Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Branch Dancing in the Bronx --- Weekend 1

from left to right: Arthur Aviles Jumatatu Poe, Nadine Martinez,
Stephanie Peña, Maria Meli, Marsi Burns

Great weekend branch dancing in the boogie down Bronx with the extraordinary  Arthur Aviles, along with Marsi Burns, Maria Meli, Dorrell Clark, Kharis Collins, Nadine Martinez, Stephanie Peña, Niko Rodriguez, Ni'Ja Whitson Adebanjo, and Glitch Rivera, & DeShawn White.   Katie Jasmin, and Jumatatu Poe were my assistants.

From Lto R: DeShawn White, Maria Meli, Stephanie Peña
Arthur Aviles, Katie Jasmin

Teaching a group of Bronx-based choreographers the branch dance performance practice over the course of three weekends is a wonderful opportunity to share the work and try out the practice in an urban setting.  Aviva Davidson of Dancing in the Streets has brought together a powerful collaboration. 

BAAD Bronx is hosting the workshop.   It’s a perfect site; its new home is on the grounds of St Peter’s Episcopal Church on Westchester Square.   We can warm-up inside and then branch dance among the trees on the grounds or step out onto the street.  

Marsi Burns and Nadine Martinez                                
The other partner, Westchester Square BID has invited us to do a Branch Dances Demonstration in the  Fair in the Square next Saturday  from 1:30-3 and to conduct a branch dance workshop for senior citizens in The Owen Dolen Park Recreational Center on the Square the following Saturday.  The workshop will culminate with a public performance on the St Peter’s Church grounds on Sunday May 18  at 1:30.
Glitch Rivera & Jumatu Poe

It’s a lot! Yet my experience is that this is often the best way to learn.  We form new neural pathways through intensive repetition and immersion.  I call this performance practice because ideally there is no difference between practicing and performing.   Having the participants teach/explain the practice to passersby at the fair or in the workshop for seniors will also accelerate the learning, the owning of the practice for themselves.  Experience equals knowledge. 

The intergenerational group is wonderful; everybody is respectful and open to the practice.  We practice various techniques to tune into our bodies.
Dorrell Clark & Arthur Aviles

Breathing, scanning through the body, opening our joints, releasing our weight, matching the energy at the point of contact, maintaining a soft stillness, leading and following with blindfolds, balancing branches on the vertical and horizontal, hanging on the branches, finally moving as a group on the street.   
NikoRodriguez & Katie Jasmin

Kharis Collins & Glitch Rivera

DeShawn White & Ni'Ja Whitson Adebanjo

Gentle intensity.

Stephanie Peña & Jumatatu Poe

Ni'Ja Whitson Adebanjo

Building trust.  Caring for ourselves and others.  Gratitude. 

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