Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Driveway moments... thank you NPR!


Author Sapphire just released a new book The Kid, a sequel to her first book. I listened because it's my practice to turn on NPR. I like stories.


Sapphire's main character, a young boy, is saved from a life of abuse and trouble by dance. When asked why Sapphire chose dance for this character, she responded so matter-of-fact-ly that this child had been abused his whole life. The most holistic and logical way for him to reconnect with his body and therefore find his voice, power, and sense of self worth was through dance. His goal of being a dancer kept him out of trouble, from hurting other people, and off the streets. She describes the power of dance in this interview in a way that makes so much sense. It's wonderful to hear my sentiments echoed by a powerful speaker and writer.

Thank you, Sapphire for understanding why we do what we do as dancers.

The Kid is the next book on my reading list.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Small Reminders can be big deals

"That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee... and the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey.... And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.... As I say, you never can tell with bees." ~A.A. Milne.

Thank you, Pooh, for your simple rationality. In this complicated world, it makes so much sense.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Perception. Reality.

I took several classes with Lisa Kraus during my graduate program. Lisa is a wonderful person and commands a very rich, lived history of post-modern dance. I love to listen to her stories about working with Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown. In one of our technique classes, Lisa asked us to draw how we saw our bodies. Honestly. I've revisited this exercise several times since that first instruction. 

This is a hard one. 

It's hard to first be very honest with our own perceptions. And then it's difficult to separate what we know our bodies supposedly look like from what we think our bodies look like. 

Here's an example. When you ask many people to put their "hands on their hips" they will put them on the most narrow part of their waist, somewhere lateral to their belly button. Others might put their hands on the bony protrusion the front of the pelvis. In honestly, neither of these is correct. The hip joint itself is very deep within the pelvis, on each side of the body.

Why does this matter? Movement follows thought. If you think that your hips - the location where your legs attach to your torso - are around your belly button, your walking movement might be a little awkward. If you try to lift your leg from this place, you will end up sinking into your lower back and causing more difficulties. However, if you place your thoughts about your hips where your femur's head attaches to the pelvis, movement will become more efficient. There's a ton of research out there, so I encourage you to check it out. I strongly suggest researching Alexander technique. 

Again, so?

In being honest with myself, it's always a process to think about what my body actually is. In my perception, I didn't have movable joints for many, many years. Because I lacked mobility, I had no awareness of my center line. My movement was/ is forced. Some teachers called this "muscling" the movement. My muscles gripped in order to move my bones. This practice was super inefficient and created more tension within my body. 

I'm finding freedom in my SI joint. These have been a source of consternation since a back injury during a performance many, many year ago that left me in a year of rehab. In finding the freedom of my legs as they attach and mobility in and around my sacrum, I am finding a new sense of control and release. (This is very necessary for Kun-Yang Lin's technique. But also very necessary for ballet. My body is becoming a more efficient mover.)

I'm also finding fear. The sacrum and the hip flexors are documented places where we hold tension and fear. This process is exciting and scary as I'm learning to let go of lived tension to gain a better sense of my body. In the release, I'm finding stability, space, and strength. 

More to come as I continue this investigation of the connection between the body and mind. This journey is aiding in my development as a technician. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

"um.. so.. what was that about?"

Doris Humphrey wrote: "For the audience, it makes very little different what a dance is about..."

Reading that makes me chuckle a little because often times I hear from very intelligent people, "So, we'll have to sit down so you can explain that to me." And tonight (at the InHale Performance Series), from a theatre director that I deeply respect, "I'd like your perspective. Personally, give me a narrative." (Delivered with the utmost respect and love for art-sharing).

So, what is modern dance about? Shrug. Sometimes, it's just about asking the question. Or sometimes, it's just about being in the space. Like a sculpture. Only it's unfolding before you.

Artists (including dance artists) do not make arbitrary decisions. Their decisions may seem arbitrary, but they are methodically planned to seem arbitrary. No, this isn't a mind game. We (artists) do not make work to make you (the audience) feel stupid and inferior. At least, not the artists and the work that I've directly come in contact with. We might think differently, but so do you.

Hear me out.

When I was much younger, a friend gave me a quote that has stayed with me: "A dream is an answer to a question you have not yet learned how to ask."

I used to wonder if that dream meant the one you have at night or the one helps map out the future. Tonight I realized that the dream could be the dance.

The crazy things that don't make sense when you wake up but they totally make sense when you're sleeping... you know exactly what I'm talking about. There's a sense of trust that your dream state won't let you down - even if you're losing in your dream. It's real. It's happening. Right now. And somewhere in your brain and in another place, you can fly and your teeth really have fallen out, and your legs don't have bones but you can support yourself in an upright position.

Tonight, I'm thinking that this is where those questions lie: In the dreams that have manifested into a reality-of-sorts that we call live performance.

So, to my narrative theater friend and my fellow audience members, I give you permission not to "get it" in this moment. Or in the next. If you need permission from a dance artist. You are not stupid, so please don't expect to feel that way or accept the feeling. Thank you for taking the first step into our dreams... the ones that exist when we sleep and the ones that we can transform to share and question and figure out with you. Ultimately, that's why we're all coming together... right?

Congratulations to all of the InHale Participants. Thank you to everyone who came out to support this strong performance!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"It takes.....................................................time." ~Martha Graham

I love this quote.

The 12th(!) InHale Performance Series opens tomorrow, Friday, July 22nd at the Chi Movement Arts Center. I've been curating and running the series since it's inception in September 2008. Our first performance was in January 2009 (yes, it did take that long to plan, organize, and produce one full evening of wonderful work).

My role included curating the performance, stage managing, lighting, marketing, follow up, and documentation. I had a lot of guidance from Ken, Executive Director of KYLD and Kun-Yang, Artistic Director of KYLD, but the three of us ran the series with one (two if we were really, really lucky) volunteer(s) on the day of the performance. We began with folding chairs and pillows, a CD player with loud speakers, a white curtain covering the mirrors, and over head lights that dimmed to provide effect. Through the work of Ken and Kun-Yang, we have a lighting system with gels and dimmers and risers to better see the performances. I now have a technical crew of seven wonderful volunteers! The performance is very intimate and informal, but has grown to become an important part of the Philadelphia community. We receive submissions from Philly, choreographers throughout New York State and New York City, Connecticut, Washington DC, and Michigan. There has been standing room only at most of our performances. We're still learning and growing, but it's taken 12 performances to get where we are right now. It takes time...

I love InHale. I get to see and experience many, many different voices, viewpoints, and genres. Today, in tech, I had the opportunity to sit back and, for the first time, not be the director. My stage manager, Becca, took care of that. Each of my volunteers stepped up to their role. I was touched at how important the work of the artists became to my young friends. The work has always been so important to me, as it was lovely to see that dedication in Becca, Ashley, Jessica, and Tom. Thank you!

I sat and reflected on the work I as it unfolded before me in tech. I do not always conceptually understand a work. That's okay. I do see and respect and understand dedication to craft.

The craft of the choreography - an artist must dedicate him or herself to developing this. It does not come easily or quickly.

The craft of technique - it takes concentrated time and effort to build an extensive relationship with one's body and his/her movement potential. It does not come easily or quickly.

The craft of commitment. This, too, I believe is a craft. Commitment takes practice. It requires failure. It demands a dusting off of one's self and getting back up. The commitment could be to a concept, a motif, to the practice of committing, itself.

Today, I am so proud of the work that the InHale artists are bringing to the audience tomorrow. I'm so proud of my young technicians and interns. I'm proud of the work that we're creating as a community. I'm deeply grateful to Ken and Kun-Yang for letting me have the time to produce InHale, for letting me fall on my face and for waiting as I got back up. I'm grateful for the patience of all of the past InHale participants and volunteers and am so excited for tomorrow's performance and for those to come.

Thank you.

Graham also wrote, "It takes ten years to make a dancer."
It takes............................................................................time.

(There are still some seats available! E-mail jessica@kunyanglin.org or call 267-687-3739 to reserve your tickets. Here's a peek of what's in store: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUTef0PSKCg )

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Doris Says..."

A new performance for the Philly Fringe Festival.
Chi Movement Arts Center, home of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
1316 S. 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA

When: September 1st and 2nd at 8pm

Who: Angela R. Sigley, Jessica C. Warchal-King, and Michael T. Roberts.

More information? Like us on Facebook!

Dance for PD!

Dance for PD was covered by the South Philly Review. Thanks so much to John and Greg for joining us for class and sharing their experiences!

Check out the article here: