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.
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