Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flow in the Snow-Branch Dances @ Wave Hill October 29, 2011: Marion Ramirez Reflects on the Performance

Yesterday afternoon I traveled to Wave Hill -a beautiful botanical garden in the Bronx, New York- to perform as part of Merian Soto’s Branch Dance Project. It was the first snow storm of the season. Most of the trees are still full of leaves, not ready for snow and ice. At 2:45 p.m. under the heavy snow, we started the dance. Together with the other dancers and musician, I moved slowly for about 30 minutes.

The field was full of snow. My branch was long and brown; it curved towards the edge on one end, making it slightly heavier on that side. I found a spot in the field were I wanted to settle. The wood stick was leaning against my body, resting on my shoulder as I was standing with my arms hanging down.

I could hear the sound of the snow balls fall on my rain poncho. I started to breathe deeper so as to feel more heat in my inner body, to soften my joints, to connect with the moment as it was. I bent my knees a little so to feel my own weight against the ground. The ground felt very far away. I invited myself to sink into my socks, my snow boots, down through the layers of snow and finally into the ground. Once I found the surface I was standing on, I started to feel the weight of the branch on my shoulder. Its weight was comforting and stable. Following my impulse to touch it, I slowly intended movement towards the branch. I reached the branch with my hands, with my wet gloves.

The touch was humid and timid at first, every touch would release pieces of dirt that had attached to the branch’s surface. I was looking down to the ground to avoid getting snow in my eyes, so I could see brown drips falling on the white snow. I continued to understand the branch’s rough surface and shape with my touch. I was now able to support the branch with little tension, this made me feel grounded, a small smile lit up in my mouth. I paused to enjoy this feeling; the pause didn’t really felt like stillness.

At this point I was ready to respond more confidently, but adjusting my body was more challenging than usual. I couldn’t move my feet smoothly as the snow was sticky, slippery, and uneven. I had to find many ways in which to shift my body weight keeping while keeping the feet on the ground. The support of the branch was helping me. I found a way to lean into the branch which was leaning on me — we depended on each other. We paused and took in the rest of the environment. I could hear, in the distance, full branches of trees breaking and falling with the weight of the snow. In these moments I had a greater impulse to support and be supported by the branch. Somehow it was a poetic action, a recognition of the trees that were loosing its extremities.

I started to notice how the heat throughout my body was activated specially around my core. I was focusing on this area of the body since my extremities were wet and busy. I enjoyed feeling my whole body and the branch moving as one, this partnership was starting to flow. The weight of the branch towards one side of the horizontal plane started to take me into a slow spin. I followed it , and felt very peaceful. I inevitably connected with the dancers around me. I saw the bodies and branches making a moving drawing, designing the pathways in the space, pausing together, taking turns for movement. At this point it seemed that the natural environment was very much integrated into each movement of our personal experience and our collective experience. This flowing energy was very special. I was no longer scared about the challenges of the snow, the cold, the falling ice. My focus was accurate and suspended.

I also understood it was inevitable that the trees loose significantly big and important branches, I couldn’t take care of it in any other way, nature’s power just is. By being with it, it was clear that going against nature is also going against ourselves. I didn’t want this dance to end.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chestnut Hill Local

Lou Mancinelli has written a piece on the project for the Chestnut Hill Local. Thanks for the press!

Just a couple of errors: My husband is Pepon Osorio. Gabriel is my son.

And, I don't mind saying my age; just don't think its nescesary. I'm 57 and happy to be dancing. Yay!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Photos of Noreaster performance at Wave Hill

Photos by Maria Sassetti

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall performance at Wave Hill is a picture of winter

Fall was transformed into winter by the nor'easter that hit the region yesterday. Wave Hill had to close for safety reasons as branches broke off trees under the weight of the snow. But performers and video crew were there, ready to go; the nature of the work is to perform through the seasons and the weather. So much preparation for this moment! I was impressed with Wave Hill staff's support of our artistic vision and practice in allowing us to perform on the lawn away from the trees. It was challenging, beautiful, and sad, as we reflected on climate change hearing branches crashing around us.

I am grateful to all who made this happen. The performers: Marion Ramirez, Shavon Norris, Beau Hancock, Jumatatu Poe and Tigger Benford; Michael Max Knobbe and the Bronx Net crew; Jenniffer McGregor; Jenniffer McGregor, Michael Wiertz and the rest of the Wave Hill staff. Thanks also to Patti Bradshaw and Tom Ross for showing up despite the challenges of getting there!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Forecast for tomorrow: rain, wind & SNOW!!!!

The show must go on! Rain shine or SNOW!

It will be beautiful. See you at Wave Hill!
3- 3:45PM.

Layer up! Wear waterproof shoes. Bring an umbrella!

Click for directions.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wissahickon Reunion/Yesterday's Performance

Hello Philadelphia! Thanks to all who came out yesterday! It was a wonderful day to begin Wissahickon Reunion, sunny and crisp. So good to be in the woods again with Shavon, Olive and Jumatatu, and to welcome Marion and Beau. A special shout out to Harold E Smith and his hypnotic didgeridoo.

And many thanks to our supporters from OYWPP who came back--- Judy, Karen, Pepon, Gabe, Bill, Rocio, Rennie, Cory, Guisa, Jung Woong...--- and so many new faces! Check out Ari Kim-Ramirez, the world's youngest branch dancer!

Next performance Saturday Oct 29 at 3PM at Wave Hill Art Center in New York City. See previous posting for more info.

Photos by Gabriel Osorio-Soto

Its a beautiful morning for performing in the woods!

Its a wonderful day for visiting the park! Make sure you layer up because its a bit cold. Wear shoes with tread--there has been a lot of erosion due to the rains and the paths are a bit tricky. Bring water. Travel light. For directions to the site view the previous post. See you there!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Performance tomorrow!

The first performance of Wissahickon Reunion will take place tomorrow Sunday Oct 23, from 10:30 -11:15 AM along the path from Mt. Airy Ave to the Mt Airy Ave Bridge in Wissahickon Park. The performance will feature dancers Beau Hancock, Shavon Norris, Jumatatu Poe, Olive Prince, and Marion Ramirez and a special appearance by percussionist Harold Smith who will be joining us on the didgeredoo.

The forecast is for a mostly sunny day with highs in the low 60’s with a bit of wind. Fine fall weather! I hope you can join us.



From CC: take Kelly Drive (check your GPS as Kelly Drive may be closed tomorrow) or 76W to Lincoln Drive to the first traffic light (Rittenhouse). Turn right on Rittenhouse to first traffic light (Wissahickon) and turn left. Follow Wissahickon (you will cross Lincoln Drive) to Mt. Airy Ave (it’s the last cross street before Wissahickon curves sharply to the right to become Allens Lane. If you find yourself on the curve you’ve gone too far). Left on Mt. Airy Ave. Drive one block to the end of the road. Park along the street. The entrance to the park is at the end of the street. You will find us along the path(s).

From North Philadelphia: Take Broad Street North to Venango (just past Temple Hospital). Turn left on Venago and follow it to Erie. Cross Erie. Venango become Wissahickon Ave. Continue on Wissahickon to Mt Airy Ave ( see directions above)

Public transport:

Regional Rail: The R8 Chestnut Hill West Line will get you reasonably close and there is a train that arrives at the Allens Lane Station at 10:15. Walk west along Allen’s Lane and follow the road as it curves around to the left (it becomes Wissahickon Ave). The first cross street after the curve is Mt. Airy Ave. Turn right onto Mt. Airy Ave. The entrance to the park is at the end of the road (2 blocks).

Buses: The H bus gets you reasonably close. Get off on McCalum and Mt. Pleasant. Walk one block north to Mt. Airy Ave. Turn left. Walk along Mt Airy Ave to the end (about 5 or 6 blocks).

Biking: From CC: Take Kelly Drive until it end on Ridge. Cross Ridge and enter the Park. Follow Forbidden Drive to the Mt. Airy Ave Bridge (it’s the one after the Kitchen’s Lane Bridge) Cross the bridge and go up the hill. You will find us along the path(s).

Photo: Pepon Osorio

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Sister Projects and WISSAHICKON REUNION—Sunday Oct 23, 10:30 AM

When I was invited by Jennifer McGregor to conduct a one-year project at Wave Hill, I was overjoyed. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to perform branch dancing in New York City at Wave Hill. New York New York! The Bronx! The old hood! All my friends! I am excited to be able to share Branch Dances @ Wave Hill with you!

AND then there’s my new home, Philadelphia, and the beautiful Wissahickon Woods where the branch dances were born. The NY project provides a structure for developing a similar project at home in Philadephia; hence Wissahickon Reunion. I want to lovingly revisit (on a modest scale) the One Year Wissahickon Project (OYWPP) which moved all who participated. Jumatatu Poe, Shavon Norris, and Olive Prince are back, yay! Toshi Makihara and Noemi Segarra, though not physically present, will be present in our memories. Joining us for the first time are Beau Hancock, Marion Ramirez, and Tigger Benford; and on October 23, Harold Smith with be accompanying us on the didgeridoo.

The first performance of Wissahickon Reunion will be a “fairy” performance; audiences will find us along the path from Mt. Airy Ave to the Mt Airy Avenue bridge. Audiences are encouraged to block out some time to wander along the paths and enjoy a respite from the city. Bring a snack and water, have a picnic! The woods are glorious these days --- the brisk air, the dancing light, and changing leaves, and the wind, make it quite magical. Make sure to wear proper clothing, sun glasses, and walking shoes with grip. The recent rains have caused much erosion and the paths are a bit treacherous. You may want to pick up a walking stick!

Like OYWPP, Wissahickon Reunion performances will be held Sundays at 10:30AM. Give yourself some time to get lost and found! All performances will be held rain or shine; cancellations only in extreme weather. Audiences should check this blog on the morning of the performances for up to date information.

Photos of OYWPP: Pepon Osorio

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Announcing 2 cycles of performances in Philadelphia and NYC

Merián Soto/Performance Practice announces two one-year cycles of Branch Dances that will take place in Philadelphia and New York City, beginning in October 2011. Each series, the Wissahickon Reunion and Branch Dances at Wave Hill, will consist of four outdoor performances, one each season spanning from October 2011- June 2012. Soto is joined for these performances by dancers: Beau Hancock, Shavon Norris, Jumatatu Poe, Olive Prince, and Marion Ramírez. Acclaimed musician Robert “Tigger” Benford will create and perform the music.

Branch Dances at Wave Hill

Wave Hill, a 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades, has commissioned award-winning choreographer Merián Soto to return to the Bronx, her artistic home, to develop a site-specific project during a one-year residency. Soto’s project is part of Wave Hill’s 2011–2012 generated@wavehill commission, a program that provides artists the opportunity to create temporal work for the grounds. Over the next 12 months, Soto will develop and perform Branch Dances at Wave Hill.

This project was generated from Pepatian's APAP@HOME 2011 series in the South Bronx, and is further supported by project manager Jane Gabriels.

The first Branch Dances at Wave Hill performance takes place Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 3:00pm. Performances are free with admission to the grounds. The schedule for the entire series is as follows:

Fall: Saturday, October 29, 2011 (Target Free Morning)

Winter: Saturday, January 7, 2012 (Target Free Morning)

Spring: Sunday, April 22, 2012

Summer: Saturday, June 23, 2012 (Target Free Morning)

For more info see: Wave Hill

Wissahickon Reunion

Wissahickon Reunion revisits the award-winning One Year Wissahickon Park Project which investigated correspondences between movement, the elements, physical experience, alignment and balance, consciousness, and performance. Performances will take place on Sundays at 10:30am, rain or shine. Cancellations will be only in extreme weather.

Wissahickon Reunion performance dates are:

Fall: October 23, 2011

Winter: January 15, 2012

Spring: April 15, 2012

Summer: June 17, 2012