Tuesday, May 27, 2014

LOVING MY CITY: Thank you Decatur Arts Festival 2014 for such a walkable beautiful place to live!

SATURDAY MORNING AT THE DECATUR ARTS FESTIVAL 2014. My Chiboogamoo and I live in a pedestrian friendly city and during the Memorial Day weekend every year, city inhabitants walk or ride bikes to the arts festival. For us, it is a 15-minute walk to this scene downtown. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for a warm embracing city that loves the expressive arts! Hallelujah for the Decatur Arts Festival 2014 and all its bounty! Hallelujah for being able to walk to and around my city.
SATURDAY FARMER'S MARKET. On our way to the Decatur Arts Festival, we passed by the weekly Farmer's Market held next to Decatur High School. How exciting that it is once again peach season! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
BIKE VALET! Every seen one of these signs? It was a first for me too! I wonder how much it cost to use a bike valet! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
COOLING OFF. Thank you Decatur fire department for cooling off festival goers during the hot Saturday afternoon. Children and adults alike were running under the cool sprays of water right next to the food trucks! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
ART BOOTHS. There seem to be fewer artists booths this year but those that were present were colorful! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

PORTABLE TOILETS. A nice surprise awaited us in front of the Decatur Courthouse and under the magnolias near the acoustic tent--artistically painted portable toilets! Mona Lisa does not seem amused. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
ALONG CLAIRMONT. Events were going on everywhere. Here you can see enthusiastic parents photographing their tutu-ed daughters inside, right off the street where the artist booths were. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
WOW! Loved this artists' work but have lost her business card! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
PERFORMING ARTISTS IN THE GAZEBO. Beyond the people and the tents, is the Gazebo, where there were live performances most of the day! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
THE DECATUR ARTS ASSOCIATION. Finally! My Chiboogamoo and I had been intending for a long time to become members of the Decatur Arts Association and this past Saturday, we paid our membership dues. We are official members now. And we have the t-shirt to prove it. I'm pictured here with Ann Vann Slyke. (photo by Chiboogamoo)
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you enjoyed about the Decatur Arts Festival 2014! Or if you don't live in my city, what do you enjoy about your city's art festival?

Monday, May 26, 2014

A CREATION STORY: In the beginning I was Earth Dog White Bird

EARTH DOG WHITE BIRD, 1988. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for CREATION STORIES, especially the ones that we CREATE for ourselves! 

Today in response to the prompt on THE DAILY CREATIVE PRACTICE, my group on Facebook (join us here),  I would like to tell the story of how I became Earth Dog White Bird long before I became Hallelujah Truth (see prompt below).

In the beginning was me, Ruth Schowalter, a journalist and poet, who one day decided to take her words and fashion them into images. I was 30 years old, and three decades of living seemed to weigh heavy on me. 

Nontraditional, unmarried, curious, well-educated, but directionless, I peered into meditation and my dreams for answers. I had returned to meeting with a mentor, Dr. James Yhu, to continue understanding the principles of Buddhism. We had met when I was 25 and rooming with Wu Mei Qin, a PhD candidate majoring in Noise Control Engineering and one of the first young mainland Chinese scholars allowed to pursue her studies in the United States. We lived in Auburn, Alabama. How far away that time seems now!

Chinese culture and language engulfed me throughout my 20s--the time I spent in Auburn, Alabama, and I studied as much as I could of both but never got to travel to China. However, I did choose to claim my Chinese horoscope with an open heart. Based on the year and month I was born in, I was the EARTH DOG!

Then because my life was rich with Chinese friends, teachers, and students (who I tutored English), I gained another identity! My name RUTH poses a pronunciation challenge for many language speakers, and Chinese speakers pronounce the "r" as an "l" and the "th" as an "s." RUTH then became pronounced as "loose." Since I was tall and white, the bird, my Chinese tutor, Michele, associated me with was the white heron. Surprisingly, the Chinese word for this white bird is pronounced "Loo Se." 


Delighted that I identified with two animals that fit quite well into the Yinyang symbol, I decided to create a logo to represent ME! Grounded in the EARTH and flying in the SKY, seeds of one another, perpetually shifting flowing and becoming.

And that is how I became EARTH DOG WHITE BIRD when I was 30 years old, long before I named myself Hallelujah Truth.

(A collaborative prompt between me an anonymous geologist):

Create anything. Then in writing, describe the process, in any fashion, how you conceived, manipulated, and/or were influenced.

Think of this as your CREATION STORY. You are invited to let your response be reflective and historic—giving us a sense of something that already happened.

Your CREATION STORY helps everyone in the group to become aware of the context in which your creative work is made.

“Telling CREATION STORIES is a rite of passage that initiates outsiders into the
inner context of the image.” --Sean McNiff

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share your CREATION STORY with me. I also invite you to join my Facebook group, The Daily Creative Practice, and share your story with others there. Big Love to you all.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

DECATUR ARTS FESTIVAL 2014: New Dance invites us to think about new ways of understanding movement and ourselves

A LIFE WELL SEASONED. This photo depicts the conclusion of Beacon Dance's performance, "A Life Well Seasoned," at the Decatur Arts Festival's "New Dance" hour-long performance with 5 different dance groups. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for DANCE! And Hallelujah for that adjective "NEW." When put together, NEW DANCE offers us new ways of understanding movement and ourselves.

The Decatur Arts Festival 2014 brought my city a rich hour-long performance titled, "Breaking New Ground: New Dance at the Decatur Arts Festival." Beacon Dance, collaborating with the Decatur Arts Festival to provide this performance, is dedicated to furthering social justice and the protection of the natural world while developing an appreciation of contemporary dance.

As I have deepened my own appreciation for moving creatively in the two years, I have also grown curious about dance as it is occurring in my environment. What does it mean when Beacon Dance makes the statement that it uses dance to further social justice? Does it mean being FREE TO BE WHO WE ARE--Each and every one of us?

Let's explore what occurred in the hour-long performance this Memorial Day weekend in Decatur at the end of May 2014.

THIS IS LOVE. Lynn Hesse and Ella Johannaber moved and dialogued about their personal perspectives of love. One of the questions they debated in their dance is "Love work or play"? Although the piece was rehearsed, it also maintains a sense of improvisation, with each of the four performances this weekend at the festival being different. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

STEEP CLIFFS. As soon as the first performance was completed, Alex Spitzer, a choreographer and dancer, wheeled out on the dance floor to music by Doug Appling, which made my spirits soar. My Chiboogamoo and I watched with delight as this wheelchair-bound dancer flew and spun circles right in front of us. Yes! Yes! to finding ways to express ourselves and to communicate that to others! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
LOVE UNSPOKEN. Powerful in energy, pulse, sexuality, this collaborative dance touched me as an orchestrated healing ritual. The dancer Aviva describes this collaborative dance with Scott Houston as a way "to help release their relationship pain through recognition, whilst inspiring flight and empowerment concerning the word 'LOVE'". I was struck by the beauty and power of young flexible bodies. I feel a need to witness all generations, genders, abilities in movement. Such different energy is communicated by everyone. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: AN OPUS FOR TWO IN D MINOR. Mesmerizing and complex, Jhon R. Stronks and Wayne M. Smith's improvisational performance moved to poetry scripted by Jhon ("i.in.a.dress.sing.u.reveal.love.") as well as Nikki Giovanni ("A Greater Love of God and Country")and Sonia Sanchez ("Counting Poem"). During the performance, Jhon also sings in a sweet lilting voice the song by Pete Seeger, "Where have all the flowers gone." To be honest, I would need to watch this intriguing piece several times to absorb the overall message. For now, I am left with curiosity and energized by being intrigued. And, yes, it felt strange for me to see a man in a dress. Why is that? I enjoy meeting myself at intellectual points of squeamishness and discomfort. From that place I can examine my own expectations I've learned from my cultural. At my heart, I want each and everyone of us to dress in whatever way we choose and to love whomever our hearts choose to love. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
A LIFE WELL SEASONED. Yes! It was fun to see Beacon Dancers (Lynn Hesse, Susan Keller, Ann Ritter, and Patton White) enter the dance floor carrying red chairs and dressed in all white except for a colored scarf, which each dancer had tucked somewhere on themselves. I am not quite sure what the dance was communicating, but I felt the importance of "community" in the performance. Whether the dancers were encircled in their chairs facing one another, taking turns, or moving at random, the connection they had to one another seemed significant. Overall, it felt like a ritualized life span spent in community. What is the individual in relation to other individuals over a life time? I will need to talk to some of the dancers to see, in fact, what they were striving to say. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for differences! Hallelujah for individuality and for what each one of has to contribute in the language of creative movement. What is NEW DANCE? Perhaps one answer is that it is what you and I make it for ourselves. I believe we might all benefit from dancing a NEW DANCE on behalf of ourselves and the world every day! 

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you think of creative movement. How often do you dance and experiment with new ways of moving? What do you understand about dance as shown here in these images?
HALLELUJAH DANCING. In case you didn't recognize me, I, Hallelujah Truth, am on the far left dancing with my friends, Callahan, Dave, and Beverly at the Decatur Arts Festival 2014, after attending the hour-long performance of "New Dance" at our awesome Decatur Recreation Center.(photo by my beloved Chiboogamoo)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

DECATUR ARTS FESTIVAL 2014: Walking the Art Walk in my city with my honey appreciating the abundance!

DECATUR ARTS FESTIVAL 2014.  Our pedestrian friendly city of Decatur allows people to stroll leisurely from venue to venue on the Artwalk, which always takes place the Friday evening of the festival. Here you can the artists' tents getting set up for Saturday. Look a little closer and you can see two neighbors waving at us from below. My Chiboogamoo and I were looking at faculty art in the Art Institute of Atlanta-Decatur. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for loving the place where you live! Hallelujah for small cities nestling on the outskirts of really big ones like Atlanta! Hallelujah for an abundance of friends and beauty expressed in art and music!

The photos posted here are only a glimpse of what a lovely evening it was in Decatur, Georgia, for the Artwalk on the Friday night of the Decatur Arts Festival 2014! The evening temperature was in the mid-seventies, breezes were gently caressing our faces and tossing the leaves of the numerous trees as we walked from our home into our thriving pedestrian friendly city.
AIMEE JEWELRY BOUTIQUE AND GALLERY.  My honey, Chiboogamoo, poses for my photo in front of one of Pedro A. Gonzalez's intriguing paintings. His colorful and symbolic work was on display and celebrated by a performing opera singer and the most amazing table of delightful food and champagne. Very classy. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
PAINTING AT FARM BURGER.  Stacey Brown was busy watercoloring when we dropped into Farm Burger. It was great to chat with him about his abstract depiction of urban environments. And there were tasty deviled eggs offered free of charge to the public. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
DECATUR BIKES.  Meeting up with friends while doing the Decatur Artwalk is part of what this evening is all about. Here are Beryl and Susan with my Chiboogamoo standing at a table of ceramic art. I love viewing art in different environments like this. And as a perk? They had a stash of beer in a cooler. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
COOK'S WAREHOUSE AND SHERLOCK'S WINE MERCHANT.  Yes to finding art displayed on crates of wine with wine bottles as back drops. Cook's Warehouse was giving free wine tastings and one taste of a Three Taverns craft beer. The food table was a delight with my favorite being the spicy pimento cheese!  (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
WILD OATS AND BILLY GOATS. This folk art and gift gallery was packed full of imagery, handcrafted soaps, jewelry, people, and this performer crooning melodious songs. The strawberries tumbled off of guests' plates and much fun was had by all. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
HEADING HOME AFTER FINISHING THE ARTWALK.  Gosh! There was just an abundance of shops to visit, artists to attend to, friends to chat with. We didn't get to all of the venues. I made sure to visit the Decatur Public Library, which is celebrating children's book illustrators with an exhibit and served wine and cheese. We also stopped in to Little Shop of Stories, which is auctioning original work by children's book illustrators. What an abundance of riches! And this was just the opening for our Memorial Day weekend in Decatur. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you did on Friday night, May 23! Would you have liked to have walked the streets of Decatur with Tony and me? Or do you have your own treasured metropolis with its artwalks?

Friday, May 23, 2014

FORGIVENESS: Embodying an act of compassion for the self and others

CONSTRUCTION OF FORGIVENESS. Let's imagine constructing forgiveness can be a creative act, like assimilating the statues of the four seasons here at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for the ability to shift our emotions, to leave the negative and embrace the good of which so much exists on this beautiful Earth. Hallelujah for the act of FORGIVENESS--forgiving ourselves and others!

The "idea" of FORGIVENESS is elusive. As a mental construct, we understand how useful it is to transform the hurt and anger that we feel as a victim of an unkind act.
SEASONAL FORGIVENESS. What does this image of winter summon for you when thinking of forgiveness? Do our emotions mirror the seasons? Are there times when feelings "die" and "retreat" for a period of rest, just like plants in nature? (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Just like a garden, I believe our emotional terrains need tending, mending, and rest. FORGIVENESS is a wonderful garden tool to implement in this process. I have been exploring the topic of FORGIVENESS with my friend Cecelia Kane in our curriculum, "A Year to Live." In Piero Ferrucci's book, The Power of Kindness, his chapter on FORGIVENESS begins with a question to a survivor of the Holocaust: "What is the important thing in life?"

The survivor's answer? FORGIVENESS! But what is FORGIVENESS? It is the process of closing out the PAST and living in the PRESENT. And yes, releasing the negative emotions from the body spirit, the entire self, and finding peace.
WHAT IS FORGIVENESS? FORGIVENESS is an irrational act because accounts don't balance if you try to reason yourself into FORGIVENESS. The pieces don't add up. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
FORGIVENESS is an act of spirit, faith, hope and generosity. To release resentment is a step toward one's total health--emotions, intellect, spirit, and body. But to release that resentment, each one of us, first, must be willing to fully embrace the damage done. The anger needs to be expressed, explains Ferrucci, and then it might be possible to empathize with the person who has harmed us. Really? Yes.
FORGIVENESS CAUSES RADICAL TRANSFORMATION. To be able to see from another person's perspective--the one who harmed us--allows us to relinquish judgement and to embrace compassion. Our compassion transforms hurt, resentment, and anger into something new and brings us into the PRESENT. The PAST is completed. Released. Over. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
EMPATHIZING with the offender allows us to practice flexibility and humility--that is a radical change from anger and resentment! We become present to the NOW. We become the the FORGIVENESS! What a magical action compassion is! We embody it for ourself and others.

WE BECOME THE FORGIVENESS. I am so thankful for the four seasons which provide a symbolic way of understanding ourselves. In order to be healthy, whole, and healed--to flourish and bloom--we need to tend to the garden of our souls. What of your emotional past is ready to be forgiven? (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
ABOUT THE SCULPTURES. Philip Hass, an American artist and filmmaker, designed these sculptures. He was strongly influenced by Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s paintings. To read more about these sculptures go here. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me about FORGIVENESS. How do you let go of the anger, the sense of injustice, the hurt that you experience?

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Immense gratitude goes to Cecelia Kane, with whom I am in the sixth month of a 12-month curriculum we call "A Year to Live." We have been meeting since December on almost every Monday to discuss readings from various texts (A Year to Live by Stephen Levine; Making Friends with Death by Judith Lief, and Dying Well by Ira Byock to name a few). One of our topics to discuss in the month of April was FORGIVENESS. 

I also want to thank Angela Bennett and her Goddesspell workshop on March 30, 2014. The afternoon was rich with meditations and reflections on forgiveness facilitated by Anahata Iradah. 

Then there are the forms of InterPlay! I am so grateful for the way in which InterPlay offers movement, story telling, and voice as a way to embody such complex ideas as FORGIVENESS.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

AMMONITE CELEBRATION: Dancing with the fossils as totems of survival and thriving existences

AMMONITE CELEBRATION. Hallelujah to the ammonite! Welcome to learning a little about one of my sacred totems which serves as a potent reminder of survival. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for knowledge! Hallelujah for preserving the accumulative wisdom by securing it in writing! Hallelujah for recognizing deep time and stories of survival in the rocks--like the story of the ammonite! 

I am in love with paleontology, one particular paleontologist (my Chiboogamoo), and the wealth of lessons that have entered my life through geological explorations, expansive discussions, and books that deepen my understanding.

One such book is Planet Ocean: Dancing to the Fossil Record, written by Brad Matsen and illustrated by Ray Troll. In addition to being in love with the way these two collaborators explain the origin of the Earth visually and verbally, I appreciate the symbolic value attributed to the humble ammonite, an ancestor of the chambered nautilus and octopus.
THE HUMBLE AMMONITE. While so much of the world hovers around dinosaurs and anything with a backbone preserved in the fossil record with a lot of "hoo-ha", this mighty mollusk is appreciated by those who seek more subtle displays of longevity from our Earth's past. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
The ammonite persisted through several mass extinctions over a 330-million-year history only dying out 65-million years ago along with the dinosaurs when more than 96 percent of life on Earth ceased to exist. Ammonites, which fossilized easily, are abundantly available for purchase around the world, and it is possible to dig some up as I did years ago along a lake in Idaho. But what about its symbolic value and my reason for celebrating it at this period in my life?

Brad Matsen writes that the ammonite's survival story so impressed him when he was writing the book, Planet Ocean, that he bought one as a gift of encouragement for his college age daughter and penned this letter: 

"Dear Laura, 

This ammonite is to honor surviving your first semseter at college and to share some of the natural elegance I'm discovering lately. The fossil was found in Morocco, in North Africa, which was once the bottom of the sea. A moment of meditation with it in your hands will give you clues to survival, no matter what the situation.

Love, Dad"
HALLELUJAH CELEBRATING THE AMMONITE. I will wear my ammonites while I dance joyfully, easefully, playfully. Thus, I shall move into my life's spiral as a celebratory act. Will you join me? (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Today, yesterday, tomorrow, before, and again in the future, I will return to this symbolic value of the ammonite: SURVIVAL. Now, at my wise age of 55, I am imbuing my ammonites' totemic power of "survival" with a playful, joyful dance. 

As each one of us gathers our years and deepens our wisdom, we experience the ebb and flow of life's gifts. We bid some friends good-bye. We change jobs. We face new environments. At each turn of the spiral we meet challenges, loss, growth, and new opportunities to survive with the exquisite appreciation of life's force. Life has heft and weight to it. 

Let's dance the ammonite spiral. Let's celebrate our survival from one day to the next with joy and love in our hearts! Hallelujah!

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share your journey with me. What books have you read that morphed into a drawing, a poem, a journal record? Do you have an ammonite story of survival?

Acknowledgement: Thank you TJ Worthington for this prompt that you wrote for our Facebook group, The Daily Creative Practice (join us here). The above blog entry is my response! :

How has reading informed your art form(s)?
Looking at reading as visualization, perhaps a source for learning visualization. Have particular writers inspired you to visual expression? Ever had inspiration from reading to do something visual, in writing, or other art expression, music, movement? Self-help books, facebook, online, biographies, poetry, spiritual, fiction, children's books, magazines? How does one transfer an idea or insight gathered from one art form into another art form? I don't mean these particular questions to be answered, but an attempt to point to examples. Or does reading have no part at all in your art expression? Or sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CREATING THE JOURNEY: Making art is making the SELF or SELVES

Hallelujah for the JOURNEY! Hallelujah for ART MAKING! And Hallelujah for creating the JOURNEY through ART MAKING and sharing it with community!

As the creator and administrator of "The Daily Creative Practice," a Facebook group with more than 600 members (join us here), I have the privilege of witnessing how CREATIVITY can be expressed in multiple forms of ART MAKING. Sewing, science writing and illustrating, jewelry forging, drawing, painting, photography, teaching, dancing, and playing all emerge from the SOUL! Yours, mine, and others!

On The Daily Creative Practice (DCP), we have a blog or art making prompt each Monday written by one of our group members. Called "Monday Funday," members are invited to respond some time during the week by writing a blog and posting a link on the DCP or crafting a shorter response in word or image and posting directly on the DCP.  This week's Monday Funday prompt was written by visual artist Diana Toma

Why do we create art? Take a minute today to get present to what is so for you in this question. You can do it right now - take a deep breath, relax. Let the answer come to you from the peacefulness of your inner being. Why do you create art? (see the rest of the prompt below)

My answer? 

ART IS ME IS MY JOURNEY IS YOU (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

My visual art and writing creates me. Images and words "tie" me to something concrete, visible, and communicable. When I broadcast my creations to you--the other--we connect and through our co-created community, my existence is expanded.

Yes, my ART MAKING is the expression of SPIRIT. This language permits others to see and hear me and to either respond or fashion something original from themselves.
MOTHER TURTLE. We become ourselves by the choices we make. I choose to make images and write to make myself tangible. Mother Turtle here represents the four directions of a compass. As we each seek our true north, it is good to stay centered in our hearts. At the center of Mother Turtle is the symbol of me, Hallelujah Truth, the four-petalled flower. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)

By writing and drawing images, I create WAVES of SELF in our large shared ocean of consciousness. These Hallelujah Truth Waves crest near you, you, and you--permeable and dynamic. 

I create art to create MYSELF or SELVES.

That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and share the reason for your art making! I want to know.

From Diana Toma for Monday Funday on the Daily Creative Practice
When an answer comes, keep asking. Don’t get settle in any specificity, keep inquiring, until you feel so inspired by your own findings that you get chills. Goose bumps. Feel in awe. The purpose of this exercise is to connect deeply to what moves, touches and inspires you.
Picasso once said “The meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give it away”
I personally believe the act of creating, the creativity behind an artwork, is crucial for personal happiness and satisfaction. I paint because there’s nothing else I would rather do. I paint with my eyes, with my imagination, with my hands. I look for beauty all around me. The way the light drapes over my water cup. The way my daughter’s eyes squint a little in the morning right after she wakes up. The way a ray of sun feels on my arm. I love to observe. To look at something without judging, analyzing or dissecting it. Just notice. Observe. Wonder. I pick up the brush and take emotional notes of my observations on a surface. Painting is poetry on canvas. Ahh the moment the water is moving from wet to dry, the way the backwash slowly expands, tickling my soul with every wet area in which it spreads carrying color, with a life of it’s own.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Some Good Sacred Memory Is a Saving Grace: Using InterPlay to collaborate, dance, heal

SISTERS, DREAMS, DANCE. These sisters, Hazel and Stella, participated with me in Lynn Hesse's performance piece, "Love in Full Life and Length." Wasn't the Sears catalog a source of some of our dreams for those of us who grew up in the 1950's and 1960's? (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for one good memory, for it is a saving grace! Hallelujah for sacred memories preserved from childhood. Hallelujah for creating and co-creating with others in community and healing through the creative arts! 

More than a year ago, I began my journey with InterPlay, and as "way leads on to way," I have found that major life paths have diverged and I am traveling a road "less traveled." On this journey, I have made new friends, and one of them a dancer, Lynn Hesse, invited me to perform in a "piece" of a larger body of her ongoing work.  I said, "Yes"! And it is making all the difference.
DANCING IN MEMORY OF HER FATHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP. Lynn Hesse warms up for "The Field" rehearsal of her piece, "Love in Full Life and Length," at Core, a dance studio in Decatur, Georgia. A critique followed our performance resulting in significant changes in the presentation of our content.  (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Last night, we performed our piece that Lynn has titled "Love in Full Life and Length." Our performance took place as part of something called "The Field," a format in which artists workshop their ideas and get critiques. My role with Lynn lasted 4-to-5 short minutes, but we spent more than 15 hours developing it using a form from InterPlay called "Side-by-Side Story." 

Our challenge was rehearsing shared memories about our fathers inside the "Side-by-Side Story," which is an improvisational form and supporting Lynn's 4-minute dance piece on behalf of her father. We had even "performed" our side-by-side stories twice in front of an audience, once for Asheville InterPlay in North Carolina and once for a "Fieldwork" critique in Decatur, Georgia. Our expressed memories preserved from our childhoods have evolved after each rehearsal and performance. What a "saving grace" dance is!
SISTERS IN SPIRIT AND DANCE. Lynn and I posed for a photo before our performance at Core. As you can see the younger of the two sisters photo-bombed us.  (photo by one of the sisters, Hazel and Stella)
What is the "saving grace" from these memories contextualized in the full length of our lives? Taking negative and positive memories--words--and embodying them in dance, play, and story (mine and Lynn's), consolidates, expresses, and transports them. Our mixed bag of childhood memories have transformed like caged white doves being released into the azure blue heavens, flapping their wings and crying joyously.

Last night's performance held at Emory University's Dance Studio at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts challenged me. I still feel that talking about my family, my father is a private affair. How can I tote out the painful memories and wounds to a wider public than my family and friends? We had a full audience!
TECHNICAL DETAILS. Lynn observes as the Tech Support guy marks the floor to insure that the blanket for the two sisters would be placed correctly for the performance. We also chose lighting and practiced getting on and off stage--and yes, bowing! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
But working on this performance "Love in Full Life and Length" has made my experiences clearer to me. The immense complexity of LOVE is beguiling. The legacy our fathers gave us is, in part, what their fathers and mothers gave them. My father did his best for me all the while dealing with his wounds from his childhood, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, and disappointing outcome of  a promising military career. Are a father's wounds, his daughter's wounds? My answer is a resounding "Yes." But I believe in the possibility of healing my wounds and in his too, even though he died 10 years ago. How?

Dancing on behalf of my father-daughter relationship repeatedly! 
GREEN ROOM EXPERIENCE. Emory Dance Director and Associate Professor Lori Teague (far right) prepares us for the beginning of the Fieldwork Showcase. It was very exciting to see performers warming up, eating, and communing! I sat quietly and went over the words I needed to say at the very beginning: "People talk a great deal about your education. But some good sacred memory from childhood, well perhaps that's the BEST education." (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

Dancing some of the good sacred memories repeatedly in developing material for our performance has already changed who I am in relation to my father and the rest of my life. Through movement and "re-storying" my past experiences, I have started to comprehend the love, courage, and good that my father gave me. I am now beginning to embody the many good sacred father memories while honoring his wounded body and soul. 

When I move in this father-daughter dance,  I also honor my childhood and the woman I am now. Performing "Love in Full Life and Length" with Lynn has been such an awesome odyssey. What a privilege to dance with another daughter in honor of our fathers,  ourselves, and love. I believe that we can heal our wounds.
FIELDWORK CRITIQUE. Post performance, members of "The Field" sit in front of audience members and other performers for a critique. Here Lynn Hesse is listening to a fellow "Fielder" on how he appreciated our side-by-side story! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

Sisters/Daughters through Dance
That's Coffee With Hallelujah. SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what is that one good memory you have that is a saving grace. How will you honor that memory? A dance? A poem? A picture?

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: I acknowledge Lynn Hesse for her depth of spirit and how she goes about crafting her work. Although I was a novice performer, she invited me to co-create with her. During our collaboration, I was struck by her dedication and persistence. At the age of 61, she is a graceful dancer, one who expresses her ideas in choreographed poetry. Thank you Lynn for your loving guidance and nurturing spirit. It was an honor to create and perform our father-daughter dances together. Thank you for the healing that has begun as a result of it. You are my Sister now!