Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring is here


Spring is here, at last!

Its wonderful to enjoy the change of season by practicing branch dancing outdoors.  

Here with Marija Krtolica, Elisa Davis, Amanda DiLudovico, Natalia Alvarez-Figueroa and Jimena Alviar.

Check out How To Dance With Branches links:

Centering/Point of Contact



On Working with Branches

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Branch Dances @ the Barnes; Tomorrow, Wed, June 12, at 8PM.

 Branch Dances @ the Barnes.  Tomorrow, Wed, June 12, at 8PM.   Presented by Dance USA Philadelphia for the opening of the annual national Dance USA Conference.  

Click for video:
Rehearsal, June 10, 2013

Photo: Lindsay Browning

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Branch Dances at the Barnes Foundation, Wed, June 12

Ahhh!  It's good to back!

Marion Ramírez. Photo:Bill Hebert
I'm excited to be presenting another set of  Branch Dances at the Barnes Foundation next Wednesday, June 12, during the opening reception of the Dance USA Conference.  I'm happy to have the opportunity to show the work in this context, and for this audience (a  who's who of Philadelphia dance and beyond).

SoMoS was selected for presentation at the conference as a "presenters' pick" during the recent Philadelphia Dance Showcase.  Also on the program are Kun Yang Lin, Anne Marie Mullgrew, and Tori Lawrence.

The Barnes is a perfect venue for a bare bones version of the Branch Dances. The elegant architecture brings out the aesthetic power and compelling expressivity of the straight-on performance practice.   Olive Prince, Beau Hancock, Jung Woong Kim, and Marion Ramírez will be performing three movement structures from SoMoS; no projections.  Beau will be inside with his heroic version of Jumatatu Poe's bundle dance.  Olive will  be guarding the entrance performing her extraordinary solo with two giant branches; Marion and Jung Woong will perform their sensual vining duet along the reflecting pool.   Christine Darch is creating new costumes for the occasion.   Harold S. Smith will  accompany us on the didgeredoo.   It promises to be a  kinesthetic, aural, and visual feast!

Marion Ramírez. Photo: Bill Hebert
Even though its a private event,  passersby can catch the outdoor  performances along the reflecting pool and the entrance starting at 8:00PM (at no cost).  If you are attending the conference, make sure you plan to stay to the end of the event so you see the entire 30 minute  performance which begins at 8PM.

The weather promises to be delightful.   I hope you will join us!

Directions to Barnes Foundation

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Triangulations now on view

Triangulations: Revisiting OYWPP opened last night.  I am kind of amazed at the whole experience, so different from producing work for performance. 

The exhibition is part of Taller Puertorriqueño's series titled Claiming Spaces.  I find it this incredibly a propos of my process— the dancer claiming the space of visual arts opens up a whole set of ideas and questions about the body and performance in visual arts. On a practical level,  the show will be up for six weeks — what a luxury for a dancer!

Triangulations is created from self-documentation videos of the One Year Wissahickon Park Project OYWPP, which took place in 2007-08.   The installation succeeds in conjuring  the immersive and hypnotic quality of  the original  performances, creating a kind of time warp.  As in the branch dance performances, the audience is invited to slow down and experience the shift in consciousness that  can happen at the intersections of place, time,  movement, and sound.

You can see Triangulations at the Lorenzo Homar Gallery at Taller Puertorriqueño, 2721 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19133.  Gallery hours are: Mon-Fri 10-5, and Sat 11-6.  Closed Sundays.  Admission is FREE. 

OYWPP was a creative research project in 2007-08 exploring performance throughout the four seasons.  It featured performances by Olive Prince, Noemí Segarra, Jumatatu Poe, Shavon Norris, and Toshi Makihara. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Triangulations: Revisiting OYWPP

Taller Puertorriqueño will present my first one person exhibitionTriangulations: Revisiting OYWPP,  in  the Lorenzo Homar Gallery, from Dec 7, 2012 - January 19, 2013.  The exhibition is part of Taller Puertorriqueño's  2012-13 series  of exhibitions titled Claiming Spaces

Jumatatu Poe self documents. Photo: Pepón Osorio (2007)
 Triangulations explores the intersection of performance, place, and time in two,  three-channel video installations.  It features a number of performance documents of the One Year Wissahickon Park ProjectOYWPP,created through a process of self-documentation wherein the performer documents her/his own performance. 

OYWPP was a series of performances in Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley Park throughout 2007-08, featuring dancers Shavon Norris, Olive Prince, Jumatatu Poe, Noemí Segarra and myself, and percussionist and composer Toshi Makihara.  I designed it around the concept of four--- four seasons, four sites, four performances in each site for a total of 16 performances.  Performances lasted 45 minutes and were held Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM, to take advantage of the crisp morning air and angled sunlight.  I am proud to say that we completed all 16 performances, in all sorts of conditions including temperatures ranging from 20 to 98 degrees, rain, snow, sleet, high winds, and bugs! 

The Lorenzo Homar Gallery is located at Taller Puertorriqueño, 2721 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19133.  The opening reception will take place Friday Dec 7 from 5:30-8PM.   Admission is FREE.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How did it feel to perform SoMoS?

Merián Soto
My students ask me: how did it feel to perform SoMoS?

There are so many details to look after in a piece like SoMoS, so many elements, so many people involved.   It demands enormous attention, coordination,  and effort. After three,  12-14 hour days in the parking lot, my body is tired.  The temperature continues to drop, is everybody ready?   So many things can go wrong.  No use worrying, I choose to trust.

I don't think.  I don't warm-up.  I just start.  Stepping out of the summer tent we are surrounded by audiences.   No way to move to our opening spots.  I realize immediately that everything is new, chaotic.  Its unnerving.  Nothing to do but  do what we do.  Do the practice.  Slow down. Connect. Accept the moment, the people, their reactions and behavior, the technical glitches, the cold.  People's cries of delight fill the air.   Whatever is going on is OK.   The audience is with us, delighted.  It is a carnival!  I've achieved my goal. Yes!

SoMoS Oct 12, 2012

After several minutes the video finally comes on. OK, the tech people are taking care of problems.  I see Lauren Mandilian by the projector.  No sound yet in the fall area.  

Fall: Megan Mazarick, Ellen Gerdes & Merián Soto
Ellen, Megan and I move slowly towards the beginning our score.   I inch my way into the projection with  audiences oh so close, almost too close.   I begin to expand my movements; audiences back off to give me more space.   They start to watch  the play of shadows and projections, opening  up the space  a bit more.  A good fifteen minutes into the piece we have arrived at the score.  We connect with each other, our shadows, our bodies.  We deal with audiences moving through our dance, the sense of crowding — Silvana and JMo have joined us.

Summer:  Elizabeth Reynolds as the mermaid

The audience has stepped away and given us the space.   Kariamu's laughter rings out regularly  in the distance or closer  throughout.  I notice constant traffic into the summer tent.

Jumatatu Poe under a pile of branches

                                                            My impulse is to leave my group;   I want to see the piece.  I need more space.   I move away from the projection and look to frame the action from afar, moving into areas of light.  Its my piece, I can do what I want, so I go for a walk.    I watch Jumatatu for a while, and then Olive. They are the only other dancers I can see besides my group.  Winter Spring and Summer are in their respective tents. 

Merián Soto
Its playful,  engaging with the audience up close, moving  in on them, turning through the space getting as close as possible without hitting any one.  I recognize several people.

This connecting with the audience  becomes a new thematic action.    When the group finale comes around I run straight towards groups of people.   I am amazed that they hold their ground, totally unafraid of a person hurtling at them with a huge branch.   I get close to people, very close. I remember  once again my sense that  this is a practice of peace.   Obviously, this is transmitted to the audience, they trust us.   The group is connected despite the sense of disorientation from the cold and the masses.   We hold together, we hold the score.  We find the end.  Together.

I'm surrounded by friends.  They are excited by the work, they want to talk but they need to get out of the cold and scurry off.    I'm freezing;  I look around for Michael. I don' see him so I move  around the site looking for my blanket, checking that everything is ready for the next performance.   Finally, Michael brings me a blanket.  Five minutes to places! I'm not ready to do this again. 

Olive Prince
I turn to Megan and Ellen.   Are you OK?    The cold is so impossible, especially since we are  sweaty from the final running, and the wind has picked up.  I don't want to give up my blanket.  "This will be a great performance,"  I say.  I know we just have to dive in.  Don't think.  Just do the practice.  Stay connected.  

We begin again.  The audience has thinned out a bit, its quieter, less chaotic.   We can move into the score immediately.  We connect.    Slohhhhhhw down, down, down, take turns, follow the shadow plays.  Fear creeps in at moments as the wind picks up (I don't want to get sick; I don't want  anyone to get sick).  My body drops low to the ground several times looking to move away from the wind. Nothing to do but commit, go slow, stay connected.

When its time to run I experience a moment of shock.  My legs feel leaden, so heavy,  no longer two, just one heavy anchor.  Thankfully,  the sensation is transient.  I fall into the weight and immediately I am moving swiftly through the space.   I have a sense of everyone, yes!  I remember the dance just 1.5 hrs ago.   I can see we all remember.  We have all entered the structure with a sense of connection to self and to the whole.   Yes! It feels right, un-rushed, self-aware, creative,  and free.

I see that the dancers are tired, they are ready to end this.  I see the video still has several minutes to go, its not yet time!   I too want this to end but I need it to be right.  I  slow down in the turning and fall into a zone.  I fall into a prayer for clarity and inspiration for everyone here, of thanks for the fulfillment of my vision.  I see dancers stop one by one as I continue to spin  spin spin spin.   Finally I stop, dizzy.    In moments it clears.   I release the branch and catch it.  I gently place it on the ground.   I step back. The end.
The End.

All too quickly we disperse looking for warmth in our cars, in layers of clothing.    Its over.   Everything must come down.

All photos: Lindsay Browning Photography