Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Dance artist spotlight

 I'm excited to spotlight Sarena Kabakoff and Kalila Kingsford Smith, dance artists for Absence. 

Sarena Kabakoff started her dance training at the age of 8, attending Berks Ballet Theater. Thoughout high school she performed multiple times a year in the local Nutcracker, and at dance festivals across the state. She went on to attend college at Temple University where she had the pleasure of performing with Megan Mizanty, Laura Katz Rizzo, and Janis Brenner and Company. She also interned with Dance Therapist Teresa Benzwie to teach special needs children and academics through movement. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2013, receiving the Benzwie Dance in Education grant for her extensive work with children. After college she went on to dance with Philadelphia based companies including: Jenkintown Dance Company, PIMA group, and FRED Dance Company. Sarena received her 200 hr yoga teacher training and went on to receive an additional 75 hr training with Shiva Rea and an advanced anatomy training with Alex Auder. She started to teach yoga at many Philadelphia studios as well as offering mindfulness at corporate centers such as David's Bridal and New Age Industries. She also taught dance at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, Jenkintown Dance Arts, Beth Jacobsen School of Dance and Imhotep Charter School. Her passion for dance carried her to do outreach programs, using dance/ yoga as a vehicle for healing at Safe Harbor (a program for grieving children), and in the greater Cancer Support Community. She recently attended an Expressive Dance Therapy program entitled "Tampala" in Norther California. Since then, she has been touring her yoga/ dance therapeutic workshop, "Unpacking the Body," around the Philadelphia area. Sarena was a featured dancer in "wretched time," a music video for "The Retinas. She performed with JCWK Dance Lab's "HOMEbody" around southeastern and as part of the virtual Fringe Festival in Philadelphia. Sarena is passionate about movement's capability to heal, to show us the stories we've been hiding from, and to move us forward into our own inner light. Learn more about Sarena by clicking here.  

Sarena in a video still from Absence

Kalila Kingsford Smith is a Philadelphia native, independent choreographer, performer and dance educator. She builds dances that are responsive to the characteristics of the performance space, whether a theater, a museum, a nature trail, or a Zoom call. Informed by her training in modern and contemporary dance, her movement flows between tension and release, momentum and suspension, improvisation and composition, and storytelling and abstraction. Her choreography has been commissioned for Drexel Dance Ensemble, Dancefusion and Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and she has independently produced and performed works through Philadelphia. As a dance educator, she teaches courses in modern dance technique, improvisation, choreography, dance history and theory. Kalila is a writer and editor with thINKingDANCE. She received an MA in Dance from Temple University and a BFA in Dance and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan. She is also a certified Pilates instructor.  Learn more about Kalila by clicking here. 

Kalila in a video still from Absence

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Zooming in on Adaptations - Showtime!

This week, we're being presented by Reading Theater Project's 5-Minute Fringe on the virtual stage.  Through January and the beginning of February, I've been deep in process with Kalila Kingsford Smith and Sarena Kabakoff exploring ways that we experience distance, reflection, and metaphors of the moon. Dr. Phillip Tietbohl (poet, engineer, and psychologist) and musician/ composer Paul Fejko have been influential in this process. 

When: Friday, Saturday & Sunday at 7pm. We're being presented on Saturday.  

Where: Online - Click here for more info. 

What: Creative Adaptations and artistic responses by artists in Berks County and beyond. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Art as social change

I'm an advocate for educating about the ways that art can be an agent of positive social change. This happens through 1) artwork that makes an audience think/ provokes a response to a subject, 2) creating art in response to a social justice issues, 3) educating about how to look at art, 4) educating about how to use art as a vehicle for social change. 

In my role as Artist in Residence at Alvernia University, I'm building a bridge between the Fine and Performing Arts Department and The Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement through a social media challenge. 

A little background - in a non-pandemic year, most colleges, classes start right after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (in January) with students moving in the weekend prior. MLK Day is used as a day of service for the college and surrounding communities. Because of the pandemic, Alvernia began classes February 1st; MLK Day was still used as a day for awareness and advocacy through a virtual ceremony. I performed via video for the celebration. 

The Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement is kicking off this first week of classes, Black History Month, and the semester with a week of awareness and advocacy, focusing on Dr. King's philosophies, panel discussions, and service opportunities. We're collaborating to bring awareness to the ways that art provokes social change through a social media challenge - using #AUartasawareness. 

Here are some of the images I've created. The pictures are used with permission and are from past performances of Alvernia Theatre.