Archive for May, 2014

Skywatchers: Coming Together

May 23, 2014

Drumming saturates the air, the rich rhythms flooding my ears. The textures and shapes of green branches and flowering stalks form a layered tapestry of vibrant color against murals and mosaics. The height, weight and depth of space shifts and bends as the viewer moves through the Forest. Movement animates every surface and draws the attention of the passersby.

“What is that place? What is happening here?”

Curiosity overcomes pedestrians who pause in front of performers and production assistants.

 “Welcome to the Tenderloin National Forest. This is Skywatchers, a community ensemble.”

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Forest Rehearsal

In the midst of the bustling activity in preparation for Saturday’s performance, there are a few distinct moments I remember weaving together in a mash-up of unexpected and exhilarating exchanges.

• Anne positions ABD and Embodiment Project dancers at the Forest’s front gate, drawing a crowd and “street cred.”

• Charles mops the gallery floor twice and is still not satisfied.

• Bobby brings out his own drums and turns up the volume.

• June asks for her “flutes” and I offer her watermelon, mishearing “fruits.”

• John, one of our master percussionists, watches the Cuban dancers improvise and declares – “I want to work with these guys!”

• Silver Sonic brings her brother and her husband to join the ensemble.

• Hawk finds an eager ear to help refine his poetry.

• Janice offers back up for a sign language performance piece.

The sense of joy, collaboration and community energizes the evening, as our common purpose becomes Saturday night’s performance. Join us in the Tenderloin National Forest (509/511 Ellis St.), Saturday May 24, 2014. (ANNE & SASHA)

Skywatchers: Give and Receive

May 21, 2014

Weekly jam sessions continue at the Cambridge Hotel tenant lounge every Wednesday with occasional guests from the Senator Hotel. Every other week the evening extends an extra hour and is transported back to the Senator Hotel. Ideas are circulating and a performance is taking shape.

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Senator Hotel Reunion

On May 7th one of our regular resident performers walked out of a Skywatchers session at the Cambridge Hotel. It was a quiet but deliberate departure and our attention lingered on her absence for some time. We reviewed our commonly held value to make everyone feel welcome and replayed the conversation that lead up to her exit.

“I think it is important that everyone feel welcome and included,” Anne spoke out with concern.

The residents responded:

“Everyone needs to include us.”

“This is a back and forth.”

“We give and receive.”

The residents remind Anne and I that there are histories and agendas and other business here that dominates during the days we are not visiting the Cambridge Hotel.

“At least when we are together on Wednesday afternoon everybody listens,” a resident declares.

The residents encourage Anne and I to be patient. The jam session proceeds.

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Choreographing in the Forest

The following week, May 14th, we change location again and open the gates to the Tenderloin National Forest. We will continue in the Forest until the Skywatchers perform on Saturday May 24th.

Our absent Skywatcher arrives, acting on her own volition. We welcome her with smiles and waves and even before we can speak she declares, “I want to be a part of this.” (SASHA)


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