Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
It's like gumbo, this mixture that is simmering, needing to be stirred and the final ingredients dropped into the pot. In assembling our cohorts to "map our assets"--bring all your skills, strengths and personalities to the table---we got to know what a rich array we have together! After listing, quantifying and organizing, we formed 6 groups and worked on the resources we have already assembled through phrases of movement, duet work, facts and figures and stories we had collected. Taking into consideration the spatial limitations we are about to embark upon in the Cultural Center in which we are work tomorrow---without air conditioning in these 90 degree and 90% humid days.
The President was in town for the National Urban League's convention, apparently, but we are ensconced in the world of possibilities and imagination birthing a happening that has yet to fully emrge in way, shape and form in addressing WHY ARE PEOPLE POOR?
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
So I always feel like when I get interviewed I wax all poetic about the work for someone else to write it up, and then remember....oh, yeah, I can write a blog about it, too, just in case it's not as lovingly recalled by the free lance writer hired to report on it ( who will probably do a better job from an objectivity standpoint).
However, with dances meant for worship, there always seems to be misunderstanding or mixed expectations. I find it hard to categorize these dances: they are sacred when I am dancing them. Modest costuming, along with craft and artistry, are what might be a little different from the “liturgical dance” some experience in teams across our city's vast array of church services Within the context of a sanctuary, there is a power and beauty that can often change the way you see a dance, or even how it transforms you! But now I am passing these dances onto another generation of dancers, who may or may not hold to the faith I have.... Interesting how making these dances grew my faith, and maybe of use to encourage others to grow and experience their own in deeper ways? That's the hope and the risk I take in utilizing dance in yet another way... Earthen Vessels likes to explore dance as a tool to educate, inspire beauty or celebrate life's experiences---but also as an instrument of worship!
Not unlike an icon, at which one gazes to be observant to stillness, subtle shifts in perspective, becoming one with an image, seared into your soul with unflinching depth. Dance has a way with your soul like that. I have often taken the familiar hymns and texts into churches where dance is foreign or considered with some suspicion as worldly, and tried to illuminate the lyrics, the theology, incarnate it with my body as the vessel. Ahh, the earthen vessel, (again!) that I hope doesn't distract from the essence, but reflects the power of God to do something with my frame, my art, my skill--- to show you a bit of Him.
The liturgical practice is part of my faith journey as I grew up a midwestern Catholic, learned my guitar from St. Louis Jesuits, and sang in and planned masses, and later offered dances for feast days in high school (Duchesne Academy, Omaha NE). This Lenten meditation in dance, is certainly steeped in much of that Catholic tradition, with the Nicene Creed, The Misa Criolla ( a mass sung in Spanish with candles and gloria, credo, sanctus, kyrie), a prayer penned by Cesar Chavez for the Farm Worker, and a St Louis Jesuits song. “Song of Mary” is a narrated dance to a collection of poems by Lucille Clifton, that together weave and foreshadow and offer retrospection by the Mother of Jesus, at different points in her life, that adds context to the picture.
Interspersed there will also be songs danced about the way of the cross, reflecting on its weight and intention(O Sacred Head), the wood (Behold the Wood of the Cross)and the shroud (Were You There?) with music ranging from the medieval to the hymnal to the negro spiritual. There will be the Passion on display in the solos, and bemoanings of ”Agony and Ecstasy” where dancer embodies stories leading to the crucifixion—Christ withholding judgement of the adulterous woman, healing of the lame and blind, the last supper and pain of the via de la rosa, to His rising from the tomb. There will be the glorious anticipation of resurrection with Judy Collins Amazing Grace. My hope is that “Sacred Dances” would assist your reflections on the traditions of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Mauday Thursday to the desolation of Good Friday, from anticipation to heightened joy of Easter ----all wrapped into one evening of dance.
Alongside these, are some reprisals of dances choreographed to the renderings of local Episcopal priest, composer and rock star, Kemper Crabb (St John the Divine Contemporary Service)--one a wedding duet( which was danced at mine!), and another “Be Thou My Vision” which I have choreographed at least three versions in my life! These are danced in tribute to the churches past and present, and its people, singles, couple, small groups---- that have supported and watched the journey of the dance from sunday school classes to concert stages that is my vocation. I happen to be a founding member of Christ Evangelical Church, whose Christ in the Arts Festival has opened its door to the arts in amazing generosity as a venue! Thanks BJ! It is with great joy, we bring this expression of dance to their sanctuary. I will have singers and many in the audience from City of Refuge, a multicultural Presbyterian church at which I serve as a deacon...I am grateful to them for their unswerving support as well.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Harriet Tubman and Sojourner represent pivotal roles black woman took...to provide a way out, and be a voice speaking up for all women... each overcame obstacles and weren't afraid to challenge the injustice and do something tangible about it too---both which took tremendous courage. Harriet's journey made all the more amazing, in that she had sleeping sickness that would overtake her at any time, as she traversed the underground railroad with her passengers in tow. Sojourner Truth standing alongside suffragettes and an impressive communicator. Rosa Parks” quiet dignity is dealt with in a very (Liz Lerman-ish) gestural way in its conception with an interview playing that was recorded around the time of her death, that tells the story 3rd person with a conversational perspective. ( I am reading Liz Lerman's Hiking the Horizontal right now). That work is called Seated for Justice and juxtaposes images of that time and moment in history (as assembled by my partner in life)behind the dancer of Rosa.
Am also bringing back Yolanda Gibbs to recreate her roles in so many of these works-- surely a mother of many of these movements in her own right!
Nina Simone, will be two totally different male female interactions, one fluffy and light, the other brutal (that we did at CAM last year). Her voice comprises so much pain and humor, doesn't it? As does Roberta Flack, whose music inspired my first piece of choreography in 8th grade. I'm sure those nuns didn't know what to make of "Jesse"--nor did i know what that song was about too much then---but when that was the first song that made me cry, and I just had to dance to it!
And the Lucille Clifton poems about Mary, Mother of Jesus, are combined to create a lovely series of tableau to a haunting piece of music by Keith Jarrett....one of the more sublime inspirations that I often bring out. Now, the nuns would be really touched by that one...
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I have also been haunted by the comments of a young lad, who in our post performance Q&A, "when's the sequel?" I thought that prospect delightful and can imagine many little rivulets of narrative that come bubbling up...who knows? I might attempt it, or at the very least a prologue or epilogue in years to come. What do you think happened before or after? If you haven't seen it, you will have to come first, and let me know how you envision the context or bookends of this sweet homespun tale.