we are going back to SF tomorrow for a week. i’m excited but right now i’m also very tired and so please excuse the immediate lack of enthusiasm.
i know things will be good though when straight off the plane i am going to the documentary screening and reception for the full-length performance BadUnklSista produced earlier this year, which I will forever remember as a very special occasion. and the music!! listen here:
This event is free – here is info:
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (PST)
Z Space San Francisco
450 Florida St
San Francisco, CA 94110
last week/end’s performance was magic. and i mean that in a very grounded way – a very real-and-not-imagined way. once we got on stage for rehearsal wednesday night, in full dress but with no audience, and the music started, and julia’s operatic voice lifted to the rafters, and the hands of the musicians hit their instruments and drums and strings, i sat there and it really hit me and i realized how amazing it was, and how the music was so beautiful (huge props to musician and musical director goyo aranaga) i could listen to it for days. and then i realized…..i could. there were 3 days of rehearals and performances. and i could be present for all of them (it was my choice how many shows i did, as mine was only a supporting role). and i decided i would. and the music only got better.
in the 4 performances over the next 3 days, between going to work in the daytime and then going to the theatre and putting on our white make-up and amazing costumes and everyone in the cast being fun and talented and wonderful and amazing and getting on stage and for 90 minutes creating a dream, an offering of bodies and tears and music and sculpture and art and dance, and having the audience respond so well and participate in that with us – it was magic. the real kind.
we gave everything and more.
it was hard, sometimes, standing there in the middle of the stage, believing that that’s where i was, who i was with, what i was doing, who i am.
i was and am so grateful for everything Bad Unkl Sista has given to me.
and thank you so much to everyone who came out to support. seeing your faces, hearing your reactions – it was so important to us for you to be there.Filed in art, autobiographical | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
butoh contains all of the things that i usually avoid. group activities. games. rituals. prayerformance. contact dance with other humans. separately, in other contexts, i do not often engage in these things. but the philosophy, the intention, and the aesthetic of butoh makes these activities therapeutic for me, like yoga. extreme mindfulness. patience. stillness. giving your all with every breath, every movement. putting it all out there, especially the things you might not want to show.
i had no idea what this was when i first met Anastazia in 2006. our first interactions were fashion related, as she was making and selling costumes when she first moved to SF. but time went by and she moved her focus back to her primary art, performance, and i moved with her.
and now this weekend we are in the midst of the largest production in SF to date – First Breath – Last Breath: a full theatre production, all our own, sharing the bill with no one else, 90-100 minutes on stage.
this cast is really amazing – seasoned butoh dancers, aerialists, a contortionist, an opera singer, sets by SF artist Shrine, and the live music with is incredibly unique and beautiful. i feel so lucky to be a part.
the title refers to the cycle, and cycles, of life, but it is also personally very fitting for me right now. BadUnklSista was my first real breath as a non-fashion-performance artist on a stage, and due to life shifts, this is likely going to be my last performance for a long while.
“about the liminal spaces between the defining moments of our lives.”Filed in art, autobiographical, bay area gems, events, friends | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
last night we went to see our (awesome!!!) friend Mary Franck’s conceptual-performance piece, Permutae.
i had so many millions of things to say while sitting in that dark theatre, and now i barely recall all of the places my mind went.
i don’t know why i resist loving conceptual art so much. i think it’s because i can’t actually articulate why, and so when, afterward, i say “i absolutely loved it” and someone asks “why?” i feel suddenly unprepared, embarrassed to explain. why do bodies moving absurdly through abstract scapes to nonmelodic sounds cause my self to dissolve? the body as vocabulary, skin as an instrument: this speaks to me.
all i know is that not long after the performance started i realized that almost my entire body was moving also, while most of the rest of the audience sat still, the man next to me fully asleep. not only do i enjoy watching, i uncontrollably want to be doing what they are doing.
i have an artist ticket to burning man this year, from doing butoh with BadUnklSista for BRAF and such. it makes me feel odd as i still do not describe or consider myself an artist. but i think that i might do a solo butoh piece somewhere on the playa. i will not tell anyone when or where.
Filed in art, burning man, friends | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!“
- Alice, in Wonderland
i love synchronicity, even if oblique.
as posted, BadUnklSista, the butoh performance group i often dance with, is doing a 2-night production in SF this weekend @http://counterpulse.org/ , a double-bill with The Carpetbag Brigade, an unlikely composition of amazing performance artists who are currently doing an extremely mad take on Jack and the Beanstalk. while some of BUS performances are loose, organic pieces that we rehearse very little for, this one was choreographed, and because i was back east visiting my family last weekend, i wasn’t able to attend the rehearsals and therefore wasn’t able to participate as a performer. we went as audience members last night instead. jay asked afterward why i so like abstract performance art – what do i get out of it/what do i love about it? (a side topic being that i don’t think people can choose what kind of art (including music) moves them. you can try to make yourself like an art form, but really i think you either do or you don’t, n’est-ce pas?) i can’t explain how much it moves me, every time, but i’ll try.
do you have those dreams, where nothing makes sense, you’re not even sure who/what/where, but you wake up with a feeling as though you witnessed something so deep it meant everything? i have them often, and the Carepetbag Brigade’s “You Don’t Know Jack” performance was as such, with people doing odd things with unexpected objects, saying things that on the surface sound like mad gibberish but when digested, when it all hits you as one piece, as a whole, seems so universal that it means everything. the poetic dialogue and songs were interwoven in odd but meaningful ways, the words carefully chosen, the physicality rich and directive, and at the end i felt as if awaking from one of those dreams. i couldn’t quite grasp what had happened, but i felt changed by it.
and then, Bad Unkl Sista’s performance, which i won’t even attempt with the details. most prominently, I am completely in love with Totter Todd‘s music right now (the dark place inside that you act from but never look at/swallow your fear, swallow it whole/you’re killing yourself with your own beauty). BUS performances are always an honest and intense look at that which we are, the pieces of ourselves which we hide, which we let eat us from the inside, and the joy at relieving ourselves from such self-inflicted prisons. there’s a certain part of myself that i am really not liking these days (in short: judgmental, and vocally), which is often exacerbated by visiting my family, and the performance last night brought a lot of that to the surface. i am thinking i need a long strand of red string to tie around my wrist as a reminder of a few things i need to work on for a while (in the performance, such a string was used as a representation of your fear(s), which it is suggested in both song and action that you ingest, digest, and then regurgitate into something that tastes like relief).
thank you Bad Unkl Sista for always bringing such beauty, whether i am inside it or watching from afar. there’s another performance tonight @counterpulse in SF, which i’m sure will be similar but different. if you like intensity and songs and dances and abstract dreams that seem to say almost nothing directly but mean everything, i highly encourage you to attend tonight.
what does this have to do with rabbit holes and synchronicity? the new Alice in Wonderland opened in SF this weekend, and we have a large crew (30+) who will be going to see it tonight, many of us in costume. and while the Disney version is just fine, those who have read the original texts know that Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass are much more than childrens’ stories, and are quite philosophically intricate and more than a little bit metaphysical. it’s obvious why the psychedelic community latched onto its metaphors.
so with all the anticipation for the new film and mind wandering in that direction for this past week, particularly visiting my mother, who has an enormous collection of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia in her dining room/living room cabinets (indeed: dolls and figurines and books and all sorts of collectors items), walking out of the performance last night felt like the start of a weekend-long visit down the rabbit hole. then after another night of intense, crazy dreams, waking up this morning, it’s true: i’m really not sure i am the same person i was when i went to sleep last night, and if not, who that means i am today.Filed in art, bay area gems, dreams, events, oracles | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
i never imagined i’d perform butoh before i did it. sometimes i see myself dong this crazy thing, this macabre expression, this walking slowly with fists clenched looking as though in anguish and/or frozen joy, face painted white and knees trembling, this shamelessly raw unfettered expression, this adoration of the self. who would want or need this?
the workshop i did last weekend involved walking really, really slowly across a room but maintaining intense presence, resistance activities with partners (e.g. pushing eachother backward as hard as you can),
imagining an object is the physical manifestation of everything good about yourself and offering it to others (projection), imaging an object is everything bad about yourself and sharing it with others,
running ecstatically, using breath to create energy waves in the body.
i know it might sound silly, but think about it: it’s the kinds of things you might have done as a small child, games to play with yourself and others, and don’t do anymore. it feels good.
also: it can be physically intense. i was sore for 3 days after last weekend. but it doesn’t have to be. you can take it easy on yourself too.
there is a free workshop this weekend in SoMa SF. if you are interested, let me know, and i will point you the way.
Filed in art, autobiographical, bay area gems, things you can do | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
Bad Unkl Sista is offering free introductory butoh and multi-genre performance training for anyone interested…no performance or dance skills required…the only thing required is a desire to see yourself and others from a different angle..
i have found myself passing this one to a few people over the past couple of days, for distinctly different reasons, and it also relates much to how and why i do the kind of performance art it do, so figure i might as well share it with everyone: Continue reading »Filed in art, autobiographical, philosophical ramblings | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh | Comment (0)
in stillness pose @ Metamorphica drawing workshop, 02 May 2009
photo by Nadia Mogilev
costuming by Bad Unkl Sista
saturday night i participated again as a model in the figure drawing workshop Metamorphica, this time with Anastazia of Bad Unkl Sista as the designer/stylist, and as models/performers, we were doing variations of butoh performances, which can quickly be described as involving “playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments, and is traditionally “performed” in white-body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion.” butoh is both tense and intense, physically and emotionally. to channel and radiate your physical, emotional, and mental energy as hard as you can is both a creative and destructive process. i love having a creative outlet for tension, anxiety, anger, fear etc where there is no expectation of propriety or beauty. it’s raw, and intense, and i love it. we also got to create/dress/costume ourselves from staz’s huge stash of butoh costumes, which was fun!
after standing like the photo above, my first pose, for 20 minutes, i was instructed to go over to the nearby chair and take about 5 minutes to find a way to attach myself to it with the fabric pieces hanging off the handcuffs before taking a still pose again, but while doing so i got really into this idea of creating constraints/tension for yourself, fighting really hard against it, and then finally discovering that you can just let yourself free. i kind of got into my own little performance – i was nearly sweating doing this, tying the fabrics around the legs and back of the chair, pulling against them as hard as i could, changing position, retying myself up, doing it again, until finally in the end, after about 10 or 15 minutes, after all this struggle and self-restraint, i stood up and took off the handcuffs, still tied to the chair. my skirt also happened to fall off at this moment, and i stood there, barely dressed for a minute, and then fell to my hands and knees.
here is an amazing watercolor from a later pose done by one of the participating artists:
all of the artists in the room were instructed to write one word on a piece of paper that embodied how they felt about what we were doing, or what they thought we were presenting to them. i chose the words “confusion” and “regret” (not sure if that means the people who wrote them were confused and regretful about being there, or if that’s what they thought we were presenting to them…) and so i stood for 15 minutes, staring straight forward, head tilted to the side, focusing on these emotions, confusion and regret, and i did really go deep into that for a while. but then anastazia came out and came up next to me and sat down and held my hand, and all the confusion and regret i had been building up inside, i let it go. and it was such a wonderful moment for me.
my body was definitively sore the next morning – i really did put a lot of physical energy into everything i was doing; i have no idea if that radiates AT ALL or if i look like i’m just standing there staring, but nonetheless it’s a really great experience for me, and i am very happy to have it in my life.Filed in art, autobiographical, bay area gems, fashion, personal favorites, photos | Tagged with badunklsista, butoh, metamorphica | Comment (1)