I've been thinking and making work about traveling, about pathways, about journeys. I had made a dance film for the Going Dutch Festival in Elgin last year called "Pathways," and had the opportunity to expand upon those ideas and create an evening of live performance at Old Town Actors Studio in Pocatello. The biggest challenge was that the rehearsal period stretched out from December to the end of January, with me being gone for a three week stretch in the middle. It was stressful, but all worked out in the end and together we created an interesting evening of multi-generational and partially improvised performance. I don't necessarily make art "For Kids" but I tend to enjoy having them in the audience, and there was something very special about seeing all different ages, and parents with their kids, moving on stage together. The audience was invited to draw pathways or text relating to pathways on fabric panels as they came in, and we all joined together to draw big sprawling pathways all over the theatre by the end. Kelsey Rain Palmer gifted us with a beautiful song she wrote to end the evening with.
My favorite moment was when an audience member who sat in the back because she was very much NOT interested in any interactive shenanigans, was one the first people to grab a piece of chalk and start drawing paths at the end of the show. More and more, I am interested in creating work that breaks the fourth wall and encourages connection with the audience. I want to give them permission to bring a little bit of their own creativity into the experience we are having together. I believe that everybody has creativity within them, and sometimes we all just need a little bit of encouragement to let it out.
This is a show that I would like to expand upon and offer as a workshop/performance experience, you can check out my repertory page if you would be interested in hosting it.
After working with a group in geographically disparate areas (Australia, Atlanta GA, Tallahassee FL, Canada, and me in Idaho) via Google hangouts for a year, we gathered in Tallahassee to meet everybody face to face and work together. We became a little bit like a small creative family in those three weeks together, and every single one of them holds a special place in my heart. (And yes, I miss them and would love to sit down at a dinner table with all of them again. Our shared meals were a highlight of the experience.)
You can get a more in-depth look at this process and performance at the Callous Physical Theatre website here:
These are the reflections I wrote shortly after returning home:
When I boarded the plane in Pocatello, Idaho bound for Tallahassee, Florida, I was not sure exactly what to expect. I was heading toward three people who I had worked with in person for many years and greatly enjoyed the experience, and three people who I had connected with during the course of the year-long project via google hangouts and hoped I would enjoy collaborating with.
I had originally joined this iteration of Laptop Performance Laboratory: modular play for several reasons. It gave me a chance to work with people who had moved away and stay connected to them. It gave me a chance to continue the explorations I had been a part of in the Global Corporeality and Laptop Performance Laboratory: bridges projects. I looked forward to meeting new people and expanding my artistic connections once more beyond Idaho. It gave me a chance to return to a type of project I had began as a student after working and traveling as an independent artist, and see how that changed and informed the experience.
I went into the project without specific goals, but I did want to make sure I was productively and actively contributing to whatever the end result of the three weeks would be. I learned that even if I was unsure on where everything would go and how it would all work together, starting somewhere, no matter how small, was a way to enter into the work. (It was also necessary to be comfortable with the idea that suggestions and work may end up being discarded, and to make peace with that possibility.) The framework of the seven significant words helped a great deal in finding and scaffolding an entry point.
The days were long, and could be challenging. I discovered that while when working alone, I enjoy setting my own schedule and having a great deal of flexibility, when working with a group of people I felt much better once there was a set structure and schedule, it helped to have some expectations of what any given day would hold. I was expecting the work to be mentally and physically tiring, but found the emotional exhaustion to be a bit of a surprise. Looking back, I can see that it was the result of dealing with the conflicts that came up because of everyone being invested in the work. Conflict and tension have always been difficult for me to deal with, but at the base there was a deep respect between everyone involved and I soon realized that even if we were embroiled in a rough patch, with a bit of time and space everything ended up working out. I felt immensely lucky as well to be working with supportive people who deeply understood the need for occasional solitude, as well as a strong support system back at home. (It was a bit amusing to be using those same technological tools that had facilitated this project to help connect with family and keep on an even emotional keel during the residency.)
I was surprised to find some resistance in myself to the whole collaborative process, as well as taking direction as we were working on the performance side of things. It was an adjustment after several years of doing solo work and creating as a director that I had not anticipated having to make. I will always enjoy the independence and freedom of being a freelance artist, but this reminded me of the messy, complicated joy of community.
This project reconfirmed for me that I find something very satisfying in deeply and intensely diving into one project for a very focused burst of time, and has prodded me to explore artist residencies and other possibilities for pursuing work in this way. I have become more interested in visual art in the past several years, and I found the creation of a large installation and incorporation of it into a performance to be something that I definitely want to think about pursuing further.
The previous year has been a very upsetting one for me, and this opportunity to focus on creating so intensely was very cathartic, and I carried that with me after I got home. It was a reminder that even in times of upheaval, it is important to dive in and do the work of creating.
Gonna be working on using this blog more in the upcoming year, so in an attempt to get the ball rolling, gonna be doing some individual "year in review" posts for projects I did over the last year!
Hitting the road again in September to take a new show to the Elgin Fringe Festival. If you can spare a few dollars to support an independent artist, click here! https://www.gofundme.com/taking-quotshellquot-to-elgin-fringe
One year later, we have met for three weeks in Florida and created an installation and a performance. You will be able to watch the livestream Jan 5 at 5:30pm EST (3:30 pm MST) here:
As 2017 comes to a close, I am in Florida working on an artists residency with Callous Physical Theatre. It has been by turns exciting, frustrating, tiring, overwhelming, stimulating, and all around awesome. I am working with a group of people I absolutely adore. We finish up with a performance installation this Friday at the Florida State University campus in their beautiful dance building.
You can follow that adventure here:
Expect more pictures and a year in review post when I am back in Idaho in another week.
Dancers! I am currently looking for 1-3 women dancers in the Pocatello area for a dance film project (titled "Path") to be screened at the Going Dutch Festival in Elgin, Illinois this summer!
I need strong improvisers who are also willing to do some movement creation work independently, and enjoy a collaborative process. We will be shooting outdoors (probably mostly in the Caribou National Forest area) so a tolerance for a certain level of dirt, mud, bugs, weather. and other general outdoor stuff is required. (I will provide transportation.)
Dancers and movers of all ages, sizes, shapes, and levels of experience are encouraged to apply!
Interested? Send a short writing sample around the theme of "Path" to Julie@CreativeMoves.com, and I will schedule an audition appointment with you from there.
There will be a stipend for performers.
EDITED TO ADD: For the writing sample, it can be poetry, prose, stream of consciousness, etc. I am looking for creative expression, not perfect academic writing.
Definitely not my most subtle work, but something that I needed to get out.
I have been remiss in getting up a post about my final Fringe Festival experience of the year - Scranton PA! Pictures! (There are a LOT! Between the fest AND traveling by train...well, it was a well documented trip!)
Okay, first things first - if you ever have the opportunity to travel across the country via train, I suggest you do it! I saw amazing sights (The Rockies viewed from the train observation car are STUNNING) and met some amazing people. Australians, Brits, a Scottish gentleman, a formerly Budhist monk in training who had decided that life was not for him, and of course folks from all over the US as well. Including one older lady who was also traveling by herself. Traveling by yourself is fantastic. You should really try to do it at least once. Also met an awesome musician (Hello Heidi!) who was playing her guitar, and started a lovely friendship! (Mostly via facebook, but in this day and age, that counts, right?) We bonded over worrying about the French kids who got thrown off the train in Provo. (I still don't know what happened to them. I hope they ended up being all right.)
Now, have I mentioned that Fringe people just tend to be awesome? Because Fringe people tend to be awesome. When they realized my bus was arriving a day before out of town performers were going to be able to check into the hotel, co-founder of Scranton Fringe Elizabeth took the time during a franticly busy time for her to pick me up at the station, and co-founder Connor's family opened their home to me so I would have a place to sleep for the night. I am very grateful! The Scranton Hilton was serving as a sponsor and venue for the festival, and they put up out of town artists. It was nice to be able to take the elevator down a floor to catch some of the events. In fact, the entire festival was extremely walkable - which was good, since I had taken the train and did not have access to a car.
After a multiple day train trip, and arriving late at night, I of course said. "SUUUURE...let's get up at four in the morning to go do the Ryan Lachey show with a bunch of other artists. (I am glad to report that Connor shares my philosophy that asking theatre people to do anything before noon requires feeding and caffeinating them!) It was great fun, a nice way to meet other perfomers, and also opening night festivity host Molly Balloons! She makes these incredible dresses out of balloons. And if you think a person who makes a living from balloons seems like they would be super duper fun to hang out with? YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!
We had the opening night party, and the next morning Cody and I checked out Steamtown National Park. If you are ever going to go to a train museum? Try really hard to go with a train fan. It makes it so much fun, and you can ask them a bunch of questions! (Cody was also performing his train themed kids show as "Conductor Cody" as part of the festival.) We were also lucky enough to be there when they were doing rides on the steam train. I wasn't sure I wanted to add more train riding to my schedule, but how often do you get to ride a steam powered train? Check out Cody's website here!
A teen playwrighting workshop was having staged readings as part of the festival. Elizabeth called me, wondering if I would be interested in stepping in to read for it. YES, of course! I have such a soft spot for teenagers, especially the theatre babies. I walked over to the cutural hall to meet and rehearse, and then that was my first performance for the festival the very next day. These kids are writing some good stuff, and it was an honor to help bring their words to life. Keep an eye out for some good theatrical writing coming out of Scranton in the next decade or so!
WHAT I SAW
"The World Will Stop if we Make a Mistake"
Sarah Stachura Regan and Patrick Holmes
So delightful. The programs were also coloring books, there were puppets, animation and film, so this show was already right up my alley. Charming and fun, but also touching and hopeful.
"The Hugging Army: a meditative journey"
Vanessa Leigh White Fernandes
Oh, how I needed this one. Vanessa has been offering free hugs to the people in Scranton for a while now, and this was a reflection and meditation on her experiences. With many many hugs at the end. And after many days of traveling solo, well, it did not take long for me to tear right up. Some of my hugs tended to be extra long, but they were all generously returned. Humans can be so lovely to each other.
Gaslight Theatre Co.
A play made up entirely of online reviews, mostly of a toaster. It sounds a bit bizarre. In actuality, it was hysterically funny and oh so very human.
"I'm Still Standing"
Sharp, witty, wry, passionate storytelling from Maggie Nutall. There seems to be a lot of storytellers attracted to Fringe scene. And there's something just really nice about the simplicity of just taking the time to sit and listen to another person tell you their story.
"Happy Birthday Mr Lunesta"
Cabaret, burlesque, and sideshow/variety shenanigans! Also, I have now talked to two different accordian players whose answer to "So, how did you come to be an accordian player?" was essentially to shrug and say, "Well, you see, there was this accordian sitting in the closet..."
"Retrospective: a journey to the center of a pop icon"
New Vintage Ensemble
I'm just going to borrow my own words from my facebook post right after I saw this one:
The kids are alright, y'all. They are speaking out, they are creating, they are passionate and they give me hope. Their voices are important. What a wonderful way to end Fringe.
Hello, I'm Julie and Dance owns my soul
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