Monday, October 27, 2014

Foreign Exchange week: Israel, France, Atlanta, Houston

So last week was full of inspiration! On Monday the company got to take a workshop with the Israeli company Vertigo Dance. After the workshop, we got to visit with them and talk about our experiences on different sides of the world making dances. There are so many similarities in how the work is collaborative between director and dancers and how they explore movement in the studio. There are also many interesting differences like how they sometimes work in a kibbutz and even rehearse there. We were very happy to share the time with them and sad to see them leave so soon. Hope our paths cross again in the near future!

By Wednesday, we flew to Houston with the French choreographers Isabel and Adolfo from Association Manifeste. They performed their "Point of View on the Street Corner: The American Corner" piece outside the Magnolia Ballroom on Friday twice! It was so fun to see people getting off at a bus stop coming upon this wild, crazy, and thoughtful dance. It certainly was a beautiful evening for it too.
I'll never forget how one lady walked up to me to ask about what she was seeing and after watching for 5 minutes she responded, "Now THIS is art. This is how art should be." I'm wondering if she was referring to the fact that it was free and available for everyone to see.

Earlier on Thursday, we previewed the collaborative work we created between CORE & Association Manifeste called "Je Suis/I am" at the French Consulate-General's house. It was a blast! So many people there that night enjoyed the dance AND dancing with us. 
Then on Saturday we performed the full version of "Je Suis/I Am" at the East End Festival. One viewer decided to stay immersed in our dancing by sitting on a bench with us during our character section that took place on the bench. Talk about best seat in the house. 

Hope all of the Houston-ites enjoyed the weekend of French & American dancing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Celebrating Southern/France: a Petanque and Fried Chicken Party

CORE had a big weekend in Atlanta with multiple performances of “Point of View” and “Je Suis” in collaboration with Toulouse, France-based Association Manifeste: at the High Museum, on street corners downtown, and in Historic Fourth Ward Park as part of the closing day of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. And because that didn’t seem quite enough for one weekend, CORE co-presented Israel-based Vertigo at the Rialto. Phew!

A weekend that full deserved a party at its conclusion, and party we all did… on the pétanque courts in the back yard of Pearl and Tom McHaney’s home. There’s a bit of a story to how CORE, Association Manifeste, Vertigo, the deputy-mayor of Toulouse, representatives from the French Consulate, and other VIPs ended up in the McHaneys’ back yard Sunday night.

Pearl is director of Georgia State’s Center for International and Collaborative Arts (CENCIA) and Associate Dean for Fine Arts, and has published extensively on Eudora Welty. Tom is Professor Emeritus of American Literature at Georgia State and a William Faulkner expert. And they’re both big-time Francophiles. I learned this last Christmas, when myself and fellow CORE board member Gregory Burbidge (Senior Program Specialist with the Atlanta Regional Commission) were asked by a mutual friend to run as two of the three French hens in a “12 Days of Christmas” run on Christmas morning. Gregory sourced the chicken beak masks. And the wine bottle filled with Gatorade. I took care of the baguette. We each found our own berets. But I was having the darndest time finding French mime shirts. Or, as I’ve learned they’re more appropriately called, French Navy shirts. You know the ones: horizontal white and black/navy blue stripes. Couldn’t find one anywhere. So I put out the word on Facebook.

Pearl McHaney, who I knew from her and Tom’s longtime support of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, got in touch. She had my mime shirts. She and Tom had bought them in France. They were tres authentique. I made sure she understood that we would in fact be sweating profusely in these shirts. She said this was not a problem.

So I made my way to the McHaney’s Decatur home to pick up the shirts, and it was then that I learned they had two pétanque courts in their back yard. Actually, it was then that I first learned that there was such a thing as pétanque. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s very similar to bocce ball, but with metal rather than wood balls. Pearl and Tom told me that they had a weekly pétanque gathering, and that I should come play anytime. I filed this information away.

Months later, Sue Schroeder told me she was looking for a place to hold a cast party when Association Manifest was in town. I knew the pétanque court and the McHaney’s home was the perfect setting. I got in touch with the McHaneys and, as I knew they would, they loved the idea.

If you haven’t met the McHaneys before, well, that’s a tragic omission in your life. They are two of the most fascinating and friendly people you’ll ever meet. And on Sunday night, after we’d all had a very full weekend, they welcomed us warmly to celebrate. Five nations that I know of (and undoubtedly some that I missed) were represented among the guests (France, Israel, Germany, Ghana, and the U.S.).

Dancers did pirouettes and leaps on the pétanque court in preparation for their throws. CORE company manager Patton White turned out to be a natural at the game. One of the Association Manifeste choreographers was a ringer for his team. I managed to score one point during my time on the court. A minimum of three languages echoed off the trees. Pearl and Tom taught and coached and refereed the games. We all feasted on chicken and Tom’s homemade pimento cheese. We drank wine and looked back with more than a little wonder at all that this overflowing weekend of art had managed to hold.

Our thanks to the McHaneys for a magical night!

Tom Bell, Board President at CORE

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Je Suis / I Am"
Finally... the piece is finished!!!! Yes, and it's soooo nice to meet you! 

After bringing back all the material we had created with Association Manifest from Toulouse/France last year in October and this year in March during our trip to France has grown into a quite funny piece! All of a sudden it all makes sense. 
This week we took it out to our two different sites where we are going to show "Je Suis / I am" - At the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and also at the Old Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta. Two quite different sites and therefore the piece is sightly different as well. So you definitely want to come out to see both! 
Lost in translation was definitely a little part of this week's work process again - English, French, a bit of Spanish and a word of German here and there thrown in as well. But I feel we resolved it pretty well and met each other with a little more patience and didn't take it all too seriously. The outcome: We had sooo much fun! 

Next week we are getting ready to bring this work to yet another site in our other home, Houston Texas! 
We are excited to share our work with you!!! Hope to see you there!