Cracking Open: The Final Offering

This is it. Most of you know the story.
Exactly two years ago, while on vacation in Norway, I got an idea for a dance-theater piece that I felt driven to create. I went back into the studio as a director/choreographer for the first time in September of that year, with a title (Cracking Open), a few skeleton movement phrases, and a lot of ideas. Then, just a few weeks into our rehearsal process, my little sister died. This piece became her piece.
We’ve performed it at the end of each phase of our rehearsal process, and we finally premiered it this past May. Now, we are sharing it one last time.
If you always meant to join us, but the logistics never worked, this is for you.
If you’ve seen it every time we’ve performed it and still want more, this is for you.
If you saw it long ago but missed our premiere, this is for you.
What: Cracking Open, the Final Offering. Part of SAFEhouse’s SPF/11 summer festival.
When: Thursday, July 12th & Friday, Jully 13th, at 8:00 PM
Where: SAFEhouse Arts, 145 Eddy St in San Francisco.
Who: June Banks, Ari Holtan, Dawn Frank Holtan, Mia Holtan, Amy Marie, Savanna McGrew, Kati Pienimäki Schenker, and Raven Malouf-Renning.
Tickets are available on the SAFEhouse website.
More information is available here.
Please join us.
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Winter Performances!

Thanks to a generous residency at SAFEhouse Arts, we have just passed the halfway point in our creation process. I am so excited to share all three of the sections we’ve created with you!

You are invited to join us for Cracking Open: Light in the Dark, Red, and Gold, at SAFEhouse Arts in November, and Cal State East Bay in December.

All of our upcoming performances will be part of shared evenings of work with other artists, so you’ll be able to see where we are in our process and also enjoy other new performances by awesome local dance, music, and theater folks.

OUR WINTER PERFORMANCE DATES FOR CRACKING OPEN:

 

At SAFEhouse Arts 1 Grove St in San Francisco.
Wednesday, November 29th at 8:00 PM
Thursday, November 30th at 8:00 PM
As part of the SAFEhouse RAW series, we will share a program with Cookie Harrist, Nicole Mari Casado, and Maribel Lopez.
Click here for $15 tickets.

At CSUEB PE 140 in Hayward.
Friday, December 15th at 6:30 PM
As part of Eric Kupers’ Shabbat Art-In, we will perform Cracking Open. There will also be healing music, a brief Shabbat ceremony, a Bandelion performance, and the opportunity for you to get up and perform. This is a free event. Click here for more information.

Our current cast of performers includes Chris Gallegos, Mia Holtan, Amy Marie, Savanna McGrew, and Kati Pienimäki Schenker. And!!! I will be performing a new solo created by Kimiko Guthrie to ease our transition from Red to Gold.

As usual, all sound will be performed live, and we will be joined onstage by composer/songwriter Eric Kupers and his musicians Keith Penney (all performances) and Reese Johnson (December only).

Please let me know if you have any questions, and stay tuned…we will create our next section, Green, beginning in January at SAFEhouse Arts so that we can share it with you in March. Then we will get to work on the final section, Blue. Finally, we will premiere the full, evening-length work in May 2018!

June 18th Performances!


Who
: You, and all of us…me, Chris Gallegos, Mia Holtan, Amy LaFaille, Savanna McGrew, Belgica Rodriguez, Kati Pienimäki Schenker, Eric Kupers, Keith Penney and more…
What: A work-in-progress showing of our ficropped-dsc00969.jpgrst two sections of Cracking Open.
Where: PE 140, California State University East Bay, Hayward, CA
When: June 18th at 7:00 PM, and again on June 18th at 8:00 PM.
How much: FREE! Everyone is welcome.

This work-in-progress performance features the first two sections of Cracking Open, which will have a total of five sections when it is completed. Cracking Open is a full-length dance theater performance piece slated to premiere in the early summer of 2018 at the Temescal Art Center.

Cracking Open is created collaboratively. I choreograph and direct, but I always draw from movement devised by the dancers for their bodies. My dancers choose me–I forego auditions in favor of working with anybody that genuinely wants to dance with me, is excited about the work, and shows up to rehearsals. The dancers for this work-in-progress performance of the first two sections of Cracking Open are Chris Gallegos, Mia Holtan, Amy LaFaille, Savanna McGrew, Belgica Rodriguez, and Kati Pienimäki Schenker. Eric Kupers is writing almost all of the music for Cracking Open, and he will perform live with us alongside Keith Penney and other musicians.

This is a piece about experiences that crack us open. We are looking closely at those moments when who we *are* is forever changed. The death of a loved one. Adolescent transformation. The birth of a child. A move across the country. A word used to describe us that transforms us as soon as we hear it. Huge, tiny, happy, sad. What happens when we recognize that we were wearing a shell, and it has cracked open, and we are forced to emerge, raw and exposed? When we have to figure out who we really are? Cracking Open is lit entirely from within by the dancers. Using dramatic shifts in color and tone, we will immerse the audience in an experience that “cracks open” over and over again, to reveal layer after layer of dance, color, language, and music.

Each section of Cracking Open, like a series of nesting dolls, features elements that appear in previous sections, but with a unique color, theme, and feel. While things will seem familiar, they will also constantly be new and emerging. Each section has an associated color of light: Light in the Dark (white light), Red, Gold, Green and Blue. Each color carries an ideological framework, as though when the sections shift we are suddenly viewing the world through a different pane in a stained glass window.

The first two section of Cracking Open, which we will perform for you during this work-in-progress showing, are Light in the Dark and Red.

Light in the Dark was created last fall, and we first shared it in December of 2016 at the Temescal Art Center. It is a direct response to the sudden, traumatic death of my little sister last October. We use nursery rhymes, snippets from Emily Dickinson and the Child Ballads, and my own lyrics to explore loss, loneliness, connection, and transcendence. We are creating our world for this section with lanterns, black umbrellas, a metal bucket of “cootie catchers,” and fairy lights.

Red has been in rehearsal all spring, and this will be our first time sharing it with an audience. In this section, we are experimenting with images of birth and death, with women as trees, with fabric as blood, with adolescent transformation, and with the format of a fairytale as a container for dark metaphors. We are creating our world for this section with red lights, red fabric, wolf masks, and broken umbrellas that have been repurposed to create surreal sculptural elements.

We look forward to sharing this raw, personal work with you, and we will have brief post-performance discussions after both performances so that we can hear your feedback and answer your questions. Thank you for joining us!
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Cracking Open: Red

We’re working now on the next section of Cracking Open. This piece was inspired by my experience of transformation as sometimes shocking, sometimes banal, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes mundane, sometimes terrifying, sometimes simple, but always always always slippery and surprising.

Along the way, I realized I want to create different worlds. Different moods. I want to play with lighting from within, and immersing my audience in an experience that “cracks open” to reveal another, very different layer. I remembered one of my favorite children’s books, an illustrated version of Delmore Schwartz‘s poem, “I am Cherry Alive,” and Cracking Open suddenly gained a new structure. The version of “Cherry Alive” that I loved as a child ends with page after page of gorgeous illustrations that are all infused with COLOR: “I am red.” Turn the page. “I am green.” Turn the page. “I am gold.” Turn the page. “I am blue.” Turn the page. “I will always be me, I will always be new.” This is now my skeleton for Cracking Open. What was our rough draft is now our first section. Light in the Dark. And it will be followed by Red, then Gold, then Green, then Blue.

At this point, Red is being brought to life by Amy LaFaille, Belgica Rodriguez, Chris Gallegos, Kati Pienimäki Schenker, Mia Holtan, and Savanna McGrew. Eric Kupers is providing us with music–Red is being choreographed entirely to his “Song for Della.”

In rehearsal, we are working with red lights, red fabric, wolf masks, and broken umbrellas that have been repurposed to create surreal sculptural elements. We are experimenting with images of birth and death, with women as trees, with fabric as blood, and with the format of a fairytale as a container for dark metaphors.