Tuesday, May 22, 2012

then & now

This blog is a bit all over the map... a place for my musings on what I find interesting, what I see and what I'm working on, be they thoughts or projects. In the past you found images of my art work, thoughts on producing, criticism mainly of local contemporary dance, philosophical rants or ramblings, etc etc. I've written little about yoga or food, which are passions of mine, but a bit about growth, be it personal or botanical. This is my first post of 2012. I'm unclear about readership (I have shared this url only rarely and when i have it has been for a variety of reasons). I wish I had written about many things over the fall / winter: homemade pizza, the effort and result of balancing action & reflection in my life, producing NYC's village halloween parade in the age of Occupy, rural vs city living, life transitions, letting go, and marking / facilitating seasonal shifts, new teaching experiences... I wish I'd publicly reviewed Everett Dace Theater's recent piece Brain Storm (my notes are still here, I still could), and shared my experience of shifting my art making focus to time based work of movement & sound. But my impetus to begin posting again is travel. I am away for nearly the entire summer and I am learning so much so fast. I want to share what I am learning and thinking about. I will post images on flicker and write here for now.

I am in the Blue Ridge Mountains (that's in Appalacchia, folks. the western part of North Carolina. More specifically, near the town of west Jefferson, in ashe county, 30 min from Boone and 2 hrs from Asheville). I am staying on Old Season Farm, the home of my former Hudson Valley roommates and their lovely baby. Teddy's long name is Theodorus, but he doesn't know that. Ted Travis has a nice ring to it, but I always fancied the idea of knowing a Theo... In any case, they have a happy home and several acres, most of which is speckled with baby orchard trees...

Short Report 1: this farm is jungly with tall grasses and wild flowers and between 150 baby hazelnut saplings. 4 sheep 9 hens and 2 roosters. my dear friends Kristen and David and their imminently walking-talking supercute yearandahalf year old have given me warm welcome. also two cats (one once ferral the other a retarded kitten), both of whom remembered me from when we were roommates, one with dread and the other with adoration. both feelings mutual! there have been onandoff thunderfests here (we are high in the mountains so it felt like a skybellyrumble) and the season's first fireflies echo it's flashes. finding my way; rhythm yet to emerge. happy. 

the resting place- hammock under a willow
Read the farm website for a glimpse into their farming techniques and philosophy. They are unique! http://www.oldseasonfarm.com/

Saturday, December 10, 2011

LostWax - BLinKinG

OR: constant change out/in side

I tried to write about Alvin Ailey when they came to town. But writing about a company who's been around for so long seemed daunting. As an untrained dancer and person who likes to think and share but doesn't aspire to be a 'critic', I never got past my struggle to write a proper disclamer, let alone to the meat of my notes.

Well it's been a busy few months since then. I had a solo visual art show, said fairewell to the person I was working on coreography with, met a new friend to go to dance performances with, danced in a site specific piece, and did my own iteration of an interactive art/performance piece. I'm no more at ease as a writer, and bearly more at ease as a "mover", but I know a bit more about biting off the right amount to chew, and I'm hoping to aply that to writing this and get it up before the night it through.

Tonight I finally saw BLINKING by LostWax (multi media dance theater) These are my parentheses. I hate to see that explanatory tag-on mess up the poetry of their name, the gist of which, combined with the piece Blinking, prove it's visionary / creater/choreographer, Jamie Jewett's preoccupation with 'what is lost' or 'what is left' or 'the peripheral'.)

Blinking is a collaboration between Jewett and R. Luke DuBois (bio quote: "composer, artist, performer who explores the temporal, verbal, and visual structures of cultural and personal ephemera". The piece has original video (projected mainly on the backdrop screen), sound (created before/during/after the creation of the video/choreography), and choreography for 8 dancers. There was some sort of tracking device used on the dancers in some parts, which created lines relating to the video projection and were then projected themselves. More (but not much more) on this part later.

So You've got the elements now. Let me start by saying that this is perhaps the ONLY dance/video piece I've ever seen where there was no chance that the video would have detracted/destracted from the live dancers. I am someone who cannot ignore a tv when its on in the room. So that's really saying something, and not that the video was a boring element. Just that there was an evenness about the balance. The movement was more compelling to me And. And the video integrated almost the way the music did-- relating to the movement in a two way street sort of way, rather than dominating it.

I think that what I'll do is simply share my notes, and elaborate where necessary. Here goes.

mother blinks sits in public looking in one direction
periodically focusing on two young boys jumping and swinging around
two dancers with similar playful interaction, eyes meeting often, amused

circle on floor in center appears almost as a rug.
dancer flips it up and it becomes a projection screen.
reminds me of tonight's full moon
gets flung aside slides across floor to stage corner and stops...
becomes light source beautiful.
second spot flood projection on floorspace dancers occupy doubles the circles' meaning

there are lines from the womans face to the boys. tons of them, thin, white, apparently in the act of mapping. they move at slight angle shifts- perception of a million details is near simultaneous. all the thoughts observations visions intake crammed into 5 seconds, 45 seconds. An hour could be a lifetime at this magnification.

Two dancers become four-
on costumes: child-like ones are in purple and green turtlenecks and black pants with the a double white runners strip on the outer seam. they are boyish, short haired, even with the sparkeling aknowliging eyes and mascara.

the next two are in black bell-ish high wasted short-pants [i want them immediately. they are perfect] and asymetrical white shirts. their sleves are a mirror of eachothers- each with a long sleve bearing two black stripes and a short bellish sleeve. I immediately think of eye lashes and eye lids. Struck again by all the doubles.

the motion here is low down, with alot of jumping up then down again.
more down than up, the reverse of the woman's eyes, the reverse of waking life.
then four became five. more white. the odd one out in a dress with two black stripes down the middle. more thoughts about lids or mediating or action or equal sighns, translators, the In Between. Who is ever in there? Who is ever not?

mother watches children clip on loop dancers in front are moving differently though.
children (projected and mirrored) are dancing in a web of protection that is the woman's act of witnessing. in a web of inaction/restriction that is her judgement, no way to know. i project both with my own eyes onto the youth in my past prestent me.

a third piece starts within the whole. it's full of two legged hop/twirls and i instantly want to learn it. all the actions have an inner logic that has to do with momentum and gravity and i want to feel the phrases in my body, if i can manage them.
here the dancers do lots of watching, and overall the piece seems on one hand to be running on Ensemble-time, that's my code for what I learned in Bogart traing - moving as a unit with hyper-listening fueling almost-symultaneous but different action. But as i watched my friend i saw she was clearly dancing to 'a different drum'. I learned later in the Q&A that each dancer in fact was counting units of either 7,8,4, 3 or 5. Woah. Then later on the dancers told me themselves that when they were learning this part they would get messed up if they so much as looked at eachother. Now they can see where they need to be based on eachother, using the structure of their relationships to one another as landmarks in the sequences of landscapes they create...

"Inner Landscapes" is a phrase that came to me later as I was watching, in fact.

A couple of thoughts I had as I watched this part:

are actions like colors in that their impact varies completely by context? (obvious but this is the first time i can remember having this thought)

part of working with momentum is an economy of energy for the dancer.

later, in next part--

and then of the girl in the dress: is she the lid the ball the vision? (nn to answer) the dream the thought the optic nerve?

there is a high surface with a sleeping dancer wearing a matching white dress.
a second dancer (the first one in the dress) dances alone below, and a sleeping woman is projected. this is the nearest parallel to a dancer and the woman on the screen.

relationships shift. there is dancer's level of activity/energy equels that of music.
and also, dancer movement is larger higher faster as music is more regular more quiet or simple. and the inverse of that also.
sharing varied measurements of a whole and sometimes being equel parts.

after awhile the dancer moves up the ladder toward the other. she "screams" a loud long "shhhhh" in her ear. its as though she is the thoughts of subconcious or activity of dream, waking the sleeper. or is she drawing her Into dream with shhhh? sleeper and second slump down platform to floor (the toes touch like a pin dropping- slow motion and ringing-perfectly precise) they dance together awhile, touching or rather moving eachother along like sisters or mirror-selves.

then the sleeper takes off her matching dress and begins to put on day clothes street clothes waking world clothes...

is she dream-walking?

betraying her dream visions in dressing.
taking waking. choosing it.
fighting away sleep, or dreams
thoughts, or that second other inner uncheckable fleeting only bearly-felt wordlss reality/part of self...

Dancer hearing sounds on stage
as a sign of change out/in side her

that poignent motion. swaying forward, hands as though heavy, wrists beside eachother as though bound...
Is Blinking a balking of life-- a balking as if at the cuffs of the landscape of conciousness?

on the bed / dock-
she alone
everyone else below the surface,
ear to ground as if listening to a pebble song
everyone else sub concious sub merged
Water. hidden or reflected
two sides of obscure

bits from the Q&A:

"a direct quote of the boys' movement"
"the video was always about Gaze"
and "main sonic element"

I am interested in a good format for thought fragments.
Please post comments with any you use / have seen.

Later, on the drive home, I recalled my art school unfoldment as an "Archaeology of the self"

Thank you to the artists and performers for their dedication in putting together an ambitious, successful and insightful work.

An Arcade Project

I was a mover in Elise Nuding's movement/archaeology site specific exploration of the Arcade, in downtown Providence, in November. It just confirmed for me that I want to be performing more, moving more. The whole process and performance was documented on her blog: anarcadeproject.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Introducing the SKULL KINGDOMS (a post mortem?)

About a year ago my sweetie Sam Holland and a mutual friend of ours (brilliant local artist musician producer mystic who shall remain nameless by choice) decided to start a band. The name is more forboding than most of our sound. So far, anyway. There are five of us, give or take, depending on the project. Most of us are untrained, and identify first as writers or visual artists. Our time playing together occurred mostly in the lovely reverb of the little bridge in India Point park, which is technically part of the east bay bike path. There were bucket drums, guitars, bass, cello, recorders & voices and an instruction: impriovise, listen as you play, go from soft drone to fuller sound and back. This description is written in past tense because we have not played together in sometime. The sound was loose. Perhaps at some point I'll post a clip of it...

This spring, I was interested in doing a couple of projects and I didn't want them to be solo ventures. They were of the art/ritual/installation/participatory sort and I thought working collaboratively would bring the energy necessary to pull them off and keep them interesting. I got the group nod to use the Skull Kingdoms name, and various members stepped forth to participate in their own ways.

Working collaboratively with what in the end were two friends from childhood who know me and who i know (or some earlier versions of them/me) rather intimately. Working together or beside eachother in what for all of us are almost always solo acts that we might even tend to think of as ritual rather than art making was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Even just being in each other's presence daily, speaking on the phone and acting (or not acting) as a team... feeling eachothers rythems and patterns and flow was SO Different, so new, so informative and Transformative. Not everything that came of the project was good, I think we'd all agree on that. But we can't say we didn't learn.

The project I'm most refering to is our Wooly Fair Pod, which we called the Den of Divination. In the end we each worked very differently, flt through envisioning the space and occupying and performing the space differently. Wooly's theme was To The Moon, and in a strange way our pod was like a tent on the frontier- one where scavanged remainders of objects from the home planet were treasured for their relationship to our deepest sense of place... It bacame our cave for medetation, our alter for prayer, our fiery performance space. Alchemy was the goal. There were places for written reflection, there was an invitation to do your own devining--- let your eyes and sense travel the tent. notice where they settle, to what they are drawn. Nothing is a cooincidence. From this, what can you learn about yourself and your current state? Outside was a wild party, but inside, party goers dropped to their knees, rearranged the fountain, fell quiet and still. I was astounded.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Current: Exploring Embodiement

Above is a detail from the installation piece in my latest solo show.

Here is a set of photos showing the pieces and how they were installed. i think of this as a single body f work, united by theme and in many cases approach. let me know what you think! http://natashamaria.zaplife.com/

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

fun fun fun!

Revisiting some fast and fun collaborations I made with my sweetie a while back.
They are short little videos, or animations of quick successions of still shots, actually.
See one here http://vimeo.com/25167490 I call DRIP
and another here: http://vimeo.com/5858382 This one is vibration :-)
I love the ease and joy of presentness they represent.
Observe a phenomena. Play with it. Capture it. Share it. So simple!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Through My Eyes: Brown's 2011 Festival of Dance, Stuart Theater

For some reason i like to write about dance
Here's what I got down tonight:

Enter Comma Prepare is not a minimal dinner party but rather a social event, gone mechanized… Like any good film about drugs I found the dancer body/mind state to be contagious. "Is that what -yes sometimes thats what- I'm like" runs through my head. It is almost a simon says with audio instruction, video projection, tables and well dressed Brown students. Dancers follow prompts like robots, only they each interpret 'left arm back' a little differently, and when malfunction or overload occur, they shut out the input by masking face with hands. Although somewhat silly and alyrical, Enter Comma Prepare has an eery familiarity.

Another modern work by the Dance Extension starts with sound continues with action linked to sound like a code. But the tight correlation quickly disintegrates. Also humorous at moments and grey in mood, Ms. Sokolow and her dancers direct attention to subtlety with ease: the sound of fingernails tapping, and chin protrusions. Not your typical dancers-on-chairs-piece, associations with flopping fish gasping for air, and alien-amphibian frogs are as organic as it gets.

Watching first and reading later, I felt Overlay was certainly a collaborative exploration of related movement by pairs or groups of dancers. Apparently it was. It's irony was much appreciated.


Enter muse, chaos, goddess Kali and all her fullness. When a work credits three individuals and one theater troupe with "conception, choreography, text, music and direction" you can assume there will be a lot going on. Indeed. There were puppet makers, an aerial coach and a masquerade coach. Some viewers will need coaching too. This being my second experience of a Michelle Bach-Kubali premiere, I was as prepared as one little human could be.

Advice to viewers: Don't work too hard to follow a 'story' though it may be presented as such at first. Instead let the presence of the story simply lead you in. It will give way to the conviction of the performers and the emotional/elemental -dare I say alchemical shifts swarming around you.

If you try for the story you get something like this: boy in civil war corresponds with younger sister or sweetheart? dies of typhoid fever. girl and her doll morn. live in haystacks? turn witchy. Doll escapes or gets stolen. Then tells us her side- tortured servitude as comfort giver (slap cuddle slap). From there it is sexual, animal, dark chaotic and amorphous. Choreography is fast and emotional, a landscape of individuals, hearts beating wildly in all directions, a pack of beasts prowling.

What is certain is this: Luna Rise was a massive undertaking which clearly and generously embraced collaborative process as a method of investigation. The live music was awesome, and the entire cast and crew were dedicated with a willing-to-go-there-not-knowing-if-theres-even-a-there-there attitude. No doubt, inspiration and deep inquiry can be this messy, and this beautiful.