Arts Alive! podcast: Alexander Jones, Helen Hansen French 2-22-23

Season 5, Episode 3371,   Feb 22, 04:29 PM

Published 5 days ago on February 17, 2023
By Bill DeYoung

“Writing about music,” goes the famous saying, “is like dancing about architecture.” The idea is that music, intangible and interpretive, cannot be reduced to mere words. It’s really a dismissal of music criticism – i.e., what’s the point? – but the reference to dance, which is just as wily, free and fluid as music, can’t be ignored.

Dance, of course, means different things to different people. What does it mean to live in the moment? We put the question to Alexander Jones and Helen Hansen French, two of the bay area’s most talented (and prolific) dancers and choreographers, in the latest episode of our Arts Alive! podcast.

Beacon ’19: Helen Hansen French and Alexander Jones. Photo by Tom Kramer.
“Movement,” said French, “was everyone’s first language. For me, not to sound hokey but it’s the best way that I communicate. It’s also my soul’s language. When I see movement, even if it’s movement I’ve never done before, I understand it at a really core, visceral level.

“But I also think dance kind of fills in these gaps where words, for me, don’t do it. I can read an amazing poem, where I could never have written that, but I could dance it. I understand the world through movement.”

French is a St. Petersburg native and the founder of the local dance collective Beacon, which will put on its annual Palladium Theater showcase in April.

Explained Jones, the director of the Project Alchemy company and choreographer-in-residence at thestudio@620: “When I’m moving, I can tap into vulnerabilities that I cannot tap into speaking. I can tap into truths about myself that I cannot tap into speaking.

“I learn more about myself, and about my dance partner or dance partners, just by listening to their body, and going ‘This is what your body’s telling me to do – this is how I should react’ … and what’s so interesting is that all of that stuff that I get from non-verbal physical contact then translates into how I talk to you. It’s informing me on how to live. It goes beyond a ballet class or anything like that.”

This is a wide-ranging discussion on the disciplines of dance and how they’re applied to the St. Petersburg/Tampa axis. #stpetecatalyst #billdeyoung #artslive #artsalivepodcast