Archive for October, 2013

Skywatchers: “Go Farther”

October 21, 2013

The gates to the Tenderloin National Forest open during twilight on Sunday October 6th. Inside it is hard to distinguish between performers and spectators. There is no difference in our roles when Spontaneous Choir Director Melanie DeMore leads us in a sidewalk procession around the city block to begin this installation of Skywatchers. Almost one hundred people stroll together following amplification of song and spoken word. Unsuspecting bystanders either step back into doorways to watch us pass or step out to join us. Pedestrians across the street mirror our movement and dance and cheer. People peer out from their windows and directly above us the sky catches shades of orange and pink from the setting sun.


Melanie DeMore leads the Procession

“Next year we should go farther. We came back too soon,” Donel reflects after the procession.

“You took them to a place they hadn’t been in a long time – smiling,” Janice exclaims.


From Behind the Fence

We are welcomed back into the Tenderloin National Forest by dancers who move along walls, behind fences and in-between trees, animating prerecorded interviews. Spectators move through the space, hesitant at first, learning how to explore the simultaneous presentations in an unfamiliar place. We rise, we sing, and during “The Right to Free Sleep” the man standing beside me, carrying too much to appear comfortable, verbally agrees with every phrase.


“The Right to Free Sleep”

The presentations cycle through a second round and spectators are visibly and voluntarily more mobile and more connected to the surroundings. A change occurs during this gathering.

“We calmed the air,” Mr. Banks remarked.

“People were still talking about it the next day. No fighting, no arguing all night long. I could really sleep,” Janice added. “It was really special. I felt responsible.”

“I couldn’t think of a better place to be,” our resident percussionist Bobby was overheard saying.

I agree. (SASHA)

Please visit our photo album.

Special thanks to our resident co-creators, performers and partners.

Skywatchers: Anticipating Tonight’s Performance

October 6, 2013

Ellis Street at Sunset

The Skywatchers dress rehearsal Friday night was mysterious and magical. As the sun set our senses became even more heightened to this dynamic environment of the Tenderloin. The shadows of dancers and the sounds of storytelling created an uncommon intimacy in this public and provocative neighborhood.

True to the Skywatchers development process, the performance is fluid and overlapping, and spontaneous movements and emotions catch us by surprise. These are the days when we truly feel our interconnectedness. Our performance depends on participation and on witnesses and on trust.

The day we have been waiting for has arrived. Now it’s almost noon and Hawk, one of our resident co-creators at the Senator Hotel, is calling to make sure there are no discrepancies. We are anticipating his arrival just as much as he anticipates ours. Tonight we will celebrate our collective talents and we will celebrate our social connections. Please join us! (SASHA)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

6:15 pm – 8:00 pm

Tenderloin National Forest: 509 Ellis Street, San Francisco, 94109


Dancers in the Tenderloin National Forest: Photo by Deirdre Visser

Skywatchers: How to Dream

October 2, 2013

In the notorious Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco sidewalk activity is constant and plentiful. Pedestrians move at different speeds, from slow to swift, suggesting a social stratigraphy of purpose, as if to say – after all it took to get me here, I’m going to take my time  – or – don’t mind me, I’m just passing through. People who are claiming space in the Tenderloin do so with their bodies and various sound systems. No matter what time of day or night it is when I am in this area, I experience the sensation of walking through a rushing river – the current never seems to stop.


Tenderloin National Forest Entrance

“The Right To Free Sleep” is a performance piece written by Senator Hotel resident Rennon, choreographed by his neighbors and directed by Anne Bluethenthal for the upcoming Skywatchers production. When we rehearse I am reminded of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that as much as we have a right to free speech and self-expression, we have a right to rest and relaxation. Sleep has become increasingly elusive during this faster-better-more era either due to excessive external stimulation or internal preoccupation. When we ask residents what they remember about last year’s Skywatchers installation, a common theme is enjoying the serenity and beauty of the Tenderloin National Forest where the performance was and will again be staged. Once a neglected alley, this inlet from the street has been transformed into a place to sit and smell the rosemary. One of our performers, June, always collects a bundle before we leave to carry the aroma back into the paper-thin walls of her single occupancy residency. (SASHA)


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