Sunday, April 26, 2015

ME BEING ME: Thank you everyone at the InterPlay Asheville Untensive!

INTERPLAY ASHEVILLE SPRING UNTENSIVE 2015. (photos by Ruth Schowalter)
Hallelujah for INTERPLAY and its principles and forms that allow ME-to-BE-ME during the process of play in community!
Journey to Asheville, NC, from Atlanta

Last weekend on a rainy Friday afternoon (April 17, 2015), my Chiboogamoo and I drove 210 miles from our home in Decatur, Georgia, to the quaint town of Asheville nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, so that I could attend the third annual collaborative untensive hosted by InterPlay Asheville's leaders. After attending InterPlay Asheville's second annual collaborative last year (see this blog entry:Asking youself what you need and doing that: Untensive InterPlay Asheville), I knew I was in for a meaningful week of playful transformation.

As a person who dove headfirst into InterPlay upon finding it in February 2013, I am now a certified InterPlay leader, and this Asheville InterPlay "Untensive" is my fourth weekend long InterPlay event. I LOVE THE MAGIC THAT HAPPENS throughout the accumulative hours of Friday evening (7:00 to 9:00), Saturday (9:00 to 9:00), and Sunday (9:30 to 1:00)! 
We had a beautiful and spacious place to play in!
Of course the MAGIC THAT HAPPENS in InterPlay is experiential and eludes crystalized explanation. To truly understand InterPlay, dear reader, you must DO InterPlay! However, I will share with you the highlights of my PLAY with the Asheville InterPlayers!


Friday Night
Greeting community--How wonderful to become acquainted with a body of InterPlayers over time through weekend Untensives. Seeing familiar faces as everyone assembled was exciting and heartwarming despite the cool rainy spring evening. 

Warm Up--Reconnecting with one another through introductions and movement magically brought together and created the new "group body" or community of InterPlayers for the weekend.

Deep Play--Going into the last hour of evening, we went deep into play with an activity crafted by two Asheville InterPlayers using InterPlay principles and forms of "dancing on behalf of," "being witnessed," "noticing," and "movement patterns". The beauty of InterPlay? Even first time InterPlayers can go into deep play without knowing the depth to which they are playing! That is "sneaky deep"! InterPlay always invites each and everyone of us to be true to ourselves. Listening to our bodyspirit and doing what we need and want to do.

Face and Hand Dance--The creative assembling of InterPlay forms by certified InterPlay leaders is a joy not only to witness but also to engage in. While I truly appreciated all of the offerings of the weekend, my favorite Saturday activity was a sequence developed by Duke Ramuten using "following and leading" with a special emphasis on engaging our faces and hands. His incremental steps wound us through group play several times, solo face dancing, paired leading and following, and groups of eight with four InterPlayers following and leading with four witnesses. WOW! I can't remember the last time that I laughed so hard! I discovered new face making possibilities in myself and a way of playing intensely with my partner(s). I'm still in awe of what took place!
Lunch time is a time for sharing information.

Food--Thanks again to the hospitality of the InterPlay Asheville folks for providing such an abundant table laden with snacks and lunch for all of us. Out-of-towners like me were hosted and deeply appreciate that nuturance. 

Performance Jam--Such a delight is the InterPlay Performance Jam! The offerings of more than 30 InterPlayers plus some spouses who attended, was entertaining. The movement, singing, music, and play that occur during one of these evenings never fails to surprise and move me. One wonderful moment was when Melissa's husband, who was not attending the Untensive, stood up and sang an improvised birthday song for her to celebrate her 60th birthday.
During the Friday night performance jam, we celebrated the Asheville InterPlay Leaders who had made the third annual collaborative possible.
The Power of Storytelling--Incremental steps, one of the InterPlay principles, are profoundly powerful. On Sunday morning, we were taken step by step into telling our stories, slowly engaging our entire bodies, culminating in a DT3 (code for dance-talk three times). We were witnessed, witnessed, witnessed. We leaned into ourselves and "had the experience." We "noticed."  
MY DT3 GROUP. We shared meaningful stories and noticings.
What a warm welcoming experience of BEING. The more I am giving permission to own my own experiences, to be in my body, to play and try new ways of BEING on, the more alive I become. For me, these experiences are the LIFE I have been seeking.

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me when you feel most yourself. When do you proclaim "I am me being me"?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

FIERCE MOTHER: Embodying an aspect of the archetypal feminine

FIERCE MOTHER. "If an alligator or crocodile has shown up, look for an opportunity to touch very primal energies. There is going to be an opportunity for strong birth and/or initiation that will open new knowledge and wisdom in some area of your life." --Ted Andrews in Animal Speak (image (c) by Hallelujah Truth
-->I am the fierce mother.
I am of everywhere and in everything.

I do not cover my head.

Or hide my tattoos or scars.

--Excerpt from “Embody the Mother” by Lynn Tharp Hesse

Hallelujah for the IMAGINATION! Hallelujah for COMPANIONSHIP and for COLLABORATION! Hallelujah for the playfulness of CREATING our realities through dance, poetry, and image.

Thus is the magic of the daily creative practice! In a month’s time or less, I have danced and painted almost every day as I collaborate with poet and dancer Lynn Hesse in Field to co-create the performance, “Embody the Mother.”  Here are the blog posts I have written about this collaboration and some of the visual images I have generated in the process:

March 26, 2015

March 27, 2015

March 29, 2015

April 6, 2015

This past Tuesday on April 21, was our last Field workshop before our formal presentation on Saturday, May 2, to another audience (with the Pine Lake Art Salon having been our first). I have loved the feedback from Field participants and the informal rehearsals Lynn and I have done together in our homes. Each of us has also practiced separately from one another—Lynn memorizing the lines from her poem and the steps of the dance that she choreographed and me painting three to four images each day speedily while dancing.

And when I wasn’t painting for my daily creative practice, I was drawing. Now, when I return to drawing, I discover that my drawing has changed. There is a greater fluency, the line feels happier to move into ideas, and I see a slight shift in imagery.
ALLIGATOR FORTUNE. Here I have drawn the MOTHER who does cover her head. Lynn Hesse's version has the Fierce Mother declare she does not cover her head. Four images of importance exist in this image: 1) Mother Mystery with the blue head covering 2) Fierce Mother Alligator 3) Hallelujah represented by the the diadem of three flowers 4) Wandjina, the Aboriginal Creation God representing my animus. I call this image, "Alligator Fortune" because I see that SHE has appeared in my life bringing courage for change. (image (c) by Hallelujah Truth)

In the past two days, the MOTHER has come to me in the form of the ALLIGATOR. I welcome this FIERCE MOTHER. Her lineage has survived 100 million years navigating both on land and in water. She is a symbol of the GREAT MOTHER and represents fertility and power. Alligator has been my totem for almost two decades, coming to me in dreams. (Here are some of my blog entries about the significance of alligators in my life: Alligator Dreaming, I’m a Little Body Spirit, Investigating Alligator Burrows.)

Just imagine what will emerge in the days to come! I will practice opening my arms to the GREAT MYSTERY, inviting the MOTHER to visit my images in whatever form she chooses to appear in. More shall be revealed—so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, that’s Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share what you are learning in the process of your daily creative practice. What is one or more of your totems?
ALLIGATOR ENERGY. Mother Alligator emerged from greens and blues. (image (C) Hallelujah Truth.)

Monday, April 6, 2015

BEGINNING THE DANCE: Embodying the Mother through performance with community as our witness

PLAYING WITH THE MOTHER. On Easter Sunday 2015, Lynn Hesse and I had the wonderful opportunity to perform our work-in-progress, "Embody the Mother," at the Pine Lake Art Salon in Pine Lake, Georgia. (photo by Chiboodamoo, aka Tony Martin)
Hallelujah for the DANCE. Hallelujah for the OTHER. Hallelujah for all of the OTHERS--you, and you, and you--MY COMMUNITY--who bear witness and offer your diversity!

My life and art are transforming through the gorgeous entanglement of dance both sacred and playful and with another--Lynn Hesse! I am so grateful to Lynn for creating and holding the space for me to play, dance, and embody the mother with her.
BEGINNING THE DANCE. We begin our performance with me going onstage and painting. I begin with a ritual of lighting a candle and two InterPlay moves. Here my arms are open wide to experience the "big body" and spacious embrace of the great mystery of life. Before I begin painting, I also bow to the "little body," the finite me. (photo by Chiboodamoo, aka Tony Martin)

Collaboration with ANOTHER CREATIVE is supportive, comforting, engaging, expanding, challenging, and sacred.

What does that word mean--sacred?
WORDS FROM THE ARCHETYPAL MOTHER. My collaborator Lynn Hesse has adapted a poem of hers to merge with my images of THE MOTHER, both fierce and nurturing, both archetypal and real in addition to a choreographed sacred dance. (photos by Chiboodamoo, aka Tony Martin)
What is sacred?

I'm using the word to mean "spiritual," "holy," "blessed," "untouchable," and "protected." Sacred, for me, has the meaning of something that is respected and held with reverence.

Then, you might ask what are we doing, when Lynn and I say that we are creating a performance using elements of the SACRED?  We are creating a sacred dance (using dance phrases that embody the real and symbolic snake, the turtle, the eye, and the world), sacred practice (performing ritual--like lighting a candle and bowing--for example), and sacred friendship (one friend playing the role of the archetypal mother and the other being the novice daughter). 

How wondersome is it that we are collaborating with all of this use of SACRED so that I might "embody the mother" through our performance as we re-enact it over and over again throughout the upcoming months into August? On two more Tuesdays, we will repeat this ritual of embodying the mother at our Field Work and get feedback. There will be the rehearsals with Lynn and my solo painting each day as practice for being open to the archetypal mother through dance and thought.

Then we will perform for an audience again on the first Sunday of May for Field at Core Dance Studio in Decatur, Georgia, and again at the Decatur Arts Festival twice at the end of the month. We plan to take this performance to the Alternate Roots meeting in August if it is accepted.

I am grateful for the opportunity to transform through movement and thought. There is so much more to this story, but I will leave you with kisses and a warm embrace for now.

That's Coffee with Hallelujah. Soul Blog with me. What are you dancing with today? Is your dance transformational?

Acknowledgments: Great appreciation to Alice Teeter and Kathie DeNobriga for their dedication to the Pine Lake Art Salon that they have been conducting for 8 years! This performance on April 5, 2015 is the sixth time that I have had the good fortune to be a guest performer (Two times to lead a community HOWL and sell HOWL artwork; once to present this blog, Coffee With Hallelujah; another time to perform a two-voiced poem with my Chiboogamoo; and then to present the illustrations that I created for the children's book, The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia. Sincere thanks to my Chiboogamoo, aka Tony Martin, who documented this event with his amazing photos. Thank you!

Friday, April 3, 2015

CREATING ALCHEMY THROUGH INTERPLAY: Embodying the soul, experiencing joy and creating a group body in your community can be magical

Hallelujah for ALCHEMY! Hallelujah for the BODYSPIRIT! Hallelujah for INTERPLAY and for creating that magic in the presence of one another! I call this InterPlay Alchemy! And we can have an "ecstatic community" here in the metro-Atlanta area!

What is an "Ecstatic Community: The Group Body" as one of the chapters in the InterPlay book, What the Body Wants, is titled? To understand this, perhaps, you must experience it for yourself at InterPlay Alchemy with me or one of the other offerings of InterPlay Atlanta (see our blog).

However, to give you a little better idea of what I am talking about when I cheer on the idea of creating a "group body" and one that is celebratory or "ecstatic", I will offer you just a few choice tidbits from the chapter mentioned above in What the Body Wants

“A group that plays together often stays together.”

“A thriving group consists of thriving individuals. The more we can claim our individual physical style, energy, and truth, the more fullness and fun the group can have.”

FINDING REST IN COMMUNITY. You are invited to embody what you need. (photo by Ruth Schowalter, aka Hallelujah Truth)

“The group body wants play, creative challenge, rest, and communion. The body does not want to suffer. Dreams, visions, religion, education, and the body politic are born from our desire for grace. We are here not just to put an end to suffering, but to have true grace.”

“Each body in community has potential to change history for better and for worse. Since health is contagious, then bodies that move freely, breathe deeply, and play fully can change the world for the better.”

What wisdom and magic there is in playing together and experiencing our entire selves--in having it all--body, mind, heart and spirit all together! For me, I am learning so much as I facilitate InterPlay Alchemy on Tuesday mornings from 10:00 to noon. I trust that those who long for this kind of "ecstatic community" experience will find me and join these play shops.

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! Soul Blog with me and share your alchemical wanderings and experiences. Do you dance in community? When? Where? With whom? How long? What do you notice?

"As a teacher (of improvisation), I relish opportunities to be a student. In Ruth's class, InterPlay Alchemy, the thrill of discovery and the awakening of the mind and the senses that come with learning, were present for me from the very first moment. Under Ruth's tutelage, the class became a gathering place where we could each attend to our individual needs and desires and engage trustfully and joyfully with each other. From her place of deep knowing and love of InterPlay (as well as years of artful teaching), Ruth excelled at synthesizing all the elements of material and meaning."
 –Lesly Fredman, Director, Performer, Creativity Coach, Laughter Yoga Leader, Teacher