Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The time that Sharon Kihara made me cry.

I may have recovered from Tribal Revolution by now (it was in June, if that puts it in scale). I'm not sure I want to "get back to normal", though, because some of these things are important lessons, that I don't want to waste.

As usual, I did not take enough pictures. Or, any pictures. I did get a souvenir mug, of which I am exceedingly fond. It was the 10th Tribal Rev, and you know what? I've only been going since 2012, and have found it to be a consistently well-planned, friendly, and awesome experience every time. So, kudos to you, Blue Lotus Tribe! I'll be back. And hopefully next year, there won't be a wedding in the middle of the weekend forcing me to depart.

I almost didn't go, because of this wedding. But Kat convinced me I should, and I certainly didn't regret it. I hopped in my car and motored down to Illinois (Wheeling is NOT Chicago, by the way) for a Thursday afternoon session with Rachel Brice.

It was called White Cat, Black Cat. By the end, I was a dead cat. She is so excellent at breaking down combinations that you can feel some mastery... until she puts the music back on the correct tempo. Suddenly, you remember, you are a baby dancer, and you have some work to do. I did thoroughly enjoy the Rob Halford warm-up squats, however.

We then hustled back to the room to see if we could be helpful in any way because Kat was performing in the Thursday night show! Thursday night is usually when the troupes and up and coming individual performers dance. It was in staged in the round, with the lights dimmed but the audience was pretty much IN YOUR FACE! I would have been super intimidated, but Kat performed beautifully. Seriously, someone yelled, "Beautiful!" at the end.

There was wine and Jimmy Johns. Since I was only there for 2 days, I signed up for 3 classes (7 hours of instruction) on Friday. Rest was required.

My Friday morning class was with Asharah. I signed up for these classes in March, and had kind of forgotten what I picked or what I was thinking at the time. We were stretching, chatting, checking phones before class, and I thought, this instructor looks familiar. Then we started a vigorous warm up and she started commanding, "Right! Left!" and it all came back to me. Shimmies, Asharah Style, 2012. I love her brainy, technical and precise way of looking at dance. But that was some hard work.

Next up was Tempest and Nathaniel Johnstone. This is actually my 3rd workshop from Tempest. She is a great teacher of creativity and interpreting music, and she had her new husband and collaborator with her to help. Nathaniel had brought his instruments and played each one to that we could do interpretation. So useful! And it really does make snake arms so much more graceful if you imagine you are petting the kitties on the wall.

I had an hour, so I actually went to the hotel restaurant to eat some real food, instead of the Luna bars and bananas I had been fueled with earlier. And it's a good thing I did, because I shudder to consider how hunger would have enhanced the next experience.

Sharon Kihara was the only instructor I had never taken before, as it turns out. And what a beautiful, calming force she is. I had taken dance workshops in emotional expression before, and was kind of puzzled at how certain emotions were unavailable to me, or perhaps just too scary. Sharon somehow made it safe to mess with these ideas. It was based on the Japanese dance forms of Ankoko Butoh, and I wouldn't say we did anything particularly Middle Eastern in those 3 hours. We strolled and ran and jumped up and down in unison with another dancer's limbic system on an imaginary balancing platform. We used a 7 minute song to grow from a seed into the strongest form we could represent. We pounded the excess energy back into the ground.

It got really intense when we split into 2 groups and performed for each other. My group was first assigned to imagine we were in a box, buried in the earth, for 6 minutes. I laid on my back, closed my eyes, and felt the dimensions of my box. I eventually came to terms with it. It was my cozy constriction. And the song ended, and I realized that we do this in real life, contain ourselves in boxes that are too small, and imaginary as well, and find ourselves comfortable and resigned.

My group's next exercise was to walk across the room with our heaviest emotional burden in a backpack, regard the audience directly, and lay the imaginary luggage at their feet. Sharon encouraged us to use a real, meaningful burden. I chose my mother's death when I was 21, dragged it across the floor like a stubborn toddler, put my hands on hips and cried. I was not the only one in tears at the end. We discussed it, hugged, wiped our tears, took a break. A woman in the audience group told me during the break she was intrigued by my "performance" because it looked so different than the others, because I had my hands clenched and on my hips and the anger. I think she wanted me to tell her what I was acting out, but I couldn't really talk about it then. I was later haunted on the drive home that I didn't put the burden down clearly. I had kept it, like a broken toy, but I eventually decided it was part of me, and it makes me stronger in the long run.

It was not quite all over. There was a Friday show, but it's like Sharon's last workshop wiped my brain clean. I barely remember any of the performances (well, except when Tempest busted into the knee spins. That was pretty awesome.) I think I was still busy processing.

This was back in June. Since then, I have stumbled through a few choreography classes, drove to Grand Rapids to take a couple classes with my first tribal teacher, Carrie Susemihl, and taken a workshop with Aida al-Adawi, But I still think the most powerful dance workshop I have ever experienced was that one.

And I apologize for the sporadic nature of this blog this summer. NEW POST EVERY WEDNESDAY. There. I did it. I promised it, I shall deliver. Take that, Panic Monster.