Dreams from the West

Well, I’ve disappeared for the whole month of December. I’ll blame it on the holidays. In the meantime, let’s play catch-up.

San Francisco was a perfect escape. I felt as if I were leaving everything behind to be in a city that I barely knew. I’ve heard San Francisco has often been the place people have left their other lives behind to move to. It felt like the hills surrounding the city insulated me from my life, if at least for a few days.

So there was I was hanging out late nights in the Mission, eating at St. Francis and walking along Mission Street up towards Market, admiring the art at Galaria de la Raza and taking in the sights and sounds in the Haight and Golden Gate Park. I spent too much money at Amoeba, but they had such a selection of hard to find music that I just couldn’t resist. I had only 3 days really to take it all in, but oh the weather was gorgeous and perfect for a flaneur (as long as you’re fit enough for the hills, that is). I headed over to Berkeley on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to prep and run the minimal tech at Subterranean Arthouse. I arrived early and was lucky to meet both Aharon Wheels Bolsta and the writer Hyla Shifra Bolsta. Aharon was teching his piece inspired by the works of composer Lou Harrison. I spent the remainder of the day hanging out at the Arthouse, catching up with both Claire Duplantier and Catherine Duquette. Catherine curated the performance festival “Geographical Assemblage: Mythological Landscapes of the Body” and her piece “Triptych of the Southwest”, shown on Saturday, was mesmerizing. Claire is a co-owner of Subterranean Arthouse, a unique venue for performance, visual arts and music that deserves to be supported by anyone and everyone who knows the significance that arts spaces make in a community.

I wandered around Berkeley that afternoon for a break and noticed that the streets weren’t congested with students, as it was Thanksgiving weekend and a good majority of them were elsewhere visiting family. There were loads of nice restaurants and bars in the area and I ended up hitting an organic kebab place called Razan Organic Kitchen on Kittredge Street near the campus. Yummy delicious and highly recommended! When it started to rain (and it poured, which is very unusual for the Bay Area) I headed back over to get ready for the evening.

The festival was a success and I met some amazing artists and performers such as Minna Harri, whose work, “Raja” was an excerpt from a longer dance composition of hers that examined stillness. She writes about her choreographic process on this work here. It was one of my favorite compositions of both evenings. I also enjoyed a video by a digital media artist named Bo Sul Kim, who was not in attendance. Her video “Shadow, My Shadow” (a portion of which you can see on Bo Sul Kim’s Vimeo page ) combined interactive computer generated images with a dancer interacting with these images. I also really liked “The Shi Series” created and performed by Margit Galanter.

Anyways, that was my California experience, at least for now. I’ve been thinking it might do me well to head back out to the west coast again soon…

Of the body

I think about the body, or the concept of the body, often for my performance work. I don’t think about it perhaps the way an theater actor or a dancer may think of the body while creating compositions or stagework, though I incorporate training and conceptualization from both realms. I think about the body from the position of writing for performance and what it ends up turning into is usually a form of hybrid theater/movement-poetry. A mashup of sorts that works out in its non-linear narratives and visuals. My work somehow tries to bridge the abstractness of movement and language, which are often vying with each other.

So, I’ve been creating this performance piece and it’s been an interesting journey. This weekend I’ll show another version of it in San Francisco/Berkeley. I’m excited about it, but also a bit nervous as it’s not meant to be a solo show though it’s proving to help me create this complex character, an alterego of multiple personalities packed into a mythological body of sorts.

This version incorporates three different video renditions with performance work/choreography that was created in collaboration with Carl K. Li, Jeanie Tse, Niina Pollari, Rebekah Mindel and Rebekah Steinfeld (who also directed the WAXworks version and helped with the Hallwalls version and whose work has been a foundation for the piece’s subsequent versions). It also includes soundscapes of the text I’ve written and video work of skylines (as the piece is set in a mythological NYC). I’ll be performing it as an interactive piece this time.

Labyrinthine in its structure, it is always encompassing yet another layer of complexity with every new turn.

Here’s more info on the performance: