Thursday, December 17, 2009

"How Have You Changed As A Performer?"

This week I taught my final InterPlay Performance Technique class. (The class will continue with the awesome leadership of Gretchen Wegner! Read more about our last class and our F-ing Great Art.) As Gretchen and I took some time to reflect on the past three years of teaching this class together, she asked me, "How has InterPlay changed you as a performer?" What a great and profound question! Several answers came to mind fairly quickly:

1) InterPlay has given me access to a full range of expression. I used to be scared to death to talk or use my voice in front of people. Ask me to move? No problem! I could do that for hours. I did not know at the time that I wanted more possibilities than that. But now that I have those possibities, I can't imagine dance-making without it! This has come in handy specifically when performing with Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance Theatre and when I played the role of Miranda in Shakespeare's Tempest.

2) InterPlay has awakened a passion for integrating story and choreography. When I first moved to San Francisco in 2002, I choreographed a solo as a response to my overwhelm with homelessness and panhandling. I had never lived anywhere with so many homeless people. The dance was abstract and perhaps a little indulgent (debatable, I'm sure) and I did NOT speak onstage. In 2008, I interviewed female WWII veterans to use their stories and their words as inspiration and as text for In Remembrance Of. All of the dancers (me included) sang, spoke, and danced our hearts out onstage.

3) I have new visions of gathering stories from the street, partnering with some organizations that are helping people on the margins, and creating more dance theatre--not about indulging my desire to express my overwhelm, but truly trying to bridge a gap in our society. Ambitious--I know! InterPlay has unlocked some big visions. There will definitely be some smaller projects along the way to fruition. This one could take a few years.

4) Through the InterPlay community, I received so much affirmation and validation of myself as an artist and the art that I create. I feel a little squeamish admitting this one. I shouldn't need external validation to claim myself as an artist, right? But in a little way, I do. I need to hear, every once in awhile, that what I am creating or what I am offering the world is valid and valued. I have the deepest gratitude to the InterPlay community and to the co-founders, Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter, for their continued support and affirmations.

Thank you, Gretchen, for asking. And thank you for being such an incredible co-teacher. Thank you to all of the individuals who have been "regulars" to this class at various times.