Saturday, June 28, 2008

Good bye! We will be back!

Tomorrow is fairy day. Look for the “fairies” along the path from the Mt. Airy Avenue entrance to Forbidden Drive. (Directions below) The performance as always will start at 10:30 AM and end at 11:15. The path is inclined and rocky so wear good walking shoes. Sunglasses and insect repellent are also a good idea. Its hot, so bring water.

Photos by Lindsay Browning

Its been a wonderful year performing in the park. As I prepare for the final performance tomorrow it is appropriate to give thanks to all who have participated and made this possible.

The first rehearsal of OYWPP was June 30, 2007. Our final performance in the series will be tomorrow, Sunday, June 29, 2008. This year and project have been a gift. After having worked alone in the park for many months its been wonderful to share the work with a remarkable group of artists and to experience its widening influence with friends and audiences.

I want to thank each of the artists for their extraordinary presence, commitment, and contributions to the process. Noemí, my longtime collaborator of 13 years, I owe you so much. Your support has fueled my creative process and helped me to grow artistically and personally. Your transformation as an artist and woman continues to be an inspiration to witness. Your friendship has filled my heart and helped keep the loneliness at bay. I am excited and look forward to the new areas for collaboration that are arising from this project.

Olive and Shavon were the first to dance with me in the park, before the branches, when I was exploring gravity on inclines and hanging of downed tree trunks. Close friends, they have become my good friends and trusted collaborators. I am touched by the fullness of their artistry and humanity; wise Shavon, guardian and keeper of ancient wisdom, like a priestess aligning physical and spiritual realms; Olive, always ready for a challenge, like one audience member described her, a human rubber band, always pushing her body and spirit (and fellow artists) to the edges of gravity and balance.

Jumatatu, always present, always real, always deep, always soft, generous; willing to share a deep sadness from time immemorial.

And Toshi, so willing to work under any condition, your music is a glue through space and time, through the inner realms of experience and the physical world.

Thanks too to Pepón, who has so lovingly photographed us and fed us delicious meals after every performance. And to Gabe and Marcelo for helping carry equipment and branches and making the process a family affair. Thanks to Laura Zimmerman for videotaping and Lindsay Browning for your beautiful photos.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to the audiences who have come back again and again, especially Judy, who has been to every single performance, dancing around the edges, reflecting back love. Bill, I can’t thank you enough for your support. We have missed you the last few performances and wish you and your mom peace and health. Brenda and Lisa, your kind and wise words of appreciation have lifted my spirit every time. Ken G, Laura F, Karen B and Lucky— your presence over time has been wonderfully supportive.

And I want to thank the enlightened funders who have supported a creative research project (what in heaven's name is that?) allowing for the inclusion of other artists in the work: Dance Advance, premier funder of dance in the region; National Association of Latino Arts And Culture NALAC Fund for the Arts for supporting my work even as I move away from Salsa; and Temple University whose Department of Dance, the Esther Boyer College of Music & Dance, and the office of the VP fro Faculty Affairs have contributed to the project allowing me to fully invest in the process of creative research.

Adios, ciao, au revoir, farewell, sayonara, hasta la vista! Its good-bye for now, but we’ll be back. I will continue my practice in the park; maybe you will run into me. I also plan to continue the blog at least for a while, as I spend time reflecting and working on the documentation. Noemí has been editing videos and has posted them on you tube. Check them out

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Directions to the site:
By car from Center City: As Kelly Drive is often closed during the summer its best to take 76 W to Lincoln Drive. Make a left on McCallum. Make another left on Mt. Airy Ave. Take Mt. Airy Ave until it dead ends. Park along the street. Look for us along the path.

By bicycle from Center City: Take Kelly Drive North to the end. Cross Ridge Ave and enter the park. Follow Forbidden Drive along the Wissahickon Creek. Turn right on the Mt. Airy Ave Bridge. Cross the bridge and go up the path. You will find us along the path.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More reflection from Noemí

Noemí has been writing up a storm. This entry is extracted from an entry published in her blog which references Patanjali’s yoga sutras in relation to the branch dances . For the full text visit:

Photos of Noemí’s June 8 performance by Lindsay Browning.

i confess. if there is anything i have learned from branch performance practice is: FAMILIA/COMUNIDAD. i have learned the practice of community and consistency and process and patience and negotiation. FOR THIS I WILL BE ETERNALLY

THIS IS THE DEEPEST AND MOST INTEGRAL aspect of the practice: ultimate connection/communion.

requirements for this to happen:
disarming [the mind = with it ego, held beliefs that get in
the way of functional communication, operation and/or
the more you give the more you receive
trusting = LOVE

branch performance practice guides me into experiencing - my "self" as well as what surrounds me- in a more comprehensive way, rounder than what "i think i know." it is
a most humbling and grounding practice. branch performance practice reveals multidimensionality and the joys of being one with. it is a shared experience: with a branch or branches. out in nature this equals the practices of observing and balancing all the information from the environment and a myriad of sensations. it is like yoga, branching out, taking the focus "away from you" but engaging that one minded focus of full absorption to be with - the branch/nature.

the work, "takes off" from a grounded point of departure -the point of contact with the branch and the skin. the practice/the work/"IT" opens up by "zooming in" all the senses gradually inviting the mind to become attentive to a feast of concentrated yet expansive experiences.

in my understanding, my body + the "so-called" physical, perceived as the concrete or "real" surroundings and environment, get shifted "out of focus" in the practice from a one dimensional "face value" to multilayered and entwined possibility/ies. i call this an entry point into flying while standing on this "concrete plane." what i experience with this practice is absolute immersion in the moment and in what i’m doing. because i am with the branch it seems/feels easier to drop ego. this i think might be what we read or hear about "being one with." what happens is that everything as "i know it" stops from being experienced in a "so-called sensical way" and instead a fullness -more than "three dimensional"- reveals itself. yes, "i" get lost or like erased...

in my understanding, this practice entails:
sublime articulation
the ability to SLOW DOWN
open lines of energy

perhaps as a consequence of the practice itself comes a LOVE + AWARENESS OF NATURE / the ENVIRONMENT.

these are a few "techniques" that i find myself repeating
over time

usually at the beginning or opening of the practice
this translates in my experience to aligning or invoking all elements and forces
tuning into breath
slowing way way down

2-holding the space:
this relates to "listening" and/or harmonizing which are indeed other techniques.
basically holding the space is waiting for "IT" to guide me into movement, when not framing -- framing is holding the space for something else to be seen or reveal itself.

basically dropping the guard or ego = ability to respond, not will or react

"taking in" or being one with
also has to do w/"peeling the onion"
letting the guard down
being absolutely vulnerable and naked
not having the mind and ego dictate what to do but
moving from deeper layers of "knowing" and muscles....

is grounding
+ doubles up as an offering
has to do w/ going up and down through the articulations (below)

6-going up and down though the articulations:
following the curves, spirals energy of the branches
for this to happen one must be available at all times to breathe into articulations
alertness at all times

allowing elements -other than the branch- to guide in + out of movement
this has to do w/ harmonizing + "zooming in"
this has to do with sound, at times
or the wind itself
or water
or anything else that is around

8-"zooming in":
is like yoga's "pratiahara" or withdrawal of the senses.

following the spiral dance of the branches
i have three working versions of these:
- w/points of contact: following the energy of the branch
branches have circular or spiral energy still present and circumventing in them
pick it up and let it move or guide

-w/the branch on the ground
at times the branch gets anchored in the ground
then i can move into subtle tension to follow or
move "against"
the spiral of the branch

-w/branch in the air, aka, hanging off the branch into a spiral –
its like flying

my takes on hanging have expansive tendencies
upward bound
back bending

w/ the branch as a prop it is easy to drop into this practice
and be supported. it might come as a consequence of
contemplating up

12-"flying in standing":
related to hanging off a branch off the floor in the air
or having 1 or 2 branches as wings
it also refers to the light sensation when you are
completely immersed in the work

taking in all that is
removing one self from the pic
getting absorbed by the bigger pic
also when in the openness of a backbend it is easy to fall
into this realm
or when from "zooming in" the focus opens to receive

13- swaying:
like a tree
rooted yet responsive
capable of miniature movement
allowing give
as to be able to receive

in the stillness or silence there is always constant movement
or some kind of sound
and viceversa

14-rooting to thrust up:
giving to receive
& viceversa

what goes down must come up
what goes up must go down
in motion
like breath come and go
or else there is no life!

often i come "out of balance" in to a "performance"/practice;
i come out of the practice extremely quiet and vulnerable,
feeling very kind and with an open heart or naked, rejuvented,
centered, in tune, calm and serene.

my natural preference or tendency is to start clearing out "noise" and "busy-ness"
a few hours before the practice. [lately i wake up and find myself wanting to relish in the experience of emptiness/full silence, desiring not to talk atall; but instead hold the space. i consider a sacred space that of transitioning from dream on to waking state. enough time to relish in the space and silence right after dreaming is a very comforting practice. not having to rush to do anything is also a very satisfying practice. also i find reconnecting on to the sacred practice of doing nothing as healing.

i love doing nothing. i have a time/space during my day that is devoted to doing absolutamente nada. just like i have a sacred time and space to dance - without having a creative or choreographic, compositional endeavor attached - but instead dancing for the sake of dancing: the extreme pleasure of it as it releases endorphins! i now engage in this dancing practice for at least for two hours. in that space i vent and balance a lot of stuff without mind and/or words. in this personal practice i also relish in moving fast or moving in an extremely physical manner up to the point of exhaustion. i love getting tired and sweaty! i think this is a balancing, self-regulating technique that complements branch dancing that has come as an organic stem off.]

while branch dancing and in my personal dancing practices i am in all of my body and i think and dance with all of it! while branch dancing i feel many architectural and archetypal figures resonating: moving through me. i am a vessel, a channel. i do not become attached to anything. while branch dancing "i" fade out: dissolve and become what envelops surrounds or shows up through me.

while branch dancing i become what I AM. not "me."
while branch dancing I AM WHAT I AM.

i wish i could expand this clarity on to living....

work in progress...

yet i do notice some changes overtime that stem organically from branch dancing: -as stated previously, it is NOW after more than a year of practice, that i access the entry point and the work itself consistently and immediately, thus giving or immersing -
dissolving or erasing myself- on to IT.

-i look forward to sunday's performances as i know they'll do the magic of healing or balancing whatever is out of tune... [while in puerto rico the last few visits, whenever i would take a walk out in nature and i would run into a branch, i would pick it up and a "dance" would emerge inevitably... i hope this becomes then a regular practice for balanced living...]

-at first my mood would get in the way of what was about to unfold in the practice
now it happens the other way around, my mood gets either transformed or released as a consequence of the practice.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reflecting on OYWPP- Noemí Segarra

as a yoga instructor and practitioner, i grasp how the work that merian has started with OYWPP has much vision and relevance in the world we live today. her work opens various venues and channels of possible mending of apparent fragments that have been segregated and that need to come together to heal and bridge communication and negotiate in another manner looking for viable solutions to repair our home: the earth. the need of heightening our senses as to notice the impact that our tiniest of actions and movements have on the integrity of our ecosystem, is a dance we all need to engage in.

i started branch dancing w/ merian soto way before the one year commitment, as i collaborated on some proscenium performances. the investigation has had more than a year long impact on me; at this point it has made its way on to my living, thinking, organizing, feeling, etc…

i am very grateful for this experience. if there is something huge i take from it,
it is: SUBTELTY.

the refined capacity to fine tune, harmonize, surrender, let go attachments— ego being a massive one!!!!!

in my experience branch dancing is a most humbling and disarming experience

my first encounters w/ branch dancing proved much resistance from me!
i sensed right away branch dances are totally "anti-hero" dances.
with this i imply that the "normal" focus or intent -whatever that means- of "dancing" "as we know" [it gets more complicated by the second] gets absolutely shifted to ANOTHER REALM OF CONSCIOUSNESS and with it another set of priorities and intentions.

if there is something i know now "for sure" is, that a result of being a participant and collaborator in La Maquina del Tiempo, Merian Soto work 2004, i became a full time improviser with "no go-ing back" to formal dancing. now as a result of branch dancing i have become a "non-dancer" dancer full time = there is no going back to other priorities and ways of immersing and thinking, creating and doing work.

in my understanding and undertaking of this work, what had been stirred and woken up in La Maquina just got magnified and immersed into a way bigger panorama to tune in to. with this massive shift something gives, gradually, inevitably.

harmonizing is word that can help describe the nature of what happens. the you as you know and think of yourself gets peeled removed or transmuted on to possibility

you become one with

you become "other" stuff

you become the air
you become the branch or the former tree where the branch came from

you become water

you become an animal

you become something else

it is a big huge relief = extremely healing!!!

at this point, after more than two years of practicing, i can zoom in
(which is part of the work, the technique) right away - as soon as i come in contact with the branch. this is fabulous! i can drop everything and just connect: nothing else to do! no more multitasking! balancing comes as an immediate outcome of the focus. it is one pointed mind. nothing else. just present with.

i do not question or doubt what unfolds as soon as i hold the branch.

i get into challenging postures and situations, yet my mind stops working as i experience it on a regular basis. i trust. i know, without "knowing" as we know...

excuse my redundancy but it is [what happens...]

to be continued...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Photos of performance 6/15/08

These are photos of our most recent performance. A lovely day, a bit cloudy and damp but not too hot. The creek was flowing rapidly as it had rained the day before. I think all of us are realizing the project is coming to an end and are saying goodbye. Some of us were thinking of our dads.

Photos are by Pepón Osorio

Friday, June 13, 2008

Performance this Sunday 6/15 on Forbidden Drive

The next performance will take place this coming Sunday, June 15, along Forbidden Drive, just north of the Mt. Airy Avenue Bridge. As always it begins at 10:30AM and ends at 11:15 and takes place rain or shine. Cancellations only in extreme weather. I am happy to say NONE of the 13 performances to date have been canceled.

The easiest way to get to the site is to enter on Mt. Airy Ave., walk down the path, cross the bridge, turn right on Forbidden Drive and walk for one or two minutes. You will see us.

Driving Directions:
From Center City: Take 76W or Kelly Drive to Lincoln Drive. Turn left on McCallum. Turn left on Mt. Airy Ave until it dead ends. Parking along the street.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Photos of performance 6/8/08

Last Sunday was glorious sunny and and hot day. One really felt the change of the seasons from just a couple of weeks back, a great beginning to the Summer Cycle. The waterfall as always was a great refuge from the heat. Thanks to everyone who joined us.

Next performance will be this coming Sunday, Father's Day. The site will be Forbidden Drive just north of the Mt. Airy Avenue Bridge. Enter the park on Mt. Airy Ave, walk down the path, and cross the bridge. Turn right and walk a short ways.

Photos are by Gabriel Osorio-Soto

Top left: Noemí Segarra
Top right: Jumatatu Poe
Above: Olive and Shavon
Right from top to bottom:
Toshi Makihara
Olive Prince
Shavon Norris
Merián Soto

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Alternate driving directions

The Philadelphia International Bike Race will be taking place tomorrow. Kelly Drive will be closed. Audiences driving from Center City can either take 76W to Lincoln Drive or drive up Broad St. Give yourself a little extra time to get to the park. Remember that once you are at the park it will take another 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the site.

It will be a hot day, a perfect opening of the Summer Cycle. The waterfall is cool and inviting but please prepare for the heat as you will be walking to the site. Bring water; wear light clothing, sun glasses, and a hat; and use sunscreen and insect repellent.

Alternate directions to Valley Green from Center City:
Via Route 76: Take 76 W to Lincoln Drive.
Take Lincoln Drive to McCallum St. (1.2 miles past the first light). Make a left at McCallum Street. Follow McCallum until it dead ends on Wolcott St. Make a left on Wolcott, follow it until it dead ends into Valley Green Road. Make a left on Valley Green road. The road will drop you off in the Valley Green parking lot.

Via Broad St: Take Broad St north. Make a left on Venango ( across Temple University Hospital). Take Venango until it ends (theres a bus depot on the right). Stay on the road as it curves to right. Cross the traffic light, the road widens and becomes Wissahickon Avenue. Stay on Wissahickon, cross Lincoln Drive and continue on Wissahickon until it makes a sharp curve to the right. The road is now Allens Lane. Turn left at the second stop sign-- McCallum.
Follow McCallum until it dead ends on Wolcott St. Make a left on Wolcott, follow it until it dead ends into Valley Green Road. Make a left on Valley Green road. The road will drop you off in the Valley Green parking lot.

For more directions to Valley Green check their website:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Summer Cycle begins June 8 at Livezey Waterfall

The final four performances of the One Year Wissahickon Park Project will take place the next four Sundays, June 8,15, 22, & 29. Performances begin at 10:30AM and run 45 minutes. I want to encourage folks to come out and enjoy the park and the lovely weather and partake in some art as well!

Next Sunday, June 8, we will be performing at Livezey Waterfall.
Its a man made waterfall. I believe it was part of one of the mills that used to line the Wissahickon. Its broken and it breaks the gravitational flow of the river into myriad flows and songs. Its a lovely site; the steps make for good seating close to the water.

Directions: Livezey waterfall is off of Forbidden Drive, just north of the Pachella Field entrance (off Henry Ave), or the Mt. Airy Ave entrance (off Wissahickon Ave); and south of the Valley Green entrances. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the site depending on where you enter. Don't worry about being late. We will be there 45 minutes.

Clothing-- Depending on the day you may want to layer as the park is considerably cooler than the city. You will also probably want to wear sunglasses and/or a hat. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes.

Travel light! Bring only the essentials; bottled water might be a good idea if its a warm day; also insect repellent and sunscrean.

Take advantage of your trip to enjoy the park
, take a leisurely walk, or make this a stop on your walking, biking, or jogging program.

Its up to you how you want to engage with the event: stay a long time or leave quickly; go away and come back; see it in passing. Its up to you.

The photos are from previous performances at the site:
Top: Olive Prince and Noemí Segarra on the rocks October 7, 2007. Photo: Donald Rothman
Middle: Olive Prince & Merián Soto on the wall Jan 27, 2008, Photo: Pepón Osorio
Bottom: Shavon Norris on the wall April 6, 2008, Photo: Pepón Osorio