Monday, June 29, 2009

Postcards from the Woods @ Pregones Theater in the Bronx

Pregones Theater invited me to conduct a creative residency throughout spring 2009 to develop a new work in the branch dance series. The residency funded by the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Presenting Program would culminate in a performance as part of their Dancing in Da Bronx series.

It was a total delight to be back in Da Bronx where I lived and worked for 15 years prior to moving to Philadelphia. I was lucky to stay at Mi Casa Tu Casa bed and breakfast on 150th Street. I strongly recommend it. Its comfortable and homey and oh so convenient. There’s nothing like getting up and crossing the street to work when you want to immerse yourself in the creative process.

On June 19 I presented a first draft of Postcards from the Woods at Pregones. I was joined for this performance by dancers Olive Prince, Jumatatu Poe, Jung Woong Kim, and Marion Ramirez. Dave Overcamp designed the lights and Cicada Brokaw the soundscape. Laura Zimmerman assisted with all the video tech and she shot and edited the OYWPP documentary video that ran in the lobby.

The crowd was smallish but enthusiastic, surely helped by the margaritas being served in the lobby. Thanks to all my friends who attended: Jane Gabriels, Bill Aguado and Cathy Pavlik, Janet Rodriguez and Kayte Ringer, Irene Sosa, Arthur Aviles, Patti Bradshaw and Tom Ross, Beka Lloyd Jones and Sasha Welsh, Kathy Westwater, Bill Bragin, Tanya Calamonieri. The overall POSITIVE feedback affirms that we are on track as to concept of the work and impact of the work.

This work feels whole. It accomplishes what it sets out to do—bring the audience into an experience. Performing it is thrilling, not in a high pitched sort of way, but in deep tones, in the exactitude of waiting, the heightened awareness. It feels good to do and good that the audience is moved.

On to Live Arts!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Branch dancing at The World Dance Alliance Americas Assembly May 28-31

The 2009 World Dance Alliance Americas Assembly was held at The University of Wisconsin, Madison this past May 28-31. This conference and festival brought an international cohort of dance artists, educators, and students from over 15 countries and throughout the United States.

What a pleasure to participate in such a rich gathering of dance artists, scholars, and educators! I was invited to present my work in one of several shared concerts and to conduct a three-day choreographic workshop which would culminate in a site specific performance on the fourth day. This was a welcome opportunity to pilot a residency concept that includes both a staged performance and a choreographic workshop within a short span of time.

The title of the assembly was What Moves Us? How appropriate! I spent the whole weekend feeling my heart swell and expand! I was moved by the wealth and vitality of dance presented. I was moved by Paul Mabwa’s dancing, presence, and gaze. I was moved by Mark Taylor’s teaching of Body Mind Movement. I was moved by entering Authentic Movement under the guidance of Melissa Rolnick.

Five dancers of mixed abilities and ages participated in the entire choreographic project: Melissa Rolnick from Gustavus College in MN, Paul Mabwa from Kenya , Anadel Lynton from Mexico, and Ellen Gerdes and Monica Frichtel from Temple University joined the company, Shavon Norris, Jumatatu Poe, Toshi Makihara, and me, for a four days of branch dancing. I was moved by the group’s interest and commitment to the work.

And I was moved by the audience’s response to the work. I had felt curious about what the audience response would be. This work is not dance in the traditional sense; would the world dance community resonate with it? I received abundant enthusiastic feedback: “the work drew me in immediately”, “it was beautiful”, “I was moved”. Wow! Its exciting that the work is received this way.

We keep moving.