Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reflections long time a'comin'... (or On Trust)

Hi Friends....!

Thanks for staying tuned...

It's been an exciting few weeks... and for whom hasn't it?

Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Best wishes for Kwanzaa! Happy Solstice...

Darker days allow for longer periods of reflection because we are not consumed by active periods of light.

Some of my darker days have been spent working, artistically.

Some of my darker days have been spent brooding, emotionally.

And now, I'm taking time to reflect, publically.

What has your December Journey entailed?


In the beginning of November,  KYL/D traveled to Grand Valley State University in Michigan for a collaborative performance. We (Kun-Yang Lin and his dancers) have been working/ researching/ investigating this work since March, 2015. The journey was a collaboration between Kun-Yang Lin's creative process through KYL/D and the Grand Valley State University's New Music Ensemble's creative process through alumni composer Dan Rhode.

The Grand Valley State entourage was beyond what I could have expected! The University facilities were beautiful! The collaborators was super dedicated to the artistic process and we were welcomed as family. And the performance was comfortable and flawless, from a performers' perspective.

'Have you ever experienced unconditional trust?' a new friend asked, specifically referring to performance.

Trust in the work. Trust in the process. Trust in my body. Trust in fellow performers. Trust that everyone involved is going to do their absolute best to make the job happen. Trust in the creation of magic.

I never thought about trust as a crucial aspect of performance, in the way that she asked, but it is. Trusting that everything is going to go as it should and trusting that everyone will be able to recover if something goes wrong is as thrilling as the live performance itself. I've written before that dance and live performance is magic because it is the ultimate "in the moment" experience. There's no second shot and there's no "take two". Everyone involved, including the audience, has to be completely in the moment. There's trust in that.

Fast forward two weeks and KYL/D is performing "HOME/ S. 9th St." at FringeArts. I haven't written much about the HOME performance because I was so excited to be in the moment. The work is timely and is timeless. It's pushed me as a person and as an artist. Kun-Yang asked me to say things and become a character I didn't know and wasn't sure that I could know. But he trusted that I could do it, and he trusted the other dancers that we could bring his vision to light. His trust empowered me. He trusted that this story of trials, failure, questioning, doubt, fear, challenge, assimilation, humiliation, integration, individualization, building-rebuilding-and-rebuilding needed to be shared by us at this time. And, in bringing all of these elements and more into one performance, he/ we was/were trusting the audience to take that journey with us. And many of them did. Through HOME, I gained new insight into ideas of community building, national identity, and trust. I have so much more to continue to process from this experience, but I trust that HOME will have a long life, and I hope you have the opportunity to experience the work, yourself.

The earth continues to turn...

Happy Thanksgiving! I visited family in Texas. Again, lessons of trust revealed themselves. I rediscovered the deep comfort of family, even in times of external turmoil. Trust - as a virtue of unconditional love - was again demonstrated to me; this time, not on stage, but in acceptance in family.

(I realize I'm being a bit vague. Honestly, it's taking a lot to sit down and write. In this period of limited sun, I want to hibernate and burrow under the covers until the sun shines longer than the foggy darkness or turn on all of the lights and run around and never sleep. Neither side is winning, Every time in the past few weeks I opened up a page to write, I closed my computer. So, this post  is also an act of trust. Trust that there is purpose in continuing an imperfect process. Trust in the act of showing up. Trust in the practice.)

A few more days shortening into nights... Widener University has their Fall/ Winter Concert. My students have been working hard and we've molded the semester around the Booker T. Washington quote "There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up." This can be applied in a very real way to dance practice - in balance, in stretching, in strengthening, in weight sharing; but can also reflect how we chose to act as people. If you're reading my blog, you're familiar with my philosophy that our dancing lives and dancing bodies are no different from our every-day lives and bodies. We are interconnected. This semester, my students and the work we created particularly seemed to understand and trust this. Trust the strength they were building in technique classes. Trust the community they were building in class. Trust the challenges with which they were presented and their ability to rise to them. And trust that dance can be many different things all at the same time.

It might sound strange to "trust a work" but that surrender is an ultimate part of the creative process.  

My December Journey continues...

I began two new works of my own, with the trust of two very special dancers. This project - working title HomeFrontLines - has been stewing for about a year, but I've needed to trust myself in order to take the beginning steps. HomeFrontLines is a big project, at least in my mind, and one that I trust needs a voice. I am grateful to Melissa and Katherine with whom I have shared many ideas and elements of this journey over the past year. They've also pushed me to begin rehearsals. I finally trusted myself to do so. We've been in the studio dancing, thinking, talking, sharing, moving, and I've been doing a ton of my own research. I'm excited and terrified for the process. We'll be sharing some of the work at the annual Evening of Duets in February.

If you follow KYL/D on Facebook or Twitter, you'll be familiar with a practice called "Mindful Monday". I see it as a moment in the beginning of the week to check in with one's self through a quote that is not only reflective, but is also mindful, aware and intentional of the time at hand (socially, politically, locally, worldly...).

Here's the Mindful Monday for this week - the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016:

Photo by Bicking Photography of KYL/D's "HOME/ S. 9th St." 
Thanks for trusting me and taking the time to read my blog. Thanks for letting me trust you, as readers!

I aim to carry the wisdom of trust into the new year. What wisdom did you gain from 2015?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank you, Veterans!

Art has the power to heal.
To transform. 
To change. 
To challenge. 

Art has the power to build community and create shared experiences despite time, space, race, religion...

Thank you, Veterans, for protecting this right to make and experience art. In doing so, we are participating in one of the beautiful (and painful) ways we are human. 

"When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding 
in favour of the war effort, 
he simply replied, 
'then what are we fighting for?'" 

Thank you!

Because music is such a powerful way to connect and share experiences, I'm including a few links to some of my personal favorites to celebrate and honor our Veterans. 

In no particular order... (click on the links to see the video. There are also links to purchase the songs on ITunes).

I'm struggling with saying more... these songs and many others speak for themselves. 

Thank you for allowing us to be free and to create and challenge and question, Veterans. It is my hope and dream that we can create an American for you to be proud, of again. 

"Let America be American again..." ~Langston Hughes

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This I believe...

NPR had a series called "This I Believe..."

People would be interviewed and asked to share some of their foundational beliefs. I don't remember any one as particularly striking, but I do remember the intent of each and every individual interviewed.  They were so committed to what they were saying! These interviews were a manifesto of sorts; A call to action, both personal and social; Convictions that had been tested and shaken, but not destroyed. 

Beliefs are often tested in crisis - individual, physical, emotional, and/ or social. Early in October, a community college in Oregan was destroyed by a mass shooting. A few days later, a threat of violence was made to Philadelphia area colleges and universities. Both of these events rocked the foundational belief that education is a trusted, safe, right for each and every individual. Conceptually and ideally, this country was founded on individuality, positive social change, diversity, and the ability to create and think critically. 

In honor of NPR's tenacious dedication to reporting on not just objective facts, but to human stories, and in honor of the terror that rocked many beliefs and convictions last month, I'm putting down some of the beliefs that I hold true. 

I believe that claiming the identy of an artist is a political statement. I do not create art for commerse, but I do create art for consumption, digestion, integration, questioning and critical dialogue. As an artist, I realize that my work will not make me financially rich (and may in fact cause financial stress). As an artist, I believe that money is one of many forms of transmittable energy. The work I create also transmits energy through thought, emotional connection, creation of empathy, empowerment, and sensitivity. These energies are not tangiable, but are transmissable. I am rich in compassion, love, intelligence, and connection. I believe these energies are as strong as money; albeit, different forms of power and strength. 

I believe that we are not all created equal, but we deserve to be treated fairly. How boring our world would be if all of the trees stayed green year 'round instead of bursting into oranges and yellows and reds and browns! How boring our conversations would be if we all only thought like mathematicians! How competive our world would be if we all thought like entrepruanurs! Biologically, the world is diverse and therefore survives because of that diversity. Likewise, we as people need to accept our diversities and see them as strengths instead of weaknesses. Diversity of thought and physicality and abilitiy provide the opportunity to collaborate and to grow constructively. So often "group think" tells us different = bad, instead of looking at the possiblities to build up our communities. In that diversity, everyone has value and has the right to be treated fairly. 

I believe that our body is the way we experience the world. We see with our physical eyes, taste with the musle and nerves of our tongue, feel with our skin, smell through the capacity of our nose... I could go on, but I think you get my point. We understand how to behave and act in the world because of the experiences through our body (yes, even the mind has a physcial form). 

I believe that dance trains us to integrate the physical body, the mental body, and the emotional body. In developing a deeper relationship with our bodies, the dancer develops a stronger sense of self. The dancer has the ability to be more sensitive to another individual - physically, emotionally, and intellectually - because she has been trained to be sensitive to herself and to be also aware of the space in which she exists. 

I belive that when we have a deep relationship with ourselves, we are better able to have deep relationships with others.

I believe that dance - practice, training, and performance - is a form of non-violent, positive social change.  

To be continued, I'm sure... what is it that "This YOU believe"?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Breathing is more than respiration

Recently, I got a notice from Facebook: "Tom tagged you in a post".

I get excited and a little nervous when Facebook tells me I got tagged. (What did I do now...?)

The post:
"'Tom, you're not breathing.' - Jessica Warchal-King

I woke up today remembering this quote. Although most of the time I was in ballet class with this constant reminder, it is very important to do this outside of class. My focus on my position and my awareness to space allows me to forget the essential part of my being, my need for breath. My place in my current world and at the barre. 

So just remember, like ballet, you WILL move into the next phase, the next motion of movement. You just need to breathe through it. Find your center and lift.'"

Serendipitously, Tom posted this on a day when I needed to remember to breathe. 

I responded, reflecting both to him and myself: 
"Dearest Tom, our breath is a part of our internal support system. It connects us with our physicality, calms the mind, and also creats a connection between our internal world and our external environment. Sometimes we stop breathing as a way of protecting ourselves from fully experiencing the present moment, in all of its moment-ness. Ultimately, this just creates more internal tension. Breathe. Breathe deeply and intentionally and flow through the movement and the dance of life. (And thank you for this reminder. I also often forget to breathe.)"

The critic says, "But you're always breathing. If you stop, then you'll die."

Yes. Of course. But the way we breathe is effected/ affected by our emotional and physical state. And then the ability of the body to get oxygen further effects/ affects our emotional and physcial state. 

For example, Kun-Yang often tells me to breathe. As a young dancer trained in classical ballet and Western cultural techniques (social and movement based), I was taught to catch my breath in my chest, suck in my stomach, and to minimlaize my chest movement. Simultaneously, I was to open my sternum and project to the last rows of the theatre. Often in dancers, as it did in me, this dicotomoty of imagery creates spinal alignment complications which then creates challenges to efficiently and effecitvely executing dance movements. 

In some forms of Chinese classical dance, students have entire classes on how to incorporate their breath into movement. Kun-Yang understandings this training. I do not. 

And so I have embarked on my own journey of breath training and awareness and how the way I emotionally and physcially respond to situations is directly related to my breathing. 

Any research on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems demonstrates this. As does the fight or flight mechanism. 

I've noticed that my breath is my protection. I still my breathing as if to still my body - like an animal waiting in the tall grass for the impending danger to pass. 

The way I perceive "danger" comes in many forms and is often that - the way I am thinking of the situation. For example, when I am taking a class and the teacher does not warm up the class in a way which I feel safe and prepared to move onto more difficult combinations. I fear injury and therefore view the class as dangerous. I modify the movement, but also modify my breath because I'm frustrated because of my investment of time, physical, and financial, energy. I can fight or fly. Or, I can take a step back and learn from the experience. I participate in a different way or stand to the side and utilize some of what the instructor is saying and ignore the parts that don't work for me. As a professional, I do have a ton of physical experience both positive and negative that has prepared me to self-teach. Dancers have a responsibility to our bodies and sometimes that means critically thinking about the tasks in question and (politely, respectfully) disagreeing with the instructor. We've been trained to think on our feet and be cautious, yet fearless with our instrument. Most dance teachers are not trying to harm their students, but because dance is very physical, sometimes we get hurt. Part of our training process is understanding the needs of our body and paying attention to them - when to push and when to be patient. 

Danger is also very real outside of the dance studio. In US society today, as an educator, I need to be aware that at least 1 in 4 female students will experience sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or another form of domestic violence. The body has been violated and is therefore in constant fear of repeated danger. I have more to say on this, but this is not the post. However, it would be irresponsible of me not to recognize the physical, emotional and psychological danger that young females face. As an educator, I need to realize that young women may have a complicated relationship with their bodies that may effect the ability for them to connect through their breath and physicality. (And I realize this also occurs with young males, but my primary population is young females).  

"Danger" could be emotional. "Leave your baggage at the door" as always been a mantra of mine. And I often don't bring my personal stories into professional situations. But I've come to realize that said baggage could remain in the ways that I function in my body. And if I'm dealing with something emotional that is inhibiting my breath, it's inhibiting my breath in all situations. I can't separate my administration body from my social media body from the body that enters the studio to dance. They are all one body and the breath from one will carry to the other. If I'm true to my calling as an artist and holistic practitioner, I need to recognize that all of these bodies are interrelated and that I don't need to compartmentalize all of my experiences. Life is messy. Bodies are messy. Breathing can be really messy, but a constant and a point of grounding.   

When do you breathe or not breathe? 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

KYL/D's 26th InHale Performance Series is Friday!

It's time for another installment of KYL/D's InHale Performance Series!

Check out the artists & get your tickets:

See you at CHI MAC on Friday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Viewing violence through the lens of a dancer - a few thoughts from my busy mind

9/11 occurred early in my first year as an undergraudate student. Shortly after that, I had multiple experiences with interpersonal violence, both personal and as a mentor for other students. My adult life has existed only during war.

Likewise, the lives of many young adults now, have only existed in war. My college-age students don't remember 9/11 as I do and the friends who enlisted as a result. But they remember their parents being afraid. 

Although we've lived in a war for the past 14 years, many of us have been removed from the violence. It's that thing that happens on the news we don't watch anymore. Until it comes to our doorstep. 

And unfortunately, I'm not referencing the abundance of veterans who have come home with PTSD. That's another post. 

I'm referencing the text message on a beautiful October Sunday afternoon from the University with a warning from the FBI that threats of violence have been made to colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area, only days after a tragic mass shooting in Oregon. 

Further research uncovers that "these types of threats are made everyday" according to the FBI. This particular threat was poignant because of its proximity to the Oregon tragedy.

I receive messages from students who are rightly scared and uncomfortable coming to class. I can't blame them and in fact, I am proud that they felt so empowered so communicate this fear. They have a clear connection with their emotional and physical bodies that they were able to say "This situation is not okay and I'm going to remove myself from it." Amazing! 

But at the same time, I was angry. Did violence trump education? Did violence trump the right to creative thought? I don't understand it when it happens in other countries, but I also realize that I don't understand their cultural systems. But here? In the US? We have a right to free thought and critical analysis. We have a right to choose our belief systems and who we love. 

This country is different! (Or is it?)

I know many veterans who say something along the lines of, "I don't agree with (insert issue here), but they have that freedom. I fought for the Constitution. I fought for that freedom. I killed for that freedom. My friends died for that freedom. If you don't like it, leave the US."

But I digress...

I sent my students an article by Susan Foster on viewing protest from a dance scholar's perspective. I asked them to critically evaluate several points in her article. But I needed to think about this, myself. What does it mean to look from a dance scholar's point of view? Or just from a dancer's point of view?

(very simply...)
Laban's elements of dance include Time, Space, Energy/Effort, and Body. The Body is the medium through with the other three are executed. Time can refer to clock time (8 minutes) or to relative time (slow/fast) or to how movement is used in time (repeated, retrograded). Space is both location on stage (downstage, upstage, stage right, etc) and relation to other dancers (positive and negative space, proximity). Energy and Effort are the more complicated of terms and refer to the how of the action. A flick of the arm is different than the swipe of the arm, and a direct leg shift is different than an indirect leg movement. 

So, inadvertently, do dancers apply Laban's elements to the way we view the world? Yes. 

I reflected to my dancers that I was a more physical person because I was comfortable in my body because of my dance training. I will often provide and ask for physical contact when I meet someone - either a hug or a tight handshake. I want people to know that I acknowledge them when I see them. My hugs are world famous - no joke! Likewise, I can non-verbally communicate when I need a hug or when I sense someone else is uncomfortable. My young dancers expressed that they had a unique connection with other people but didn't necessarily relate it to their own relationship with their body. After talking through elements of Foster's article and relating it back to dance, my students began to see the connection. 

The physical protests that Foster described could be analyzed through various mediums! They could be looked at from economic perspectives (did the protest have an effect on the economy of a region and how so? why?); from a class perspective (what was the class of the protesters vs. that of the people creating the "problem"); from a racial perspective; from a gender perspective; from a religious perspective... so why do we need to look at it from a dance perspective?

I believe that we need to acknowledge not only the dance perspective, but the fact that concepts of dance can be and are applied to non-dance situations. It takes careful planning and execution to organize bodies in time and space (choreography). It takes training to prepare bodies for the ideas of the work (technique). It requires skill and practice to deal with unexpected complications (improvisation). 

In looking at social and political events from the lens of a dancer, we are more able to analyze their significance. And, we could move forward with a critical mind on how to create positive social change in terms of everyday movement.

I believe that the dance practitioner has a deeper relationship with herself and her body. Through this knowledge, she has the ability to connect with other individuals, developing empathy and understanding. By having the ability to walk (leap, chasse, prance) in another's footsteps, literally and figurative, dance is a medium for positive, non-violent, social change.  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Creating Choreography; Cultivating Community

The DeSales University XTE (student-run honors Dance club) produces a monthly "Dancer Digest", specifically for the University's Dance Majors. I was unaware, and so was my colleague and DeSales Dance Faculty, Angela Sigley Grossman, that the students who participated in (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge planned and wrote an article about the experience.

In their words, I'm including the article below:

Rivers Merge: (in)visible veins
By Samantha Burns and Sarah Duffany

"During the weekend of September 25th and 26th, the Lehigh Valley was able to experience a performance of Jessica Warchal-King's piece titled (in)visible veins. This performance took place next to the river at Scott Park, which is located near Lafayette College, in Easton, PA. This piece used the music from Bach's Cello Suite No. 6, under the musical direction of David Cullen. There were over twenty dancers from the DeSales University Dance Department who performed in this piece, along with Warchal-King and Angela Sigley Grossman. The rehearsals for (in)visible veins ran for two hour sessions over three consecutive weeks at the Brission Dance Studio and concluded with a tech rehearsal in the actual performance space. This piece was divided up into six different sections and ran approximately for twenty-six minutes. Warchal-King's main focus was to create something to facilitate community building, while recognizing the importance of things both seen and unseen.

The site specific piece allowed not only the audience to feel one with nature, but also pushed the performance to open up their eyes and appreciate both the visible and invisible parts of their world. Gina Palumbo, a senior dance major, was touched by the tranquil scene, and was constantly reminded her of the message behind Warchal-King's artistic vision. "With the presence (of the) river, the traffic, the train, our audience members, and all of God's grandeur, remaining present during the performance was absolutely vital if I wanted to properly provide [Jessica's] art to the audience." Palumbo was also very grateful for the connection to the community found in the environment in which she performed: "If I can take what I learned in this piece out into the world, I can make a small, yet important, change in the world around me."

Similarly, Lisa Marie Levy, a sophomore dancer, immediately immersed herself in the natural world around her. "While I was performing, I was noticing nature and seeing the beauty in nature," Levy stated, "I gained a better understanding of beauty in everyday life." Levy also found solace in Warchal-King's intentions of creating a community: "We, as a community, need to recognize what we have and focus on the good rather than the bad."

(in)visible veins was created to help build community while recognizing the importance of things both seen and unseen. The movement in this piece focused on external and internal rotation, a constant awareness of being connected with the other dancers, and a sense of living in each moment as if the river was continuously flowing within the performers. The location for this work also set the theme of connectedness and community since this work was performed near the river which connects the Delaware and Lehigh rivers before moving onward toward Philadelphia."

This piece was re-posted with the permission of the editor, the authors, and DeSales Faculty. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Did you see these moments from "(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge"?

There is so much power in what we choose to see and what we choose not to see.

Google "Gaze Theory" and you'll not only quickly receive over 25,700,000 results in less than a second, but you'll also be prompted to specify your search. Options include:
gaze theory in literature
gaze theory in film
gaze theory media studies
feminine gaze theory
male gaze
and a list of scholars who have studied the phenomenon on what we choose to see and how we choose to see it, in really extensive research.
(What I was surprised to see is that "gaze theory and race" was not a top option or "gaze theory and social class" or "gaze theory and the economy"... just a thought for anyone reading who is craving a Ph.D. topic.)

Anyway, Google away, but in a new tab. I'll wait. Or, just click here and see for yourself: Google gaze theory search

My inspiration from horseshoe crabs came first from a personal place of digging into the deep (seemingly belly or core) contraction when a horseshoe crab was over turned or picked up incorrectly (from the tail).
That's a contraction any modern dancer would love.. except it's not really contracting because it doesn't have abdominal muscles as we do. I view the world through the lens of dance!

A year of research led me on many journeys but also into a personal place of admitting to feeling unseen. Gaze theory and its power was first introduced to me in my undergraduate Women's Studies classes and has obviously stayed with me.

The theory resonates with me and this work. For hundreds of years, communities along the Atlantic coast viewed horseshoe crabs as pests because they're ugly. Of course, assumed thinking follows that everything ugly is obviously bad. But nothing can be further from the truth! These little pre-historic creatures have been one of the most beneficial to the development of science and medicine. They remind me that looks are deceiving and that first impressions aren't always correct. How much of "Life" do we miss because we choose to not see something or someone? Or choose to see something and immediately dismiss it/ him/ her?

Ultimately, this piece was one-part concert dance experiment, one-part community building experiment, one-part mindfulness and awareness experiment, one-part gaze theory experiment, and one part socio-ecological experiment. (I use the word "experiment" because no performance is ever really "done". It lives on in the memories and experiences of the participants and is changed by what they bring to, and leave in, the process.)

Below are some of the moments captured and seen through the lens of Chuck Zovoko. Thanks, Chuck!

Kelly introducing the performance, pic 1

pic 2

pic 3

pic 4

pic 5

pic 6

pic 7

pic 8

pic 9

Here's a game!

In the comments below, provide a caption for what you see. I've generically labeled the images "pic 1-9". What do you see? For example, post "Pic 1: beautiful lady with a mission." and so on... Label them all or just a few! I look forward to seeing what you see!

P.S. What you can't see in these pictures are the serendipitous events concurrent with the performance: cars passing by, the music from the bar across the street, the horn of the train and the rhythmic clacking of the wheels on the tracks, the people on their bikes, the river, the children laughing on the swing-set nearby... What would you choose to see?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Previewing "Rivers Merge" a few days late

The Rivers Merge Dance Festival presented by Lafayette College to celebrate the Lehigh Valley Dance Consortium received a lot of preview press that I didn't get to share because I was busy organizing costumes and working out last minute details of (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge.

Here are two articles:
From WFMZ detailing the performance and some highlights of the work (they mentioned my work with Dr. Weaver of Widener's bio department and horseshoe crabs!)
Previewing (in)visible veins and the Rivers Merge Festival: In Allentown's Morning Call

I really enjoyed talking with the author of the Morning Call article, Margie! Thanks for taking the time with me.

However, the article does contain a  mis-quote that I'd like to correct:
Migrant birds fly from South America to the Artic and stop over at the Delware Bay to feast on horseshoe crab eggs in order to fuel the second half of their journey. I was quoted as saying migrant birds flew from South Africa, in which case, they would probably have to make a few more stops than just in the Delaware Bay. It's a long trip to fly half-way around the world (and boy are my arms tired!)

Margie asked me how I would talk about the work to a non-dancer. "'I think a lot of people worry that they won't get dance,' she (me) says, 'The point of dance isn't to get it. The point of dance is to experience it like you would experience a really good piece of chocolate.'"

In our conversation, Margie agreed that there were some elements of art that couldn't be explained, but were just FELT. In her words, "on a visceral level." Yes! I often hesitate to use the word visceral because it does refer to abstract feeling states; albeit states that are very physical and real. Dance is often abstract enough without having to describe the experience of it in abstract terms. But I was so grateful that Margie was able to relate to other works of art (more specifically works of great literature) and apply that understanding of a deeply experiential feeling state to dance. The same explanation can go for an awesome sculpture, painting, poem, or music.

What are some of your favorite works of art? Could you describe why?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

World Ballet Day - today!

There's nothing quite like celebrating ballet with the rest of the dance world, if in name, only. How did you celebrate?

Online, international ballet companies broadcasted previous performances all day. The dance community social-media-sphere was full of pictures and quotes and favorite ballet memories. I was in class and rehearsal today, which is a great way to celebrate any occasion, especially World Ballet Day.

What else is exciting? On World Ballet Day, put this in your calendar:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge - FAQ's and what you need to know if you're attending

A few things you might want to know if you're coming:

1. What's going on? 
2 nights, 2 sites, 4 performances. Friday & Saturday/ September 25th & 26th. 6pm at Easton's Scott Park (Riverside) (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge choreography by me. 8pm at the Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette College - "Diverse performances, choreography by Lehigh Valley-based choreographers" to "Celebrate the rising level of dance in the Lehigh Valley and the 40th anniversary of the LVAIC Dance Consortium". 

2. How do I get there? Where do I park? What can I do if I come early?
Check out directions: here
There is on street parking at the Riverside Park in Easton, or you can park at the Williams Center. Choreographers on Campus has arranged for a bus to transport audience members from the Williams Center to Scott Park and back. 
Easton is a very lively town! Check out this link for things to do in Easton and the surrounding areas: Discover the Lehigh Valley

3. What time does the show start?
(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge starts at 6pm at Scott Park. The staged performance is at 8pm at the Williams Center for the Arts. 

4. Is there assigned seating? 
(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge is an outdoor performance and there is no assigned seating. If you have difficulty standing for more than 30 minutes, please bring a blanket to sit on or outdoor seating as if you would to a picnic or outdoor festival. 

5. How long is the performance?
(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge is approximately 26 minutes. 

6. This is really awesome! Can I take pictures or video?
(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge is a unique performance. You are welcome to take pictures and/ or video. If you post these publicly, please credit Jessica Warchal-King with the choreography and David Cullen with the music. You can also find a list of the performers in the program. Also use the hashtags #riversmergedance  #jcwk #jcwkembodimentproject. 

7. I have to pee! 
There are no restrooms at Scott Park. Please take care of any personal needs before coming to the performance. 

8. This is awesome! What's next? 
Please contact Jessica at jcwarchalking@gmail.com for updates on The Embodiment Project and future performances of (in)visible veins. Also, please come and spend the evening at the Williams Center for the Arts for more amazing dance! 

Thank you so much for your support! I look forward to seeing you!

Merging stories:veins and throughlines

The Delaware and Lehigh Rivers converge in Easton and then travel to Philly, create a barrier between NJ and Delaware in the Delaware Bay, and join the Atlantic Ocean. Easton is a small, but important stop on the journey.

The point where the rivers met in Easton was/ is sacred Native American ground. 

Presenting (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge in the Lehigh Valley is particularly poignant to me because:
1. I'm returning to a place that was highly influential in my young artistic life. 
2. It was a young artist's dream of mine to build community through dance. I have the opportunity to do that in this work. 
3. I am re-connecting with a good friend and colleague through dance. 

And this is the heart of this post. 

Angela Sigley Grossman and I first merged in grad school at Temple University. We had both completed our undergrad in the Lehigh Valley, but it was at Temple where we connected. Angela was always able to make light of any grad-school frustrations and was a genius when it came to understanding musical structures. She was fearless in attacking the challenge of pairing physical expectations with music and guided us (those in her grad school cohort) in breaking sound and movement partnerships into understandable phrases.

Angela has stood by my side many times, including at my wedding. She has been a patient, reassuring presence in my creative exploration of princesses, mousetraps and watermelons, chakras, the ocean, and now, horseshoe crabs and the interconnectedness of human relationships, society, and the environment. 

I am so grateful for her confidence in this current project. I am grateful for her continued professionalism and friendship. I am grateful that she has been a sounding board for my artistic growth. Thanks, Angela!

Here is her professional bio:
"Angela Sigley Grossman is an Assistant Professor of Dance at DeSales University. She holds an MFA degree in dance performance and choreography from Temple University and a BA degree in dance as a magna cum laude graduate of DeSales University. Angela has presented choreographic work at Temple University, St. Gregory's University, DeSales University, the American College Dance Association, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and the Baltimore Dance Invitational and has performed for various local and nationally known independent choreographers. Angela has also designed lighting for dance performances in the Philadelphia area. Previously, she has taught at Temple University and the Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts."

A brief look at our journey through photos:

"Doris Says..." a performance based upon breaking the rules in Doris Humphrey's "The Art of Making Dances"

"Doris Says..." a performance based upon breaking the rules in Doris Humphrey's "The Art of Making Dances"

"Doris Says..." a performance based upon breaking the rules in Doris Humphrey's "The Art of Making Dances"
Grad school, Faculty Concert 2008. Choreography by Lisa Kraus

Grad school. My MFA thesis microcosmic current
Mousetrap - Philly Fringe 2008

Angela's MFA thesis - The Rented World

Angela is performing with me on Friday and Saturday as part of (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge and is also presenting her own work in the staged performance on Friday and Saturday at 8pm at the Williams Center for the Arts. Tickets are free, but seating is limited, so call and reserve your tickets. More info on Rivers Merge

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge - the cast (part 2)

Over 20 students from DeSales University are diving into this process of re-staging (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge. In no particular order and in their own words, I'd like to introduce them to you (continued from part 1):

"My name is Brittany Clark and I am a sophomore dance major at DeSales University. I have been dancing since I was three. Rivers Merge is my first professional performance and I am excited about it."

"Mariette Aungst is a Dance and Communications dual major at DeSales University. She has been dancing since she was 4, and has competed and performed extensively in musicals and showcases, including Dance the World in Disney World and Beat Addikts United. Since coming to DeSales, she has participated in a dance photography workshop and has also modeled for TV/Film magazines. She is thrilled to be able to have this opportunity."

"William Brazdzionis is a freshman dance major at DeSales University. William has performed in Giants Stadium with the East Stroudsburg North High School North Color Guard, and performed in many musical performances with The Shawnee Playhouse. William wishes to continue with his dance career and become a performer and educator for future dancers."

"Cailin Sweeney is a junior dance major at DeSales University. She has choreographed for the DeSales Informal Concert and the 48 Hour Screendance Film Challenge, where she won best film for "Colder Than Your Shoulder" in 2014. She has performed in DeSales Emerging Choreographer's Concert, Informal Dance Concert, and Dance Ensemble Concert. She is currently a principle dancer for "Lehigh Valley Dancers" a local screendance company."

"Krista Capra is from Lopatcong, NJ. She is a dance major at DeSales University. She loves dance and has been dancing for 15 years. She was so thankful to have the opportunity to dance in Rivers Merge, it is such a great experience to perform. Every chance Krista can get to perform, she will take. In the future Krista dreams of moving to New York City to teach dance and audition. She also hopes to dance in Disney and on a cruise line."

"Chiedu Mbonu is a sophomore dance major. He has previously been seen in Amplify and in DSU's Screendance Festival '14. I would like to thank Jessica for allowing us to be in my first professional performance, and allowing me to be one with nature. :-)"

"Lindsey Mitchell is currently a freshman dance major at DeSales University. She previously studied at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts where she also majored in dance. She is very excited to have this opportunity and is looking forward to a professional career serving the artistic community."

"Tara Swann. I am a freshman Dance and Business Administration double major at DeSales University. I hope to own my own dance studio and use it as an outreach program. I would like to help kids with learning disabilities or families who can't afford to put their children in dance classes."

I'm grateful to be working with such a diligent group of dancers. See you this weekend at Scott Park, Easton.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge - the cast (part 1)

Over 20 students from DeSales University are diving into this process of re-staging (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge. In no particular order and in their own words, I'd like to introduce them to you:

Krysten Struk. "I am a freshman at DeSales University, I am a Dance major with a business minor. I have been dancing all my life, and wish to travel the world dancing. I do not know how I will get there so for right now I just want to live in the moment doing all that I can."

"Gina Palumbo is a senior dance major at DeSales University. She grew up in Philadelphia,but learned to appreciate the tranquility of nature when she moved to the Lehigh Valley. She is delighted to have been a part of Jessica's vision, as well as to be performing with her in such a beautiful environment."

Katie Hay. "I am a freshman at DeSales University and enrolled in the sports and exercise and dance departments. Sports and dance have been my life since I was three and I am excited to combine the two. With my degree, I want to be a physical therapist with a focus in dance therapy."

"Amy Gramling just transferred to DeSales University as a Junior Dance major. Amy grew up in the Bucks County area where she began dancing at age four. Amy has always loved to dance and hopes to continue dancing and teaching in years to come. Before coming to DeSales, Amy taught locally and was a member of EDdanceCohesion. She has performed at ETC Performance Series with work set by Rebecca Cupples and Liz Lyle. This is the first time Amy has done a site specific piece and is blessed to have such an opportunity."

"Haley Gilbert is a junior Dance Major at DeSales University. She is hoping to become a professional contemporary ballet dancer. Haley hails from Enola, Pennsylvania, but has familial ties in the Lehigh Valley. She is excited to have the opportunity to perform in such a beautiful area and be a part of Rivers Merge."

"Cora Savage is a freshmen dance major at DeSales University where she intends to initiate a future career in dance performance or choreography. Having attended the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Cora has been exposed to many different styles of dance. In her free time, she enjoys long mountain hikes, drinking coffee, spending quality time with family and friends, as well as experimenting in dance improvisation with her fellow dancer friends. Cora is very grateful for the opportunity to work with Jessica Warchal-King and experience site-specific performance for the first time."

"Sarah Duffany is a senior dance major at DeSales University. She is so grateful to have been able to be a part of the Rivers Merge Festival. Sarah plans to attend graduate school in the future for dance history/ criticism, while also teaching dance and performing professionally on the side."

"Samantha Burns is a junior dance major at DeSales University, where she has both performed in and choreographed for various concerts. Most recently, she has performed in the New Street Group's 2015 showcase in Philadelphia's FringeArts Festival, as well as presented her own work in the 2015 installment of Ten Tiny Dances at Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre."

"My name is Liza Marie Levy. I am currently a sophomore dance major at DeSales University. I have been dancing since the age of three. Throughout the years, I have been trained in many styles, which include: Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Modern, Contemporary, Hip Hop, and Gymnastics. Over the summer I interned at my dance studio. The main focus for this internship was teaching, choreographing, and learning how to adapt to different students. In the future I hope to dance professionally on Broadway or on Cruise Lines. I also would like to achieve my Master's degree and teach at the college level."

"Hello, my name is Jaclyn Yerkes and I am a freshman dance major at DeSales University! I have been dancing all my life and could not picture myself in any other career choice besides dance. After graduation I plan on continuing my love for dance in hopes to become a backup dancer, work with a contemporary company and be on Broadway; these plan are more like dreams to me. Something I also want to work towards would be opening up a studio with my sister for disabled children. It would give the children an opportunity to dance and fun at their own level and pace."

(in)visible veins: Rivers Merge in process

Sunday we were so lucky to share the tech/ dress rehearsal for (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge with the city of Easton's 2015 Riverside Festival of the Arts! Pictured below is the schedule of events that was posted throughout Riverside Park. 

When doing an outdoor performance, part of the performance practice is being aware that we're always "on stage". Very much like the traditional theatre setting, we needed to be prepared to improvise within the intention of the work, if necessary. By rehearsing outside, we had the opportunity to experience the sun in our eyes, enthusiastic passers-by, bugs, and the changing of the temperature as the evening progressed. We also needed to get accustomed to the space - not only being outside, but performing in a way that projected our energy and intention way out into the universe. Usually, in a theatre, the space is already contained. Outside, there is no limit to the space and therefore, the performers need to adjust the way we perform. 

We began our rehearsal at the Amphitheater with a beautiful view of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers merging in the background. 

As you can see, the Amphitheater has a huge audience seating space and we did have an audience for our warm up - a guided improvisation of finding internally and externally circular pathways, plies, tendues, and swings. Blake, our technician, set up speakers for us to amplify our music and Kelly, the coordinator of Choreographers on Campus and the Rivers Merge Dance Festival, was on site to help curious onlookers understand what was happening and to let them know about the Rivers Merge Dance Festival next week at Scott Park and The Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette College. 

There were local bands playing at Scott Park until 5pm, so after our initial rehearsal in the Amphitheater, we moved over to Scott Park and really dropped into the performance practice. We talked about how to negotiate where the audience might be and how to fill the space, both with our physical movement and with our energy. Again, Blake and Kelly were on site to help with the technical issues and administer information to members of the public who provided an audience for us during the rehearsal.

The lighting will be a little different on Friday and Saturday as the world continues to rotate around the sun and the seasons change, but I'm really excited for the performance! Some of the audience members said that it was a really "magical and calming" experience.

The Morning Call previewed the Arts Festival. Thanks for the shout out! Riverside Festival of the Arts

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rivers (and more) Merge in the Lehigh Valley

Angela Sigley Grossman and I have been working diligently in the studio. I'm expanding (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge to include a new community and new dancers. We'll meet again in the studio on Friday!

Until then... some of the promo materials are out:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Returning and reflecting and revisiting

The Rivers Merge Dance Festival in Easton celebrates "the rising level of dance in the Lehigh Valley and the 40th anniversary of the LVAIC Dance Consortium". I'm revisiting (in)visible veins with a new cast of dancers from the Lehigh Valley at Easton's Scott Park, September 26th and 27th. This opportunity is very exciting for me because

1. it is allowing me to reflect on all I learned from the staged performances in the Spring.
2. I have the opportunity to integrate the additional research from performance.
3. I had a dream of presenting the work outside, near the water and incorporating members from the immediate community. With this new investigation - (in)visible veins: Rivers Merge I am able to do both.

The screendance organization Lehigh Valley Dancers interviewed me about this process and about my experiences with dance in the Lehigh Valley. Check it out:

More about the Rivers Merge Dance Festival

More on Lehigh Valley Dancers

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

KYL/D's 25th InHale Performance Series

This Friday, KYL/D celebrates the 25th performance of the InHale Performance Series.

(This week, John Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show also celebrates a professional performance milestone. Congratulations, Mr. Stewart, and thank you for your gifts and guidance).

To reflect and celebrate on InHale and our humble journey, and to pay homage to Mr. Stewart, below are 25 of my own "Moments of Zen":

Part 1: Thank you.

1. "Thank you" to KYL/D's directors, Ken Metzner and Kun-Yang Lin for challenging me with the project 7 years ago!

2. "Thank you" to KYL/D's board for continuing to allow the Performance Series to happen in KYL/D's home, the CHI Movement Arts Center!

3.. "Thank you" to the artists who have presented, performed, and shared your work!

4. "Thank you" to the members of the community who have shared non-dancing aspects of artistry through photographing, sketching, promoting or writing about InHale!

5. "Thank you" to InHale's audience members for your constant enthusiasm and your feedback!

6. "Thank you" to the businesses that have supported InHale - by offering snacks to performers/ staff/ participants/ audience members or discounted drinks after the show.

7. "Thank you" to the volunteers who have done so much to stream-line the performance process - you've folded programs, laid marley, and spent hours at CHI MAC working on the technical and administrative necessities of the performance.

Part 2: Dance Builds Community

8. KYL/D's CHI MAC is a super beautiful and unique performance space. Both the indoor set up and the outdoor neighborhood allow/demand an environment of intimacy.

9. As curator, I ask all of the members of every InHale "team" - volunteers, performers, choreographers, documenting artists, members of KYL/D - to participate in a group meeting prior to the performance. This meeting not only includes logistics of the intimacy of the space, but also provides an opportunity for each member of the team to see, introduce, and (if only momentarily) get to know each other. From this group greeting, other professional and personal relationships have been formed. (Dancers get to know choreographers. Choreographers get to meet new dancers. Photographers meet choreographers and dancers...)

10. There is a sense that everyone - even if they met for the first time in the group meeting - is working together to produce a good show. Each individual involved (and there are usually 30+) is interested and invested in working toward a common goal.

11. Intimacy, physical connection through dance and space (stage space and dressing room space), and the sharing of the self through movement creates unspoken, interpersonal and intra-personal connections.

12. I have met so many amazing creators and performers through this process!

13. Not only have dancers connected with choreographers who are presenting work, but dancers and choreographers have also connected with audience members. These audience members have become new audience members for the creators, collaborators, and financial supporters of the artists!

14. Audience members have the opportunity to anonymously provide feedback. Anonymity enhances the opportunity for blatant, honest feedback. (Audience members do have the opportunity to provide additional contact information, but are also permitted to provide anonymous feedback).  

15. One audience member told me that she deeply loved the opportunity to provide feedback because she felt responsible for the work for which she was providing feedback. Through feedback, KYL/D empowers audience members to embody part of the creative process and actively participate in the performance. Feedback is not required of audience members, just strongly suggested. (And, I realize that I might be generalizing to include this as an opinions of other audience members, but I would assume it to be true.)

Part 3: Performance is Service

16. KYL/D and a small university allowed me to use InHale as fertile grounds for a "Service-Learning" project. (For those unfamiliar, "service learning" often will refer to university or college classes that students take for credit with a particular intention of serving the community. Students often learn the behind-the-scenes importance of elements such as planning, marketing and development, and relationship building so important to any relationship or professional organization. Service Learning also develops civic-minded individuals.) Student participants learned that the many aspects of live performance contain a myriad of "service" opportunities.

17. Performance serves the choreographer. Each choreographer/ artist has a voice and has something to say with that voice. The rehearsal process allows a choreographer to refine that voice and message. The performance is a platform to share that message.

18. Performance serves the dancer. Like the choreographer, each dancer has a voice and has often chosen to work with a specific choreographer because of similar values or viewpoints. The dancer is artist herself/ himself, and is also using the tool of movement to share that voice. Performance is the opportunity to shout with the voice of the body.

19. Performance serves the administrative and technical teams. We learn so much from every interaction. A performance like KYL/D's InHale Performance Series provides administrative and technical staff the opportunity to work with a variety of personalities. This develops interpersonal and intra-personal tools for the immediate and future collaborative work.

20. Performance serves the audience. The audience is served by the opportunity to experience multiple voices. In critiques of live performance and screen (and on NPR stories) I have heard "I don't see anyone who looks like me." Personally, I've felt this too. BUT InHale has invested in a wide variety of aesthetic choices. KYL/D's InHale provides a safe space for diverse thought, art-creation, and performance. How am I defining "diverse"? Pieces have been: Homo-erotic. Hetero-erotic. Gendered. Genre-specific with the catalog of "dance". Un-genre-specific within the catalog of "performance art". Political. A-political. Historical. Dance-for-dance. Movement-for-movement. Personal. Educational. Social-political.   ....... As an audience member, you might be challenged by something with which you disagree, informed by a new idea, and supported in your own aesthetics all in the same evening. How exciting!

21. Admission to KYL/D's InHale Performance Series costs less than that to a movie. (There's no excuse for not coming!)

22. Performance as witness. Witness to dance. Witness to the moving body as a form of expression. Witness to kinesthetic empathy.

23. There are other ways through which performance is service, but I'm still trying to find the right language for these. I feel them. I experience them. But I need to verbally articulate them. Stay tuned....

Part 4: Movement is eternal

24. KYL/D's InHale provides a very real, tangible, and reliable place for live movement performance. More specially, in the Philadelphia area. The persistence of KYL/D's InHale and the persistence of the Dance Community (in Philly and beyond) to continually ask KYL/D for the next InHale application dates is reflective that dance as a form of expression will never die. Large funders might fail. Economic disadvantage of artists might continue. Physical challenges of space and time will emerge. But the communication and connection through movement will prevail.

25. Movement is life. Movement is the flow of blood. Cellular creation. Cognitive development. Relationship building. InHale is the initiation of the movement...

I look forward to the continued process.

Check out the artists participating in KYL/D's 25th InHale Performance Series:

Get your tickets: InHale Tickets 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

National Dance Day 2015

Every day should be National Dance Day. For me, it is!

National Dance Day is July 25th and was officially named by the Dizzy Feet Foundation.

"Dizzy Feet Foundation was founded in 2009 by producer Nigel Lythgoe and director Adam Shankman, among others, to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the United States" ~from the Dizzy Feet Foundation website

Across the country, dance communities celebrate this day with performances, classes, and dance-related excitement.

This post is a day late because I was performing in the 3rd Annual Come Together Dance Festival, presented by the Koresh Dance Company.

This year, I had the honor of performing with Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers. I love Come Together because:
1. Dancers in the Philly area are so busy! We are often rehearsing and performing with our own projects and don't get to see the work of other artists! (Not to mention that we can't always afford tickets).
2. Time to share! Share each others' work! Share ideas and conversation between call and the performance! Share thoughts and feedback during the performance! Share new friends, dancers and choreographers!
3. Community! or ComeUnity! Come Together featured break dancers, modern dancers, ballet dancers, tap dancers, and traditional Indian dancers. There were dances in bear feet, socks, ballet flats, pointe shoes, tap shoes, and sneakers. Dances with unique and beautiful costumes (extravagant and minimal), lighting, and props. Dancers of every shape, size, color, background, and makeup. And the backstage area where everyone is waiting to perform is full of support! The hallway fills with applause as the last performing group enters from off stage and shouts of "Merde!" to the company heading on stage.
4. The Suzanne Roberts Theatre is beautiful! The stage is a nice floor on which to dance, the audience is a great size, the lighting and production capacities are beautiful! And Koresh always has a sweet team of professionals working the technical end and capturing the moments of the performance.
5. I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a professional dancer. This is a challenging vocation, but I am grateful to know that so many others share my drive, dream, and passion. (And challenges and shortcomings). Each of us, in our own way, figures out how to make that dream survive.
6. Dance brings people together. All of the performances had full audiences! Not only did we get to share with other artists, backstage, but with a full house (over 400 people) every night. Dance is powerful and transformative. It creates joy.

Koresh needs some help to make sure that Come Together is complete - even after the final performers take their bows. Their Indiegogo campaign is open for a few more days. Please help keep Dance in Philly alive: Come Together Indiegogo Campaign

KYL/D performing at Koresh's Come Together. Photo by Bicking Photography
(I'm in the green socks).

Thank you! Thank you, Koresh! Thank you, KYL/D! Thank you Bicking Photography! Thank you dance artists! Thank you to all of the audience members and supporters! It was an honor to share the stage with you and perform for you!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Protected - more questions

For the Dance Journal, Gregory King wrote, "Athletic and nuanced in its presentation, The Protected revealed King in positions of defiance and strength when she stood in an open stance with her chest listed and arms raised above her head and bent at the elbows. She was unapologetic in her demeanor as she overpowered the space with her deliberate musculature. King danced fearlessly..."

Read the whole review here: Artists at Home

A "performance" is like a "publication". What is shown (through the stage or through text) is fully developed, thought out, and researched. But the action of "putting it out there" (read: the work for performance and/or publication) also proves to be influential in the choreographer's/ author's research.

Because the creative process is organic, it's never "really" finished.
~Should the work be left to gestate, it might produce different results.
~Should the audience experience the work at a different time or place, he/she/they might have different interpretations of the work, based upon his/her/their lived experiences and what they bring to the work.
~What would happen if the creator could re-visit the work:
       ~ with his/her new lived and researched experiences?
        ~ with feedback from other professionals in the field?
         ~ with feedback from audiences who are not experienced in the field?

How do lived experiences change with time? How do the memories of lived experiences change with time?

A moment from "The Protected" caught by Bill Hebert. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dance "Hacks" - Part 2

Thanks so much to everyone who read and responded to my article and question about dance "hacks"!

Here's the article: Dance Advantage - Dance Hacks for Performance and Summer Training

And here are some of my fav responses from people, personally and virtually:


"The night before a show, I rub my feet in Icy-Hot - mainly the arches so they're warm."

"I always have a theraband, make up remover wipes (for sweat in addition to make up), deodorant, and a mini first aid kit. And of course water and extra socks!"

"And two tennis balls placed in a sock for my tight calves and upper traps. I even take this on long airplane flights to massage my back while I'm sitting. A granola bar too!"

"Extra warm-ups! A sweater, leg warmers, and/or socks/ slippers."

"A journal and a pen. I have a digital device, but I also really like the ability to write things down. There's a different connection in my brain when I write with a pen as opposed to when I type."

What are some things that you carry with you?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dance "Hacks" and Necessary Dance Bag Items - Post 1

Warning: This is the first of a series of posts.

I am lucky to perform different projects on a regular basis. I learn so much from performance.

From the performance itself:
What is the work communicating to an audience? What am I communicating to an audience?
What is the work saying to me, in real time?
How do I negotiate real-time, unexpected challenges? (A lighting error, the music goes out, another dancer makes an unexpected choice?)

From the preparation for performance:
What do I need to be ready for the performance, physically, emotionally, and psychologically?
To that end, I have shared these dance "hacks":
Dance Hacks for Performance and Summer Training

Hack: A clever solution to a tricky problem - according to urbandictionary.com.

What are your dance (or life) "hacks"?

Monday, June 22, 2015

A body discovering ballet, balance, and breath

I am fortunate to be able to perform both of my dance loves - I am a member of an internationally recognized Modern Dance company and a nationally active Contemporary Ballet Company. I perform en pointe and I have callaouses on the soles of my feet from years of dancing barefoot.

I love being a part of the diverse and long traditions of both Ballet and Modern Dance. 

But, I have more questions as I'm growing. 

As a dancer, I try to build a bridge between the techniques to add a deeper layer to my dancing and my own kinestetic understanding. As an educator and choreographer, I try to bring my investigations into the studio and stage space. 

I'm excited to spend some time this week exploring the convergence points of Classical Ballet Vocabulary and Modern Dance's Release Technique. Join me on Wednesday and Thursday at KYL/D's CHI Movement Arts Center in South Philly. I'm teaching two days of "Single Scoops" where we'll play with movement and classical concepts of Body, Time, Space, and Energy. 

Two of my research questions include:
How can the weight of release deepen the breath of ballet vocabulary? Can the shapes and lines of ballet be achieved through an organic sequencing of the body found through Release Technique?  

Pre-register online: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1626806

See you in the studio! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Fathers' Day! Happy Summer Solstice!

Whatever form your family takes, Happy Fathers' Day!

Today, Fathers' Day is shared with the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. 

The word, Solstice, itself, refers not only to the points where the sun is its greatest distance from the earth's equator, but also to a turning point or a culminating point.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the days will begin to get shorter, but the "dog days of summer" are just beginning.

I'm not sure of the micro/macro cosmic significance that the Solstice and Fathers' Day coincide this year. But perhaps it is just a reminder to balance the masculine and feminine energies as they circulate in this turbulent world. Perhaps it is a reminder that with every hour of light, there is an equal hour of darkness and those hours play out within the span of a year.

 Time and space. 

Likewise, with every hour of darkness, there is an hour of light. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

World Oceans Day

June 8th is World Oceans Day. A day dedicated by the UN to reflecting on and recognizing the importance of the great bodies of water that comprise most of our planet. 

I'm grateful to have spent so much of the past year investigating horseshoe crabs and the giant impact these small creature have on not only the ecosystem, but also human healthcare.

Through movement practices I developed from watching the horseshoe crabs, I developed and translated a vocabulary for working technically, metaphorically and with imagery. I focused heavily on the way the body can give into the space, through the expansion and trust of one's own kinesphere. 

Below is a short video of my inspiration - the horseshoe crab is tossed among the waves, but is protected by its circular shell. As a dancer, I take solstice that my own kinesthetic knowledge will keep me safe and allow me to take deep movement risks - in the overcurves and undercurves of movement pathways, and  in the ever swirling journey of life. 

How will you celebrate the oceans today?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Who will you remember?

For many Americans, "Memorial Day" means:
1. The beginning of summer
2. A day off
3. Sales!
4. Bar-b-ques and picnics
5. Parades

For many Americans, "Memorial Day" is every day. 

Everyday is remembering friends and family oversees. 
Everyday is remembering friends and family that never returned. 
Everyday is remembering friends and family that returned, with the stain of war. 
Everyday is remembering the struggle that those who served faced - from our government, from employers, from heath care professionals, from us who don't know or understand what they endured...
Everyday is remembering the struggle that those who love and support those who serve face. How do we help those who protected us and protect them from the challenges they face from government? From bad employers who don't understand or aren't willing to work with the challenges of their service? From health care professionals who won't or don't accept insurance for their injuries and are too costly for the veterans (who often struggle with "normal jobs") to provide on their own?

What are you/we really doing on this Memorial Day? What can we do?

As an artist, I create.

What will you do to support our military? 
What will you do to support those who support the people in their families who are in themitary?
What will you do today to remember? 
Who will you remember?