Hey strangers. Please excuse my absence during the month of September. After two weeks of Berkshire living, there’s only one thing to say: holy fall. I’ve officially entered the land of weekend “leaf peepers,” apple cider donuts, indian corn, and pumpkins grown to record-breaking size. Harvest Festivals, small town shopping, driving 20 minutes to get anywhere. Leaves falling off the bright orange trees so consistently they create a firey snowfall on my morning runs. Back home everyone’s in shorts and tank tops, and everyday here is scarf-worthy. Talk about cozy. Since returning to the mountains, every day has been an adventure. Photo shoots, bike rides, porch meals, and believe it or not… a ton of dance.
Black Girl: Linguistic Play
Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT hosted Camille A. Brown (this year’s Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner!) for a one-night-only run of her Bessie-nominated production. For those non-dance folk out there, the Bessie’s are essentially the dance world’s Academy Awards. Still just as glam, but with tickets to the event in NYC priced at only $10 a pop. Camille’s production is a product of 2+ years of investigation, shaping, research, creation. During her post-show discussion, she talked about how this piece came from a place of wanting the world to see themselves within the lens of a black woman, as opposed to black women needing to find themselves in the lens of everyone else’s stories. I was moved by her distinct movement vocabulary, her raw attention to gesture and detail, and her ability to integrate the personalities of each of the females performing so seamlessly into the 55 minute work. A colorful chalkboard mural bore youthful images and doodles, radiating sunshine and warmth. Later, these sketches were revealed as the performers’ definitions of a young black girl, illustrated. In its entirety, this production was a powerful, subtle narrative, a wonderful piece of contemporary art.
Hudson Valley Dance Festival
As a volunteer for DRA (Dancers Responding to AIDS), this day was a unique opportunity to experience how other organizations present dance. Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Caleb Teicher & Company, and MADBOOTS Dance were the highlights for me. Much like Jacob’s Pillow accomplishes over the course of a summer, DRA put together a satisfying sampling of contemporary dance in today’s world in only an hour and a half. Also got to hang with some of the nicest most enthusiastic middle-aged dance-loving couples in New York State. There are some absolutely indescribably horrid people in this world, and then there’s the people that outshine all that.
Back in the Berks
Any change is an adjustment. After a long weekend of celebrating a might-as-well-be-blood-related sister as a bridesmaid in her wedding, coming back to complete dance immersion and seclusion from real life has been rough. It’s the realization of moving on, entering the unknown, being an adult, yadda yadda yadda. But for real, when’s the last time you’ve been so completely surrounded by loved ones? So ridiculously happy you could literally burst open from sheer joy? When you don’t sleep because waking life outweighs giving your body a rest? That’s where I was this weekend. Overjoyed to be around old friends, meet some incredible new ones, witness love. So happy for my sis, for where she’s come, where we’ve all come.
Constantly there’s this pressure to do a lot, to always be busy, to always be productive, learning, and putting myself in those situations where life will be “soooo different” and changed.
When assisting Camille A. Brown’s photo shoot on day 2 back at the Pillow, she stopped me, asking what my story is, how I got here. Here I am, a joe shmoe assistant, and Camille cared to know where I come from. I spoke – rather nervous and quickly might I add – about my new position, my recent graduation, my goals, my aspirations. She responded with that phrase… “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Been brewing on this since that day. Why stretch yourself so thin when you could dive deep into what you love? What you’re good at? Being productive in a focused way, getting rid of all the cluttery parts that don’t serve a purpose. And of course, focusing your mind on things greater than yourself.
Find that thing, listen to it, accept it, and follow it.