Saturday, November 10, 2018

Veterans' Day 2018

Thank you. Welcome home.

"Happy" Veterans' Day.

I've struggled with writing and sharing this year, in part because of time (its hard to sit at a computer when there's a precious little one asking for my attention). And in part because I've been struggling with so many questions -

What is my role as a mother?
What is my role as a professional?
What is my role as an artist?
Where is our country going and how can I help shape my small piece of it?
Is it possible to protect, create safe spaces, and allow for vulnerability? How? Where is this appropriate?

In the past, I would listen to the trauma on NPR on my daily commute and walk into the studio with tears in my eyes and heart, but resolved that creating dance was a responsible answer. Through dance, I was honing my body and the body is a place of protest. The body is a place for joy. Dance making, performance, and viewing is a place where people come together. Art making is challenging and scary because it demands a sense of vulnerability and authenticity. It demands bowing to a personal truth and to something greater than the self.

Now, I want to hug my baby a little tighter and retreat to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Because of my own fear? A change of my own perspective? A shift in our cultural narrative? Am I responding the way that those in the highest offices want me to respond by shrinking back and away?

I've often been reminded of the importance of taking a step away from the noise and being quiet with oneself, one's family, and one's truths. Perhaps this is one of those times.

But, to that end, I've also been researching more in the wee hours of the night, after Little has fallen back asleep.
What can I do?
What is my role?
What is my worth?

To those who hold the line, Thank you.
You model strength and courage in the face of doubt and chaos.

To those who love those who hold the line, thank you.
You, too, model strength and courage in the face of doubt, fear, and chaos.

I've found and am sharing a list of resources that speak directly to family members of veterans (in no particular order and without compensation... I don't receive anything for sharing these, other than the possible satisfaction of helping someone else):

Road Home Program
5 Tips for a Healthy Relationship with a Combat Veteran
Top 10 Things your Combat Veteran Wants You to Know
What its Like to Love a Combat Veteran
FamilyofAVet.com
What a Combat Veteran and His Wife Want You to Know about PTSD
Do You Love a Veteran?
Home/Front A New Musical

May you/ we find peace and reasons to dance.

Katherine Kiefer Stark exploring the silent trials and joys of being a family member of a veteran in my piece
"Unspoken: Everyday Hope". Pic by Bill Hebert


Friday, October 12, 2018

Rediscovering...

This year is a year of "Re-"

Re-newal
Re-flection
Re-storing
Re-negotiating

Re-discovering...

especially of places and people I thought I knew.

To this end, I've been collaborating with writer and film-maker Jake Buczewski to take another look at the Reading area. We're premiering our dance-film tonight at KYL/D's InHale Performance Series.

Friday, September 28, 2018

You look like ME...!

My son was born 6 weeks early and we were cautioned against too much outside contact. So, we complied and were cautious for the first few months of his life.

We've been blessed - he's thrived as far as we (and our pediatricians) can tell.

In due time, we've tried to expose him to diversity - of time, space, person, experience, tastes, travel... and he accepts what we throw at him. Sometimes, he doesn't agree with our choice of food or music or crowd. He lets us know when he's uncomfortable and we try to be sensitive to his signs.

But he never said "I'm uncomfortable because they don't look like me".

Of course, at 6, 10, 15 months, he can't.

Until he can.

And I didn't understand how important that was - as an artist, as a student of anthropology, as a teacher of diversity, as an advocate for listening to unheard voices.

Until he told me.

As an artist and educator, I've tried to be progressive and understanding and democratic. I DO know what it's like to be devalued and abused and taken for granted, but I also see other folks who look like me on the outside, even if I don't know what they look like on the inside.

But...

We had a dear friend visit whose son is similar in age to mine. He's also light skinned and light haired and on several occasions, my dear boy just wanted to hug this young compatriot. It was if he was saying, "Oh! You look like me! We're the same size! We make the same sounds! You have the same coloring! We walk the same! You are like me! THANK YOU!!"

He just seemed so gracious so be in the presence of someone LIKE HIM.

And I felt so sad.

Sad because he's been with other children, but they don't look like him. Sad because he's been with adults who love him, but don't look like him. Sad because in all of my experience and education, I didn't realize how important this was... until I did.

So, to the students and friends and people for whom I advocate... I may not look like you, but I see you. And I hear you. And I'm aware that it's important to have someone to whom you excitedly say, "You look like ME!"

Thank you, dear boy... 

And to those with whom I share differences... I'm interested in the ways we can work together. Please, could we talk...?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dancing with Parkinsons

Shout out to Tower Health/ Reading Hospital! Thank you for featuring me and some of my dancers in the Dance for Wellness class in your Health Break Video! Check it out, below:

(Yay, PT Stephanie for piloting these programs, especially designed for people with Parkinson's Disease!)


My classes are every Monday from 11am-12pm at the Tower Health/ Reading Hospital Rehab Center. Cost is $5 and drop in's are so welcome! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"It takes courage..."

"Ya know... it takes courage to do what you know is going to be good for you."

On this particular morning, the weather was uncomfortable. It was a holiday week - one of those where the holiday is in the middle of the week so, it's a little awkward to celebrate. This student had not been feeling well, but came to class, anyway.

"It takes courage to do what you know is going to be good..."

I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few weeks. What is going to be good... for me? for my family? for my art? for my body? for my community?

As in dance, as in life.

My student was talking about coming to dance class. For some people who come to my class at the Rehab Center (and I'm sure for some people who don't come to my class...) it's a challenge to get out of bed, to travel, to come to class. It takes courage to complete complex challenges, but it also takes courage to be mindful and aware of seemingly simple challenges and work through them.

It takes courage to see and move with other people who might be different - even if they, too, are facing challenges, some visible, some invisible.

It takes courage to be present in a body that might not feel perfect - due to illness, injury, abuse, depression, frustration, self-perception, or any number of other reasons.

It takes courage to physically and mentally move through these obstacles to find (and admit) to the joy of dancing.

It takes courage to surrender to the vulnerability of making mistakes and learning from them. It takes courage to own these moments instead of shy away from a new step or creative goal.

It takes courage to trust that the class is a community embarking on a shared journey, if only for that brief time.

It takes courage to dance.

It takes courage to do what you know is going to be good for you.




Sunday, August 5, 2018

New location... new explorations and a few FAQ's

Thank you to The Restorative Center and Tula Yoga Center for the challenge to get moving again. Together, we're hosting a Contemporary Dance Class (for Adults) in Reading on August 7th - and August 14th and August 19th!

Backstory: You might have gathered from previous posts that the intensity of my performance life has calmed with the birth of my son in 2017. In years past, I had traveled a lot for my art and with Tristan's new presence, I'm learning that my ideas of meaning, movement, and "work", among other topics, are shifting. You might have also read of the community work I've done in Easton, Center ValleyChester, and Philadelphia - but none of these are my hometown. I began asking myself, did I need to leave to do my work?

I began searching for movement practices, locally, to fuel my desire to move and not spend a ton of time in transit. After attending a yoga class at the Tula Yoga Center, Sifu Mark and I started talking about goals and dreams (kinda random, but so appropriate and comfortable in that space!) When I mentioned that I was a dancer looking to possibly explore sharing a dance movement practice he said, "Why not do something here?"

And so... we're dancing!

Here are a few questions you might be asking:

What is Contemporary Dance?

So... this is a loaded question, worth a few dissertations. In (very, very, very) brief, Contemporary Dance follows in the Modern Dance lineage. My classes begin on the floor exploring the kinesphere and natural movement pathways of the body using momentum and breath as initiating factors. We move to standing and progress to familiar dance pathways - plies, tendues, gross motor movement, and across the floor patterns - that will result in a comprehensive phrase.
I think of Contemporary Dance as ice cream. The most basic recipe of ice cream consists of a few ingredients: cream, sugar, eggs, milk, and salt. At the most basic level, all forms of dance classes address fine and gross motor movements of the body through a progression (usually) based on movement science. Artistry and style (or genre) is like the flavoring of the ice cream - and one flavor tastes so very different from another. Even though it's still ice cream, some people have strong feelings in regards to their personal preference. As in life, as in dance. In my Contemporary Classes, we warm up the whole body in preparation to add additional "flavorings" - so that my dancers are ready for whatever choreographic challenges they face. This is a much larger conversation, but so are the options at the ice cream bar... join me?

Here are a few other articles addressing Contemporary Dance:
Dance Studio Life
Dance Doc's Think Tank


What should I wear?
Wear what you feel comfortable moving (and sweating) in. I recommend layers. Start with a longer shirt and pants (that cover your shoulders and knees) for the initial warm up.


Do I need special shoes?
Nope! We'll dance in bare feet.


I haven't danced in ages... and/or I have limited dance experience. But I miss it! Can I come?
Absolutely! My pedagogy is deeply invested in helping you find the joy in your moving body. If you can walk, you can dance!


What if I'm sore the next day?
Awesome! That means you worked! (And you might be using new or unfamiliar muscles.) I design my classes based on natural pathways of the body and researched somatic and anatomic practice - so the movement will be safe, but you'll work! (or WEEEERK!)

One of the wonderful things about having the classes at The Restorative Center is you can take care of your entire body there! Make an appointment for acupuncture, massage, Reiki, or another movement class - including gentle yoga.


What should I bring?
Water (or a water bottle) there's water on site (and local Kombucha for purchase!). Class payment ($15 pre-registration. $20 drop in). Maybe a towel if you get super sweaty. An open mind and an open heart.


Where am I going? 
The Restorative Center is located at 6 Hearthstone Ct, Reading, PA. It's on the 2nd floor of the building. There's plenty of parking in the building's lot.


OO! This sounds like fun, but I can't make August 7th! 
No worries! We'll be dancing again on August 14th from 5-7pm and August 19th from 12-2pm.


I pre-registered, but I couldn't pay online...?
Please bring payment to
class with you.


Can we dance more??
That's the hope! Look for on going classes to come in the fall!


Do you have other questions that I haven't answered? Please let me know in the comments! I look forward to seeing you!


Friday, June 22, 2018

SoLow Fest tomorrow

"I loved the movement vocabulary as well as the execution of the movement."
My favorite part was... "movement from standing to floor and up again"

The artist is trying to communicate...
"Glad to be alive"
"I saw moments that were calm as well as moments of anxiety. It felt as though there was a struggle between feeling excited for something new, but also fearful of change, something unknown. In the end, I felt acceptance as if the artist was acknowledging that we, the audience, saw the journey"

The previous quotes are feedback nuggets that I received from my InHale/ ExHale performance of "Stained Glass" (written feedback prompts provided by KYL/D's feedback forms are in italic).



"Stained Glass" photo by Mike Hurwitz

I'm showing "Stained Glass" again this weekend as part of another performance series/ festival. SoLow Fest is dedicated to the solo form and Little Things is dedicated to the relationship between mother and child. We're donating the proceeds to Mary's Shelter in Reading, PA. Mary's Shelter is an organization that helps mothers and pregnant women in need.

This wasn't initially meant as a response to the country's current crisis of separating families at the border, but the timing is appropriate.

..............................................

Join us Saturday at Little Things.
When? Saturday, June 23rd at 2 & 4pm
Where? Ballroom Philadelphia, 1207 Gerrit St, Philadelphia, Pa 19147
Run time? appx 45 min
Family friendly? Yes.
Cost? $10 Suggested donation or pay what you can. Proceeds benefit Mary's Shelter in Reading, PA.
Other things? Parking is limited and traffic is tight. Plan extra time. Late comers won't be permitted.