Monday, August 20, 2018

Dancing with Parkinsons

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

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


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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"It takes courage..."

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

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

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

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

As in dance, as in life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It takes courage to dance.

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




Sunday, August 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

And so... we're dancing!

Here are a few questions you might be asking:

What is Contemporary Dance?

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Friday, June 22, 2018

SoLow Fest tomorrow

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

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

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



"Stained Glass" photo by Mike Hurwitz

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Not my "Mom Dance"

KYL/D's InHale/ ExHale Performance Series is this weekend.

I'm showing a new solo.

When he found out, a colleague asked with a smile, "is this your 'mom dance'?"

No, I grimace. I don't know what that is. I don't know what This Is. But I need to get back (to dancing, performing, creating, and developing my voice) and This Is what's coming out. 

I grimace because inside of This Work, I feel matter-of-fact. I don't feel the bliss and the joy and the ethereal beauty that instagram and most marketing-to-mom's-companies suggest motherhood could be.
I feel contrasts.
I feel edges that smooth out (with a curve of my son's spine into my body or the acknowledgement from a friend that I'm not an awful person because I just can't... do. anything.)
I feel exhaustion but explosive power.
I feel empty but solid.
Lost, but grounded.
A constant tightness in my chest but a flexibility that can only come with letting go.

This new work feels like I'm picking up the broken pieces - the pieces that shattered, shifted, fell off, ripped, and were lost during the past two years - of my pregnancy and the first year of my son's life. I had so much fear during my pregnancy. I have so much fear of what will come. for him.

But there's a strength in being able to feed my child. To be his place of security when he's faced with a new challenge. To set aside the bull sh!t, drama, and unnecessary noise we're confronted with everyday and say, "I don't have time for that..."


To quote an old poem... 
"Quiet down cobwebs
Dust go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby
And babies don't keep"
~Song for a Fifth Child by Ruth Hamilton


This new work feels like I'm keeping the pieces that have survived and building a new mosaic of myself that's more me than the person I knew before.

Woman. Girl. Mother. Wife. Dancer. Educator. Advocate. Friend. Daughter. Seeker. Questioner. Believer. Dreamer. Doer. Empower-er. Body. Hugger. Hold-er...

Digression - in my church growing up, there were mis-matched, asymmetrical pieces of stained glass that were put together to form huge windows in the image of the four writers of the New Testament Gospels. I thought they were hideous.
But now, I'm wondering if the artist wasn't making a statement about humanness and spirituality and beauty in that ugliness.
 -- There could be beauty in broken pieces. There could be a great strength - a gift, even - in asymmetrical architecture that models a transparency that refracts, redirects, and enhances light.

This new work is called "Stained Glass".

So, maybe this is my "Mom Dance."

Happy Mothers' Day.



Friday, April 20, 2018

Dancing Dreams

I've chosen to teach at liberal arts universities because I deeply believe in developing the whole person. Dance (and all of the arts) are avenues through which the whole person can express him/her/themselves through creative thinking, outside-of-the-box problem solving, social development, and hands-on engagement.

In classes, I challenge my students to address their "dancing dreams". These might be remembering and growing in specific points of feedback, technical challenges, and artistic expression, or addressing elements of trust and confidence in performance.

My students at Widener had their final dress rehearsal with the Chamber Music performers on Wednesday. They'll perform Sunday afternoon. I asked them to share a dream for themselves and their class.

I didn't expect them to turn the tables on me and ask me what my dancing dreams are for them. But, as good students often do, they repeated my words back to me.

So...

Dear Dancers,

Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for now challenging me as I've challenged you. I have many dreams for you... here are a few, for your performance on Sunday and the many times you'll need to turn to your performance skills in your future:

Trust your training. In class, we practice improvisation. We practice contemporary dance technique to prepare your body for the demands of choreography. We practice seeing and listening to our environment and the people in our space. We practice using the whole kinesphere, the under curve and the over curve, so as to create a fluidity in motion and awareness of injury prevention in real time. We practice performing for each other. We practice vulnerability. We practice creating a safe space for newcomers as well as old friends. We practice non-judgement. We've spent many weeks and many classes embodying these concepts. Trust your training.

Made a choice. You'll learn soon enough how that works out, but commit to a choice, first. Take the fall and roll. Forget the movement and remain still. Do a different step and go with it. If you trust your training when you make this choice, you'll learn from the moment. Remember, you're sharing a visual art and all of your choices are being displayed in real time, so make a choice and reflect later on the success of your decision. You'll learn a lot from being confident in your decision making. Be bold.

Commit to the moment. Art reflects life. As in life, as in dance. Commit to the moment of your performance. Be bold in your movement. Be bold in your trust. Be bold in your decision making. Be bold in your vulnerability. Be bold in your story telling. Be bold in the way that your impact can have a ripple effect. Commit to yourself and commit to the moment of THIS DANCE.

Take care of your audience. See them. With your presence, let them know that you see them as much as they see you. Own your responsibility to their expectations. Your audience is coming to watch you share a story. They're coming to have an experience through your physical, artistic expression. Honor them and their trust in you.

Trust each other. Your dance colleagues are trusting you to know your role in this story and you're trusting them to tell theirs. Provide your friends with the respect you expect from them. Through the process - the joys and frustrations, the sharing of vulnerabilities and strength, the fear and the conquests - you've already been there for each other. Trust each other, now.

Listen to each other. Whether you realize it or not, this has been part of your training. Enhance your awareness onstage.

Meet this, and any -every- challenge, with 100% of you. As a dancer, you know the thrill of dancing. Share that. You know the thrill of performing. (Even if you're presenting at a conference or at interview, or teaching, or in your professional practice and in your specific "business attire",  that is a type of dance performance.) Through your performance and in-class practice, you know how to make someone else feel like they're being acknowledged. Do that. You understand what it feels like to be "in" your body, and what it feels like to be "out" of your body; and you know both when you see it in someone else. Acknowledge that. You know the feeling of vulnerability and the feeling of strength. Use this personal knowledge as an asset to your community - your audience, your peers, or your professional clients.

Enjoy the dance. You've reflected after every class that you're more confident, less stressed, and happier than when you walked in. Dance is powerful - and you have the power to share those experiences with your audience. So, do that and enjoy the power of dance.

And yes, lengthen through your limbs. Project up and out. Dance "full out". Don't look down.

Shine... but know that the light you share through these performances come from deep within you. I've seen it and I know it.

Merde.




Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Winter Solstice full of Wonder

It's been a while since I've been able to sit down with this blog.

(But I've been writing! Check out my reflections on Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers' Faith Project blog!)

Happy Winter Solstice.
Photo of the 2017 Eclipse by Paul Fejko

How are you? What have been some of your sources of light in 2017?

On this, the shortest day of the year, I'd like to carve out some time to share some of mine...

Tristan Wayland King burst into our world in early June. He's a beacon of joy! In the past few months, he's prompted me to reflect and revisit how and why I'm a dance artist. I've needed to honor my body and my recovery from pregnancy and birth, which has limited my ability to move, to create, and to perform in the capacity that I had. But, this new awareness has taught me to be more empathetic, understanding, and clear with my choreography, my teaching, and my writing.

Tristan encourages me to create the type of world in which I want him to grow, so I've invested in:

CLARITY. The Embodiment Project, LLC is adopting the name JCWK Dance Lab. The letters are my initials, but they also just happen to be the first letters of a lot of words that describe who I am and what I do:
Am I missing any?

CHOREOGRAPHY. Over the summer, JCWK Dance Lab performed in NYC and Philly. Jennifer Yackel, Grace Stern, and Laura Baehr performed One foot in this wonder place, one testing new ground that feels more like home at 8 in Show presented by Dixon Place. The piece was inspired, in part, by Michael Lancaster's poetry, Ellen Rosenberg's Photography, the salt marshes of NJ, and Paul Fejko's music. Keila Perez-Vega and Brian Cordova performed Cloudshapes and Daydreams in NYC at the Moving Beauty Series and in Philly at Koresh Dance Company's Come Together Festival. I created the work from a challenge by Rob Smith of Carrington Kay. I LOVE their music and often use it in my classes. (If you've danced with me, you've heard Wonderful World, Dear Friend, and Ocean Breeze - go ahead. Jump up and dance. I'll wait...) 


Dancing with Alvernia's
Seniors' College.
Pic by Rachel Boscov
Photography
CLASSES. Tower Health (Formerly Reading Health Systems) invited me to teach dance classes for people with Parkinson's and other movement challenges. We'll be continuing these classes through January. I'll also be sharing dance with the folks at Alvernia University's Senior College in February.

COMMUNITY. New and exciting projects that connect professional dancers, community members, and students are on the horizon - including NACHMO 2018! NACHMO Chester last year was a huge success and I'm looking forward to 2018. The National Brain-Trust-Team has been hard at work getting ready for the new year. Want to participate? Register at NACHMO.org. Let me know if you want to help out locally.


Pics of One foot... by Peter Yesley
If you're interested in creating connections through dance and supporting these and the future work of JCWK Dance Lab, please consider making a tax-deductible donation through my Fiscal Sponsor, Fractured Atlas. 

Thanks for taking some time with me today!

What new adventures have filled your journey this year? Let me know. I look forward to continuing this creative conversation!