process

I intended to have written something more about this process by now, but time slips by when you’re living. Suddenly, I am in Chincha Alta, Peru, and so much beautiful magic has happened since I last wrote. Over the 9 weeks leading up to my departure this past Sunday, Chelsea, Desiree and I developed what I would like to think of as first drafts of their solos. In that same timeframe, Geminelle crafted first drafts of sound scores for the pieces.  I am really excited about these new pieces; as with the film components of the work, they are explorations of universal narratives I find heartrending, embodied through present moment experiences the dancers graciously offer through collaborative research. Chelsea and Desiree (as well as Geminelle) have each poured a substantial amount of themselves into these solos that feels truly palpable to me as I watch (and listen).

Chelsea

aloneness vs. loneliness

When Chelsea and I first began, my initial line of inquiry revolved around the possible distinction between aloneness and loneliness. For the sake of our research, I identified my definitions of being alone (or aloneness) as suggesting qualities of solitude, autonomy, resolve, independence…. loneliness, on the other hand, carries an emotional tone for me- being without other(s) in such a way that elicits feelings of isolation, sadness or anger, longing…

In our conversations, Chelsea expressed her own experiences of aloneness and loneliness, which guided our exploration in a more specific direction: sometimes we create barriers within ourselves out of self-preservation, keeping everyone at arms length which breeds a self induced loneliness. Can we break that cycle when it isn’t serving us? Can we develop a relationship to softening and vulnerability that is an empowered offering and source of connectivity rather than an avoided state of being that we fear or reject?

  I used to think that saying “goodbye” to a love one was going to be the hardest thing in my life. That isolated experience, that exact moment of saying “goodbye” was actually the easy part. My Grandma Nellie lived with enduring pain for the last years of her life, from an injured shoulder, a broken hip, a knee surgery gone wrong and to top it all off, cancer was eating her alive. She kept telling me how bored she was and that she was ready for God to take her away already. It was actually a relief that she could finally rest in peace. The “hardest thing” (or “loneliest part”) is continuing to live without her, no longer receiving her phone calls or letters, etc.    I never fully understood the importance of funerals until now. I was not able to attend her funeral; in fact, I am not aware that there was one (complicated family relations). These events were created for the people who are still alive, to help them mourn and move on. Zaquia has given me the opportunity to start a process of commemoration with others. Through ritual and memory, I feel like her spirit lives on. What used to be tears of sadness are now tears of celebration. I rejoice, in gratefulness, that I knew a woman like my Grandma. She lives on through the traditions she taught me, through the music we used to listen to, and through this dance. Each time I practice this piece, I believe it is a movement prayer in honor of her and the many souls who have passed in and out of this world. *Thank you Zaquia for this opportunity to heal, grieve and celebrate.

I used to think that saying “goodbye” to a love one was going to be the hardest thing in my life. That isolated experience, that exact moment of saying “goodbye” was actually the easy part. My Grandma Nellie lived with enduring pain for the last years of her life, from an injured shoulder, a broken hip, a knee surgery gone wrong and to top it all off, cancer was eating her alive. She kept telling me how bored she was and that she was ready for God to take her away already. It was actually a relief that she could finally rest in peace. The “hardest thing” (or “loneliest part”) is continuing to live without her, no longer receiving her phone calls or letters, etc.

I never fully understood the importance of funerals until now. I was not able to attend her funeral; in fact, I am not aware that there was one (complicated family relations). These events were created for the people who are still alive, to help them mourn and move on. Zaquia has given me the opportunity to start a process of commemoration with others. Through ritual and memory, I feel like her spirit lives on. What used to be tears of sadness are now tears of celebration. I rejoice, in gratefulness, that I knew a woman like my Grandma. She lives on through the traditions she taught me, through the music we used to listen to, and through this dance. Each time I practice this piece, I believe it is a movement prayer in honor of her and the many souls who have passed in and out of this world. *Thank you Zaquia for this opportunity to heal, grieve and celebrate.

death and ritual

Desiree’s solo explores ritual in relationship to death. How do we honor this kind of ending? What is lost? What remains? It was important to me that we attend to this particular theme with a sense of reverence for our personal experiences with death. Along with reflections on the loss of our friends and other family members, Desiree has been reflecting on the loss of her Grandmother Nellie, who passed away last winter, and the piece incorporates some of my memories of my grandparents who have passed.

<<--- Desiree wrote a little bit about her experience to share in this blog. 

Water and smoke became an integral part of this piece as means of cleansing and activating the space. Geminelle has infused the piece with reflections of her own on the passing of her father. The music she’s working on feels like the perfect synthesis of all of the reflections we are each attending to. It is a genuine tribute to love, longing, and reverence that come through beautifully in the vocals, rhythm, and trumpet creating the perfect sound-space for Desiree’s journey.

I am deeply honored that these women have been so generous with dropping in to this work. They will continue to work in San Diego while I am in Peru- serving as eyes for each other and sending me video along the way. I can’t wait to see how these works have grown by the time I see them again in Mexico City!

Now begins my next journey- diving in to my own solo. This may be (or more honestly, IS) the hardest part of the loneliest part of here is now to date. How do I begin? I am not entirely sure, but I do know that beginning is the first step ;)

“But all the fighting in the world will not help us if we do not also hope. What i'm trying to cultivate is not blind optimism or inane positivity but what the philosopher Jonathan Lear calls radical hope. 'What makes this hope radical,' Lear writes, 'is that it is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is.' Radical hope is not so much something you have but something you practice; it demands flexibility, openness, and what Lear describes as 'imaginative excellence.' Radical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible. Only radical hope could have imagined people like us into existence. And I believe that it will help us create a better, more loving future.” - Junot Díaz, Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times