Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Notes from HOME - by Michael Lancaster

Earlier in the year when I posted some our of research questions for HOMEbody, some brave folks answered the call in their own ways.

Michael Lancaster shared this. His many roles in life I cannot try to list, but some include author, dreamer, seeker, friend, husband, father, Vietnam Veteran, warrior, musician, artist, protecter, teacher.

"It's evening. Still sunny. I can see the expanse of the Chesapeake, gentle against the evening sku. The Bay can rage because it is relatively shallow for such a large body of water. Average 40' depth. Occasional deep spots. One just NE of our lookout. Drops to over 100'. From up here you can also see how brown the grass is becoming. Sweet birds still here in numbers, though some gone altogether. Weather settling in over Cape Charles, the other side of the Bay and more properly called the Eastern Shore, referring to the eastern shore of the Bay rather than a more generic notion of the East Coast of the US. But who's a stickler for details. Down here on our part of the Bay, the DELMARVA peninsula is not very wide. 20ish miles from eastern shore of the Bay to East Coast of the US. 100 miles or so to the Gulf Stream and sport fishing magic. Learn what you can about where you live, it's geography and why it matters. Will reward your time. Learn its nature. Place is more important than a hangout, though that is part of whom you are too. Be at peace with your place."

Photo by Michael Lancaster

Monday, October 28, 2019

Notes from HOME - by Jenner Shaffer

Earlier in the year when I posted some our of research questions for HOMEbody, some brave folks answered the call in their own ways.

Jenner Shaffer, an artist, illustrator, writer, heirloom farm manager, among other titles, shared this with me (and his Facebook community) from his own sense of home in Michigan:

"Back road roam. Shed the vernal velvet for shining tines of autumn. A younger buck crops purple prairie clover. Along fence rows plump wild fruit wait for the taste of front. Shaggy bales in the pastures like along bison. The Valley of Monsters, Osage for the land of the Pomme & Sac flowing north. Land of backward, broken, upside-down things, puzzle pieces, Bootheel stomps & meteoric meltdown, storm tracks. Nothing stands long.
The lines of an Airstream a cozy bubble, arcing, flattened, belly-round, posing elements of a question mark. Where does this road go? Native, after a time, Spanish, French, American bushwhackers. Where is home? The commerce of eons, advance & retreat of seas & armies, dead hotspots of island arcs, plastic apologies for today's politic worms, roads that run into the reservoir. Aux-arcs, to the top, over the rainbow, word of a new lake winds that spiral in my ear. Here is now, & what do the persimmons say? Woolly bears are dark, cross the gravel in a hurry, someplace to be. Further on a box turtle is always at home.
Hedgeapples weigh on bowing branches, lost to every purpose but their own, the honey locust still on guard, gripping fossils in the hollows, browsers turned to stone. Asters white, asters purple, much endures in yellow as the barbed-wire winds. Milkweek pods crack open, a tuft of fluff for a wind to tease free.
The road was a loop, found my way back. Tomatoes sweet on a withered vine, volunteer. Save a few for dinner, toss the rest in the chicken run.     "

All pics by Jenner Shaffer.

Friday, October 18, 2019

My last InHale

October 19th will be my last time serving as KYL/D's InHale Performance Series curator. Kun-Yang and I founded InHale in 2008 and over the past 11 years, have presented over 1000 performance artists to more than 1500 audience members.

The tagline for InHale has been: Diversity. Opportunity. Community.

These words are very meaningful to me and meaningful to what I've been able to bring to the Philadelphia Dance stage through InHale.

Diversity at InHale has embodied many layers. It has referred to
  • racial diversity of artists, directors and performers - whether apparent or not
  • age of artists
  • gender 
  • career trajectory of artists and where they are when they present (in college, long time professional)
  • genre of the work (ballet, hip hop, modern, classical Indian, etc)
  • context and subject matter
  • process of development (work in progress, finished work, excerpts)
  • medium (dance performance, dance on film, theatre, music, spoken word) 
  • InHale artists received a safe space to present, try out new ideas, meet new audiences, interact with other artists and create collaborative potential with technical professionalism and marketin. Additionally, InHale artists often received feedback from audience members to help reflect on or continue their process, video, photos, and a published review of their work. 
  • InHale audiences also received the benefit of these elements to the artists as well as the potential to see a vast amount of dance in one evening, for a very affordable price. 
  • InHale provided an intimate space and created an informal, yet professional environment for these opportunities. 
  • Audience development occurred in the presentation of multiple, diverse artists in one evening and allowing the artists and audience members to communicate through written feedback and in informal gatherings after the shows. 
  • InHale had applications and participating artists from all over the country - bringing their experiences of dance from MA, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DC, VA, NC, GA, LA,  IL, IA, and WI.  
  • I executed a Service Learning project in collaboration with Alvernia University that allowed students to experience the value of service through professional performance, technical production, and curation. 
  • I mentored many additional students and young professionals through the process of arts administration, technical production, and performance. 
I'm so grateful to everyone I've met and worked with over the past 11 years. Thank you to KYL/D for this opportunity. Thank you to the artists who have applied and been a part of the InHale community. Thank you for the diverse ways you all have helped me grow - in my thoughts about dance and community, in my artistry in creating and performing my own work, in technical theatre production, in my development as as an administrator, in my understanding of presenting and event planning, and so much more. 

I'm confident that, as I pass the torch, InHale will continue to grow in new ways. 

I'm excited for new adventures on my horizon as I to continue to serve and grow in the dance community.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Daring to HOME

I Dare You

What is the greatest dare?
The dare to wish everyone and everything around you well
To notice the goodness, the beauty, to notice that which evokes inspiration
To care to build other up
To allow all the goodness you see
To send itself back to yourself
Until it circulates inside of you
A gravitational pull of goodness, 
     Of beauty
That continues to create harmony
Everywhere you turn your gaze
By noticing beauty
You build beauty

How can we believe in each other?
How can we dare to believe in ourselves? 

~Sarena Kabakoff

HOMEbody. Pic by Thomas Kay

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Thank you, PCA! Grant announcement!

Thank you, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Berks Arts Council!

I was awarded a Project Stream Grant for HOMEbody!

HOMEbody was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Come see the performance at Alvernia University on November 21st! Click here for tickets and more info. 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Moving home

Reflections from the dance artists...

"What does it feel like in my body home, when my physical home is changing?
It feels like every cell is a little fist
Tense with anticipation
Like my eyes can only look forward,
And my thoughts and visions are cast out into the ocean of the future
Imagining all the ways my life could be
In my new home

It feels like strength that will not settle
As if in the moment that my body longs to release
There is something in my bodymind that says, no, not yet

You're not home yet

I feel it all through me
My heart, my kidneys, behind my eyes
Like waiting on the edge of an airplane before stepping off to sky-dive

I wonder endlessly about all the unknowns
And my mind keeps trying to plan

My body is learning the language of a home I have yet to meet."

~Sarena Kabakoff

Photo of Sarena performing in HOMEbody. Pic by Thomas Kay

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

When HOME isn't HOME-Y

"It's hard not to just fall into the cliche..."

"When I think of home... actually, I try not to..."

"I'm not sure that when you ask about HOME, you mean what I think of... my idea of HOME isn't comfortable. Actually, it's really traumatic."

"HOME could be a lot of things... what are you actually asking for?"

"Well, my definition of HOME probably isn't what you think."

Pic from HOMEbody. Photo by Thomas Kay.


In the research of HOMEbody, I honor all of these experiences and reflections of HOME.

I don't have any expectations except that everyone has a personal experience and their own definitions of HOME.

When I hear these statements, my reaction is to want to give the narrator a giant hug, hold them close, and say "I am here to witness and hear your experience of HOME, whatever that is." But I recognize that my embodied, very physical reaction is not always appropriate, especially when HOME has been physically traumatizing.

But, as we continue this process, I do want to say:

HOME is not always HOME-Y. The conflict between our expectations and our reality is sometimes very real.

HOME is not always comfortable or safe.

HOME can present illusions just as it can present grounded comfort.

HOME means different things to different people; all of those experiences are valid.

HOME is not necessarily permanent.

HOME can be a prism that reflects and refracts many different lights.


What does HOME mean to you?