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?