Communicate Without Words

mark at intensive. Photo by Annika PresleyIf we had to communicate without words, then surely dance would be our language. As an apprentice, I had the great privilege of experiencing the summer intensive both in the studio and behind the scenes, as AXIS worked to plan such a jam-packed week of dance.  It made my first time attending the intensive all the more special because I was able to see the entire process from start to end. I had never attended an integrated dance intensive so I was fascinated with seeing people gather from all over America and parts of Europe to see different types of bodies and dancers move. I found myself leaving every day with a newfound appreciation of dance. To say I felt an abundance of inspiration simply isn’t enough to fully express how the intensive empowered me.

As an artistic director of my own integrated contemporary dance company based in New Jersey, I found myself learning new ways to create work. A few weeks ago I injured my knee, which has required me to use a manual chair in order to dance, and I was given the task of choreographing for the first time while using a wheelchair. Initially I was intimidated by the task, as someone who is used to being able to use my legs, especially in my own choreography, it was interesting to see how I would translate my movement on someone who wasn’t a wheelchair user. For the first time in my career, I had a reversal experience—I had become accustomed to translating my movement onto my dancer Amanda, who is a wheelchair user but I never translated my movement from a chair on someone else. It gave me a better understanding of what Amanda must experience and how I can better assist her with learning the choreography and translating it so it fits for her body.

Deciding to put my company on hold, leaving my entire support system behind, and flying from East to West was no easy decision to make but it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my young career. If you thought about attending the intensive but were afraid to take that step, please don’t let fear stop you from attending because it will only change your life for the better.

To learn more about Mark or his company, visit and you can connect with him on Twitter  @markingthepath and his company @markeddanceproj