Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Whirlwind

Fall is finally here—on the calendar at least—and October is shaping up to be chock-full of performance projects. In some ways, the events I have lined up for this month recap three major collaborations that I started within the past year, and I feel blessed to be able to continue each of these rich artistic dialogues.

Mid-October saw the Houston premiere of Divergence Vocal Theater’s Autumn Soiree, a haunting and ethereal decapitation-themed seasonal offering. I had a great time morphing between Anne Boleyn’s fearful inner spirit, Isabella and her famed pot of basil, and Annie of Edgar Allan Poe fame. Besides casting long shadows over Alison Greene’s spine-tingling incantation of the woman in green, digging a lover’s grave during Misha Penton’s haunting harkening of Isabella’s tragic fate, dueting with an eerie puppet, and even issuing the evening’s one blood-curdling scream, I also contributed choreography to one of my favorite piano pieces—Edvard Grieg’s “The Poet’s Heart,” played beautifully by Jeremy Wood. We ran for two packed evenings in Divergence Vocal Theater’s space at Spring Street Studios, and, as usual, the Houston audiences were warm and supportive.

The following weekend was the first ever Umlaufaloopa Arts Festival, at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum in Austin. My young dancers from The Girls’ School of Austin were joined by local professionals in an hour-long concert featuring dance games, original Isadora Duncan choreographies, and a reconstruction of Loie Fuller’s “Lily” by Jessica Lindberg. Yelena Konetchy and Jessica joined me in dancing a few of Duncan’s early Schubert choreographies, and we finished with a group scarf improvisation including young dancers from the audience.
What a joy to share this dance work in such an unbelievably beautiful setting! 20th Century American sculptor Charles Umlauf was influenced by the work of Auguste Rodin as well as by Rodin’s pupil Antoine Bourdelle, two European sculptors with whom Duncan shared artistic relationships. (Interestingly, the Musee Bourdelle in Paris hosted a retrospective of that artist’s renditions of Isadora Duncan in 2010).  We’re looking forward to sharing more Duncan dance at the Umlauf in May 2012.

The final weekend in October meant another performance in another city—this time back to New York for a workshop and showing of Il Senso in Movimento, my collaborative project with clarinetist Cheryl Growden Piana, pianist and visual artist Fiorenza Bucciarelli, and video artist Dino Miglio. This showing marked the US premiere of our collaboration, with previous performances in Italy and Russia. The event was produced by the Noyes New York School and included workshops in Bones for Life, led by Cheryl, and in Noyes Rhythm, led by Linda Rapuano with accompaniment by Blake Rowe.  Who knew that the last Saturday in October would bring such a crazy snow storm? I missed seeing friends who had planned to come in from upstate New York and from Connecticut, but it was so wonderful to see everyone who did make it, especially Lori Belilove and a few of her dancers including my former student Rachel Herzog (who came with Lori to Noyes camp in August) as well as Sam Humphreys and Morgana Rose.

Next weekend? Back in Austin for a site specific showing called "The Silk Road." Also save December 15 for performances of an original choreography "Thel," as part of The Present at Austin's One World Theatre.