It turned out to be a glorious winter day! The forecast had been for cold wet snow. The day before had been overcast and cold. Knowing how slippery it can get when its wet, especially on the stairs down to the waterfall, and imagining how awful it would be if someone hurt themselves (even the most experienced outdoors people can slip and sprain an ankle in this sort of terrain) I sent emails telling people to wear water and skid-proof shoes. I believe I may have scared audiences away, as not too many showed up. I have to remind myself that this is OK., part of the process. Thanks to all who did show up! Your energy was peacfeul and attentive. We felt supported and appreciated.
As it turned out, it wasn't too cold. The temperature was made more bearable by the warmth of the sun. The light brightens the spirit.
Above & below: Shavon on the edge
Above: Toshi uses a fallen tree as his musical instrument. Below: Toshi plays the bowls
Above & below: Jumatatu lunge and arch
Above: My son Gabe on the ice
Above: Olive in the foreground and Shavon accross the creek
May 30, 8PM Lathrop Theater, University of Wisconsin Madison, excerpt from Postcards from the Woods
May 31, 12:45 Muir Woods, University of Wisconsin Madison, site specific performance
June 19, 8PM Pregones Theater, Bronx NY, Postcards from the Woods
Sept 16-19 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, The Ice Box, Postcards from the Woods --- WORLD PREMIERE
About the project
Hello! Welcome to Merián Soto/Performance Practice’s One Year Wissahickon Park Project (OYWPP) blog--- a virtual photo album and information center for this one-year creative research project.
The One Year Wissahickon Park Project (OYWPP) was a series of performances in Wissahickon Park throughout 07-08, featuring dancers Shavon Norris, Olive Prince, Jumatatu Poe, Noemí Segarra and myself, and percussionist and composer Toshi Makihara. I designed it around the concept of four--- four seasons, four sites, four performances in each site for a total of 16 performances.
The first public rehearsal for the project took place June 30, 2007 and the final performance almost a year later to the day on June 29, 2008. The sites which included Livezey Waterfall, Forbidden Drive, Bluebell Meadow, and the Mt Airy Avenue path, allowed for an appreciation of the rich experiences of place the park has to offer— the creek, the paths, wide open space, and the woods. Performances lasted 45 minutes and were held Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM, clearly not an ideal time for the downtown crowd. Still this was compromise time; I had hoped to set an earlier time such as 9AM to take advantage of the crisp morning air and angled sunlight, but settled for 10:30 after protests from the dancers who often had performances the night before. I am proud to say that we completed all 16 performances, in all sorts of conditions including temperatures ranging from 20 to 98 degrees, rain, snow, sleet, high winds, and bugs!
The project was part of my Branch Dance Series begun in 2006. Branch dancing is a meditative performance practice which involves moving into stillness, the investigation of gravity as essential force, and the detailed sequencing of movement through inner pathways. People who frequent the park may have come across me moving very slowly by the edge of a path holding one or more branches. After having conducted numerous solo unadvertised branch dance performances in the park—OYWPP was an opportunity to formalize and widely share my performance practice with audiences and artists/ collaborators.
OYWPP invited an attentive and kinesthetic experience of nature both for performers and audiences. The simplicity of the performance task — to connect/harmonize (body/mind/place/elements) while approaching stillness always resulted in heightened consciousness and a sense of centering. The practice of approaching stillness in all types of conditions was both challenging and thrilling, always activating our inner resources and powers of concentration and in the most extreme cases forcing us to confront our will and inner discipline. Audiences willing to slow down entered a reflective state with us and experienced the wonder of nature within and without.
I am indebted to my collaborators and my family for their absolute commitment to the work, to Dance Advance and Temple University whose funding support made this possible, and to the wonderful audiences who returned time and again, sharing with us the glorious experience of the park through the seasons.
All performances Sundays at 10:30 AM: Fall 07: Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 2, Dec 9
Winter 08: Jan 27, Feb 17, Feb 24, Mar 9
Spring 08: Ap 6, Ap 27, May 4, May 18
Summer 08: June 8, 15, 22, 29
FOR MORE INFORMATION EMAIL ME: email@example.com
Directions to the sites
Livezey Waterfall The easiest way to get to the site is entering the park at Valley Green and walking south on Forbidden Drive. The site will be down to your left. OR--- From Henry Ave enter and park at Pachella Field just across Livezy Ave. Follow the path into the park. Go north-left on Forbidden Drive. The site will be to your right.
Forbidden Drive Check blog for precise spot along the drive
Bluebell Meadow From Center City, take Lincoln Drive to Rittenhouse Lane (1st traffic light on Lincoln Drive). Turn right. Go to Wissahickon Ave (first traffic light), turn left. Go to Walnut Lane (2nd traffic light), turn left. Follow Walnut Lane towards Henry Ave. Go around the circle on Walnut Lane so that you are heading back towards Wissahickon. The first right past the circle is the entrance to Bluebell Park. From Chestnut Hill: Take Wissahickon Ave to Walnut Lane (last street before Lincon Drive). Turn right. Follow instructions above.
Mt. Airy Ave path From Wissahickon Ave go west Mt. Airy Ave to end of road. Parking along the street. Performance along the path to Forbidden Drive.
This project is made possible with support from Dance Advance, NALAC Fund for the Arts, and the Esther Boyer College of Music & Dance and Temple University.