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: 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 9

Greetings from Singapore.  I'm writing you from across the Pacific Ocean in Singapore.  I'm on tour with an outdoor aerial spectacle theatre company performing for the Grand Prix.  It's a fun gig, but cars are loud... Anyway, on my flight to Singapore from LAX, I flew across the boundary that I’ve been so obsessed with lately, the California shore.  At midnight on Saturday, I perched over my window seat and saw the huge ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier, lit in its glory, bidding me adieu. I thought, wow, in a month from today, I’ll be performing about a mile north of that site. Mission organization.

I've been working tirelessly in airports, my hotel room, airplanes, and cafes organizing this event.  I've sent out a call for performers and have gathered a few dozen artists to help me on this project.  I'm super excited about it.  I've been quite busy, possibly even too busy to write a proper posting.  But let me leave you with the work of Ai Weiwei, someone who has been creating compelling work surrounding the topic of displacement and the plight of refugees. His influence on my creative audacity is monumental.  Here are a few of his projects that directly relate to what I'm interested in exploring while at the Annenberg Community Beach House.  Oh, and lastly, here is the event info. RSVP here if you haven't already done so.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 8

Today is Labor Day, and I'm in Santa Maria, CA (my hometown) for a family reunion of sorts that my father helped start a long, long time ago.  My father immigrated to America in 1933.  I mentioned this earlier in a previous post about the treacherous venture across the Pacific he took to get here. He came here in a large steam boat of Filipino men, landing somewhere in Northern California.  A few of those men were some of his friends and family from the area of Loon (pronounced: loh'ohn). When they came to America, this group of friends and family hailing from Loon sought solidarity and community.  They created a network of friends that met every Labor Day.  It started off as a small party with just about a dozen men, and now, almost 100 years later, has grown to an organization of over 500 members and attendees.  I spent this holiday with my family and friends contemplating how large it has become... and perhaps how distant we've come from our immigrant, founding fathers.  

I think my dad would be proud of me now, continuing to research the work of his histories and unspoken narratives.  


I am thinking of changing the title of this work to Out of Bounds. Somehow I don't think LUCID is appropriate anymore.  I thought of two titles that I'm going to share with you, whoever you (the reader) are:

  • I thought of "The Lines Between Us and Them" after reading about Alejandro Inaritu's VR installation simulating what it's like to cross the Mexican-American border, now on view at LACMA, called Carne y Arena.  I just scored some tickets, excited to see how it might influence the work.
  • Then I thought it was too on-the-nose, title-wise, so then, "The Grey Between Us" came to mind.  I likened of us/them to a Venn diagram.  I thought of the boundaries that categorized one entity from another, and where they overlapped.  These boundaries then led me to think of the title I think I'm going to stick with:

It as a sports connotation, which I don't know yet how it relates to the work.  Somehow, changing the title to this is liberating my process.  Excited to explore with this in mind.  

Images by Andrew Mandinach 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 7

I performed a new work at homeLA last week.  It was a huge learning experience as far as navigating the line between conversation and performance.  I will be sure to apply these skills to the performance at the Annenberg Community Beach House.  

The title of my work was Reverie, Regret; Revisited.  I added two words "reverie" and "regret" because I felt the original title "Revisited" was a copout  for a more meaningful name.  I like the prefix "re" because it applies to the meaning "again" or "backward," which lends itself to support my interest with memory.  

Reverie because I'm a dreamer, an American Dreamer.  I've mentioned before that I'm a first generation American and how my father has kept me conscious of how there are more opportunities in America.  More about my father later when I discuss what I did for Labor day...  

Regret because I am often apologetic for things I shouldn't be apologetic for.  I think it has to do with the pressure of pleasing others or striving for perfection.  Reverie and regret are two things I do often... 

As the audience walked up to the carport, the site I chose for my performance at homeLA: Larchmont on August 26, I asked spectators if they could help me build a wall with the cardboard boxes.  I then asked if they could remove boxes from the middle of the wall and add it on top, sort of like Jenga.  Then I asked them if they could fasten/secure the wall with masking tape.  What emerged was a community involved project where they were working together for a common goal.  

I have been playing with the idea of blurring the line between conversation and performance.  As people immersed themselves in the space, I engaged in conversation.  I felt comfortable to leave them when they began working together to build and fasten the wall.  I then went into the carport and began interacting with the contact microphones on the cardboard walls/floors.  I really enjoy the effect of looping, distorting, and echoing the sounds created by the movement vibrations on the cardboard. The amplification and alteration of these sounds creates a reconstruction of memory and experience.  I'm excited to further explore this at the beach house.

photos by Andrew Mandinach

A little bit of feedback I got from people was that it was short and I can take my time in moments...  I get it; I'm anxious.  I think every section in this dance could probably be 15 minutes in length -- there are 3 sections.  The entire work was about 20 minutes.  I was rushing because I was worried about people losing interest.  This is me trying to prevent regretting an experience.  I will take my time.  I must take my time.

I came across a preying mantis at a boutique a few weeks back.  It was on my shoulder, of all places.  The woman working there thought it was a pin, and when I looked down, I saw the mantis on my shoulder.  How it got there, I have no idea.  Somehow, it landed on me. It chose me.  I read up on it and when one comes across a preying mantis, it usually is a reminder to slow down and breathe.  I needed that.  In addition, I was gardening in my front yard last week and I was propagating some succulents, casually, and as I grabbed the plant, a preying mantis emerged onto my hand.  Omen.  I will take my time.  Breathe.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 6

I am sharing with you a blog post for the homeLA.  I have many projects coming up, so I might be utilizing this blog to help organise my thoughts.

The performance is this Saturday, August 26.  There are 3 performance: 4pm, 5pm, 6pm.  Get your tickets here:

The first homeLA performance I created was RAKED, a ritual performance that displays the construction and deconstruction of a powder covered hill, at Rose Hill in September 2016.  The work pays homage to the histories of my migrant parents, who immigrated to America to tend to the land by working in fields.  RAKED is a work that brought me back to my California roots as a child of immigrants.  Almost a year later, I’m returning to homeLA with similar interests, inquiries, and commitment to my home.  RAKED is about labor, love, and loss, and how the land and the bodies are infused with trauma — my work often involves thematic displays of physical, mental, and emotional trauma.  In this work at homeLA, Revisited, themes of the migrant plight have emerged in an unexpected way.

This year, I received the Annenberg Beach House Choreographic Residency.  The 3-month long residency culminates in a performance at the beach, on the beach.  Faced with the challenge of creating a work ON the beach, I grappled with how my work, trauma-based physicality, belongs on the beach.  I found myself perplexed by the task of dancing on the beach, a place where all I wanted to do is sunbathe and relax. Long story short, as the waves were crashing against my brown shins, the image of the drowned Syrian boy that washed up the shore of Greece a few years back came to mind.  Sorry to be graphic, but I thought this may be where trauma meets shores.  
Coincidentally, I began conceptualizing my work at homeLA // Larchmont.  I came across a bunch of little brick-size cardboard boxes that I knew I wanted to use as material for this work.  I started building a wall.  Perhaps this was a little more obvious, but I thought of how borders, walls, and shores may serve as sites of trauma.  

My research for both these projects have included meditating at the shore, traveling to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, revisiting the Grapes of Wrath, and chats with my mother about being a migrant worker.  I have been meeting with friends, colleagues, and mentors discussing the topic of refugees and immigrants in relation to art and performance.  I think thoughtful and creative work is emerging from the tension created in this current political climate — in a world where heated rhetoric creates division between left and right, white and black, and us and them… 

With these projects, both the Annenberg Community Beach House Choreographic Residency and homeLA, I am confronted with issues where I’m exploring otherness and the call to action through the power of the image and symbols.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 5

Hello California, I'm back.  My trip to NYC was much needed and now, as much as I want to relax, I have to get back into the swing of things.  I'm not sure if I already shared this, but I have a lot of projects coming this fall.  I'm going to list them here:

  • And of course the Annenberg Community Beach House Choreographic Residency project.  I have finally solidified the showcase performance: Sunday, Oct 8, 5pm-630pm.
With these projects back to back to back to back, I'm having a hard time compartmentalizing them.  My mind is looking at all the projects like a big nebulous of creativity with no clear distinction or separation between the works.  For my sanity and clarity, I am devoting and scheduling specific times to work on each individual project.  With that said, I am noticing a through-line or connective tissue that binds these works together.  Some common themes:
  • Borders, boundaries, barriers 
  • Traveling/promenade performance
  • Binaries, polarities, contradictions

Choreographic Residency: Week 4

Please note, this post is a week late... Consider it a #latergram, for those Instagramers out there. Also, this is a #repost because I couldn't figure out how to adjust the font size in the earlier post

I'm out here in NYC merging research and leisure by going to immersive shows and museums.  I'm making reconnections with old friends and mentors.  I'm going to music festivals and going to rooftop brunches in drag.  No big deal; I am living.

And while my life here in NY is incredibly exciting, I cannot wait to return to LA.  The exciting thing about NYC is it's true, there's so much to do.  I have multiple "New York moments" daily.  Whether I'm taking a cab from Brooklyn to Manhattan and swooning over the striking sunset amidst the towering landscape, or taken by surprise by a street performer in the subway, New York really is a magical place -- especially in the summer.

I got the opportunity to watch Sleep No More, an immersive, site-specific theatrical performance that takes place in the McKittrick Hotel in the Chelsea District.  I've always been inspired by the show since I saw it during my first blizzard around that polar vortex time in 2013.  Once I got my ticket from the box office, I was asked to enter the performance space and watch my step.  Ensued a dark maze-like hallway that winds and turns until I entered a speakeasy bar with crooning singers.  The transportation and transformation of space awed me instantly.  I know that this is something I want to explore at the beach.  How, without walls in a expansive sandy beach, can I transport people and transform space?  Make the audience MOVE.  Furthermore, the audience was given masks and asked to never take them off during the performance.  The steward instructing us how to navigate throughout the space also provided insight on how the work should be viewed.  This is something I need to consider while creating performances in alternative spaces -- it's not like a traditional theatre where people know their assigned seat and watch quietly until the lights go out. The performance is 3 hours long and happens throughout the 4-5 floors of the abandoned hotel and the audience has the agency to roam and choose their own destiny.  The masks provide an anonymity for the spectator and creates a voyeuristic approach to entering the immersive performance.

During this last trip, I got to see the show twice: once with my partner and the other with my best friend -- I have friends in the show, so I got discounted tickets (insert winking smiley emoji here).  This time, while watching the show, I made a conscious effort to focus on the audience and how they engaged and interacted with the space and the performers.  I noticed that personalities shined as people would push their way to the front as others stayed behind.  I noticed that lust and desire was heightened because the masks, and perhaps the heavy-poured libations had in the bar before and during the show.  I noticed audience members' body language change when the performers got closer in proximity.  I love how the many spaces throughout the performance site offered the audience to explore and get lost.

I'm going to continue speaking about my influences from the past trip in NYC:

I saw Frank Ocean, an American R&B singer known for his idiosyncratic style, at the summer music festival Panorama NYC.  Now, I understand this seems more fun than research, but I believe art is entertainment, to some degree... and boy was this ARTISTIC.

Frank Ocean is elusive.  You never know when he's going to drop an album or make a surprise appearance.  His album Blonde is a cult classic, featuring tracks inspired by Brian Eno, incorporating ambient sounds with disruptive melodies and abrupt time-signature shifts.  His fascination with distorting and digitizing the human voice is artistically employed throughout the album, not to disguise vocal blemishes as many other contemporary pop songs do, but rather to display the disconnect from human connection in our internet and screen driven world.  I can go on and on about how much I love this artist and this album... OK, now about my experience at the show.  As thousands and thousands of fans rushed their way to the main stage, I pushed my way forward to get a decent view of Frank Ocean.  After all, I traveled cross-country to see him.  As they were setting up, there was an insane surround-sound setup that had different audio outputs all around us.  When Frank walked onto the stage, the audience roared as he put a cassette tape into the player, projecting it into the back left side of the auditorium. To further the nostalgic reverie, Spike Jonez comes on stage recording him with an old camcorder.  Now, you're probably wondering, how does this apply to the residency, Jay?  You just went to a music festival to live out your young adult life.  So what? Well... I'll tell you what.  I learned how to frame and curate experiences from this performance.  I learned with simple nostalgic cues and ideas, you can create impactful moments.

Ok, one last bit of inspiration, I promise.  I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Rei Kawakubo/Comme de Garçon: The Art of the In-Between.  

The exhibit was phenomenal.  It was ethereal and pushed boundaries of beauty by distorting the silhouette and presenting familiar things in peculiar ways.  By working with simple binaries, like life and death or self and other, Kawakubo creates beautiful designs that inspire me to push myself as an avant-garde artist.  Some dichotomies I'm interested in exploring for this residency are bound and free, past and future, and self and other.   

Altogether, these 3 seemingly disparate, fun, and entertaining experiences I had in NY are a directly and indirectly affecting my creative path for this choreographic residency at the beach house. From immersive theatre engaging audiences, to activating nostalgic memories, to whimsical polarities; my journey as a creative individual cannot be removed from my experiences and my histories.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Choreographic Residency: Week 3

I am writing this third week's blog entry 2500 miles cross country in NYC in a friend's apartment in Bed Stuy looking out the window overlooking some beautiful Brooklyn brownstones. Last week, I took my mother -- a feeble, yet surprisingly agile, Philippine immigrant woman whose english is limited -- to The Statue of Liberty. My mother never imagined coming to America as a child, let alone see the Statue of Liberty, a symbolic monument that welcomed immigrants as they arrived to the US amidst a striking NY cityscape. She, Lady Liberty, was spectacular. My mother and I could not believe our eyes as we took the ferry down to Liberty Island and stood beneath her in awe. We found ourselves amazed by the scale and detail of the colossal giant.

I had to explain to my mother the symbolic meaning behind the monumental gift from France, and she was surprised the statue purpose served as a beacon of light for newcomers entering the country. Together, my mom and I read the sonnet engraved at the bottom of the pedestal by Emma Lazarus.

The New Colossus 
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

As my mother and I stood there, we couldn't help but be baffled by the current administration and their policies fueled by fear and xenophobia.  With Muslim bans and border walls, is this symbolic statue still a representation of America's open arms for refugees? Is she still the "mother of exiles?"  

This is not the first time, however, that the US has turned away refugees or immigrants.  We refused Jews entry into our country even with credible visas.  We had a Japanese registry and internment camp.  The following article paints a cyclical portrait of How America’s rejection of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany haunts our refugee policy today.

A few weeks back, I wrote about how I had difficulty connecting physical, emotional, and mental trauma to the beach.  Being here in NYC is giving me perspective and further information on how symbols and borders can serve as sites of trauma and healing.