Thursday, July 12, 2018

Oh-Shit-Addendum

Addendum.

Discussed the what and not the how.

What's the how looking like?


Education:
  • WSU: regular schedule
  • Cowles: case by case
  • Zenon: split with Karla - this works - provides access to so many resources
Performance:
  • Performer: Contempo and RS/E
  • Choreographer: RS/ E
  • The big question is how these things work together. When would the cohorts of RS meet? Probably still summer, maybe in early January? Set the times and roll with them/ auditions?
Writing:
  • On an as-able basis
  • Writing about shows I see
  • Always writing reflectively and for marketing and development purposes

I think what is hard to give up on about scholarly writing is that it helped put me on the map with a lot of people. That said, I am now ON THE MAP with a lot of people, and will be even more so if I continue with new RS ideas. Additionally, I think I'll accept that like writing, organizing is folded up into all the work I do regularly, and that perhaps I can just accept it as a skill I use frequently than an "area of work." Maybe these more so become "areas of work" at a later time in life/ some other time?

There's some good "how" brainstorming. I'll let it keep simmering/ address it during my artistic retreat?

Oh-Shit-I Need-to-Write-a-Grant-For-Next-Year Check-In

Timing.

Prioritizing time.

As a resource.

In the place where planning for the next couple years has to happen while you are in the midst of so much . . . it's like that's all the time . . .

Feeling the importance of really checking in on my values and subsequent priorities as I attempt to lay plans for the next year professionally. After all, if this important step is skipped, my value of intentionality/ simplicity will not be put into action, and I won't be able to action on my desires for my personal life too.

Presence
Intentionality/ Simplicity
Embodiment

I believe I'm bringing into being Presence by the simple fact that I am offering the time and focus toward pondering all this (side thought: one thing to let go of is EE - I don't REALLY go out of my way anyway, so maybe I can mentally let it go . . . it'd be REALLY neat to learn how to twirl fire and do such gigs, but it'd also be neat to Parkor, and learn to play the bagpipes, and various other things I've chosen to curate out/ let go of . . .). 

Intentionality/ Simplicity (at least when it comes to this situation of being pushed into "season planning," per say): At the heart of going through this process is my desire to be intentional with how I use my resources (time, focus, money, etc.) with regard to my professional pursuits, so as to allow Vitality (a Priority) in the personal. 

Embodiment: That's walking the walk, which I'm attempting to do by maintaining Presence and creating Intentionality/ Simplicity.

These measures bring forth my Priorities - Vitality, Purpose and Contribution.

Bringing me to how my thought processes today will enable me toward Desired Experiences: perhaps I should see social dancing and tap and African classes as under the hood of "physicality every day," and I think I should see my morning walks as such as well - I ALWAYS get those, so in a sense, I am already experiencing that desire. I think it's ok to call that out, as I feel I am in no danger, especially considering how Contempo is shaping up for the year, of getting lax in the dancing aspect of this desire. As for cooking and nutrition, I've pin-pointed that "time in the kitchen" with food podcasts, at least once a day, helps me experience this desire. I'm excited to have just bought a cast-iron pan and to have good knives again, and will continue to experiment with trusted and new recipes of interest for leisure as able.

I've made pretty good on seeing shows, and sometimes on writing about them (i.e. "research and performance-reflective writing"). Perhaps I also want to factor into this desire providing verbal feedback to artists - while there is no written documenting of my thoughts, the practice of arriving to them happens. Regarding live music, it seems like, in relation to my resources, this is always the first thing to get jettisoned. I'll embrace my place of awareness on this and move toward change on it.

Where does this bring me in relation to my professional desires? They include:
  • Education: between WSU, the Cowles and Zenon, I'm good here. In fact, I'd like to be doing LESS teaching even though I love it, as I'd like to make more space for other things - it's just difficult when this is where much of the money is for me. Perhaps I should expand my viewpoints a bit to acknowledge more regularly that "Education" comes in many forms - to the folks involved with my productions, from offering feedback and doing special events/ talk-backs, etc. Perhaps I also need to make a mindset shift with the "this is where I make my money" thought process. Stretch myself to further envisioning how the other work can make me more money, making it easier to release the reins on some of this teaching. Building MORE space for my colleagues to tour/ bringing them in will hopefully also result in more of them "bringing me in" to their companies/ schools/ etc. 
  • Performing the work of others I find interesting (Contempo): This is going to be a lot in this arena this next year, but so it goes. This is why it feels even more important, in relation to everything else, to know exactly when we will be rehearsing. Going to reach out to Mallory today about EEE's current rehearsal schedule. Would Ann be open to me teaching once a week to be able to have space? Otherwise I'll have to include space rental (Cowles is more convenient for ME) in any proposed budget I offer. Can also apply to Jerome for this, MRAC org grant, St. Paul Star, and perhaps more national awards when trying to bring in national folks. Collapsing everything into one org would also save me org time - one board, etc. This is where I had fallen before, but . . . Embrace the name-change.
*Good time to note that I'm frustrated this "season planning of sorts" is having to happen now, as I've gotten excited about my idea for an artistic retreat for myself, but deadlines call. I think I'll do it anyway, I just think much of the formative thought is happening now. I also feel a little fear that I'm trying to square a new idea away to quickly to get a grant in, but there is also something said for just needing to make decisions. 
  • Exploring my artistic voice and making from it: Continuing my own choreographic projects with more support.
  • Garnering more monetary support for these projects, supporting my community of local, national and international folks interested in jazz and vernacular (particularly American) dance styles informing concert dance approaches and bring brought to stage - while also making opportunities for myself as a maker and performer within this main interest.
I think this is the juncture (ha! piece title) at which I attempt to do some (grant)writing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I Am SO Much Better at Watching Dance Than I Was 15 Years Ago . . .

This was a major thought coursing through my brain after I attended the CandyBox Festival put on by ARENA dances. In it's second year, this is Matthew Janczewski's way of supporting creation in the Twin Cities dance community: by making space for artists at several points in their careers to present without as much worry about production details. As someone with her own such program AND with the fortune of, for the first time, receiving a commission/ presentation that allows me the same benefit (the Right Here Showcase 2018), I know how impactful this can be. Anyway.

What I came here to say is that it occurred to me, after seeing Carl Flink/ Black Label Movement's "This Bleeding Heart" for the first time since 2004 or 2005 (can't remember which school year the piece was set on University Dance Theatre), that I am MUCH better at watching dance than I was 15 years ago when I began my undergrad dance degree at the University of Minnesota. I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to see a work reset from that period of time in my life when I was just discovering how much dance could be. At the time, the piece was just REALLY AMAZING to watch, with movement vocabulary I had never seen a dancer perform.

This past Saturday night, it's messaging hit me more clearly. The title became political. The content was in stride, with a "personal as political" feeling running alongside the dancers as the bent and twisted and flew and caught and crumpled. I caught gestures I hadn't seen the last time many years ago, like the dancers hands meeting back to back and poking their own hearts. It was intriguing how much the music stuck with me, but how little of the physicality specifics I remembered. I had practically all of the details of all of the pieces of the music memorized, and it moved me in really deep ways to hear it all in sequence again in concert with the movement: it brought back feelings of my world being opened up in school, of camaraderie with the folks I danced with day in and day out, discovering together the possibilities that artistically-crafted movement could bring. These feelings hit me in the gut on Saturday.

Back to what I remembered from the last time. I had forgotten about the focus light coming in at the beginning, but remembered very quickly when I saw it how much that imagery had impacted me when I first saw it, and was moved by how much it did again. I cannot quite put my finger on why, or how I feel it may relate to the conceptual ideas I was able to take away this time, but it moved me. Perhaps it has to do with finger-pointing? Isolation of incidents? Whatever it may be/ for me, it was and is impactful.

I had a clear memory of the groupings of people and movement on the ground that the light focused on and the diagonal cannons, but didn't remember much about the split outs of complex partnering. Those moments were really interesting and were highlights for me this time around. I contextualized them as political dialogues this time around, something that never would have happened without the light-bulb regarding the title turning on.

My strong feeling about "being better at watching dance" was also directed by my experience of watching Taja Will's work "Gospels of Oblivion: To the End of the World" that night. I can clearly imagine my 18 year old self watching a work like that and thinking "What the hell is going on?" Hell, I see that look (and hear such sentiments) from the 18 and 19 year olds that take my Dance Appreciation class at Winona. It was pretty impactful to recognize my growth in how I watch performance when taking in this piece. I've of course recognized this idea BEFORE, but it was particularly poignant this time around, given it was happening in concert with seeing a work I hadn't seen since I was that age.

I took so much from the moments Taja created in the work, and had less need than my 18 year old self to find a "sensical" way to string them all together for myself. I've gotten better at recognizing that the impactful moments will move with me past the evening I see something, stringing THEMSELVES together however they need to. Perhaps this is also on my mind as of late, having been prepping program notes significantly less dense than I may have for my Right Here piece. Of those moments, I was very impacted by the tin-can call and it's absurdity, how that absurdity carried into the karaoke moment (and my realization that original music was written for this work). The performers moved so fluidly between modes of expression in this piece, creating well-rounded "characters" of sorts who were equal parts specific and anonymous. I felt sad for the loss of their lives at the end in both personal and general ways.

I also felt the glitz. Their sequins and disco ball were so absurd in the suggested setting that I gathered a sense of both obliviousness and knowledge but lack of shits given surrounding the demise of the performer's world. Did they not know, not care or both? Were there contained senses of care and responsibility that these people only let come out in times of vulnerability, and how is this a parable for the ways many of us approach our natural resources and place within a larger world? Sequins are fun, beautiful and disturbing all at once.

Feeling a sense of grounded gratitude for taking more away from dance each year I continue to swim around in it's glory. I'm grateful to Matthew, Carl, Taja and all the other artists on CandyBox for making and sharing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Estonian Hiaku

majestic mounts
from my sidewalk view down
snow like ski hills

Monday, April 16, 2018

Birthday Check-In

After 10+ pages in my personal, handwritten journal . . .

Priorities:
Vitality
Purpose
Contribution

Values:
Presence (Groove/ Connection/ Responsiveness/ Playfulness)
Intentionality (Genuineness/ Curiosity/ Kindess/ Simplicity)
Embodiment (Reflection)

Desired Experiences:
social dancing - swing and house
live music
tap classes
African dance classes
cooking
research & performance-reflective writing
physicality every day

Doing well with: social dancing (could do better), have been to tap and African, though not frequently. Have written after seeing dance and music shows, though would like to increase this too - thinking about it, I HAVE seen several shows since my last check-in that I haven't written anything about. Doing well with physically every day, though room for improvement.

Desire to:
Memorize "values" as a mantra of sorts:

Presence
Intentionality
Embodiment

Onward into the year :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Reflecting on Reflection House

This year, I challenged myself to up my dance writing in the form of jotting down reflections of shows I see or dance experiences I have. This round of this challenge to myself, I will focus on the production Reflection House, a new work by choreographer Jennifer Glaws/ Jagged Moves. I'm familiar with her work, after almost ten years of seeing it evolve, and one of the things that struck me most was the clarity of her pathway forward as an artist.

I was able to see bits and pieces of ideas she's been chewing on for awhile, as well as new threads that have developed in the last couple of years to take her where she is headed. Regarding long-held ideas of focus, I saw Glaws playing with soundscapes driven by heavy beats made into a full aural pallet by way of a network of interesting sound effects derived from everyday life and fantasy, webbed around one another. This made way for the dancers (who were stunning) to weave in and out of the sound, sometimes interacting with it directly and other times existing alongside it.

Another idea I feel she's been exploring and continues to examine is the interplay of solo movement themes that build into duets and exist amongst the action of the full group of performers. This framework landed particularly well within the life of this production's concept, the exploration of how humans yearn for self and group understanding or fit. Glaws' program note included terminology "selected and collected identity," which I found to be particularly revealing when viewing this new work. The dancers moved through this idea with equal measures of groundedness and inquiry, embodying the human experience of being equal parts confidence and questioning, not only of the world around us but how we move ourselves within it.

A relatively emerging aspect of Jennifer's artistry is further building the world her choreographic work moves within by way of video technology. She made interesting use of pre-created images, including silhouettes of bodies in interesting shapes, which dancers attempted to fit themselves into and around, as well as live video capture and projection, which snagged visuals of dancers moving through the moment we were experiencing together, once removed by a camera. Also incorporated were sketch-like visuals that shifted throughout the room as the dancers teetered back and forth from one side to another, one raised platform to the next.

Another creative element that felt new to me in experiencing Jennifer's work was the very physical incorporation of set. The space had been molded from an open gallery in a multi-artist studio building (a very ingenuitous find for a performance location) into a veritable adult playground. While the ramps and platforms and walls were stark white, they very much created a simultaneous sense of obstacle and play, speaking to the concept of the work. They provided complicated and intriguing surfaces for not only the dancers to experiment with, but for video projection experimentation as well.

I'd like to come back to those stunning dancers. These performers were very much in it in self and their group while also connecting with viewers in a way that felt genuine and of them moment, rather than put on or directed as clear audience engagement can sometimes feel. They were raw in their physicality, attentive in their listening to the sound, each other and the space and generally just a kinesthetic thrill. Of particular note was the solo section performed by Mirabai Miller, through which she twisted to, accented and offered question of a segment of spoken text addressing the course of self development and internal and external perception. With a wide range of physicality and dynamic in both choreography and performance, this section is still imprinted on my mind days later.

As a whole, Reflection House was an intriguing next step in the formation of Glaws' artistic voice, and one that I'm likely to continue pondering. She weaved together a great deal of production elements in a way that they felt cohesive and fully-supportive of her exploration, yet left me with unsolved inquiries about the sense of "selected and collected identity" it got me thinking about and feeling.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Dance to the Music

I had the pleasure of hearing live music TWICE yesterday, both somewhat unexpectedly.



The first time was at an Intergenerational Dance Hall put on by Twin Cities-based organization Kairos Alive! They have over 20 years of experience putting on events that welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels to enjoy dancing with one another (thus the title). I have been curious about checking this organization out, but didn't get to it until it was on my list as an evaluator for the Minnesota State Arts Board. I'm now feeling really sorry I haven't gotten to one sooner: it was incredible.

Artistic Director Maria Genne, who was the primary facilitator, made a comment to the group about halfway through that folks used to dance together as a regular pastime and that this group is working to offer that opportunity once again. It really got me thinking again (I believe I think about this on at least a weekly basis) about how elements of popular culture have their hey-day and then become niches to which people dedicate themselves. I'm sure there are things that fade into complete obscurity, but it seems to me that for the most part, things find their dedicated audiences beyond their time of popularity, and live on with those folks.

While it makes me sad when I think that social dance has in certain ways "fell victim" to this, I'm trying to encourage myself not to see it that way. Instead, I'm working to reframe it in my mind to understand how such intergenerational dancing, led by a shared set of accessible knowledge for each type of dance, is finding it's own niche home, just like swing dance.

Reflecting back on the week, I'm proud that I made it to the swing dance, went to the Intergenerational Dance Hall and heard music there, AND out at Day Block Brewing for a friends birthday. I chalked up to two social dance experiences and two live music experiences in one week! AND I danced my booty off at Pigeons Playing Ping Pong last weekend too. ALSO - this week will end up being a two dance show week as well, having seen St. Paul Ballet last night and seeing Jennifer Glaw's Reflection House today. It's ridiculous to me how hard it can be to hold yourself accountable to doing things you enjoy, just because they require an interruption of habit (or perhaps more like it, a building of habit around them). Getting off topic. Just glad to be holding myself accountable to these New Years Intentions/ Desires.

Back to Kairos/ the swing dance. Both of these events had very real audience numbers. Beyond that, they were both genuinely diverse in so many ways. I opt to say "genuinely" because sometimes you can feel when it's been somewhat forced, an achievement of an organizational goal rather than a result of honest to goodness interest in the programming. Both these events had genuine-ness dripping off them from everywhere! It took me a little time to warm to the Intergenerational Dance Hall, as it started with really simply prompts for the kids in attendance (which was totally appropriate to the situation). It took me until getting to my car to realize that starting that way not only was the right accommodation for their audience that day, but also allowed the facilitators to build the entire thing up in energy so that by the time it came to a close, we were bursting out the ceiling together in joy.

And to social dance to an ensemble of INCREDIBLE live musicians at 10am on a Saturday (not to mention in the American Swedish Institute, a cultural gathering place I've never been to, and with such a diverse group of warm and wonderful strangers to boot): downright magical. I sincerely cannot WAIT to go to another one of Kairos' events. In fact, I'm going to put them on my calendar after I finish this post.

My second live music experience yesterday was listening to OVRFWD at Day Block Brewing, upon invitation from a friend for her birthday. It was a joy to stand and listen. Generally, I let my body take over and really get some dancing in, but this music didn't ask for that and that was ok. My body of course had it's reactions, they were just less pronounced than they might be with more "dancey music." I found myself listening in for the meter, for structure and improvisation, visually taking in the ways the guitar players physicalized their riffs. I also found myself describing the music like "acid jazz on metal," in response to my friend saying that it sounded like "jazz on acid." I'm not sure if this makes me pretentious or awesome or both. Probably both.

Anyway, I just really enjoyed my time standing (and swaying a bit) and listening. It gave me a renewed respect for the standing (and swaying) folks I often look at and wonder if they are having any fun. They are. The fun is just happening primarily in their heads. I think there is something to be said for letting the body take over, but I also think there is something to be said for being so focused that the body is taken in more stillness.

I had a lot of other things rolling around in my mind this morning (looking at differences in loss, between now and when I was much younger, thinking about lifestyles in different areas of the country, seeing the bits of quirk that poke out of my mostly pristinely-organized and streamlined home as a physicalization of my approach to artistry and movement - cool and confident and reserving quirk for when it's most effective), but I'm feeling satisfied with what has come out (and hungry!).

Looking forward to more viewing, doing and hearing of dance and music, starting with Jen's show in a couple hours. perhaps the house session tonight and They Might Be Giants on Thursday with Kris!