Canada Zouk Congress (Toronto)
I value connected dances over famous people. I don't enjoy dancing in search of validation. I do enjoy connecting with good dancers. Some of these good dancers are famous. Some of these good dancers are beginners.
Let the adventures begin!
Well hello again! It seems it's been a while since I embarked on a new adventure. Quick recap for, well, everyone:
Next/first stop: Canada Zouk Congress. I can't even begin to express how excited and grateful I am to be where I am at this moment. Let the adventures begin!
The party's over... Or Is It?
When I hit the ground in NYC, I was hit by a culture-shock bus: wow, so many people! Ooh, colors! Where are the crickets? The subway moves so fast! Eww that smells gross! Ooh, Mendelssohn!! YES, I can still do ballet!!! YES, I can still dance down the street and on sculpture and buildings and in parks... ooh, new project idea :D
Once things got rolling, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of those packed Dance Omi days was tell you about them ;). So to catch you up a bit, I hereby present you with an illustrated account of the process. I can only hope the impression I provide gives some justice to the inspiration.
Dance Omi was amazing, intense, fulfilling, enchanting, transformational, rejuvenating and inspiring. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there for three weeks and to collaborate and learn from some amazing and beautiful artists from around the globe. Ciao Belle and until we meet again!
Omi through Ross Willows' lens:
Omi through my lens:
Omi through friends' lenses:
Down And Dirty
Wrote a lot of words. They got deleted (technology...). Figured a couple thousand would make up for them.
Spent the morning touring the Omi grounds and climbing on the art. Spent the afternoon sitting on a sunny bench in a park in the historic district of Hudson, NY listening to a Brooklyn country band cover Bette Midler and eating a fat juicy KOSHER falafel (who knew they'd have a kosher restaurant out here?). And finished the day brainstorming our first collaborative projects and making a PACKED schedule for the next two days. This is going to be epic...
(It said "falafel and pizza this way" on the sign on the street corner. I took my bets and sure enough... ;)
And by about 10pm we can barely keep our eyes open. There's a lot of dancing, eating and checking in about who saw the doe and how many of her babies were with her. Sometimes we swim in the pond. It's a tough life, but somebody's gotta do it.
And as for shabbat, it was BEAUTIFUL! A joyously loud Kabbalat Shabbat and the fastest mincha of my life (is it ok to daven mincha after KS? There's no eruv so I had to finish before the sun set but I didn't think of that until I turned the page to maariv... and the mosquitos come out with a vengeance at sundown, apparently) out in an open field surrounded by trees and dotted with sculpture. I found a lovely book (Tales from the Town of Widows) written by a writing resident at Omi (James Canon) a few years back which kept me occupied while I waited for the candles to run their course last night and today enjoyed some lovely dancing with and by my fellow resident artists.
I arrived armed with Kedem, challah, candles and a siddur. Now all I need is some organic dark chocolate truffle from Trader Joe's and everything will be splendid. (In lieu of that, I suppose I'll just have to settle for a daily dose of fresh berries and sunshine. Sigh...)
As for a little business, now that the artists have all shared a bit about their choreographic processes and past work in workshops and salons this week, we're ready to start pitching collaborative projects to dive into (likely literally, we've got a bunch of ponds, streams, puddles and a pool). This is gonna be epic.
So this happened today: I woke up early to a gorgeous view, a hot shower, three types of coffee and dancers from all over (the world) everywhere. Not long after, we were running, tumbling, crawling, hopping and twirling down hills and across meadows. We blew the definition of "exploring the space" off this planet as we sprinted through fields, blindly discovered the art, architecture and natural landscape of the Omi grounds and eventually said hello to a couple of beautiful dance studios were we began sharing our choreographic processes with each other in a more familiar paradigm.
A long day of, quite literally, covering a lot of ground pairs nicely with a glass (or two) of wine and a queen sized bed. I think I'm gonna like it here... buonanotte!
For the first time in years, I opened my eyes as I was going to sleep and saw nothing. Pitch black. I'm not in New York City anymore, folks. Almost like being out in the country...
And so begins my journey at Omi International Arts Center. Let the adventure begin! (In a little bit. I figure it's probably wise to wait for some sunshine before running through the lush green fields...)
Well, it's been quite a year.
After 13 shows including the premiere of the complete 60 minute work with live music, several wildly successful Indiegogo and shortly thereafter tax deductible fundraising campaigns, most of my savings, a month of babysitting, and a residency with my high school dance company, SSDP is in it to win it!
The Artistic Director is also ready for a break.
So... next week I'm off to teach dance to Orthodox Jewish girls at Camp Maor in the Poconos for most of July and for most of August, you can find me in the Catskills being a "camper" (resident artist) at Omi International Arts Center. Basically, I'm going to be seeing green for a while. And by green for once I don't mean Central Park. New York is great and all, but I'm long overdue for an all-nighter in a dance studio, music blasting, lots of floor rolling, probably crying, and 4am epiphanies. aka my life in college.
NEXT UP: Judson Church is presenting the full version of Dry Bones with a talk-back (a huge thank you to Carlye Eckert and John SorensenJolink for curating our first Judson show and to Community Minister of the Arts Micah Bucey for bringing us back!). And the best part? EVERYONE'S INVITED!
Wednesday January 28, 2015, 8pm, Judson.
If you didn't catch us last year and miss this one, your FOMO will haunt you...
Think that's it? Do you know me?! More exciting things are brewing, so stay tuned...
And finally, thank YOU for being a part of SSDP's journey. Hope to see you soon!
A year? Really??
It seems hardly a year ago that I was at Drisha and rushing back and forth to the computers between classes to check the status of my Indiegogo campaign. Now, a year later, SSDP has more than just launched, we made very good on our promise to finish Dry Bones in 1-2 years. So good, we did it in less! And what a whirlwind almost-year it has been...
To celebrate, I'd like to share a few words by a few friends after seeing the premiere of the full length version:
"Show was magnificent, riveting, brilliant and so professional. Wonderful how all the pieces fit together. Fantastic dancers, musicians, composer, singer and choreographer. It was such a special night. I will never forget."
"I think what you're doing is truly pathbreaking and cutting edge, and exactly what I think more of us should be doing with our abilities - using them to really explore our identity and Jewish texts etc. We have these gifts, and let other people tell us how and when we should use them. No! You tell the world This is what I want to dance about and explore."
- Miriam Leah Droz, Founder of The Association for Torah & the Arts (ATARA)
"When I settled down to watch the show, I was thinking of two aspects of the title and description: “Resurrection of the Living” and “three twenty-first century women taking ownership of their sacred texts.” I let those ideas sink to the background and tried to see the dancers with a blank mind, open to seeing and hearing them without being filtered through any construct.
And as I was drawn in to the motion of the dancers, I began to feel a narrative taking shape. It was only after the show that I put the pieces together.
During the dance itself, I felt my reactions moving from a sense of tension and urgency to unbridled joy, and finally to a sense of serenity and calm happiness.
Thinking about it afterwards, I realized that the two threads of the description came together for me in the emotions the dance inspired in me.
In the first section, the dancers’ motions were precise and sharp, and the urgency and tension I felt was the feeling of a first attempt to study and live according to a sacred text, a sense of the text’s overwhelming importance that restricts and paralyzes, getting in the way of fully understanding. The motions were beautiful but felt contained, constrained.
But the second section was like bursting out of that tension. The dancers donned bright dresses and merged in a swirl of connections, eyes and hands coming together again and again. The motions were free, flowing, fluid. With a bounce and a swing in her every step, I felt as if “she” looked up from the text and stepped away for a moment, let go, let loose. And as it went on, the dance moved from the complete abandonment of this section’s opening to a calm motion, a feeling I like to think of as content rather than unreservedly happy.
And that carried over to the third section. I interpreted this section as the woman looking back over her journey, taking stock of both the tension and urgency to stake a claim to her sacred text and the wild feeling of letting go for just one second. And she realizes then that she doesn’t have to have one or the other. She returns to her text with a better understanding of how to relate to this kind of quest, combining serious study with joy in living according to her understanding of this study.
This is both the story of a woman taking ownership of her text and the story of the resurrection of the living. Though living, though striving for greatness, she must be resurrected in order to truly live, to embrace both the gravity and levity of her connection with her text."
- Esther Bernstein, Medieval Literature PhD Student
Thank you for your love and support, you three!
Sydney Schiff Dance Project