Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Dance’

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Nine: Forgiveness Project Performance on our Last Day in Yaroslavl

March 27, 2013

Frances and I took deep breaths and fit so much into our last day in the Festival and in Yaroslavl, I kind of can’t believe it as I’m writing it. First, we visited a pristine, old monastery, then a scarf shop where I got souvenirs for those back home, a few other final purchases, another visit to that amazing café Anna took us to before…and lastly…our final performance!

Downtown Yaroslavl

Downtown Yaroslavl

It was such a tremendous experience and honor to create so many deep, personal, artistic, and professional connections with so many people, help create a dynamic, timely work that—according to many audience members—was able to transcend language barriers, and take in a city filled with so much history, in such a short amount of time. The comments on our performance from earlier in the week trickled in every subsequent day. Seems in spite of the difficulty of translating poetic and phonetically nuanced text, audience members were moved and very curious – requests to read the text were many – Both the organizers and press interviewers wanted to know more about dance that addresses “social issues.” This was gratifying – having the chance to have ongoing dialogue to deepen the work and to foster some more understanding and conversation.

Performing for the last time in the Festival marked both the end of our day to day, nearly hour to hour work with other artists, but also our stay in Yaroslavl… We barely slept and literally left at 2am in order to make it back to Moscow in preparation for our last day in Russia. (ANNE)

Amazing rush performing for the last time in Yaroslavl. Up very late. Gone at 2am! Very tired. (FRANCES)

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Eight: Rehearsals and Revelry

March 27, 2013

We had rehearsal on stage for a couple of hours… our forgiveness piece seems to be coming together and may possibly even be stage worthy despite our hastened rehearsal process. Lena and Anna took Frances, Véronique Marco, Alessandro and I to the old city, where we got to see some of the oldest houses. (They were lovely wood houses as opposed to the stone and stucco in our part of town).

Cathedral in Yaroslavl

Cathedral in Yaroslavl

The old city is surrounded by and known for its ponds; according to our translators there are about 8-10 of them surrounding the old cathedral. Currently, these ponds are polluted with chemical and human waste, but the city is also working on cleaning them as part of an effort to attract more tourists to the area. (FRANCES)

We spent most of the afternoon looking through the old cathedral – an exact replica of the one in Saint Petersberg – which is under reconstruction. The women were very pleased with how their churches – having been desecrated under Lenin – are being reclaimed and their families are able to practice their religions again. Lena and I walked and talked a lot today and she was happy to share more in depth than I have been able to, what her life is like, what the shifting political scene is, how the generations of her family have changed, and how they all feel about it. I was very grateful. And, we were once again exhausted.

Enjoying a boat ride on the famous Volga River, (Europe's largest river,) with Festival participants in Yaroslavl

Enjoying a boat ride on the famous Volga River, (Europe’s largest river,) in Yaroslavl

But we continued on, and were gifted with an amazing boat trip on the in the early evening – There was dancing and vodka and visiting with colleagues.

It was much fun. (ANNE)

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Seven: The Forgiveness Lab Continues…

March 27, 2013

On day four of Forgiveness Lab, Frances and I continued some separate directing and construction work. We’re working well as a team. I had figured out to use the music of Marc Ream, (a long-term composer and collaborator with ABD,) which fit perfectly. Joel created the score from student text – a weirdly simple, spare, haunting piece that Charlotte agreed to sing live for us. Dustin agreed to improvise two little duet sections with Frances – they are brilliant together; and Monaca agreed to join Véronique for another duet section in addition to reading my previously constructed forgiveness text. The pieces are falling into place miraculously and the students are extremely pleased with their work. Yay!

Finally a break...Anne and Frances sitting with the Festival and Link Vostok Director, Lisa First, in a café in Yaroslavl

Finally a break…Anne and Frances sitting with the Festival and Link Vostok Director, Lisa First, in a café in Yaroslavl

In spite of being a bit bedraggled after all that work, we followed the dear interpreter, Anna, to the local street market and to a few stores to purchase gifts. She offered invaluable information about our surroundings, the buildings, the people, etc. Then she found us a lovely café where we finally had some good strong coffee, SUSHI (yay!), and enjoyed the ambience of the town. The café had seating inside and out, with netted hammocks for whomever wished to rest in out front. Later that evening, Sonsheree Giles, Joel Brown, and Sebastian Grubb from the Axis Dance Company, Liz Lerman, Oleg Soulimenco, and a Russian dance company all performed in what was a beautiful concert.

In the midst of much teaching and performing, we are getting to know a lovely and richly varied group of colleagues from around the world. With us on this journey from the US are the remarkable Axis Dance Company folk, the amazing Liz Lerman and three gorgeous artists who work with her (Samantha Speis of Urban Bush Women, Ted Johnson, and Kate Freer all of New York City,) and Tamara Pullman of Los Angeles. New to me from NYC are members of the Urban Dance Collective: Royce Zachary, Stephanie Booth, and Cara Robino.) The Festival Director, Lisa First, hails from Minneapolis, along with Evy Muench, Heidi, Monaca, and Dustin.) There are Charlotte, Alessandro and his son Nicholas from Italy, and Jasmin Hoffer and Oleg from Austria. Meeting Véronique from France was especially exciting as she already is talking about future collaborations between her and ABD to take place in France. It has also been a pleasure to work with Francine from Holland and the Hungarian Ferenc Feher and David. (ANNE)

Frances with dancers, choreographers, and other participants in the Festival on the Volga

Frances with dancers, choreographers, and other participants in the Festival on the Volga

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Six: Forgiveness Project Lab Moves into Rehearsals

March 23, 2013

Today, I needed to shift the Forgiveness Lab from generation of material and deep conversation into construction, collaboration, and rehearsing. This compressed process leaves really only 2 days to construct and rehearse.

Deciding to turn the students’ texts into lyrics, I enlisted the artistry of Joel Brown, (from Axis Dance Company,) to compose something simple. Joel agreed – delightedly. I also pulled in Monaca and Dustin, (from Minneapolis,) to do some text reading and improvising along with the students. This really up’d the situation for the students, who would see the material they helped to generate being performed with professionals, etc. I’m delighted to have my colleagues engage the material and to be a part of this “process piece.”


We have been so busy teaching and performing that Frances and I have done little to no exploration of the city! Each day we promise to go shopping or sight-seeing, and each day the work seems to take over our time. We are putting in a lot of hours at the studio – and happily so. And, we hope to get some windows to see this ancient city beyond the pathway from hotel to theater. (ANNE)

Dinner at the hotel is often entertaining – if not delicious. On this particular night, a group of slightly intoxicated Russian socialites invited a few of us dancers on the dance floor. Much fun was had by all. After a few rounds of random improvisations, Anne and I found ourselves out there on our own and managed to do a couple of brilliant lifts, both of which took us totally by surprise – we are still wishing we could recall how we did them. I guess what happens in Russia stays in Russia. Later on the front steps of the hotel, where we went to cool off overlooking the river, the women came over to us and engaged in a high-pitched conversation across three languages. It was hilarious and no telling what was said, but we were having a blast communicating nonetheless. 🙂 (FRANCES)

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Five: Day Two of the Forgiveness Project Laboratory Workshop

March 23, 2013

On our first day, the student-artists delved into personal stories of forgiveness. Frances and I have been talking with other participants on the subject, teasing apart variations on meanings of the word, on conditions that allow one to forgive, on the connection between the personal, the global, and even the economic aspects of forgiveness. All this helped to inform the artistic conversation/process. Students wonderfully engaged in writing and moving and constructing from their personal stories, opening hearts right away to one another and to the subject.

Feminist Punk-Rock Band "Pussy Riot"

Feminist Punk-Rock Band “Pussy Riot”

There were big things happening on the front pages and t.v. screens and everyone’s minds: the recent arrest (without bail) of the Russian feminist punk-rock band, Pussy Riot, who had performed a politically/socially charged and subversive show in a Moscow church. Unlike in the US and internationally, there was not much consensus as to whether or not what Pussy Riot had done was righteous, wrong, ­­forgivable, or worth jail time. It was a heated subject that touched upon tradition, religion and faith, individual freedom, their values…It brought up more questions than answers and was a deep, powerful exploration into the complexities of both forgiveness and speaking about sensitive subjects that may trigger those around you.

Indeed, the most powerful moment in the workshop had to do with the tension among performers as to what the role of politics was in the artistic process. Using the theme of forgiveness, I encouraged everyone to speak openly across their differences and their discomforts, practicing forgiveness as a conversational tool. Forgiving ourselves for any lack of skill with words and forgiving one another for holding views we may disagree with. This was as profound moment of insight and release for the group and, stepping back, I had the privilege of watching them arrive at new insight together landing on the consensus that all is in fact both political and personal – A perfect place to continue our work!

Many of the student-artists emphasized how grateful they were to have this opportunity to dive into this issue in such a personal and constructive method. Through this deep diving, there was considerable generation of both textual and movement material. We will have much to work with as the week unfolds. I am touched and delighted by the work we did today.

Poster for International Festival of Movement and Dance on the Volga Performances

Poster for International Festival of Movement and Dance on the Volga Performances

No rest there. Frances and I ran right into tech rehearsal and then directly to our performance, working right up to the last minute with translations of our text and figuring out how to present them, as well as thinking and talking through the many layered meanings of the words and their cultural context. It is painfully clear that this is a deep and painstaking piece of work – it’s simply not possible to do justice to this in a mere two days.

Nonetheless, we had a gracious and appreciative audience. Frances did a brilliant job in her first performance of the solo, “Daughters Untold.” And we devoured a late dinner before collapsing into bed, knowing another long day was before us. (ANNE)

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Four: Forgiveness Project Lab Begins

March 23, 2013

Day Four was a long one! The second day of workshops continued with our first laboratory for the Forgiveness Project during which text and movements are generated. Anne and I were both moved and pleasantly surprised by the response of the participants to the tasks. It brought up insights to our cultural differences, approaches and responses to certain subject matters – in particular, forgiveness and how pain is harbored within. Today, we finally met Irina, our Russian translator for the duration of the festival. Stage rehearsals began, and we are officially in prep mode towards performance night. (FRANCES)

First Forgiveness Project Lab: Anne and Frances with dancers and community members

First Forgiveness Project Lab: Anne and Frances with dancers and community members in Yaroslavl, Russia

Rehearsal this morning led to our first Forgiveness lab, then right into translating my performance text, more rehearsal, more translation…I had time to slip into Liz Lerman’s workshop on the Critical Response Process, which was such a pleasure. After years of using Liz’s process both in academic and professional settings, it was lovely to witness Liz’s own introduction of the process and get to talk about it with her afterwards. Then, more translation, technical consultations with Heidi Eckwall (our Technical Director who is from Minneapolis)…finally, ravenous, a retreat back to the hotel for…potatoes and mushrooms 🙂 :(.

It was a long day – invigorating, provocative, intriguing, revelatory, and exhausting. I am hungry for more conversation about all that is emerging, about the insights, questions, challenges; eager to hear my colleagues’ stories. Specifically, Frances and I were touched by the emotional accessibility of the students – their willingness to give themselves over to the process, to allow themselves to have strong feelings without reservation or embarrassment or shyness. One lovely student acknowledged to me that we had taken her/them to difficult places and just when I thought her response was turning into a complaint, she thanked us for that opportunity.

Getting our interpreter 3 days late has been a real hardship to us. Not only were we more left on our own to navigate Yaroslavl, it meant that our performance text only had one day to get translated. With all of the dense language, metaphor, and cultural irony in them, I am doubtful the translation will work in performance. We’ll see. Tomorrow Frances and I will perform! (ANNE)

Yaroslavl, Russia Day Three: Festival Begins and Remy Charlip

August 25, 2012

Our festival kicks off with a downpour of rain, and a full day of classes and workshops.  Anne led an Alexander infused Modern Dance Technique class for a group of local Russian students and some festival guest artists.  We introduced a movement section for the “Forgiveness Project” to the class, as well, conducted interviews with some of our fellow artists, as part of the project research. (FRANCES)

First class: Anne’s doing dance philosophy in midst of technique class w interpreter 🙂

Knowing this morning my dear friend, Remy was to be buried made the day a bitter-sweet one for me here in Yaroslavl. His spirit has been with me as I overlook the Volga river and as I anticipate the workshops ahead and how I might incorporate his influence in my work. I let my particular anxieties rest, remembering his unwavering support and faith in my work. I miss him dearly treasuring not only the years we worked and made art together, not only the years of our deepening friendship after his stroke, not only the tears and laughter as we worked and confided through our struggles and victories these many months, but also the days and hours as he made his final transition, and also the moments after when we all gathered around him, and also the beautiful ceremony we had bedside, and finally the intimacy I will never lose with those of us who shared those moments, the way I feel he brought us together and bound us in the love he had given us individually. That he is flying free is absolutely clear to me. That his spirit burns brighter than ever is also clear. My tears are for myself as I will so miss my weekly visits – the most gracious hour of my week. Thank you so much, dear Remy!

Overlooking the Volga River, thinking of Remy

I have brought Remy up on several occasions here among my international colleagues. Always his name is greeted with at least one pair of widening eyes and several stories of his travels to the various countries represented here, of his sense of wonder, of his broad influence and his delightful spirit.

We kicked off the festival with a roundtable of dance artists from Russia, America, Italy, Hungary, France, Austria, and others – a beginning of talking across cultures and economies into the conditions and aesthetics operating in our dance worlds. Then I taught a packed modern class interpreted rigorously by Nastya.  The rain is washing the city now as I sit with the pleasure of that class and also with the memory of my friend.

Remy, I know you were so excited for this trip I’m on and would be thrilled to hear my stories. And, I’m sorry to not be there among your beloveds back home as they send you off in what I imagine to be a beautiful, elegant, and grand way.

Rita Felciano on Remy

John Held on Remy’s life and work

Tomorrow we begin work on the Forgiveness Project – the Russian chapter. More on this to come soon! (ANNE)

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