Friday, March 22, 2013

Ad Deum Spring Intensive 2013

Ad Deum Spring Intensive 2013 (By Stella Almblade)

Note: There are no pictures for this blog because we want our readers who have attended the intensive to submit pictures to the blog. Submit pictures by emailing them to: and a small paragraph about your experience. You may see your picture and story on our blog!

How would I describe it in one word? A GIFT.
Ok, that's two, I know, but it was a GIFT. The preparation was long-coming and prayer-filled, to finally see the week come, it was a gift on all sides!

So what IS the Spring Intensive anyway, you might ask...
In a nutshell, it is an intense week of experiencing the Ad Deum Community. We had over 60 people come to the studio each day for 5 days straight! There were three divisions of dancers: the high-intermediate/advanced, the low intermediate/beginner, and the youth intensive ages 12-15. It was a blast! So many people, so many!

All the participants wake up bright and early on their Spring Break to arrive at the studio by 8:30am for live worship and devotionals. These times are precious, they unite the participants and the Ad Deum companies in heart, spirit, mission, and vision of what God is doing in each of our lives, in the lives of all His People, and in the lives of those He has called to be artists. The theme this year was the God of Angel Armies. Each morning, in addition to the message, we broke down the stanzas of the Chris Tomlin song called "Whom Shall I Fear".  There are so many versus in scripture that give foundation and support to the lines of the song:
It is truth that God goes before us. (Joshua 24:18)
It is truth that He stands behind us (Isaiah 52:12)
It is truth that God is the God of Angel Armies (Psalm 84:1)
It is truth that He is always by our side, He will never leave us nor forsake us (Duet 31:6)
It is truth that He reigns forever (Psalm 146:10)
It is truth that He calls us friends (John 15:15)

These are just some of the truths that we learned this week.

Imagine taking a challenging ballet class, modern class, or doing something challenging at work or in school, yet knowing that God is by your side! There is so much freedom to come from understanding that the God of Angel Armies is by your side! The peace it brought us dancers this week is beyond words. I only hope and pray that we all take what we've learned in our hearts into every single day of our future!

After the morning time at 9:30am there was a ballet technique class with Ad Deum Dancers, or Fara Sciulli-Bowen. Fara was a blessing all week, with her incredible classes, super-helpful cues, amazing technique hints, and DELIGHTFUL personality. She is a JOY in every class she teaches!. (Thank you Fara for an amazing week!!!)

Immediately after ballet was an 11:00am modern class with Ad Deum dancers or Durell Comedy. Durell taught Limon technique (He is currently dancing with the Limon Dance Company). Durell challenged all of us in our release into gravity, our coordination, our sense of balance, and our concepts of movement in general! It was a completely new way to move for some and a fun challenging experience for everyone!
(Thank you for Durell for all your GREAT classes!!!)

After a brief 30 minute lunch break, from 1:00-2:00pm there were elective classes offered such as hip hop, breaking, jazz, contemporary. And from 2:15-3:15 there were Ad Deum repertoire classes. Daniel Cossette taught the incredibly inspiring and fluid solo called Corpus Instrumental every day that week. I wish you could just listen to this song. Simply listening to it will calm your spirit and mind! Sarah Brotherton and Joanna Tan taught a soothing, mediatively gorgeous group piece called Sanctus B. Again, if only you could hear these songs... wow. When you hear them, you can only imagine what dancing movement which is just as beautiful as the symphony would be like... simply a peaceful blessing and a taste of heaven.

In the end, what's my reaction to the Spring Intensive? WOWZAH!!!


Personally, my favorite parts of the week all have to do with getting to know people!

I loved giving rides to the participants from the hotel to the dance studios in the morning, hearing their stories, and just chatting. I loved teaching the Beg/Low Int Modern and Jazz classes, they were an incredible group of people, incredible talent, full of willingness to learn, and beautiful hearts! I loved learning in class and in rehearsal from Durell Comedy, what an honor and a blessing to learn from him! I loved lunchtime conversations with participants! And I was blessed by all of the Ad Deum dancers, knowing that everyone was working their hardest to make sure everything was running smoothly! My heart and mind were at peace the whole week. I thank the Lord for the unity within Ad Deum, it is only by His grace and strength we were able to accomplish-slash-survive this week. I rest in knowing that He was glorified through our worship, dancing, preparation, hard work, and even in through our laughter! I look forward to hearing testimonies in the future of the things God did during this time! May God bless everyone who participated in this event, and may He be glorified! Amen!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dancer Profile: Stella Almblade

Stella Almblade

Stella has a B.F.A. in Dance, University of Arizona. Stella has performed with companies both nationally and overseas, including 9 months in Spain where she also taught English, as well as dancing with Arrows International in Costa Rica and China. Now back in the States, she is excited to continue as a company member with Ad Deum.

Fun Facts:
1.) Nick name: 
Stellabellachellawella (haha, that's what my daddy calls me)

2.) Where are you from?
Scottsdale, AZ

3.) How old were you when you started dancing?
I started dancing when I was 11

4.) Favorite style or styles of dance?
All Styles, but I've always said that if I could be a professional dancer a professional swing dancer would be soooo much fun! The music is just always so upbeat and happy all the time! You can't dance swing and be sad!

5.) What made you want to start dancing?
Well, I don't remember this, but as my mom tells the story, since I was such a tomboy and had all guy friends I loved sports growing up! But my asthma was really bad and one time in particular I was hospitalized for a long time. When I returned from the hospital I could barely do anything let alone play sports and keep up with the boys who were 2 years older than me. My mom says I was depressed. She heard that ballet was "anaerobic" (meaning I might be able to handle it even with my severe asthma) and so she let me try a ballet class! I guess I loved it, and I just kept taking dance classes from then on!

6.) What dancers or dance companies inspire you?
My dear friends Stephanie Brooks and Erin Lovrien. THE most talented dancers and humble people I know. No joke. They are both using their gifts for the Lord! And of course, ALVIN AILEY! I still remember seeing them perform Revelations, all of a sudden I was on my feet giving them a standing ovation! I don't even remember how I got on my feet, it just happened! I can't remember another time I was so moved by watching dance. (Except the daily occurrence at Ad Deum!)

7.)What Scriptures are inspiring your life right now?
John 15 (Yes, the whole thing!)

8.) Favorite work of Ad Deum?
Sorry, I have to give three: APOLOGY! I've simply never seen ANYTHING like it in my entire life! MISSION: it's literally heaven on earth. I can't wait till the day when we all see each other in heaven before the Lord, because I honestly believe we will be doing those same dance moves with the angels before His Throne! It's Incredible! But I have to say, how much my life has changed as I have had the honor of getting to learn and perform Amazing Grace. It's been two years and God is STILL teaching me things through this piece!

9.) Favorite Performance or Outreach of the year?

WOW. I have no idea. It's a cross between getting to show amazing grace in front of Matthew Rushing and just watching Ad Deum II perform at Creative Dreams. Witnessing them inaction was a blessing to me!

10.) Favorite Ad Deum Memory?

Too many funny ones to write in one spot, too many international travels to mention, too many daily miracles and healings. I cannot pick just one. I will also NEVER take for granted the fact that we will just stop class or rehearsal and pray for someone like it's normal!!! Those times have changed my daily reality! But I think the one that tops it all for me is hearing that a young man that was planning to take his own life, but when he watched a piece that Ad Deum performed, decided there's something worth living for... my heart drops in awe of how God can use art. I have no words!

11.) Favorite Food?
Brownies. and YES, it's a FOOD! haha. Why? Really? Does anyone even wonder? haha, I think it's pretty well understood! haha

12.) What would you do if you were not a dancer?

WHAT WOULDN'T I DO??????? Hmmm, let's see, I would live on a remote beach in Panama doing sea turtle research, I'd work on a big game reserve and national park in Africa and do side work taking animal photographs for National Geographic, I'd probably move to Perth, Australia for a time just to experience another culture.

13.) What type of music do you listen to?
EVERYTHING but music with provocative/inappropriate lyrics. So yes, I listen to even weird things like rap, screamo, metal, ska, ethnic, instrumental, etc! I like it all!

14.) Random Interesting Fact about yourself?
I was named after my grandmother Stella Almblade (So there are literally only 2 Stella Almblades in the entire world! Seriously! Google it! And my Grandmother is 97!!!! and eats a piece of chocolate cake every day!... Lord, may my days be so many and so blessed!)

"Dancers are the athlete of God"- Albert Einstein

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Project Dance Houston!!! (by Daniel Cossette)

Project Dance is one of my favorite events in the Ad Deum calendar year. We are blessed to regularly participate in at least two: New York City, and of course Houston. Sometimes we trickle around to Atlanta, Phoenix, and London too. But Houston is home, and so we end up producing most of the event. It's such a blessing!
Dani--Don't Let the Sun Go Down
This year the blessing of the Lord was so obvious! You know, when you have a 7 hour dance festival, there's a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong: weather, schedule, technical stuff, props, flooring, music failure, people (being late), people (breaking body parts)... I'm one of the stage managers for the Houston event (with Tiffany Schrepferman) and we stare all of these variables in the face as we bravely plot our event, and develope the 7-hour show order. We, therefore, plan to leave 5-10 minutes of buffer time every hour in the highly likely event of... trouble. This year the show was stacked full to the brim--rather to our dismay--but there was nothing to do. We had so much stuff to get in, and there wasn't time for "buffer time."
Andreas, breakdancing
But we went ahead anyway, and let me tell you want God did: The Lord shone down on every aspect.

The weather: was perfect. cloudy, pleasant.
The technical stuff: Perfect.
The flooring: no problem--it was down in time, and bubble free!
Music failure: zero.
People (being late): no one!
People (breaking body parts): nobody!
The schedule: miracle of miracles! We started on time, we ran on time, and ... we got AHEAD of schedule!
When was the last time you were at a dance festival or convention when things ran ahead of schedule?

And props: only one funny here, and it ended up making it even more fun! Ad Deum's physical theatre work called Green Man, has physio balls, and foam noodles. It was so windy, that the balls and noodles kept blowing away. Tiffany and a couple others had to hide behind the stage to keep the balls from blowing off the back into the fountain pond behind us!!! Whenever the dancers released a ball, they had no idea where it was going, and everyone was just laughing the whole way through the wild and crazy piece!
Tiffany, handing off a runaway ball
But better than all that, God's presence came and rested over Discovery Green where we danced. We felt so much freedom and joy. Thousands of people were in the park because of kids events, and conferences that were happening simultaneously.

One homeless man stopped and sat down and watched for hours. Several people from Project Dance offered him food, and money if he needed it. But he waved them off gently, eyes glued to the stage, saying, "This is all I need!"

Green Man
Tiffany and I wanted to honor the Lord first and obvious, so we put sister company Arrows International, both first and last to open and close the show. They did a powerful, beautiful, worship dance called Sekinah Glory, choreographed by their leaders Jeff and Natalie Lewis. God's presence came down on the green. Everybody got up off the lawn, out of their chairs, and were jumping up and down worshipping God. When it was done, one lady, who was walking through the green just to get some food from the carnival vendors, joined in the dancing! Afterwards she handed her plate to a friend and said, "I don't even need that food anymore!"

Ginger and Jocelyn, Pray You Through
Througout the day, the children in the park kepts coming to watch, and many came up on the side of the stage where there was a tiny platform. They began to dance too. But not only dancing randomnly. They began to mimic the dancers. Child after child would come up, and watch the show, emulating the kicks, turns, falls, and the power of the dancers! It was beautiful to see their child-like joy and freedom. There was no segregation. They danced from every nationality and religion, and their parents came with them, and were smiling and enjoying the show. The park became a house of prayer for all nations that day!
Stella, dancing in the Sun. (Look close: see the little child in the purple, dancing off the far side of the stage...?)

One little girl named Alex stole our hearts. She comes to Houston regularly for medical treatment for a neuromuscular disorder called Rettsyndrone. But the brightness in her eyes and smile watching the dance filled our hearts with joy!
Abby and Lara with little Alex

For me, it was the favor of the Lord. His blessing made everything run so smooth. And I left so energized and filled. It was beautiful. God is so good. And it was amazing to watch him bless the city of Houston so richly.

Come join us next March...!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dancer Profile: Daniel Cossette

Daniel Cossette
"To delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalms 37:4

Daniel, a Marceau-style mime from Mimeistry International, toured with Mimeistry 2000-2002. He founded Ambassador Arts, Manchester, CT, where he premiered the shows Say it Loud! and Christmivest. Daniel has performed with Project Dance, Welten Wechsel, and Dance Houston. Currently he teaches for the Houston Ballet Outreach Program and the Alley Theatre, and is in his 4th year with Ad Deum.

Fun Facts:
1.) Nick Name: My brother calls me Maestro, and my sister calls me Adelweiss

2.) Where are you from? Tolland, CT

3.)How Many years have you been dancing? 4 years, I started when I was 27.

4.) Favorite style or styles of dance? Modern dance, because it is so versatile and physical and emotive. And hip hop is fun to watch.

5.) What made you want to start dancing? I saw  Ad Deum Dance Company perform in New York City, and I thought they were incredible. I took a class from their director and thought, "I have never moved like this in my life!" it was really inspiring.

6.) What dancers or dance companies inspire you? I really like Cedar Lake (but partly because I think their stuff is a lot like ours) as well as Alvin Ailey. Who doesn't love Alvin Ailey with those incredible, strong lines!

7.) Favorite work of Ad Deum and Why? I love Unconfined, because it is so intense and powerful. I feel like it was a gift to be able to have such a prominent solo. I also love the animalistic antics of Wondrous Beast. But the spiritual depth of Hymns is also so powerful. It is hard to choose only one.

8.) Favorite Performance or Outreach of the year? I have two: The first is always Project Dance. There is nothing like meeting up with our extended dancer friends and family around the world and tearing it up on stages outdoors (one of my favorite settings anyway). I got started performing outdoors for missions trips with my church, and it is still the best. 

Also, I love the CS Lewis Conference we do, where we are always so welcomed. The people there are so sweet and receptive, I feel like they give me as much as I give them, and it sets you free to dance as a performer and minister.

9.) Favorite Ad Deum Memory? It's impossible to pick on memory and call it the ultimate favorite, but one I remember was great when we were on tour in Corpus Christi in the van together, and Stella says: "Have you heard the Lara rap?!? You gotta hear it!!!" So someone started beat-boxing (because we're contemporary dancers and we're good at that) and Lara totally started  to freestyle a rap all the way. We laughed pretty much all the way back to Houston: She is that good! Watch out for ballerinas man... they got skillz!

10.) Favorite Food? I love Tacos and pizza. I'm sorry, I just do. They are so good. Tacos with avocado, and 4 cheese pizza. There's no better way.

11.) What would you do if you were not a dancer? I love lots of things. I'm a mine to my core and I will always be that with or without dance. I am also an actor, animator, writer, gamer, etc... I'll do almost anything creative.

12.) What type of music do you listen to? Rock, worship, and worship rock.

13.) Random Interesting Fact about yourself? I'm getting married this June!

"Dancers are God's Athletes"- Albert Einstein