Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can you chop these carrots? - defining normalcy in an abnormal world

We're re-visiting "Unspoken: Everyday Hope" and sharing the process with a new dancer. Welcome, Jennifer Yackel and best of luck to Melissa McCarten on her newest little adventure!

In teaching the material to Jenn, I asked Katherine to provide some inside-the-work insight. She said, "It's actually related a lot to what we've been talking about in Left Behind.... It's a lot about mattering, but about the work of the military family mattering in a way that we don't see or talk about."

Bookmarked and The Protected are two solos based on my own experiences as a military wife.
More on the process of Bookmarked

But within the past few weeks, I've been reading more and more about the "matter-ing" of the military family.

I shouldn't need to mention the Khan family or other Gold Star Families and veterans who have been humiliated and insulted in the past few weeks.(.. not to mention years and decades.)

I shouldn't need to mention that military spouses are overlooked and un- or underempolyed in the job market. (A giant shout out to R.Riveter - as seen on Shark Tank - who employs military spouses and allows them to work from any deployment station! Please check them out for super cute and meaningful apparel and accessories!)

But I just did. (mic drop. Keyboard drop? I really just drop my hands onto my lap and stare blankly at the screen as my brain works on overdrive.)

I remember being an undergraduate and freaking out about a paper due in the morning when a friend who had seen combat called. I had a moment of clarity - this f*#$ing paper didn't mean $#!t when real lives were at stake. What normalcy was I experiencing in this abnormal world? What was his normalcy overseas and back "home"?

As a military wife, I've continued to ask the same question.

Unspoken: Everyday Hope is one reflection.
Unspoken - photo by Bill Hebert

In another conversation, one of my family members inquired - tell me about this process, because I really didn't get the piece.

Honestly, that's okay. Because I don't get the idea of this normalcy.

In one part of the piece, the dancers do a series of "high knees". High knees are a crazy cardio workout move that are basically running in place. I use a lot of repetition in the work. The repetition and the crazy cardio moves are metaphors for the going-through-of-the-motions-to-maintain-normalcy. But in combat, nothing is normal. As a military family, nothing is normal.

In military life, nothing is normal. There's a rhythm that becomes a sense of normalcy. But war and isolation are not normal. Both for the military personnel and his/her family. The world they/we have created is abnormal and we're trying to define what normalcy looks, acts, responds, and dances like.

So, "Can you chop these carrots?" the wife asks her husband after he discloses a memory to her.

How else can she respond? She knows the need to provide for her family (stateside). He knows the need to provide for his family (in a war zone). The ways are different but the intention and drive is the same. How do we - veterans, civilizations, families - come together in an abnormal world?

How do we, as civilians and citizens respond? I hope, with support, not condemnation. With patience, not impulse. With listening, not judging. I hope we try to welcome home and support those who have protected and supported us - the military members AND their families.

And, I hope that when we - the ones on the HomeFrontLines - ask "Can you chop these carrots?" or "Could you get the cereal?", you understand that we're also trying to figure out this abnormal world. (Do we really need 1000 kinds of cereal? Isn't that kinda abnormal in and of itself?)

(I have no control over youtube ads)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Whether we can weather the weather

August is a scorcher!

The political atmosphere is heating up along with temperatures in Southeastern PA - record breaking. The sky is literally (and figuratively) falling in the south with the deluge of rain, rioting, and cries of revolution. Our environmental climate mirrors the current political climate. And people are getting hurt.

In rehearsal today, we reflected, again, on mattering. Who matters? How? Why?

As I listen to the onslaught of Trump's attacks, I am reminded that often, the people who are left behind are also denied some sort of access. There's an inequality and a power struggle, but the struggle is not about a critical exchange of ideas and resources. It's a struggle between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.

I wonder... how can American be great again if everyone doesn't have equal access to health care? education? job opportunities? housing? food?

No, we don't have a perfect system, but how can we without the ability to trust our leadership? Can we build from the bottom up without the ability to share resources or have access to the talents of each other?

I don't have any answers... just a lot of questions and a desire to create connections.

I believe we're all interconnected with our environment. I can't help but draw a metaphor between the angry weather patterns across the country and the storm we're in politically, racially, and economically. I'll keep looking for the rainbow...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Breach: Left Behind -The research gets real! Part 2

In late May, Justin and I traveled to Texas to spend time with family. In Part 1, I shared some of the pictures I took during the flooding of Central Texas when we were there. Parts 2 and 3 contain some of my thoughts...

Reflection 1:
There's a light rain falling. Justin and Mr. Ted went out to check the ranch. I opted to sit under the porch on the swing and watch the water run down the road. It's no less than a river and the running joke of the week is that some people would pay a lot of money for river front property. One of my favorite channels (and Ms. Marsha's too) is HGTV. Mr. Ted and Ms. Marsha also rebuild and remodel houses (in their spare time, which is usually during dusk) in a Chip and Joanna Gains "Fixer Upper" sort of way. They impress and inspire me with their vision, drive, and work ethic.

The water is actually really beautiful. This isn't my world so I don't know all of the trouble that it's causing or that it's going to cause.

Front Porch sittin' - River Front Property?  
Reflection 2:

It's raining again. Ms. Marsha and Mr. Ted are getting phone alerts about flooding in the area. Towns are being evacuated within a 15 mile radius - but that's the closest town. This is the most water some people have seen in their life. The historical records don't specify a need in over 70 years to open the gates and quite frankly, the cities and counties don't know how to because they've never been opened. Whoops... We can't go anywhere because the roads are flooded, but the ranch is a few miles away from the nearest, well, anything including Internet tower. This ability to disconnect is one of the reasons I'm so grateful for the ranch and this time with family. No internet. No cell service. In past visits, Justin and I have driven over 30 minutes to go to a library with Internet. Places like this do exist; but quite honestly, it might just be better if we could all unplug for a few hours. I'm reminded of the importance of being present with the current situation and the people whom I love.  

Big Sky Country - Beauty Follows Destruction

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

KYL/D's 29th InHale, auditions, and goings on...

Whew! When did August arrive? It's an exciting summer!

In addition to my own work - with Left Behind during's In Process residency,
"We as women shall support each other... to survive..." Photo by Ellen Rosenberg Photographer

The Dance and Creative Placemaking Workshop I facilitated though Boundaries and Bridges (the partnership between Widener University and The Artist Warehouse in Chester),
Explaining and listening during the workshop performance
and continuing to develop HomeFrontLines, 
Performance of "Bookmarked" as part of KYL/D's performance at
Philly's West Park Arts Festival
KYL/D's 29th (!) InHale Performance Series is this Friday. Check out the featured artists:

(Shout out to Jill Haley for allowing me to use her music for the video!)

KYL/D's audition-shop was in mid-July. If you missed it, check out some of the highlights:

and, NCGB had a week-long rehearsal intensive. Here are a few pics of the process:


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Moving through muddy waters

Friends and strangers surrounded me on Saturday evening.

For the second time in four weeks, I unfolded the layers of my process and practice.

I believe dance and performance are service.

I believe dance is a vehicle for non-violent, positive social change.

I believe that artists who dance can be proficient in psychical technique, performance technique, and in the techniques of embodied empathy. (I'm learning and unpacking how to talk about, execute, and coach all of these).

I believe in story-telling and story-sharing.

I believe that in movement, we develop a better understanding of our bodies. In better understanding our bodies, we better know ourselves. In better knowing ourselves, we have the capacity to sympathize, empathize, and be patient with others. In patience, we can build bridges.

I believe we all have bodies; therefore, we can all move. We experience the world through these bodies and our bodies hold our stories.

The past few weeks have demonstrated that I'm not alone in these ideas. At this moment in time, these threads are very much needed in the fabric of our society.

Where do you need to be known? Be seen? Share your story? Move? Matter?

*    *    *    *    *    *

Thank you and The Whole Shebang for the In Process residency. Thank you to the friends, family, and supporters who participated in the 90 minute private showing for "Left Behind".

Thank you Widener University and the City of Chester for hosting the Dance and Creative Placemaking Workshop in June. Thank you to the friends and strangers who comprised the audience for the Friday performance and the workshop participants who collaborated and challenged each other to use dance as a form of community building.

Thanks, to each of you for taking a risk and joining me on this journey! I'm grateful for your trust as I continue to dig into the layers and depths of my process and slowly allow the murkiness to settle into clarity and understanding.

Until the next time...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Shedding, Molting, Emerging

In May I was awarded the's summer In Process Residency at The Whole Shebang.

Photographer, artist, creative spirit, mentor, and friend Ellen Rosenberg shared space at our rehearsals. Below are some of her impressions of the process of "Left Behind", through her eyes and lens. From her album "Creative spirit of women"...

"a moment of contemplation"

"all are connected.. a hand reading our to let us know someone is always there.."

"and the wall holds us up or keeps us silent?"

"Bearing another's weight always.."

"bring all into the circle with no judgement"

"no one shall be alone"

"Trust and connection"

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Breach: Left Behind - The research gets real!

One of my fav quotes:

Last December, Lafayette College requested that I create a dance inspired by and in conjunction with Alison Saar's instillation, "Breach". Ms. Saar was inspired by the 1927 flooding of the Mississippi Riverbed; I received much of her research in the beginning stages of the project.

Reviewing the initial research from Ms. Saar's work left me questioning how I could insert myself into the storytelling process. I had never experienced a flood, but had felt left behind. While visiting Central Texas in late May, the research got (painfully) real.

If you were paying attention to the news and anything other than election coverage was playing in late May (before the shootings and trauma), you might have become aware of the flooding in Central Texas. I had the opportunity (?) to experience the amazing power and destruction of water first hand. In a sense, living my way into an answer...

Below are some images:

A water gap designed to control the flow of the water. The water decided otherwise. 

One of the town roads.
Slightly redundant... 

Heading into the river/ town road. 
That's the top of the truck in the right corner. The water was over the road and
destroyed the fencing along the side of the road. We were only able to get
through because Mr. Ted knew the roads and the landscape so well.
We didn't cross through anything unknown. 

Interstate 6 in Cisco, TX. The entire section of interstate
was swept away.

Check out the final process in September: "Breach: Left Behind"