In case you haven’t received the MailChimp announcement I sent out a few weeks ago, click here for ticket information for Dixon Place Presents Crossing Boundaries Series, curated by Marcia Monroe, on September 29, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. Also on the program will be work by choreographers Amos Pinhasi, Kyle Georgina Marsh, and Natalia Fernandes.

 


Photo: Ian Douglas

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Laura-Shapiro_Chi-Kung-in-the-Park_4x6For dancers and non–dancers of all ages and levels of fitness, I teach Chi Kung: Damo I Jin, an all–standing form of Chi Kung, in Prospect Park on Sundays at 11 am. We meet at the 9th Street entrance, at the benches behind the square sculpture, and then walk into the park and choose our location for the day.

Damo I Jin is a “sinew-changing” form of Chi Kung that includes special breathing techniques, isometrics, and challenging twists, bends and squats—modified for each individual as appropriate. The benefits of this traditional practice include a clear, alert mind and increased energy with which to deal with the challenges of 21st–century life.

For directions and to register, please contact quicksilverdance@yahoo.com or 212-946-1537 by the Friday before the Sunday you are planning to attend. And please provide a phone number where you can be reached in case of last minute, weather-related changes.

A few weeks after being invited to perform After All on September 29th at 7:30 pm, for Dixon Place’s Crossing Boundaries (curated by Marcia Monroe), I was surprised to receive an e-mail informing me that the floor of the theater will be painted red for the month of September. My costume is red and collaborating video artist Andrew Gurian was planning to project from the balcony, from where the video will spill on the floor as well as the walls.

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Luckily, he is open-minded about this turn of events. He says we will have to wait until we see the color and finish of the paint and try projecting onto the newly-colored floor to find out how a red floor will affect the video projection. If the red is very dark, for example, we may have to rethink the placement of the projector and its spill. It is also possible that where the video is red, projecting it onto a red floor may result in white light.


Photo: Ian Douglas

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Recently receiving the video documentation of my performance of After All at the Tribute to Frances Alenikoff at Eden’s Expressway in June, I was surprised to see how the dimensions of the space and the location of the video projector brought my shadow into much greater prominence.

Aiming to figure out how to project the video for After All, video artist Andy Gurian and I were able to rehearse at Eden’s Expressway yesterday evening. When it was performed at Judson last year, with the projector at the front of the balcony, the video covered the entire space and I had an enormous area in which to perform. At Eden’s Expressway, a smaller venue with a much lower ceiling, I discovered that the video works best on two walls and will need to move within a much smaller space, posing a different creative challenge.

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My rehearsal overlapped with Kenneth King’s and we were able to watch each other’s piece, which we won’t be able to do on Friday as our pieces are being programmed back to back. Using a beautiful tone poem that Frances Alenikoff wrote and asked him to work with, he has created a dynamic performance piece, rich with his singular use of voice, gesture and movement.

Eden’s Expressway is on the 4th floor of 537 Broadway (Prince and Spring Streets, closer to Spring). Seating is limited. Tickets are $15 and will be sold at the door. Advance reservations may be made by e-mailing adgfest@gmail.com and putting “Bare Bones” June 19th in the subject line. For more information click here.

Longevity4After much trial and error during the creation of a new duet, Longevity Practices 4, its performance on May 24th at the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts at Theater for the New City went quite smoothly. Happily, all the seats were occupied as was standing room, and it was lovely to perform for such a warm, attentive audience.

In 2007 and 2008, I had created three short solos for myself titled Longevity Practices 1, 2, 3, each based on the Chi Kung longevity practice of walking backwards, and set to a different track from Jim Staley’s “Mumbo Jumbo” (Einstein Records 004). I decided to use another track from the same CD for this year’s LES Festival and titled the new work Longevity Practices 4.

Although Mari Sakahara has performed in several of my pieces since 2009, this was the first time we danced in the same piece, and she actively contributed to the give and take of its creation. It was challenging for me to find purpose in being onstage with a dancer many years younger than myself, yet this concern resolved itself through the choreography.

Judson_crossI have been invited to show a piece on a tribute program for Frances Alenikoff at Eden’s Expressway—the space she founded and nurtured—on Friday, June 19th. My first full evening of choreography was shown there many moons ago, and in the years since, I have rehearsed new works, attended performances of colleagues’ work, and taken and taught classes there. During this time I had many instructive encounters with the inimitable Frances, and although Frances was not on my mind when I created and performed After All last year—at the BAADAss Women’s Festival and Movement Research’s Monday Night Series at Judson Church—she is a positive, implicit presence in my current preparation for this upcoming performance.

 


Photo: Ian Douglas

Returning to After All in preparation for a performance in June, it’s been a delight to discover new transitions and focus for movements and phrases that were not entirely clear to me last spring. At the same time, all is still inchoate while beginning exploration for a new piece.

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Photo: Ian Douglas

Much to my surprise, almost two years after placing a request with the United States Holocaust Historical Museum’s Missing Person’s Tracing Service, I received two e-mails containing a total of 45 attachments pertaining to my grand-uncle, Abraham Einhorn—whose letter to my grandmother in 1937 was the impetus for Letter from Poland. The attachments primarily consisted of lists of the names, year and place of birth of concentration camp inmates.
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Although I already knew that he was a survivor of Dachau concentration camp (near Munich, Germany), the documentation shows that he was caught by the Gestapo in Lithuania in 1941, four years after he wrote the letter to my grandmother and four years before Dachau was liberated in 1945. Perhaps he had heard of the remarkable Japanese consulate who was stamping exit visas for Jews day and night. Instead, Abraham Einhorn was the survivor of not one, but three concentration camps.

Some weeks after receiving this documentation, yet before it won an Oscar, I went to see Ida, a film I had read about and had been curious to view. While the cinematography and the use of music were quite beautiful, I was not convinced by the narrative. And while the acting was good, I was not entirely convinced by the characters and their choices.
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How does a Catholic priest say to Ida that the Jews kept to themselves during the war when over three million Jews died in Poland during the Holocaust, and many of the concentration camps were located in Poland? Why doesn’t the film, or Ida, question the priest’s statement?

In 1937, two years before Germany invaded Poland, my grand-uncle wrote: “Here in Poland the anti-Semitism is growing worse every day. No one wants to travel with Jews nor buy from them nor sell to them. What the future will bring, I don’t know. How are we supposed to manage? ”

Is ignorance really bliss?

Part 2: Water, Wood and Earth

In February, mysterious water leaks had developed in my downstairs neighbor’s bathroom. On four consecutive days, four different workers came to locate the source of the leaks and were unsuccessful in doing so. While there were several different theories, nothing was visible to the eye, so it was decided to dig up my bathroom floor. Thus, all the contents of my bathroom needed to be transferred to my main room along with the items from my kitchen.

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The first day of repairs started with most of my apartment being covered in plastic like a Christo installation and my toilet sitting in the bathtub. Next came major excavation by the plaster/painting contractor’s workers, which involved digging below the level of the pipes, perhaps 6-8 inches. Underneath the tiles was not only dirt, but actual soil! And wood. (It is an old building.) Four heavy bags of debris were carried out by strong, young workers staggering under their weight, and leaks in three separate pipes, were discovered. The plumber came to look late in the afternoon and said to be ready for them the next morning at 9 am.

The plumber’s mechanic and an assistant arrived at 9:30 am and began to unpack and set up materials in the hallway. At 10:30 am the plumber came to tell them what needed to be done. He left and they began cutting away the old pipes. The heat for the entire building needed to be turned off while they worked. Ditto the water in my apartment. As my repeated attempts to warn against the possibility of the pipes freezing had been ignored, I was grateful that it was the one day during a week of arctic-like weather when the temperatures rose above 30 degrees.

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It took them forever. There was constant foot traffic and disagreement amongst the four plumbers, the building handyman and the contractor. Finally, at 7 pm they were able to turn the heat on and test the new piping. At 7:30 pm, after cursory cleaning and removal of the ‘body bag’ (leaving the toilet in the tub and dark grey fingerprints on the wall) they left. The third day, the contractor’s workers returned, concrete was mixed and poured—and needed twelve hours to dry. The fourth day, with tiling and grouting materials, a new floor was put down. And I spent the following four days cleaning.