A performance by BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance. Photo courtesy of Teresa Fellion. Photography by Andy Phillips
By Mara Certic
Teresa Fellion was a hyperactive toddler. When she was about two-and-a half, her mother decided it was time to get her involved in an energy-expending hobby. And that’s how she started dancing.
Ms. Fellion’s New York City-based dance company, “Body Stories: Teresa Fellion Dance,” returns to the East End this summer to teach, perform and inspire.
In the past, the contemporary dance troupe has held a few performances on the East End during the busy summer season. This year, however, a partnership with the Ross School’s summer camp program will have the modern dancers posted in East Hampton until mid-August.
Ms. Fellion was traditionally trained in a regional ballet company, but her dancing is anything but traditional. Since she graduated from college, Ms. Fellion has had quite an eclectic dancing career. In a phone interview on Sunday she told the story of how she danced with Phish at their would-be farewell concert.
“My brother is a huge Phish fan, and in 2004 they were breaking up and it was a big thing. I had just graduated from conservatory and I knew I wanted to choreograph—I wanted to make dances,” she said. “And I thought to myself, ‘I bet they need dancers!’”
According to Ms. Fellion, Trey Anastasio and the other members of the band were receptive to a press kit that she put together after her epiphany and “they invited us to perform five or six times with them at the Coventry Festival in Vermont on several different stages.” Plans fell through to do a warehouse performance for a recent album, but Ms. Fellion added that “I’m in touch with [Phish]; someday we’ll do something with them again.”
Ms. Fellion, three teachers from her company and an intern will run the dance curriculum during the seven weeks of the camp. Summer Camp at Ross offers 27 one- or two-week long “majors” that allow participants to explore a certain area in depth, be it dodge ball, surfing, photography or dance.
Those who choose the dance major will learn about technique, improvisation and composition—and even learn some parts of the company’s current repertory.
Like Ms. Fellion, many of the dancers in her company are classically trained and will teach that technical precision during the summer program at Ross. Ms. Fellion also looks for something else: “diverse backgrounds, that’s something that I covet,” she said.
Ms. Fellion spent a year dancing in Cameroon and performed at the country’s national soccer cup finals. “I had never been to a soccer game before. I went to the national soccer cup finals, the stadium was on fire and then you’re on the field, dancing in the halftime show,” she said. “It was a real out of body experience.”
“I want dancers with that versatility,” she said.
But the classes will also be geared toward the students’ needs, she said. A large portion of them will be dedicated to improvisation and composition exercises. “We very much want the students to have self-generated movement,” the dancer said.
In addition to the classes at the camp, the company will also put on a series of drop-in workshops (pre-registration requested!) for adults on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Again, she will cater to her students’ needs and mentioned that she is yoga-certified, and that she could happily teach a yoga class but “if people want to incorporate dance into yoga that’s a class I do too.”
One class would be what she described as a “dance/fitness/fun class.” “This will meet everyone’s needs. It’s lively, there’s some conditioning but also dancing for expression,” she said, adding that all of her classes are open level.
For those who would rather observe, on top of a few informal performances for campers, the company will dance for the public on Thursday, July 31, and Saturday, August 2.
“The show will be a mix of four of our five active repertory pieces,” she said.
“No One Gets Out of Here Alive,” is a humorous tongue-in-cheek piece about junior high school. Whereas “Fault Line” is an all-female piece that starts out balletic “and then gets more and more intense.” “The Mantises Are Flipping (P.S. I’ll Have Whatever They’re Having)” has amusing moments but also “interesting partnering” she said. “They are all so different.”