi, Japan
3.) How old were you when you started dancing? Ten years old
4.) What is your favorite style or styles of dancing?Modern or Contemporary. Dancing bare feet. What an economical style of Dance!
5.) What made you want to start dancing?There was a Japanese comic book (Manga) about Ballet, which was very popular among young girls.
6.) What dance companies inspire you?Dominic Walsh Dance Company, Revolve Dance Company, Momix, Hubbard Street Dance Company, and Cedar Lake Dance Company
7.) Favorite work of Ad Deum and why?"Ava Maria," "Apology," and "Be Still My Soul" They are the most beautiful choreography I have ever danced. I can not understand how Randy could create such beautiful works.
8.) Favorite Performance or Outreach of the year?Performing at MDAnderson
9.) Favorite Ad Deum Memory?The "Malaysia Tour": My Parents came to see my performance. My dad had been against my dancing career and has only seen my dancing once in his life. It was so precious to me that he came to see my dancing. 
"Dancing for Hope" (Japan earth quake charity concert). I experienced the Holy Spirit working behind this concert and experienced many miracles and synchronicity (It was insane!). And Ad Deum performed with Houston Ballet Company!

10.)Favorite Food? Sahimi (Raw fish), RAW FISH! Simply is the best!!!!
11.) What would you do if you were not a dancer? Manga cartoon creator and Illustrator.
12.) What type of Music do you listen to? Any kind: Japanese pop, Classic, new age...etc.
13.) Random Fact About yourself? I can speak Japanese so Fluently

Favorite Dance Quote: "Stage is the sacred place" - Unknown

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Dancer's Story Part 3 by: Ann Sterling Dale

Howdy everyone! I have returned to give the final portion of my story of becoming a part of Ad Deum!      
I will begin by describing how incredibly good God is and also how faithful to His promises He is. First of all, literally the day that I arrived in Houston, my mom and I looked at a charmingly spacious apartment and put down money for it right away! It is certainly much more affordable living in Houston than NYC! I am living with two girls who are both in Ad Deum II, and they are wonderful. The company members in Ad Deum are literally amazing! They are such servants for Christ that are full of faith and joy that it blows my mind. I want to be like them. Lara, Stella, and Emily let me stay in their apartment for a few days before I could move into my apartment, and they prayed for me in my transition and for God to give me His peace. It was such a blessing, and literally the next day after they prayed for me, I had more peace and joy! God is so good. I also got teaching job offers before I even arrived in Houston and now am teaching dance numerous Elementary schools and a studio in Katy, as well as subbing for The Met, West University, and Houston Academy of Dance. I am also babysitting for three different families already and the kids are adorable and fun! I love kids!! 

In the days following, I found my church the very first Sunday I was in Houston. It is called Mission 24, on the University of Houston campus, and it is where Lara, Stella, and Emily go to church as well! I absolutely love it, and I am now leading a small group and on the worship team there. As for being an apprentice in Ad Deum, I will start with saying that the training is excellent!! I quickly realized how much more I need to use my core in order to do the things that Randy creates in His classes and rehearsals! So I am working on that, but I was able to go to Atlanta with the other apprentices in October for Project Dance, and for some other performances at different churches.  This was an incredible unifying, bonding, and growing experience for me with the other apprentices. I got to learn and perform Innocence Not Lost for this trip which was the first Ad Deum piece I saw years before, and it is still one of my absolute favorite pieces in our repertoire, if not my very favorite!! We also collaborated to choreograph an African praise and worship piece mixed with some more athletic intense Afro-Modern movement as well, which was so fun because the joy that combining African dance and choreographing brings me is beyond abundant overflow!! The trip with the five other apprentices was wonderful, and I saw God work powerfully through the gift of dance that He has given us. 

Servant Artistry is how I would describe being a member of Ad Deum. I have grown so much here, and the community is such an incredible blessing from God in my life. I am so so thankful that God has brought me here and shown me His faithfulness in so many ways. Looking back on my life and seeing how He has woven together the tapestry of my life is amazing, and I am so grateful that I heeded the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight." God is so good, and I am excited to see what He has in store for the future! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Swiss Trip: by Daniel Cossette

Just recently our artistic director Randall Flinn and I were invited to go and teach for a youth discipleship and training intensive called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). The base was in Switzerland!
Myself and Randall arrived at "Jugen Mitt Einen Mission"
We flew overnight from Houston to Frankfurt and then to Zurich. A train carried us over rolling meadows and between picturesque mountains to a small city called Biel, where our contacts drove us the last 30 minutes out into the fairytale farmland of Wiler. The YWAM base is tucked snugly into a fold of land between of two pastures, wrapped around by the winding country road. Randy and I crashed in our room for the afternoon and tried not to succumb to jet lag before the weekend dance seminar commenced that night!
The YWAM Wiler campus, snowing!
Seventeen dancers had assembled from around the world, from Europe, the United Sates, and Africa! Randall took the advanced track and I took the intermediate, and we began to teach. Many of the students in my track had never had modern dance with any emphasis on the American founders’ techniques like Graham and Horton, so we jumped right in to the wonderful world of flat backs, contractions, laterals, and spirals!

The first session went great and I don't know about Randy, but I did okay for not having any sleep. I don’t normally get to work with adults—usually I teach middle schoolers—so it was great to teach people with a little physical discipline.
Sleep was no problem for me by bedtime Swiss time.

The next day we started early with more technique. I taught a couple fun combos throughout the morning’s two sessions. At lunch Randy asked me how it was going. “Did you start your choreography yet?” he asked.

“What choreography?”

“Uh, we’re supposed to choreograph a dance for them to show each other by the end of the seminar tomorrow afternoon.”

“Um,” I replied, “I think I’m done with lunch. I need to go plan…”

I went back to my room and spent some time flipping through songs on my ipod. In the end I chose something that kind of inspired me, and decided the best defense was going to be a good offense: I was going to wing it! I haven’t choreographed much dance. I came late to the dance world and have only been seriously pursuing dance for about 4 years. I have not been to dance college. I was trained as a classical mime, and my college program prepared me to put on hours of mime on stage, but not dance. Sure. I could do this…

That afternoon the students came in and I said, “We’re going to start learning a dance.” And guess what? We did. The song was called Thunder Roll, by Dave and Jess Ray—friends of mine from Houston, TX who have some great music (you can find them on iTunes)—and it’s about where we place our fear and faith. Fear is just faith that evil will happen. Do we fear the thunder, or the God who makes the thunder. I began to dance, and was surprised at what came out. The students were great, taking each part as it came. I found I used a lot of the Doug Varrone style of dance I picked up when a former dancer from his company (Ryan Corristan) set a work on Ad Deum. His style uses lots of rises and falls, and allows momentum to carry the body through circles in space. Combined with some Horton-ish lines I think we pulled off some great lightning and thunder concepts. Over the course of the seminar we got to know a few of the students, and learned a little of what they were facing in life. I pray that they caught the message of the song/dance: to trust in the One who is greater than the storms; we don’t always escape facing them, but God is faithful to carry us through.

By Sunday we had a great product to show for our efforts, and I was so proud of my students who put it together so quick. One student thanked me and said, “I really liked your dance. And it was amazing how you did it: it was like you were making it up as you went!”

 “IIIIII kind of was…”
Me with the dancers from YWAM
Randy and I stayed a few more days in Switzerland to work with other groups, but that was a highlight for me. We got to talk to several of the students afterwards, about the purpose of dance, and art, and what that means for the believer artist. But that’s another topic, and it’d be easier if you’d just come to visit us sometime and hear it for yourself!  ;-)
Everybody from the dance seminar!
How many times have we heard "Don't hang on the barres, dancers!" Well, I guess we had to get it out sometime...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Community By: Emily Runyeon

When people come to visit Ad Deum, they almost always comment on our strong community.  I am so thankful to be a part of such a diverse group of people that genuinely cares about each other.  Our community is unique and rare in the dance world.  Many dance environments tend to be "every man for himself", whereas in Ad Deum we dance "every man for the glory of God", which allows room for building each other up rather than waiting for someone to fail in order to take their roll in the next show.  Focusing on God, rather than focuses on ourselves, frees us up to be servant artists to the community and to each other.  We function as a family, encouraging each other and pushing each other to not only be the best dancers we can be, but the best people we can be in daily life.

Our season runs from August to May with a few short breaks in between, and even though sometimes my body needs the break from dancing, I find it hard to be away from my Ad Deum family.   I am so thankful for this community and the joy and growth it has brought to my life!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Dancer's Story Part 2 by: Ann Sterling

Hello again! I am back to share more of God’s faithfulness in my story! While I was trying to decide and discern where God had called me to in the next season of my life, Texas began to come up a lot in random conversations with people. Interesting…I will say more about that later. I started going to the Hillsong Church in NYC, and heard some incredibly powerful messages from the pastor there. One Sunday, a woman from Dallas, TEXAS spoke, and I believe the message was literally for ME! She spoke about John 10 and how Christ is our great shepherd, and that we, as His sheep, have the privilege of hearing His voice and knowing His will! But in order to hear His voice, we have to know His voice..know HIM! “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voie. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all of his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” -John 10:3-4. I started crying while she prayed at the end, because she said that for those of us who were waiting for an answer from God about a decision, that it would come! I also realized that I had been so focused on trying to figure out where I was supposed to be and not who I was supposed to be! The weight of my main purpose in life hit me clearly and with freeing joy…it is to know Christ!!

Thus I knew that God would direct me to where I was supposed to go and give me peace if I would trust Him and trust that He would provide for me an not let my foot slip. Now, I also have to share with you that as the time drew closer for me to make this decision, I prayed a Gideon type prayer…not really sure if I meant it but it went something like this…”God, if I am supposed to move to Houston, will you please bring up Texas two more times?" Ohhhhohhooo be careful when you pray things like this because God is listening and hears your prayers!  : ) He must have known that I needed assurance in the form of signs because He literally brought Texas and even Houston up about five times after that! I don’t think that was a coincidence.  I went to my best friend’s church in North Carolina while I was home last summer and started talking to a guy in the church and asked him where he was from and he answered, “Houston, Texas.” I was like, “Whaaaat??” I threw my hands up in the air basically laughing in disbelief and thought to myself, “Okay God…I think I get it!”

Also, that same week I was home, I went outside on my front porch and sat on our lovely white rocking chair and was journaling and praying and then all of the sudden I thought to myself, “I think I want to go to Houston.”  I was surprised at my certainty and peace when I said that. However after that, I begin to doubt again and realized that I was afraid. I was fearful of this big step into the unknown and complete change in my life. I did not have jobs lined up or an apartment to live in…but I knew that I needed to trust in the Lord that He would provide.  After talking with my dad to make the final decision, I decided to go to Houston because it was a great opportunity.  Thus, I packed up my life in New York, flew home, and the adventure to Houston, Texas began!!! Side note: my aunt of course asked me if I was going to get some cowgirl boots and I laughed and said I probably would!  Part three coming up ladies and gentlemen!!