Monday, October 16, 2017

Good mid-day! I'm so grateful to write here at the Marion Davies Guest House! I'm finalizing the last couple of panelists today, answering a bunch of emails, and doing other "business" in preparation for the first public evening event on 10/24.

Meanwhile, the WOC emerging writers are preparing for their special night by choosing an in-progress or already published work. We may end up hearing something read out-loud for the very first time to a public audience. I'm already excited about learning what they're reading, which we'll discuss when we meet for lunch in the Guest House this Saturday.

As I mentioned in the last post, writers help frame what we initially talk about on their respective evenings. The objective of the program is to speak on our own terms, in our own voices, and to drive our own narrative. It may not sound like a big thing, but to people of color in the literary world, and in particular to women, this is huge. Guests will have an opportunity to ask questions or share their own thoughts during the q&a.

The cross-section of experiences and voices are reflective of living in Southern California, particularly Los Angeles. It amazes me they are able to balance their writing and life as mothers, wives, partners, activists, college professors, and an array of other roles they seamlessly take on during a single day. They do it with passion and with a fierce dedication to their craft. I'll write more about each of them individually in future posts.

I have public office hours on Saturdays from 11 am until 2 pm. Please stop by and visit "Wallis," my special dog friend. Those who know me understand my love for animals, especially rescue and shelter dogs, and I write with my three when at home. My bff brought Wallis to keep me company, and we've decided to share her with every guest. Come visit, and take your picture with Wallis! I'll post some, if not all, of the pics.

By the way, what are you reading?

I'm going through the writing of all the panelists right now, and it is intoxicating getting lost in their

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Greetings! My first week concludes as writer-in-residence. I'm doing public office hours Saturdays from 11 am until 2 pm, so please stop by for a visit. We can talk writing, new books, or anything literary; even the adaptation of books into movies!

I've just returned from a month-long stay at the Dorland Mountain Artist's Colony where I sought solitude to work on my book; then, surprise! I unofficially began my Annenberg residency, as I reached out to secure writers to create meaningful programs around my proposal's theme.

Am pleased to announce the Emerging Women of Color Writers evening is set for 10/24, 6:30 pm, at the Beach House and will feature unique and talented voices just emerging on the literary scene. Each woman is at a different point on her journey, and their writing is uniquely them. Guests will surely one day tell friends, "I heard her (fill in the blank) read back in the day."

Starting the public program series with emerging writers is done with intent. My goal is to demonstrate the importance of supporting, nurturing, and encouraging women of color writers regardless of when they made the commitment to their craft, how they came to know writing is breath and air all wrapped into a soul, and how they express their authentic self in words.

I've had some late nights and early mornings, lots of rejection, and even people who just don't respond, but I persist. The commitment to ensuring every space becomes a space for women of color, whose self-identities may be claimed as mother, daughter, sister, partner, wife, immigrant, queer, lesbian, an abuse survivor, or an array of other "pieces of us" we hold true to our journey and to who we are is critical to this residency.

Every program participant has an opportunity to express views on what is discussed around the theme, so questions, topics, a direction for discussion will have been talked through prior to the event evening.

This is going to be a wild ride, but if those who attend walk away with a better understanding of who we are and why our voices are critical to a larger literary narrative, if the writers who participate connect with other writers, gain new fans of their work, and understand the nuances of this curiously secretive publishing industry, then we did "good," as we used to say back home.

I'll sleep well again, knowing all the effort has been worth the restless nights.

I'll write more later. For now, go well

Welcome to Sakae Manning, Writer-in-Residence!

Sakae Manning will be holding her first office hours this Saturday 10/25/17 from 11am-2pm, and thereafter every Saturday through December 9, 2017. Stop by to say hello!

While she is here with at the Beach House, Manning is working on an untitled novella and Kimono Blues, a novel narrated in turn by two women who share a bond as family truth seekers. As their search unfolds, they discover what survival and sacrifice means when seeking refuge and opportunity in a new land. Manning works from the Residency Office in the Marion Davies Guest House through mid-December. The public is invited to chat with her about her work and the residency during her office hours Saturdays from 11am-2pm. Her public programs champion women of color telling their stories, and take place 10/24, 11/14 and 12/5/17. 

Sakae Manning views her storytelling as a means to forge alliances between women of color. Her work explores the intersectionality amongst writers claiming their individual journeys around race, ethnicity, and class. A graduate of Mills College, Manning's poem, Okasan/Mother, was published in Making Waves: An Anthology of Asian-American Women Writers. Her flash fiction, Sammy's Shitkickers was published in The Salt River Review. Manning is currently working on a novel, Kimono Blues.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 13, Final Post.

Out of Bounds 
Sunday, October 8, 2017 // 5pm

I couldn't be happier with the culminating performance from this residency.  Honestly, I don't think I've ever worked so hard.  The past 3 months, and especially the past 3 weeks, have been nonstop rehearsing, troubleshooting, organizing schedules, and fussing with props.  And after the performance, with hundreds of people watching on the beach, I'm glad it all paid off.  

I started the program by meeting the audience at the beach house courtyard.  I engaged with them as I straightened-up the space.  I overheard audiences whisper, has it started yet? I like blurring the line between performance and conversation.  I asked the audience to mindfully walk to the performance site on the shore mindfully and silent, feeling the sensation of their feet on the floor and sun on their skin.  I asked them to recall their most memorable journey, whether it is by distance or an accomplishment.  And we walked in silence toward the shore to see a sea of bodies slowly crawling to them. 

The performers rose out of the water and danced grabbed golden emergency blankets and sang the folk song 500 miles.  I walked with the performers and the audience, feeling solemn and solidarity as we walked back to the beach house.

I wanted to immerse the audience in the work so they could feel more connected with the work.  As I looked at their faces, some filled with tears, I knew I was successful. 

Moving forward, I hope to make a dance film with the footage I collected from the dress rehearsals and the performance.  I also hope this work can be performed in other sites and other locations... along shores all over the world. Please do stay in touch with all my future endeavors by subscribing to my mailing list.

I would personally like to thank the City of Santa Monica for offering such a program that could provide me with this platform.  The past year has been a creative snowball that has become greater and richer with experience.  The Annenberg Community Beach House Choreographic Residency truly helped me puzzle piece all the site-based projects I made and manifested it into this work: Out of Bounds.  I finally feel out of bounds, limitless.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 12

This is probably one of my last posts.  I apologize for not writing much about my process and more about my inspirations... my time has been occupied fleshing out and embodying some things over these past two weeks, including discovering some provocative images, tableaus, and migrating pathways.  Some of these explorations include the integration of material elements, like rope, emergency blankets, buoys, and cardboard.  I'm actually really excited about the development of the work, and how all these elements are finally coming together -- it's truly a manifestation of the creative experiences I've had over the past year (since I began making work in Los Angeles).  From choreographing: 

  • RAKED, a site-specific, ritual-based performance on the side of a hill about my family's migrant farm-working past; to 
  • Sometimes I fall, an evening-length immersive dance theatre work in a parking lot with a car about mental health; to 
  • Reverie, Regret; Revisited, a work in a private-residence carport where I covered the walls with cardboard and contact microphones exploring how walls, invisible and physical borders, and dividers can serve as sites of trauma; to
  • Dance Interventions @ The Broad Museum // Summer Happenings, BASQUIAT, a series of spontaneous dance improvisations that activated the public spaces amidst the art --
... my artistic journey has culminated to this venture, Out of Bounds -- thanks to the support of this choreographic residency through the City of Santa Monica and the Annenberg Community Beach House.  I am happy and excited to share how all these seemingly disparate entities come together... and how these entities also feel opposite in characteristics (cardboard and ocean), but similar in how we utilize and rely on them to execute the work.  Today is the first day of dress rehearsal, and I'm finally inviting the public to see what I'm exploring.  It's going to be rough, as the ensemble performers will be testing out some of the movement in the ocean for the first time.  I will leave it at that... I hope you can make it. Click here to RSVP.  

Last thing, I've been thinking about my dad a lot.  I think this eulogy that I wrote and delivered at his funeral really reminds me of how far I've come.  Here is a picture of my dad and the eulogy:

“Honorable Mention”

Honorio Silva Carlon
November 21, 1912 – December 15, 2008

In the first 22 years of my life and the last 22 years of my dad’s, though obvious and imminent, I never thought this day would come.  To me – to us – my dad represented perseverance, strength, and as the first 5 letters of his name reveal, Honor.  Since I can remember, I’ve been reminded from friends, family, history books, and even strangers that my dad was a legend.  I look back commemorating his life with absolute admiration through past experiences and stories… His is an experience that lives in each and every one of us here in this church and here in this world.  

Dad moved to America with a few of his family members and friends after hearing stories of the prosperous land.  This was an extremely dangerous 30-day boat excursion.  While traveling across sea, many people perished.  Dead bodies were preserved with salt found on the boat.  Once the salt was gone the bodies were just tossed overboard to prevent airborne disease that could be emitted from the bodies. My father was lucky enough avoid sickness, but a loved one, Uncle Larry Ruta, was not so fortunate and became really ill.  I wish I knew more about the story.  All I know is dad took care of him.  I can only imagine dad being there… reluctantly showing affection, but undoubtedly – as he did with all his family and friends – making sure that everyone close to him was okay. 

As part of the first wave of Filipinos to immigrate to America, my dad had a hard time communicating, as he had not yet learned English.  The only way my father and his friends were able to order at a restaurant was to gesture “chicken” to the English-only speaking waitress …sure enough she brought back chicken.   Another interesting anecdote I just heard was that the first time my father and his companions had seen a toilet was on the boat ride to America.  Not knowing exactly what it was they drank the “fresh water” from it.  I’m not sure when he was actually corrected on it’s proper use. 

My dad arrived in America in 1933.  The early 30’s in America were a time of despair with the Great Depression.  Luckily, with the arrival of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal a high demand in agriculture arose-  securing a career for my dad for over 50 years.  For anyone who has never worked in agriculture – you will never know what a backbreaking, tiresome, and tedious job it truly is.  He did this for over 50 years.

My dad was born in Cabilao, Loon, Bohol, Philippines.  For those of you who don’t know Cabilao, the island is super tiny and has limited electricity.  Life on Cabilao in the 20s and 30s was simple.  In order to eat most families grew, raised, or caught their own food.  Clothes were hand made or hand me downs.  It’s funny the luxuries we view as necessities today and how not having them is so inconvenient.  Food is one of those luxuries.  

My dad would talk to me about fishing on Cabilao.   Fishing is much different there.  Back then, they couldn’t just purchase a fishing pole.  And there wasn’t a radio or radar or meteorologist to predict the weather.  But fishing was a means of food… the soil on Cabilao is not fertile like here in Santa Maria, so vegetation was an inadequate source of food.  Fishing was dangerous, but necessary – and dad was great at it.  

You know how old people always say, “When I was young, I had to walk 15 miles to get to school… and in the snow!”   Well my dad’s story was a little similar to that… Since Cabilao was such a small island, he had to sail a boat to another island and from there walk several miles to get to school.  One day, Uncle Ray Catayas, my father, and a couple of his female cousins were boating back home from school in the 5th grade and the boat flipped over.  So Uncle Ray and my dad swam back while pulling the boat with his two cousins back to shore.  HE WAS IN THE 5TH GRADE!

Dad always stressed the importance of an education… he always talked about how his brother Julio was the first person in Cabilao to get a college degree and all of Bohol’s politicians came to their house for a party in celebration.  His brother had majored in Business and Commerce.  That’s what my dad wanted me to major in…. I don’t even know what that is!?  He was a little upset when he found out I chose to be a dance major.  But HE loved to dance!!! We all know how at Loonanon fiesta how he danced – usually off-tempo, but the music moved him.  Anyone who’s attended a Loonanon Pioneers Fiesta has witnessed him dancing recklessly- after a few glasses of VO whisky.  

Loonanon Pioneer Fiesta is the biggest day of the year for my family.  Dad always had so much pride.  He was committed to uniting the family and friends and was constantly reminding us where we’ve all come from.  For him, please; can we not let that die?  

Dad was a big reason for the development of the Loonanon Pioneer Fiesta in Santa Maria.  When he immigrated here, he knew that he would never want to leave his home behind – he still hasn’t.

One of my Dad’s best friends was Uncle Onyong.  At Uncle Onyong’s funeral his daughter Margaret told a cute story about how they made some money for food.  My dad and Uncle Onyong were fortunate enough to meet a band that allowed them to play with them and share their earnings wherever they played.  The only problem is my dad and Uncle Onyong didn’t know how to play any instruments.  The band did, however, have a pair of cymbals that one of them could play.  And so Uncle Onyong and my dad would fight for those cymbals at every gig so that they could earn their pay.  Now, reunited again, I’m sure they’re still playfully fighting for those cymbals.

My dad retired in the late 80’s, but continued to work off and on until the 90’s.  And so it was me and my dad at home during the day.  Dad did a lot of yard work.  He was always hoeing the tomatoes or trimming the tree… or yelling at me for stepping all over them.  

I remember one day I got out of school early and all my other brothers were still at school and I begged my dad for a happy meal from McDonalds…, which was a BIG deal.  My family only went out to McDonalds on Sundays when Cheeseburgers were 39 cents and Wednesdays for 29-cent hamburgers.  Anyway, I somehow persuaded him and so off we went after he drank a glass of whiskey.  We drove through the drive-thru and when he ordered, the McDonalds employee asked what drink we wanted for the Happy Meal, and he said to the speaker, “Oh, no drink.  We have drinks at home.”  I kept trying to tell him that it came with it, but the employee and him got in a little quarrel… I think I ended up getting seven-up… that was my first happy meal.

It’s really funny how much I resemble my dad.  According to my friends and family I’m stubborn—just like my dad.  Just like my dad, I need to be the life of the party.  Even though I don’t see it.  I’ve been told often that I resemble him appearance-wise.  Some of my friends thought at first that the picture in the obituary was me.  I’m so proud to have be a part of such a legacy. 

Dad was a man who loved to be around people—and people loved to be around him.  He really was the life of the party. He has brought my 10 siblings and 30 plus nieces and nephews together for the last past two weeks… he’s brought us all together here today.  If dad could see us now – which he can… he’d say, stop crying.  Because sooner than later we’ll all be together again.  And I’m sure he’d be telling us, “EAT!” 

I remember even just a week ago dad getting upset that we weren’t eating with him when he was eating his hospital puréed food and jello…  and on that note… join us for lunch and let’s reminisce and do him proud.  

Dad wasn’t really an affectionate person, but we all know he wanted to say it… So I’ll say it first dad: 

I love you.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 11

It's about 1 week away from the showcase.  I'm incredibly excited about finally being immersed in the space, activating it with my dancers and musician, and exploring how the conceptual images in my mind are finally embodied at the shore.  I am introducing a new prop into the work: rope.  I've been treating the rope as a tether -- something that keeps leashed to a life-line... I also have been thinking about how the rope can serve as a barrier, restraining someone, and contrastingly serve as an object to help or assist.  
Below are a few images of the dancers rehearsing on the shore with the props.  During this beautiful day, there were dolphins swimming not too far out from the shore.  What a blessing to have rehearsal amidst dolphins.

Out of Bounds is a performance that travels from the shore to the beach house.  The space between, the sand, in the middle of the day with few people out, feels barren and desolate. We spent an hour last week just meditating and discovering the space.  Here is a photo of Isaac Huerta exploring proximity and isolation between the shore and the Beach House.

I also got the opportunity to see Alejandro G. Iñarritu's VR exhibit at LACMA called Carne y Arena.  The installation simulates crossing the Mexican - American border.  The exhibit posits the viewer in lifelike, uncomfortable situations, like an extremely cold locker room and being barefoot on coarse sand.  It was my first time experiencing virtual reality; I constantly had to remind myself where I was.  I am truly inspired by the work of Iñarritu.  It's sold out, but I think they'll open up tickets again starting in November.  Hope you can check it out.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 10

I'm back in America, and guess what, another project.  Busy, busy, busy.  But something that I'm noticing, and perhaps strategically planning, is that all these projects are related.  They are related in public engagement and otherness.

This Saturday, September 23 at 8pm, I have a performance at The Broad Museum: Summer Happenings / Basquiat.  It will be a great way to bid the summer adieu and see some great art and maybe have a boogie. A party "where punk meets hip hop, gay meets straight, black meets white, and downtown party meets uptown art world--influences that made Jean-Michel Basquiat the man he was."

I'm incredibly honored to be among one the artists paying homage to Basquiat, a huge creative influence in my life.  Join us Saturday evening for interventions and "dance-bombs" on the third floor galleries inspired by Jean-Michel's Basquiat's early SAMO poetry bombings and Jay's Dance Film Selfies.

The artworks below will be the works CARLON will be directly responding to: