Arts Review Festival

Is This Festival in the Act of Audiencing?

Day 5 at T:BA:14 has begun.

Today marks the halfway point for T:BA:14. This evening I will be attending the U.S. Premiere of Luke George & Collaborators Not About Face. I attended the workshop he facilitated last year and have been looking forward to participating in this “choreographic experiment in anonymous intimacy and fake belief”.

I started off yesterday with the workshop hosted by Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad. They have been experimenting with the participatory art installation Bodycartography Project. We began by exploring and questioning “What is our pelvis and what does it do?” What a great way to warm up the body and our creative energy. We worked in pairs, opening and exploring our sensory and emotional bodies. Then began practicing presence and empathy while moving around the room. We ventured out into the open air, taking turns giving a personal 10 minute performance to our partner. While in turn, our partner engaged in the active role of “audiencing.”

Once returning to the studio, we switch to new partners, taking turns interviewing each other. They offer us ideas for the sort of questions which could facilitate deep reflection. As we were being interviewed we remained completely still, for 6 minutes. Afterwards we sat in a circle and extended the workshop at least half an hour, sharing our experiences and reflecting with each other. Folks had some very interesting and sometimes powerful insights to share.

What a fascinating opportunity to learn and explore together. Some of the questions had to do with remembering movement in our past. What was the first memory you have of being changed by movement? Just considering how and when movement has affected me in the past is something I plan to take with me from this workshop and continue processing for quite some time.

I didn’t know quite what to expect with the  West Coast Premiere, A living Documentary by Cynthia Hopkins.

Cynthia Hopkins
Cynthia Hopkins

Guzzling down yellow gatorade for fuel, she constantly changed clothes, characters and tapes. During her darkly lit stage changes, she played the tapes which offer another storytelling character. Her humor and perfect comedic timing blend perfectly with her honesty and storytelling style. I was deeply moved, to laugh, to cry and be inspired to live my dreams. She ended with a song playing from the tape deck as she slowly exits the stage. “You are free to walk away. You are free to play whatever game you want to play.”

I admit I had my reservations about Maya Beiser. I love the cello, it’s one of my favorite instruments. But the “rock classics” she “uncovers” never really made the same sort of impact on me as they have others. But I realize that I am the minority. She was incredible. Her enthusiasm while playing matched the audience response. She was a hit. Standing ovation and everything. Somehow it just didn’t move me. She played alongside a film by Bill Morrison that had some great visuals. I can never get enough of planets and moons on the big screen.

Portland’s own Cinema Project hosted The Works last night. Nour Mobarak performed a live interpretation of an unrealized anti-film. With her haunting narrative and invasive sonic ending, the performance was quite intriguing. A welcomed shift in what I have been used to seeing at The Works. She introduced the screening Ever Avant Garde of the Avant Garde. The audience becomes a part of the performance. Regardless of intention. Simply breathing will do. I was hoping to see a bit more active movement and vocal “audiencing”, but perhaps Portland folks need a bit more time to warm up. I for one enjoy a good thrashing about a chair or two. Thanks Cinema Project. It isn’t every day I feel compelled and comfortable enough to act so freely!

Paula Helen

By Paula Helen

Gravitating toward spirituality and poetic narrative, Paula has recently allowed the passion of movement to connect with writing. Practicing Butoh directly, while studying all forms of contemporary dance through the process of cultural journalism, she has developed a new level of appreciation for all the performing arts.

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