Known Once: Update #4 – 826 Workshop Finale

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Update #4 – 826 Workshop Finale: Inventive, touching, funny, exuberant, thoughtful. The middle-schoolers at LFD’s five-week 826 Valencia workshop transformed memories and ideas they wrote about into fresh new movement. At our showing on November 5 at 826’s Tenderloin Center, the kids taught their friends and family some movements they had made to express the texture of different words (burning, crumple, jagged) and performed solos, duets, and quartets that they made to express things they had written about. What they accomplished was impressive—writing each week, making maps of their stories, setting their movement to their maps, and designing duets, a quartet and solos.

After the students performed, Sarah and Megan showed a duet they made based on a duet that two of the kids, Amina and Viva, had created during the workshop. Megan and Sarah developed a parallel phrase in the studio that incorporated Amina and Viva’s movements and qualities —Amina uses her arms and chest expansively and with strength; Viva is loose and moves like water.

Check out the students’ work and listen to Liss talk about the project in the video below:

The students developed so much insightful writing and individualized movement that we can’t wait to work with when we return to the studio in 2017.

Ana, whose words and movements are emotional and energetic and precise, wrote about three things she cared about and lost: “They filled my heart with light… sometimes it’s alright to lose things… loss can make you more careful, more thoughtful, wiser.” She placed her hands in a very particular position over her head and one arm made a full circle, a movement symbolizing a clock and the passing of time. And she skipped and turned with flying arms, for joy.

Thank you to 826 Valencia and our amazing students–Ada, Amina, Anna, Brianna, Katie, Laurence, Natalie, Rachel, and Viva–for sharing your stories and diving into this project with us. You can see videos of each of their pieces (a duet by Ada & Rachel, solos by Natalie and Laurence, and a quartet by Katie, Anna, Viva, and Amina) for their final performance HERE.

If you would like to follow along as we create a new evening-length performance installation inspired by the students’ work for spring 2017, please sign up for the LFD Email List and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. We’ll be sending news to the folks on our list and posting updates when we return to the studio in 2017!

Known Once: Update #3

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From Workshop to Rehearsal:

Charles made the most intricate, unusual movements with his hands as he was relating a story of visiting China fifty years ago and traveling by boat down a river surrounded by high and jagged mountain peaks. Looking at the video of this phrase, the company tried to replicate his precise, somewhat gnarled hand movements and his expansive arm movements.

[This is the video of Charles that Liss and the dancers studied in rehearsal to duplicate his improvised movement.]

He crossed, uncrossed, recrossed his hands and wrists 10 times as they descended from above his head downward; each crossing of his hands was slightly different and moved from his right side at the top to his left as they lowered. We spent a long time learning exactly what he did  so carefully and insistently. At another point in his phrase, his fingers got momentarily caught as his hands pushed through and away from each other—a delicate moment that was hard to decipher and rhythmically wonderful. Being attentive to every nuance threw us back into his story. A wonderful experience. We added leg movements and level changes to turn this into a full-body phrase that retains Charles’s gestural clarity and his spirit.

[This is the phrase that we built from Charles’s movement.]

On Thursday we show the seniors and their friends what we have done with Charles’s phrase and also a phrase we are making from the 826 Valencia students’ stories. But the best part of Thursday’s workshop will be the seniors combining their personal stories and their unique movements, moving though their stories as they speak them.

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Help make Known Once: we’re fundraising to support this project that brings together storytelling and dance for kids and seniors. Make a tax-deductible donation of any size HERE.

Known Once: Update #2

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After our second session with the seniors at The Redwoods and our third session with the students at 826 Valencia, here are some words from Liss and some videos of our inspiring collaborators:

“This project gets more and more fascinating and surprising. We’ve spent three weeks sharing the worlds of middle schoolers at 826 Valencia and seniors at The Redwoods through stories and movement. The seniors, who in their 90’s we thought might be afraid to move much, are just the opposite. Last week, they all brought in objects and photos to describe and move from. Their memories, decades-old, are filled with detail and feeling. Charles rolled to the floor and described the serenity of lying on the deck of a schooner, moving with the ocean. Toba made the most lovely, fluid motion with her arms and torso when describing her beautiful grandmother, who had a duel fought over her. There is so much to tell and so much movement waiting to unfold that we’re extending the workshops for two more weeks.”

[This is Charles describing the feeling of lying on the deck. He had already rolled on the floor, beautifully, several times, so he chose to sit down this time.]

“At 826 Valencia, the kids moved to ‘texture’ words before writing to individual prompts. They each had a texture, then taught the group their movement. Natalie made an astonishing switch when she used the movement she had created for ‘burning,’ and changed it from a frenetic movement into a joyous one to reflect her story. There was something wonderfully genuine about each story which translated into movement. And there is so much energy.”

[This is Natalie working with the movement she made for the word “burning.”]

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Help make Known Once: we’re fundraising to support this project that brings together storytelling and dance for kids and seniors. Make a tax-deductible donation of any size HERE.

Known Once: Update #1

 

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For the past two weeks, Liss and the LFD company dancers have been visiting 826 Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood and The Redwoods in Mill Valley to work with middle school students and seniors on creating personal stories and movement for Known Once (if you haven’t heard about our Known Once project, check out the details HERE). After one session with the seniors and two with the kids, we’re sharing some thoughts from Liss and each of the dancers.

Sarah Dionne Woods-LaDue (LFD dancer):

I am fortunate to be in research and process with the generous and fascinating seniors at The Redwoods and youth at 826 Valencia. Something happens when a young person gets to interact with another person over 90 years old… I have no living grandparents myself and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to share in the exchange of histories and memories, and ideas about art and expression with people of that generation. It’s been a missing piece I didn’t know was missing. And what a beautifully odd situation to be thrown into! I’m discovering so much after just two brief hours spent with this community.

Working with the kids is a totally different speed. They’re just as willing to dive in as the seniors (and have just as much to share!), but we better keep things moving. The young ones seem to enjoy being thrown into idea after idea, while the seniors have a knack for leaning back into a moment and letting it play out without any expectation as to what might be coming next.

Sonja Dale (LFD dancer):

I had a wonderful time working with Maria, who told me about living in Argentina during the time of Los Desaparecidos. Her daughter met an American Marine while on vacation in Italy, and went to the US and stayed with his family, saving her from what could have been a terrible fate, and beginning the slow migration of Maria and her family to The United States.

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Shannon Kurashige (LFD dancer):

On working with the kids at 826: One of my workshoppers had a memory that she couldn’t remember but was a story that her mother had told her about when she was around 2 years old. It is unbelievable  (it involves swinging an iguana like a lasso). It is set in an exotic location. It was full of detail and humor and has been shaped overtime into a story perfect for telling. I imagine that it is very much a part of who she is and who she thinks she is, but she doesn’t remember it. I started thinking about my own “genesis stories” and how they could very well be works of fiction but they are so important to who I believe I am.

On working with the seniors at The Redwoods: Listening to Marge was fascinating. She was describing a time when she was scared. She told me a story she has probably told many times before. In the telling she surprised herself with little details because she was telling it to a stranger who doesn’t know when to laugh or when to pre-empt the anecdote. Somehow upsetting the rhythm of the familiar story opened the door to details she thought she had forgotten. It seems funny that we can tell our stories so many times that you can forget what was actually there. It’s like when someone asks you to draw a $1 bill. You think you can until you sit down and try to. Which way does George face? Are there number ones on each of the four corners? I don’t even know what is on the back… But, maybe these are two separate things.

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Megan Kurashige (LFD dancer):

There were two moments that struck me hard in our sessions with the seniors and the kids. Walter, one of the seniors who I worked with, told me the story of how he met his wife, Doris. “She was working at an organization for progressive politics,” he said, “and I was walking past and saw this beautiful young girl sitting on the floor by a mimeograph machine and she had ink on her face, black mimeograph ink, and I must’ve had this look of awe on my face. How do you make a movement that means ‘awe’?”

Anna, one of our 826 kids, was working on a description of the bedroom she had when she was six. She told me that it was a tricky thing to do because “I have the room in my head and I know what it’s really like, but I can’t control what happens in your head when you read these words, no matter how many things I tell you about it. It might be a different room for you.”

Liss Fain:

On working with the kids at 826: The kids always begin shyly and end with exuberance.Viva’s story about allowing her little sister to smear Vaseline all over her hair, which her mother then cut really short, was a movement comedy; and Rachel had all of us jumping off chairs. I love gathering everyone at the end in a group activity where we share what was created.  We played the name game, with each kid doing one of the movements they had just made and all of us repeating it. I love watching and listening to their take on their worlds.

On working with the seniors at The Redwoods: I did not expect to be so moved and excited. What a trove of memories–the seniors took us back decades to glimpse their lives. Lette, writing and talking about college, said “You remember the intensity of the 30’s”! I think she still has that intensity and energy. One of her movements was an explosion.

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Help make Known Once: we’re fundraising to support this project that brings together storytelling and dance for kids and seniors. Make a tax-deductible donation of any size HERE.

Announcing a new project!

The Imperfect Is Our Paradise by Liss Fain Dance | 3LD Art & Tec

We are thrilled to announce a new project that brings together storytelling and dance. Known Once partners LFD with 826 Valencia, a San Francisco organization that supports writing and literacy in young people, and The Redwoods, a mixed-income residential community for seniors in Mill Valley.

Known Once builds on the personal stories of people from three age groups–students ages 10-14, seniors, and the LFD company dancers–to explore how events and memories shape a person’s moral sense and what it is in an individual story that grabs a listener emotionally.

In September and October, Liss Fain and the company dancers will work closely with students at 826 Valencia and seniors at The Redwoods to develop stories and movement in intensive workshop sessions. The company will then take the stories and movement into the studio and start weaving them into highly physical, emotionally resonant choreography.

Known Once will premiere in San Francisco in spring 2017. We are honored to bring these stories to the stage with us.

This is the first project for LFD that will draw on the words, movement, and experiences of people we work with. We can’t wait to get started and will be documenting the process here on the LFD blog! You can read more about the project on the LFD website.

We have a new website!

LFD Website

LFD has a new website! We designed this one ourselves with the help of the wonderful Squarespace website building platform. We wanted to make the navigation clear and we wanted to make it easy for visitors to find more information on the company’s various projects. We also got to add more of the beautiful photos that RJ Muna and Benjamin Hersh have taken of LFD over the past few years.

Check out the new website HERE. We’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment here or drop us a line via our new contact page!

Website building by LFD dancer/projects manager Megan Kurashige. Photo on the LFD homepage by Benjamin Hersh.

LFD Summer Reading: Liss

The LFD dancers have been sharing the books they’ve been enjoying over the summer (see: part 1 in the 2016 LFD summer reading posts, with recommendations from Katharine Hawthorne and Sonja Dale) and today we have two recommendations from LFD director and choreographer Liss Fain.

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Liss in the Tetons.

 

Home by Marilynne Robinson

Home is about change and forgiveness within oneself, a family and a community. In a small Iowa town, the adult son of an elderly dying minister returns home after a twenty-year absence. A reprobate without any particular malevolent intentions, the son questions his father, his sister (who also has returned home), and his father’s best friend (another minister) about whether you are born evil, uncaring, criminal. Is it possible to change or have you destroyed too much trust; and can you be forgiven for your choices. Predestination versus free will; where does one end and the other begin? Can you understand what in yourself is compassion, hypocrisy and blindness?”

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead is written as a monologue—the letters of a dying minister, John Ames, to his seven-year-old son. Ames’s random compilation of observations, thoughts and autobiographical stories create a portrait of a man with a depth of kindness, astute observations of nature and people, and a jealous anger he cannot resolve. The non-narrative fragments are the perfect structure for Robinson’s poignantly poetic, insightful, and astutely human prose.”