Thursday, June 28, 2012

Saturday's Performance: Summer @ Wave Hill

Summer.  Heat. Brilliant light.  SUN.   Clouds.

We planned a "grand finale" for the final performance of Branch Dances @ Wave Hill.    We chose the lower lawn overlooking the Hudson and the Pallisades.  The space invites one to look out mostly in one general direction, across the river.  Our score acknowledged the stateliness of the space with an elegant development.   We reviewed  the score, then separated to warm up on our own,  agreeing to meet  in our places at 3:25.

I feel apprehensive about being out in the sun for too long.  I know the power of the sun to burn the skin, to toast the brain. We have applied sunscreen lavishly but  I  still worry for myself and the audience. I am already feeling its effects on my consciousness.    I found a shady place off the lawn at one end and tried to find a sense of balance— Just do the practice.  Connect with the branch, connect with gravity and flow. Harmonize. Go slow.   Breathe.  Pay attention.

Waiting is  challenging.  I was dreading to go out into the sun for an hour. Let that go.  I place the branch on my shoulder and begin to walk slowly and steadily to my place.  Olive and Marion have begun and Jumatu is arriving at his spot.  Harold is ready.   Marion is lying face down on the ground  near where I was planning to start.  Should I station myself close to her?

I've got a nice walking rhythm by now. I walk past Marion, past Olive, and  move to a spot equidistant from Olive and Harold.  I approach stillness...  just do the practice: connect with the branch, connect with gravity and flow, harmonize, slow down,  follow the impulse, the momentum, but slow it down enough so that its not automatic.  Breathe.  Pay attention.

The breeze moves the branch slightly.  In response, a slight weight-shift initiates the dance, this partnership between the branch, and me, and the elements, the performers, the space, and the score.  As I begin to turn clockwise,  Harold sounds the conch.
Its so dramatic and appropriate, calling the dance  and the audience  together.  I go back to the mantra: just do the practice: connect with the branch, connect with gravity and flow, harmonize, slow down; follow the impulse, the momentum, but slow it down enough so that its not automatic.  Breathe.  Pay attention.

The dance feels steady as it unfolds.  Anchored, clean.   We move through the score.  A gentle breeze occasionally  brings relief from the intensity of the sun, especially when clouds bring a gentle shade.   The butterflies join us, as does a hawk, or is it an eagle?  The audience is supportive and patient.  If they can be there for us so can I.

I let everything go in the spinning towards the end,  spinning almost  as if drunk--the heat and sun are intoxicating.

Great to connect with the audience at the end!  Lots of people who have come before—Hank Berger, Jung Woong and Ari Kim, and others who say hello. Lots of friends who I haven't seen in ages, who have come out to support us— Alex Mustelier, Sita Fredrick and her daughter Cheyla,
Alicia Diaz, Marion's aunt and cousins...

The Branch Dances end at Wave Hill but they continue in Philadelphia where I have begun rehearsals for SoMoS, a silent branch dance carnival that will take place Oct 12 as part of Taller Puertorriqueño's Cafe Under the Stars.    And of course, the final performance of  Wissahickon Reunion will take place Sunday July 22 at 10AM.   It will be a performance adventure requiring audiences to hike up the hill to Andorra Wood's Central Loop. 

Stay tuned!

This picture is for Hank Berger:   That's you on the left!   Thanks again  for the lovely dance!

Photo: Wave Hill

All other photos: Marisol Diaz

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Final Branch Dances @ Wave Hill Today 3:30PM

The heat has broken.    The forecast for this afternoon is: sunny,  85 degrees, winds at 10mph— great weather for the finale of Branch Dances @ Wave Hill

We will perform on the lower lawn overlooking the Hudson River and the Pallisades.   I will be joined by Jumatatu Poe, Marion Ramírez, Olive Prince, and Harold S. Smith on didgeredoo.

The grounds are gorgeous!  Join us!    Be prepared!   Use sunscreen and insect repellent.  Wear  a hat and sunglasses.  Bring water. 


Jan 2012-Photo Marisol Diaz


Oct 2011- Photo Wave Hill

April 2012- Photo Julie Lemberger

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


We move into Summer.  I feel the change: the heat, the cycles of nature, the creative cycle.

Branch Dances @ Wave Hill is coming to an end.  Its been a year,  almost to the day,  since the first branch dance rehearsal for the series.   On Saturday, June 23 at 3:30 PM we will celebrate the coming of summer and complete the cylcle of seasonal performances.  We will perform on the lower lawn, overlooking the Hudson River and the Pallisades, an appropriate space for an elegant ending.    I will be joined by dancers  Jumatatu Poe, Marion Ramírez, Olive Prince, and Harold S. Smith on didgeredoo.   The forecast is for warm but mild weather with a gentle breeze.  Lovely weather to finalize the series!

Its been a rewarding project.  I have loved taking on the challenges of the weather— we performed in two storms, a snowstorm in October and a rainstorm in April.  I am grateful to the artists, Wave Hill, and Bronx Net for the commitment to performing the work as it is intended, rain or shine.  Its also  been terrific  to regularly spend time in the Bronx and share the work with such an open and supportive audience! 

I want to thank the audiences for their support and participation, in particular those who  have come back again and again: Patti Bradshaw, Tom Ross, Arthur Aviles, Charles Rice-González, Bill Aguado, Cathy Pavlick.    I also want to thank  the organizations and individuals that made  this project possible: Wave Hill,  PennPAT, Pepatian and Bronx Net,  Jennifer McGregor, Michael Knobbe Jane Gabriels,  and of course  the  artists — Olive Prince, Jumatatu Poe, Marion Ramírez, Beau Hancock, Shavon Norris, Tigger Benford, and Harold S. Smith. 

As Branch Dances @ Wave Hill comes to an end I move full swing into production mode for Somos (We Are) a new branch dance installation that will premiere in Philadelphia October 12, 2012.  Mark your calendars!  Through daily branch dances and walks in the park, sharing the work,  talking up the work, rehearsing,  performing, documenting, meeting, and on and on what was at first an  elusive vision seems to grow more defined everyday.  Ideas coalesce; the pieces  speak to each other.

Stay tuned for showings in the parking lot and  for the final performance of Wissahickon Reunion,  on Sunday, July 22.  This will be a performance adventure, requiring audiences to hike the the hill to the central loop in the Andorra Natural area. 

Photos:  Branch Dance Workshop at Wave Hill, April 23, 2012.  Courtesy of Wave Hill. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Branch Dances @ Wave Hill, Sat June 23, 3:30 PM - last performance of the series

Attention NYC! 

The final performance of the series Branch Dances @ Wave Hill will take place Saturday June 23, at 3:30 PM.

 I will be accompanied by dancers Marion Ramírez, Jumatatu Poe, Olive Prince and Harold S Smith on Didgeridoo.  

Its been a phenomenal season; dancing  in the snow in October, in 60 degree weather in January, and in a rainstorm in April.    Lets see what June 23 brings!

All photos  Spring Dances @ Wave Hill by Julie Lemberger.