My sensory awareness is at play with inspiration anew, thanks to the work of Efva Lilja. Lilja is a choreographer, artist, researcher, and author. She writes beautifully about her movement experiences. At one point in time, she was awarded the opportunity, from the Swedish Royal Academy of Science, to be part of an expedition to the North Pole. She went on to explore movement on the frozen terrain, to document the somatic experience, and to keep a travel journal of the whole process that would eventually lead to a public performance. I was moved by her observation, "The Arctic is like nowhere else." Have I ever been brave enough to go somewhere else, like nowhere else I had ever been? How awe inspiring it is to realize the immense variations of environments on this home planet. Lilja observes, "The cold forces us to constrain our bodies, to stop wasting heat. The darkness sets a different rhythm and the natural world makes its considerable resistance felt." I read this at my home in California, and what refreshing somatic imagery to have on this hot summer day. How can her research inform my dance pursuits? I am not planning a trip to the frozen landscape, and my environment seems rather tame in comparison. Yet, what if I were to switch the roles. What if someone, or some creature, who had only been accustomed to the Arctic life, came on an expedition to my land. This line of questioning puts me in another suit, something new to try on: to feel how my environment is like nowhere else. Watch Efva Lilja on YouTube: the Art of Dance in a Frozen Landscape and be inspired to explore your own improvisational in a safe place outdoors (with a friend who could witness would be ideal). Improvisation Score -Close your eyes and spend time centering your mind and body - Feel yourself in your body, with your feet making contact with the ground - Continue with eyes closed and feel the light, then air, then energy around you. - Listen to your environment with your eyes closed. Allow your sense of smell and taste to be activated too. Open your experience to include sensing yourself and your environment as brand new in this moment. Then open your eyes and notice the first thing that catches your attention, what calls to you? - Let your first impression, surprise you, and follow your instincts to move!
The Movement/Art Video was shot entirely on my iphone 6+ and edited on the iphone as well. It was funny to be moving around with the phone in hand while I kept one eye on the screen and the other eye trying to look out for where I was walking. I also was videoing a structured improvisation that I created to give the movement artists a framework to move with and yet, being an improvisation I had to film while intuitively sensing what would happen next: all the while holding in mind the shadow I create and the angle of the sun. Being a clumsy dancer helped me because I would fall and catch myself gracefully and keep shooting the film. So it goes.
This video was created to be shown in an art gallery for the opening of Ruth Chase’s Belonging ( a community exhibition that Chase organized), and, this was hung in a gilded frame on a wall. To catch the viewer and have them experience this other world that I was creating in the video, I purposely allowed the beginning to be slow and drawn out. I wanted the viewer to connect with the Quaking Aspen tree who spirit is essential to the story line. The music score is original and that came about because copy write laws are confusing to me and I needed to go beyond that legality and feel free. So I asked two musicians I know to work with me and co-create to the edited version.
If you would like to know more about the conception of the piece- read on. The inspiration for this video comes from my daily walks in nature with my large hunting dog, Perry. We head out of our back gated yard into a cedar forest, and then down a trail to the old Idaho Maryland Mine. The mine area has lots of interesting junk left behind from the mining and logging companies, and, I invent stories as I pass these object by, re-purposing them. A deep but small ceramic bowl lodged well into the ground bearing a thin metal cover. What might come from that? Then there is the surrounding wilderness. I learn so much from observing nature along this trail and it resonates deep within me. Once the trail hits the old mind all the vegetation changes into new growth manzanitas, pines and scotch brooms. Somehow, surviving all the changes is an old Quaking Aspen standing tall and guarding the lower region that turns into a swamp with the heavy spring rains. I believe this tree taps into the soul of the world and holds its mysteries, and , I can only imagine what this Aspen has stood witness to among the madness of men. This is a judgement of mine and I question it. I know I am interconnected to this history like it or not. Contrast this with the calls from nature to be, sense, merge and inspire rituals together. With these parts of my psyche in dialog with each other I search for belonging.
The I AM HERE performance workshop
10 weeks beginning April 5th and running through May 24 with Tech rehearsal May 29th and performances June 6 & 9th. Workshop held at the Shine Collective Studio on Fridays from 5:30- 7 pm. Tech and Performances at the Culture House Collective in Grass Valley times TBA.
The I AM HERE performance workshop offers support and structure to develop solos, duets, and group pieces around the themes of Belonging. The 10 week workshop with culminate with a public showing consisting of spoken word, music, movement, and performance art - presented at the Culture House Collective in Grass Valley.
The workshop is open to all- all the arts; all levels of experience; all genders; all ages too. Many people may be wondering if they are ready to partake in a performance workshop and have their work shown in public. It is a vulnerable spot for sure and yet the challenge is an empowering one! I am a firm believer in supporting everyone where they are at on their path and inner journey to opening up to themselves. What is the next step in this challenge for you?
Top photo is of Paula Perlman and Dawn Werme Pratson; Middle photo is Robbyn Scott and Dawn Werme Pratson; Bottom photo is Paula Perlman with Michael Richter. My friends and I (at this moment - the photographer) at the La Jolla Cove Beach in San Diego- October 4, 2018.
Thank you Michael, Paula, MaryKay, Dana, Celeste, Robbyn, Cassie, Beth, and Dawn- my dancing online buddies!
When we meet, we are all in our square spaces. These squares are stacked upon each other like a version of the game show Hollywood Squares. (Yes, I watched a lot of this show growing up.) It is part of our research to see what reads inside these squares and what doesn't. Sometimes, the movement score through the video stream seems flattened and less approachable. Other times, it's totally absorbing. For an example of something mesmerizing: A woman moving her hands through her hair in a frantic way ( in one box) while in another box, there is an open book in tight proximity to the camera, it's pages wildly flipping. Viewing movement in one square box, while in another is a moving prop, creates all sorts of exciting story lines and connections.
I'm headed to the National Dance Educators Organization Annual Convention. It's October 4-7 2018, in San Diego. My online dance friends and I are presenting the Dancing Reading Online Group. Our group reads an assigned book, then researches how to present the material in the book into a creative dance exploration that informs our dance making skills and deepens our understanding of the reading material while playing around with the online conference forum- all in one swoop! Tall order but it is a super fun and valuable time spent with these lovely dancing partners. Here is a photo of us on our GoToMeeting format. I am in the bottom left hand corner. Because it's the internet, we can meet from anywhere in the world, and we all live in very different locations. But this week at the San Diego NDEO Conference, we will meet each other in the flesh, all in one physical location for the first time!
This post was going to be about dance but instead it is about another passion of mine. Looking deeply into the nature of things. I took a trip across the country to visit the one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so the sign says in the parking lot. I'm at Bahia Honda State Beach in Key West Florida standing behind a linked fence when I took this photo. This is as close as I came to stepping on the luxurious soft white sand. What I failed to take into consideration when I planned this perfect beach and snorkeling trip, is how impermanent Nature really is. I imagine it to be always there waiting for me, day after day, the same. Last year, Hurricane Irma hit the Key West Coastline and impacted this beach. I forgot that bit of news. So, here I stood, in it's wake, at a closed beach. Maybe that's why the hotel had this too good to be true deal.
Another important lesson learned is that a Hurricane, such as Irma, is a death sentence to the fragile coral reefs and coral life. For these sea creatures are territorial and stay devoted to their homes even with the warning signs of incoming danger. This area is a home to many species of sea turtles, and this tempest meant massive devastation for the sea turtle population. The sea turtles are too slow to get away safely and some varieties of turtles were only hatchlings when the tidal surge hit. Other species of turtles still had eggs laid in nests at this beach. I share their loss: in my body felt sense of connection to this planet, this home. Impermanence. It brings sadness, beauty and compassion for all.