Monday, September 26, 2016

Reflections, Thank You, & One More Time!

It's been a week since "Breach: Left Behind" with Alison Saar at Lafayette College. The experience was incredible; thank you to everyone who participated in the event, the process, and the journey!

We're showing "Breach: Left Behind" again on Saturday, October 1st at 11am, again, in the Grossman Gallery at Lafayette College as part of an arts celebration in Easton, PA.

"A tear, destruction, and ending, and then healing..
Once again, I have been privileged to photograph the final presentation and collaboration between beautiful dancers and visual artist. Photographing this group led by Jessica Warchalk-King (choreographer) from the initial gathering of creating thought to the finale on Sunday Sept 18th was one of the most amazing experiences I have every encountered in my artist career. These photographs represent the final performance within an art gallery where a visual artist Alison Saar had created her own works of art, representative of the catastrophe and the impact on African Americans living along the Mississippi Delta. The emotional impact for me as a photographer is representative within these last photographs, diluted of any color, merely showing the raw impact of this collaboration. Grateful to all of the dancers, but especially to Jessica Warchalk-King, who gave me this rare opportunity... and most beautiful gift to my soul..." ~Ellen Rosenberg

More reflections and pics from the journey to come!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Breach: Left Behind - The Team Part 2

Eight dancers (seven plus me) will take the space/stage on Sunday. Get to know them!

Here are the performers, in alphabetical order:

Laura Baehr is a movement artist, teacher, and researcher. She earned her dual degree in Dance and Neuroscience from Muhlenberg College and joined the Philadelphia dance community in 2012. Laura's performance experience includes concert dance, mask work and dance theater. She is a contributing artist to The Embodiment Project and a member of Femme. Collective of Philadelphia. In addition to performance and choreography, Laura is a Pilates instructor, Dance for Parkinson Disease teacher, and currently pursuing her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Temple University. She is so grateful to take part in Breach: Left Behind.

Photo by Bicking Photography
Katherine Kiefer Stark is a Philadelphia-based dance artist, teacher, and the artistic director of The Naked Stark.  Katherine received her M.F.A. in choreography from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and her B.A. in dance from Connecticut College. Katherine’s movement practice is founded on release-based movement techniques, which appreciate and make space for the uniqueness of each mover’s body, emphasize understanding initiations and pathways and are practiced through discovering how one’s own body moves within the movement.  She strives to build complex dance works that take apart, redefine, and consider everyday experiences of people, ideas and social phenomenon. Her work has been presented in New York, North Carolina, West Virginia, and New Hampshire as well as produced by a variety of presenters in Philadelphia including FringeArts, Mascher Space Cooperative, and First Person Arts.  Katherine received a 2012 Rocky Award, a peer-to-peer award for outstanding achievement in the greater Philadelphia dance community, for her work Looking for Judy. Since moving to Philadelphia in 2010, Katherine has performed with Eleanor Goudie-Averill, Colleen Hooper, and Jessica Warchal-King among others as well as collaborating with Loren Groenendaal and Marion Ramirez. Katherine has taught as a guest artist at Muhlenberg, University of Texas, El Paso, and Enloe High School, and as adjunct faculty at Bryn Mawr College.  She is also an Artist in-Residence at Mascher Space Cooperative where she rehearses and offers a drop-in class for the Philly dance community.

Photo by Charles Stonewall
Margaret Page has a Master's degree in Expressive Therapy and is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Psychology Associates of Bethlehem in Easton. For the past 13 years, she has worked with various populations providing group, individual, and family counseling using creative arts, dance therapy, and verbal therapy.  Margaret feels dance is healing, helps create community and is a way to tell stories. She grew up dancing and performing with the Tennessee Children's Dance Ensemble. She is honored to work with Jessica on this project.

Kelly Prentice, dancer, writer, yogini and mother, has danced with the Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, DeSales University Dance Ensemble, DanceGing and Margo Clifford Ging, and most recently with the Easton Dance Collective, an emerging group of Easton dancers who debuted Carrie Rohman's work Night of Summer Stars at Alvin Ailey Dance Center. Kelly is a registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa flow, prenatal yoga and yoga for dancers. She recently launched a corporate yoga and meditation project called Bija Initiative. Kelly is also coordinator for Lafayette College’s Choreographers on Campus program.

Carrie Rohman is Associate Professor of English at Lafayette College and former faculty at Contemporary Dance Theater in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught modern technique and worked as an independent choreographer.  She is a scholar and teacher of literature, animal studies, and dance/performance studies, and is affiliated with Sakshi Productions.  Most recently, she created a sound and movement performance piece about the extinct passenger pigeon with Michael Pestel (2014), premiered “No Taking That Back,” inspired by the work of colleague and celebrated poet, Lee Upton (2015), and performed “To Know the Difference” at Ten Tiny Dances, Bethlehem ArtsQuest (2015).

Nandini Sikand is a dancer, filmmaker and anthropologist. She is the co-founder and co-director of
Plate 3 Photography courtesy of Birds on a Wire Dance Theatre
Sakshi Productions, a neo-classical and contemporary dance company She has performed at many notable venues, including Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Danny Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Pace University, John Jay College and The Graduate Center, CUNY in New York. She is also the Associate Director/Choreographer of Harmattan Theater, a performance group committed to an environmentally and socially-engaged theater. Nandini Sikand is an Assistant Professor of an interdisciplinary film and media studies program at Lafayette College, PA.

Jennifer D. Yackel is a Philly-based dance artist whose career has taken her from ballet companies
Photo by Ellen Rosenberg
such as the Richmond Ballet and the Ballet Theater of Maryland, to contemporary companies such as Jeanne Ruddy Dance and the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company.  In addition to her company work, Jennifer has enjoyed projects with Mark Dendy, Adam Weinert, Bowen McCauley Dance, Chisena Danza, Lior Shneior, Invisible River, Victoria Hutchinson, Stone Depot Dance, and The Naked Stark.  She has performed in notable venues such as The Kimmel Center, Jacob’s Pillow, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, and the Lincoln Center Plaza.  

Jennifer is currently part of the NADINE Project, a choreographic collective under the direction of Janet Soares and Libby Nye.  Her choreography has been presented in festivals and venues in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. As an educator, Jennifer has taught master classes at the American College Dance Association Festival and Salisbury University.  She is currently a teaching artist for the Rock School for Dance Education.

(New for this week - the server is doing weird things with text, particularly for the folks involved in Breach: Left Behind. Thanks for reading and your understanding!)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never forget... never remember? Or just lift your lamp? FEAR

I've spent my life in war.

My childhood was defined by the Gulf War. I remember a classmate's father coming to speak to my elementary school class. He told us that his water was poisoned with oil. My childhood mind couldn't understand that anyone had unclean water; didn't have the same access to basic water like I did; or that anyone could so deliberately hurt another person. There was a Q&A after his talk, and then a few moments when those of us who had questions, but didn't get to ask them publicly, could talk with him. I think I was nine. "Why would they put oil in your water?", I asked so confused. The man looked at me with gentle eyes and shrugged. "They were just being mean."

His answer confused me then and it still confuses me now.

Why are people mean?

Anger. Jealously. Inequality. Fear.

Fear. False Evidence Appearing Real. F.E.A.R.

15 years ago, we fumbled for the contact of strangers. We cried. Holding each other and feeling tears meant we were still alive and present.

15 years later, we cut glances in our communities and brace for impact. We question gestures of kindness as manipulation and condemn authenticity as weakness.

We live in a violent culture and I question how much of 9/11 has impacted the ideas of war-culture that continue to exist in our society.

A recent NPR story examined how gun language is part of our cultural language. At work or home, when was the last time you were "under the gun" or needed to "pull the trigger" on a project? Were you "locked and loaded" for a presentation or did you "take a shot" at a new idea? Was your "eye on the target" or did you "post-mortem" after your last project? Violent culture is a part of our language culture, but, like my nine-year-old-self, we don't realize that we could be "just being mean."

(I'm pausing as I write).

Several weeks ago I was asked to lead a movement workshop designed to facilitate community building among multiple populations, all at the same time. Age, gender, race, socio-economic, and geographic identity were a few of ways this population differentiated and identified. At the end of the workshop, most of the participants admitted they felt awkward and confused but that I was able to lead them to a place where they understood their awkwardness and confusion were a part of the process of seeing other people, stepping out of their own comfort zone, and recognizing different views and ways of being. The participants reported feeling uncomfortable participating in the movement experience, but were comforted by the fact that other people were also participating. Unlike other social experiments, I don't think this was an example of "group think" but a way that individuals can let go of personal boundaries in order to connect with their communities.

And when we connect, we can build on the gifts of individuals to develop a comprehensive whole.

Today, 15 years after 9/11/01, I remember strangers holding me because I was young and scared. I remember individuals putting themselves aside to let me know that I was not forgotten, in those moments/ days/ weeks of terror. I remember the importance to be - present in the remembering, the listening, and the action of what seemed to be positive social change.

Perhaps we as a country didn't do the best in banding together after 9/11/01, but I believe that we still have the power to remember that we're all connected in some way and that makes us a community... together...

"Give me your tired, your poor...

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hang
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tos"s to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

May we all find our own way to lift our lamp... 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Breach: Left Behind - The Team, Part 1

Meet the team of Breach: Left Behind! Without their dedication to this process and their energy, the show next week wouldn't be possible.

Up first, the folks you might not see on the stage:

Musician and composer, Paul Fejko:
Provocative, Challenging and Iconoclastic, Paul Fejko has always been quite fond of extremes. He can often be found treading on the boundaries of accepted limits and traditions. Art is exploration and provocation; improvisation is a wonderful vehicle for both. He is often chastised for mixing improvisation into repertoire ('taking too many liberties'), but it seems a one way comment; never has there been a charge leveled against the reverse - adding repertoire to improvisation.

Fej finds the pipe organ to be his favorite solo instrument. It can muster more power and subtlety than an entire orchestra while having a responsiveness impossible from a large group of people. He is constantly challenging (often to the point of annoyance!) people to shed their preconceived notions of the organ as merely an instrument of religion, and to realize that in the first half of this century almost every movie house and many concert halls had organs. A good pipe organ is a virtuoso instrument of vast capabilities!

Fej divides his time among many endeavors, most notably with theater and dance as a composer and conductor, but also as a concert organist and pianist.   To this one must add his work as a sound and lighting designer, photographer (the covers of three of his ARKAY releases - Incantation, Tyme's Escape and OUTBURST!), audio systems designer, auto mechanic and sometime sculptor (witness the cover of ‘On Making the Flowers Dance’ - designed by Fejko with flowers by Gretchen Ernest.

As of this time, he has recorded 13 CDs of large European and American organs, covering a wide range of existing repertoire and his own improvisations.

He has been the long-time musician at historic Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church in Philadelphia, PA and is a musician with the Dance and Theatre departments at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. In 2003 he founded and is now the Artistic Director of 'The Chester Performing Arts Project', a foundation dedicated to bringing world class performing arts to the formerly depressed industrial city of Chester, PA. His André Café Acoustique in Chester is becoming well known in the region.

Fej is a product of The Curtis Institute of Music (class of '75) where he studied with Alexander McCurdy, Rudolf Serkin and Max Rudolf. His first taste of opera came at Curtis from Dino Yannapoulos - a long-time stage director at the Met in NY.

In 1987, Dino commissioned an opera from Fejko - Matteo Falcone - for the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia where Dino was Artistic Director at the time. A review of Matteo can be found on the Press/Reviews page at this site.

After Curtis, he connected with renowned dance scholar and pedagogist Nadia Chilkovsky and became music director at her Philadelphia Dance Academy - a source of many well-known dancers from the 50's through the mid 70's. During this time, he spent summers at the famed Marlboro Music Festival. In 1980 he headed east to become a musician with Maurice Béjart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century in Brussels, Belgium. From there he headed south to become Music Director of The Ballet of Lyon in France. During much of the 80's his time was passed between these two positions, but not without many forays into Italy and Germany for work with other smaller theater and dance groups. There were also many various and sundry organ and piano concerts! Because of this he is now able to converse in five languages.

Fej has won first prizes for improvisation in Lyon (1981) and San Anselmo, CA (1990). At their Atlanta convention in 1992, the American Guild of Organists awarded him a second prize.

Ellen S Rosenberg is a free-lance photographer living primarily in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania area. She spends about 3 months a year in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ellen earned her BS degree in Exercise Physiology, followed by an entry level master’s degree in Occupational therapy from Temple University School of Allied Health. She has been juried into the National Association of Woman Artists. Her work has been shown in over 100 juried international art shows, as well as invitational and solo exhibitions. Although originally a film photographer, developing and printing her own work in her studio, Ellen has transitioned to digital photography, continuing to print her own work on archival paper, maintaining a personal creative vision that she initiated years ago while shooting in film. Photography is art, and can be viewed in that way. Ellen excels in a range of genre - from musicians, landscape, abstract, body builders, drag queens, and her latest passion, dance. Her studies in various body’s of work are ongoing, recognizing that each moment, there is a shift in how one may view the dancer, the musician, the landscape, forever changing, never the same. She seeks to reveal an emotional connection in her work, allowing the viewer to have a personal response to the story told in her photographs. “I am a story teller, I welcome you to join me on this visual journey”.

Easton native Charles Stonewall’s signature work ranges from theater and dance to social justice
themes. He received his B.F.A. in Photography from the Kansas City Art Institute and his M.A. in Studio Art from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has served a number of years as a staff photographer for the PPL Corporation and the Sprint Corporation in Kansas. Since then he has taught courses in Art Appreciation, Fundamentals of Photography, Thinking in Pictures and Large-Format Photography. His work has been presented at a private reception at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France and he is a recipient of an Inspiration Grant for research in the healing arts at the International Conference on Phototheraphy and Therapeutic Photography in Turku, Finland.

Click here for more information on the performance on September 18th!