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