Film: Breath Made Visible

12 Jan

“Breath Made Visible” is a film of the life Journey of Anna Halprin. 

My friend Sol (Flamenco dance teacher) told me about Anna Halprin, showed me a little Youtube video about her, and told me about this film MOPA is going to be showing about her life and career. Couldn’t make the date, but I was excited to see that this film is available on instant Netflix!

Now in her 80’s, she became a pioneer in contemporary dance. Her inspiration was on emotion, the energy of nature, and social dynamics. Her approach to dance without borders, exploration of self and nature, and constant experimentation lead to a completely different outlook of how powerful body movement can be for the dancer as well as the audience.

Through a drawing Anna was making, she kept shading a black patch on this particular region of her body on several occasions. Anna went to a doctor to see if something was physically wrong with her body, and discovered that she had cancer.

“I was so amazed by this phenomenon of imagery to movement, and what is going on in our bodies. What you image is who you are and how you’re going to live your life. it’s almost like dreams. You can’t try to make things not happen, even if they’re unpleasant, or life threatening. You can’t control that. But everybody can use art as a way to cope with whatever comes up for you.”

When she discovered she had to let go of a lot of darkness and anger she has carried on her back for too long, Anna created a dance, in which she released her burdens, and in so doing, released her cancer.

“Before my cancer, I lived my life for my art; after my cancer, I lived my art for my life.”

Dance is a form of healing, and Anna approaches body movement in a kinesthetic sense. She continues to teach other dancers how boundless body movement can be, and help others discover the healing effects of movement.

Check out a class Anna is teaching this Saturday in San Diego (below is the link)!

 

Netflix link: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Breath_Made_Visible/70125128?trkid=2431210

Anna Halprin: http://www.annahalprin.org/classes.html

Artist “Undo” Button

13 Sep

A few years ago, I discovered I am an artist.

Let me go back a bit. Throughout my 20’s I got this insatiable appetite to find out what my career path is. Such frustration not knowing, not having a single clue as to what I was supposed to be doing with myself. Feeling desperate cause of the mess I was in, I wanted a way out, and felt if I had something to focus on, a direction, that it would be the rope out of the quicksand.

When I turned 30, don’t want to say I hit rock bottom, cause at this stage, I had a rebirth, had to start from scratch, and reinvent myself. When you have fallen all the way to the bottom, there is only one way to go, up. I still had no idea what I was going to do.

man painting himselfWent to my first poetry slam soon after, and was hooked. Being inspired by the poets who could share their deepest darkest with complete strangers. I realized if these poets were able to do this with people they didn’t know, perhaps I could use the same concept on myself. So I started writing, in hopes that I could find me in all this mess. That’s how I became a poet.

Now I finally got my answer, I’m not sure if I wanted it. Its not just a career change, its a whole new way of life, and way of being.

Artists are more sensitive to the environment, having an acute awareness of energy and people. Our surroundings are so much more detailed, dreams so vivid, that its hard to tell sometimes if we are dreaming or awake. Happiness is more intense, but so is sadness. Being victims of our ebbs and flows.

We are artists 24/7, no taking breaks. Born into this, even though some of us don’t figure this out till later in our lives.

No one ever asked me if I wanted this. I had no choice in the matter. Programmed, preset, and wired to do this. Forced to take the red pill to see how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Poem by Tanya Raz “Poetry Reprogramming Camp”

You know how they have those gay camps where they try to convince you you’re not really gay?
That it’s the devil that persuades you in such ways.

They should have one of these camps for poets.
I don’t want to see the world in arrays.
Like when dishes are washed,
I look at the way the water ripples over the ridges of the plate,
the soap suds dancing around on the surface,
light bouncing off the backs of streams.
When I’m at the park,
I can lay under a shady tree for hours,
staring at the curvature of the branches,
watching the leaves twirl and dance around
as if its courting the wind.

I didn’t ask to be an artist,
no one gave me a choice.

I just want to see water, soap and a stinky sponge
that scrubs off food clinging on the plate.
Just want to see dirt, and wood growing out of the ground
when I look at  a tree.

This would be a camp where,
if they catch people drifting off to space,
they remind you,
“see God up there every time you take to the skies,
he will remind you to keep your feet on the ground.”
Their motto “dreaming won’t get you into heaven.”

When you stare in wonderment at dust twirling around
like a dervish in the wind.
Or getting stuck looking at the way people laugh
and touch each other in conversation.
Security would suddenly zap you with 1200 volts of electricity.

The poet reprogramming camp would force you to see things plainly.
Taping your eyelids open and not letting you blink
until you don’t see the beauty of anything anymore.
I just want to be abnormally normal.
Completely sane and Aristotle logical.
Be an average garden variety vegetable.
No crazy thoughts, no truthful inner reflections.
No words that would create adversity around me.

No more body shudders, ooohs and ahhhs.
I would stop appreciating anything that much.
Anytime I make extreme facial expressions
that relay true inner feelings such as joy,
they’ll spray me with vinegar water to remind me to have a sour face.

I DON’T WANT TO BE A POET.

I want my money back,
return to sender.
Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to be an artist.
I didn’t sign up for this shit.
Feels more like a disease.

Tired of always needing to figure stuff out,
always looking in the mirror.
Want to go back to 1950,
so I can see in black and white.

These poems rattling inside my mind,
keep me awake at night.
Need to go to sleep but got too many words inside my head,
so I pry my eyelids open with duct tape.
My showers are shorter than one minute
cause my paper ain’t waterproof.

STOP. Please, stop this disease.

I’ve got it all, bipolar, schizophrenia,
multi-personality disorder, ADD,
OCD, anxiety, anger, confusion,
emotional disaster.

Please, make it go away.

I shouldn’t be feeling like this.

Performance Poetry: Vulnerable and Naked

24 Jul

bleed when you writeThis is a new art for me. I’m still learning to tap into this space of rawness, and being okay with letting myself go. Exposing yourself is not easy. We work so hard creating this protective shield around us, so opposing forces aren’t able to get in. So how do you unlearn this natural defense mechanism that keeps you from reaching your highest you as an artist?

Nathan Say, performance poetNathan Say, the man who inspired me to write this very article, is a performance poet, and has been writing since he was 5, performing his first piece at 23 called, “Hands of Another”. He advises me: “You should be stripped bare, every poem you do. If you get on stage enough times, and read through your poems enough, your pain becomes an object instead of a subject. Like when I do ‘Resurrection‘, I can recall the pain and terrors of my rape, of my disability, my memories of high school.”

Right now I have a hard time getting into that world. I feel as if I keep my poetry at arms length, I keep my front as to not be fully exposed. I worked so hard at being tough, that I have to remove all these layers I thought were protecting me, to be vulnerable.
“It’s your subconscious not allowing to go there. It’s uncomfortable for it. You have to talk to your body. Tell it, we’re gonna’ do this poem, and we’re not stopping until you let me in. I start meditating on the poem about five minutes before I know I was going on stage, which allowed me to hit the stage with those emotions. This all takes time and practice”.

Also, had the great privilege of interviewing Natalie Patterson, a poet and much more, based in Los Angeles who has been writing since she was a kid, which she took to naturally.
I didn’t call it poetry then but I still have the journals and it was poetry.

Did you read a lot of books? or read any poetry before you started writing?
It was very hard for me to learn to read, I was in almost 5th grade before I was good at it. I had never read any poetry that was memorable or moved me until I was in high school at least. I just understood the power of words and I wanted to be powerful.

Do you feel starting at a young age, helped you get more used to being vulnerable?
hell yes. I wasn’t scared to be myself. I had direction and could navigate this experience in a way I didn’t see other people being able to. I mean, I teach classes on how to be vulnerable as an artist because it is the thing about myself I most value and hardly see others being willing to do.

How does one remove our shields? You know, I try to be tough. Going through shit, being a single mom.
Oh, I know and it’s how we survive… the problem is, we
truly want to LIVE and THRIVE. The layers build in our hearts first then bleed into everything else… our dreams are crushed beneath the weight of our fear.

What inspired you to take your poetry to the stage and when did you do it?
When I was in college I had been writing a lot. 5 people I was close to died in like 6 months or something. I was heartbroken. I went to a poetry show and fell in love and then realized OMG.. people do this, like really do this and get paid. That might have been the moment I understood what the rest of my life might look like. Going to Da poetry lounge seeing “normal” people sharing gave me permission to start.

Is there a ritual or something you’ve got to do to prep yourself to get on stage?
I had a ritual. I used to try to perform but that didn’t fit me. I’m a giver. I am selfless expression on my best days. but to get here was a LONG road. After the first few years of “performing” I really couldn’t see the art in what I was doing cause it was more ego. It was really about who liked me and if I was “killing it” every time. I had to stop performing and listen again. GO back to the simplicity of falling in love with poetry again. My ritual was only sharing when I was moved to and before I went on stage reminding myself that these words are bigger than I am. That they were given to me to SHARE not HOLD AND CLAIM. Now I KNOW this… so I don’t have to be reminded or remember.

I hang out with a lot of visual artists. In particular, street art. So, EGO really comes up a lot. You have your street name which is never your real name. But there is this risk that the street name will overcome who you really are. You fall into this persona, of drugs, running from cops, chics/dudes, gangs, drinking.
Street art is not different. poets have the same fucking problems. it’s just metaphor… we got fake names… we got who people think we are.. we got public opinion, we got going too far, we got “police” watching what we say and how we teach and cutting checks which dictates how we live… you know.

Also, as an artist. You are more sensitive and more susceptible. Take a good example, Amy Winehouse who just died of a drug overdose. What is going on here? Is it that it’s so confusing having all these emotions? You don’t know how to channel?
Yeah.. I mean she is a perfect example. it’s hard to navigate. T
he road can eat you alive or help you breathe.

You do workshops. For what organizations or causes?
Solo and with Collective Voices Foundation (for at risk high school students). I’m working with the city of Pasadena doing a 6 week program right now and then working with 826la in a few weeks… plus I teach my workshop, connecting with the artist in you – vulnerability and integrity several times a year.

What else are you involved in? Where do you perform?
I produce and host Da poetry Lounge – the nation’s largest poetry venue. I’m working on a book and I share my work at festivals and colleges or in living rooms and art spaces.

Why I became a poet? well, had to write. Didn’t start out when I was born like a lot of the poets I meet. I had all this steam and no way of venting. Went through a tough ten years with a guy. Then I went to my first slam a few years back and I loved it, I heard about Elevated here in San Diego, and started attending fairly regularly.

After a while, I couldn’t help but write after every show, like, having to pull over on the way home cause I couldn’t wait to write some stuff down. I never was into reading books, or poems. The performers inspired me, that they were so willing to share their deepest parts of themselves. That perhaps I could share that with myself, find me in all this mess. Then I got into questioning why even share my poetry. Like, who am I? Natalie had a great answer, “we are all special. You have to turn the light on for people to see”.

People can get so caught up in their own lives that they forget there is a world beyond themselves. There is a lack of passion and romance in society right now. Like seeing a bunch of wilting flowers. My personal objective would be broadening perspective. Expanding minds. There is more to life people! So perhaps I can do this through performance poetry and my writing.

There is no doubt though, You have to be willing to wear your heart on sleeves. Otherwise you’re a half poet. I’m working on becoming full.

Have fun with the fun pieces, make love to the love pieces, and cry with the sad ones. But, to do this, you have to let yourself go. I will practice, and practice, so you can see what I have to show.

Sharing is caring. Please let us know your opinion with a comment below.

Links:

Nathan Say on Youtube

Natalie “18 Days” on Youtube

Natalie Patterson’s website

Cultural Undivide

4 Apr

You listen to music all the time, but did you ever ask yourself, “what IS music”.

At Last, Etta James found love worth singing about, and Beyonce let her walls go tumbling down when she learned to trust a man again.

Bob Marley singing his words of freedom, and asking us to see the light by singing “open your eyes, and look within, are you satisfied with the life your livin”. And I’m thankful he had children, to continue his legacy.

Music relates to everybody, doesn’t see culture or religions. Matisyahu, a Hasidic Jew learned to spread his words using reggae as well, and he can beat box like the best of ‘em.

Janis Joplin

It also amazes me how so many different genres can be moved by the same song. For instance, Summertime by Gershwin, composed in 1933, took part in the lives of such artists as Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, Miles Davis, The Doors, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Peter Gabriel, Dizzy, Billy Holiday, Janis Joplin, Paul McCartney, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, and Sublime.

They understood, that sometimes, to become great, you have to appreciate many. Not only must your portfolio be diversified, but also your taste for the different type of artists that paved the way to our future. Understand the roots, and be open minded to other cultures, because there is always something we can learn, and the best way to expand one selves abilities is through experience.

Music is powerful…it can cross any oceans in the greatest of storms, climb any mountains, move through the wildest of jungles. There isn’t any place music can’t go. It makes the segmented world, unite; penetrating the cultural divide.

Cesaria Evora sang a song called “sodade”, which is a Portuguese word there is no English translation for, but it means the deep yearning one feels when they miss their home. I may not know the language, but I still feel her pain. The first non-French song to hit #1 in France.

Speaking of France, In Paris, Edith Piaf, a cabaret singer, had one of the most challenging of lives, always struggling and fighting, but near the end of her life, she sang the song that helped her let go of her tumultuous past, “Non, je ne Regrette Rien”, she had no regrets in her life, her memories lit the fires, but now she doesn’t need her pain anymore, its all swept away and forgotten.

“Ne Me Quitte Pas” was a song Nina Simone sang, because she was inspired by Edith’s original version. Nina could relate to the cries of loves misunderstandings, and the struggles of a conflicted relationship, and begging her lover not to leave her. This song was sang in African, Arabic, Czech, Dutch, English, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and even Yiddish. In music, there are no borders, and everyone speaks the same language.

La Caita - Gypsy Flamenco

When different cultures emulsify, it creates music so full of flavor. The Arab Moors moved to Spain and created Gypsy Flamenco, full of powerful singing, and intense dancing using movements from around the world. Brazil mix Latin, European and island flavors to create their hearty beats I can’t help to swing my hips to.

No matter where your at in life, whether times are good or bad, there is always a song that relates to your current state of mind, a friend, when no one else will listen, or when you feel lonely. Music will always be there, it will never turn its back on you, or look at you funny when it doesn’t understand you. You can count on music to be your wings when you are falling, or laugh with you when you are happy.

Music transpires, transcends, transforms and inspires. That’s what music is…its’ magic.

Video Installation These Days

7 Mar

There is a trend of video installation in San Diego museums today.

Robert Williams "Video Portraits"

Timken in Balboa Park, is a museum that typically houses European masterpiece paintings, try to shake things up with their new exhibit. Robert Williams Video Portraits exhibit features a few plasma’s that display video, that look like stills because the frames are slow and subtle. Featuring recognizable Hollywood faces in portraits mimicking European masterpieces, portrayed in a thought provoking manner. Listen to the great interview on KPBS with the director of the Timken: Link

Jennifer Steinkamp "Madame Curie"

The Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego is also following suit, with a new exhibit featuring two video installation artists. The first, Jennifer Steinkamp inspired by atomic energy and its effects on nature with her installation of “Madame Curie”.

The 2nd featured video installation artist at the MCASD is Joan Jonas. She describes the creation of her project, “For The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, I went to Arizona and I was thinking about memories of the American landscape, by which I mean memories from before the Europeans came here. The Southwest is a perfect example of different cultures layered on top of each other, and next to each other.”

Camille Utterback "Text Rain"

Outside of San Diego, I’m really liking the work of Camille Utterback who uses her video installations to interact with peoples motion. Camille says about one of her projects “Text Rain”, it “is a playful interactive installation that blurs the boundaries between the familiar and the magical.” Where falling letters land on and slide down  parts of your body. Pretty amazing.

In Germany, a group called Urbanscreen uses architecture to turn a public building into an amazing illusion of projected people playing on an urban landscape. one of their projections “What is Up” focuses on “the question of how someone reacts if nothing is like it used to be.” A brilliant group with “out of the box” ideas.

Urbanscreen "What is Up"

Between the Sheets…

3 Mar

Writing is like sex. What can you do to keep the mood going?

There has to be foreplay, to get the juices flowing, so at first you have to work a little harder to get the reader interested, to get them in your zone.

Say something stupid, or change your style, and that will just kill the mood. There has to be a flow.

Whatever you write, poetry, fiction, doesn’t matter, I have to hear your voice, feel your heart. Raw, and uninhibited. Passionate. You must leave the reader, wanting more.

You want me to get between the sheets of your book? Be yourself.



Banksy hit up Oceanside…FAKE

26 Feb

Fake: “Banksy in San Diego. Tagged a taco shop wall in Oceanside illustrating the “immigrant family running across the freeway” sign which is held up by one of his infamous rats like a kite on a string!”

More info

Well seems like if its not on his official site…its a fake one.

Check out more of Banksy’s recent tags here

Poet: Joy Harjo

24 Feb

“What do you call a warrior? In my tribe, its not about taking blood, its about being able to stand and say something that other people feel, that don’t always know, or they don’t always have the courage to take up the path to get there”, something she said before reading the poem about Charlie Parker called “Bird”.

Joy has such rhythm when she reads her poetry, almost like she is chanting. She also puts her poetry to music, and has several CD’s out.

The poem that struck me the most is “I Give You Back” about letting go of fear.

I Give You Back by Joy Harjo

I release you, my beautiful and terrible
fear. I release you. you were my beloved
and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you
as myself. I release you with all the
pain I would know at the death of
my children.

You are not my blood anymore.

I give you back to the soldiers
who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole the
food from our plates when we were starving.

I release you, fear, because you hold
these scenes in front of me and I was born
with eyes that can never close.

I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you

I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved.

to be loved, to be loved, fear

Oh, you have chocked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me, but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.

I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart my heart

But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.

Links:

More of Joy’s poetry and short bio on: PBS Poetry Series

Watch a video of her speak on youtube.

If you want to be an artist…

22 Feb

To be a true and great artist, you have to have balls, and if you’re a female, you have to grow some!

You can’t worry about what others think about what you’ve got to say. You have to be completely honest and truthful with yourself when you do your thing. Sometimes, its not about how you are perceived today, but how people will remember you tomorrow.

I myself, am trying to grow a pair, but there is a lot to let go of, as well as a lot to accept; practicing my art, I learn new things about me, and things I’ve kept within suddenly surface, so being comfortable in my own skin is an everyday challenge for me, and letting go of oneself is brave.

 

 

Is street art the crime they’re looking for?

21 Feb
Pose2 (Maxx Moses) and Chor Boogie collaborative piece in Los Angeles, CA

Pose2 (Maxx Moses) and Chor Boogie collaboration Los Angeles, CA

In effort to reduce crime around the city, the police force has put in much time, effort and money in an advanced system of finding tags, associating them with individuals and giving the offenders big sentences that include a huge fine in the thousands; one example being “Sain” who served 6 months in jail and has to pay an $87,000 fine.

A comment from one of the viewers of the KPBS article on “Graffiti Artists Want to Disassociate from Crime” was made, “I take issue with the efforts by Mr. Moses and his students to legitimize vandalism. Some of the work by “graffiti artists” may have some aesthetic merit, but if such an artist creates his work on a surface that is not his or that he does not have permission to use, it’s vandalism.”

That’s why Writerz Blok is such a great idea, a safe place, where you can legally put up art on walls, be around good people, while getting inspired by other artists.

Yes, vandalism isn’t good, but in no way should all street/graffiti artists be labeled as gang members.  Street artists express themselves through their colors and skills in their imagery, gang members don’t express themselves and feel that violence, prostitution and the drug trade is the right thing to do, and is the only way out.

Street art is a much healthier alternative. I’d rather see graffiti than a guy on the corner selling dope to my kids, or selling them off for sex.

One point that that was brought up in the KPBS article, is that an association was created that if people get rid of graffiti than crime will be less, and although street art done without permission on an owned property is vandalism, is vandalism ultimately the crime police are after?

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