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Process Record (Blog)

NoodleRice & Friends

Rebecca Bruno

"I think we should just accept the fact cellphones and the information comes with them are part of our body, like some kind of organs that somehow live outside of our body. it is like cell division. 

The harmony and the unity of human body came naturally when activities were limited to body and environment, but science and technology changed the spectrum. If you look at contemporary art, the majority of contemporary artists are talking about the division of human being. 

Now our consciousness is trying to break the boundary of our body to live outside of our body in our man-made devices; devices then are connected to the cloud; the cloud is servers elsewhere, information is elsewhere. So our consciousness is in a way elsewhere. 

We need to find the new harmony and unity with the man-made extension of our flesh."

Zena Bibler

Rebecca Bruno

7/15/2017

Furling and unfurling

The smell of urine

Dust & dryness; burbling pipe

Cats, fat and thin.

Duet with stray

Spirals

Soft meeting hard

When I’m dancing outside, particularly on manmade surfaces (asphalt), I’m often struck by how soft and spongy I feel against them. I’m more like a plant or a water balloon than a building. I collect in puddles and heaps. I press myself into nooks.

The ground is hard but accommodating. It offers a space for my head and the security of having no further to fall.

When I’m dancing outside, I often hesitate before committing to get down on the floor. It smells like piss and is covered in things that my socialization calls “dirt.” The dust and germs will get on my clothes and face and stick to me, marking me. It’s dangerous. I continue to reflexively set myself apart despite my ongoing efforts to imagine myself as a part of things.

7/29/2017

I’m interested in the possibility of sensing before I can make sense of things, before I can understand what’s happening or classify the sensory information. I’m thinking a lot about hierarchies and how we prioritize certain senses over others. How does my default posture of standing relate to my dependence on vision?

Today I was struck by having two people watch me while I was moving along the paved ground with my eyes closed. It became clear to me that I had access to information (the smells, the textures, the extreme heat of the cooking asphalt) that my standing witnesses might not be aware of. My aversion or hesitation to touching the ground is still there, but less powerful when my eyes are closed. I end up wondering how vision and fear might be linked the things I'm afraid of with my eyes open are different than those I fear with eyes closed.

Photos by Andrew Mandinach

a collaboration // Cindy Rehm and Elizabeth Leister

Rebecca Bruno

a collaboration 

the start of a process in a private space…

a bedroom

light and wind through curtains

covering and uncovering

pushing paper, fabric, and string

the tactile

the cut

repeating and revealing

patterns and maps

stitching and taping

a cat jumps in

We have known each other’s work for years but this is our first collaborative project. Areas of overlap in our individual practices were evident, such as a focus on process, the use of tactile materials, and an interest in text and the performing body. We have been open to the ways our collaboration can encompass and expand our solo work and have been sensitive to the elements that have emerged organically through the rehearsal process.

A particularly productive step in our process was to write out a set of instructions for each other, and perform these in the space. As each action was performed, considered, reconfigured, and in some cases discarded, the genesis of our project began to take shape. During this session our conversation flowed between memories of our grandmothers who both used their hands to cut and stitch, visions of forms and materials, and reflections on the inspirational work of Lygia Clark, Lil Picard, Lygia Pape, Yoko Ono, and Věra Chytilová’s film, Daisies.

We are excited to see how the work will continue to grow and shift, and we invite you to experience this with us on August 26th.

Erin Schneider: Reading From Neutra's Library

Rebecca Bruno

"I am sufficiently of a Zen Buddhist not to claim knowing exactly what is going on in me when I creatively "tune in on the Universe"! I can perhaps say what stimulates me or what stimulation I seek in order to find myself going into action." -Richard Neutra

“Richard Neutra”, Annual of Architecture, Structure & Town-Planning. Vol. 2, (1961): A28.

(Plain Black Spine)

In 1963, Richard and Dione Neutra's library was in the VDL house that burned down. The books survived. Neutra's most famous work, Survival Through Design from 1954 (one of 3 copies) - is streaked and bubbled with smoke damage, but the words are still inside. 

I am interested in activating the living room of the VDL house through selected readings from the Neutras' personal library. When the house is experienced through short tours, the books act as decoration, to be appreciated as part of the design. In having time to spend with the collection, I've been exploring the books that lived with Richard and Dione Netura, and will be sharing a selection with the dancers and visitors. 

A library is an extension of the mind. The books that one lives with are in a constant conversation with your life. Entering someone's library and home is like entering an extension of their thoughts. I've always believed that one's library acts as a representation of self, an exterior record of interior interests, ideas and questions. 

The books are scattered with personal artifacts - an underline, an inscription, a dog eared page marked for further discovery. Books with tired spines and reread pages; others that were barely cracked. Books about the new city, and the old country. I like to think about Richard coming across a reference that sparks a new idea, or Dione sitting in the light filled living room, reading from A World History of Dance or a new book by a friend, inscribed to her. 

Titles like, 
Man's Struggle for Shelter in an Urbanizing World.
The Challenge of Men's Future.
Modern House of the World.
Das Ende der Städte? (The End of the Cities?)

The many books in German and radical design. The outdated midcentury books on (what was then called contemporary, not) modern architecture. Books about mythology and history, art and music. Subjects ranging from zen buddhism and poetry, to engineering and computers. A network of knowledge and thought before the internet, though the house was technologically cutting edge for its day.

The joy of a library! To open a book you had forgot and find exactly what you've been thinking about. 

How do we enter a space? How could we enter a text? After Richard and Dione have gone, their timeless house remains a moment in continuous time. A body of knowledge, written, read and designed  remains in the form of books and buildings. While the thoughts they inspired cannot be known, the material records of a life remain for us to continue to learn from. Burnt, but still here. Gone, but not forgotten.

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Erin Schneider is an artist from Los Angeles interested in geography, movement, and socio-spatial relationships. She's worked at bookstores since age 15, and has been collecting books since before that. www.erinschneiderprojects.com

Crafted Embrace c. 1932 // Morgan Green

Rebecca Bruno

Houses often outlive their architects. To date, The Neutra VDL Research House has survived its creator by 47 years. This survival has special significance, because Richard Neutra built the home for himself and his wife to live in. He built it to respond to their personal needs and desires, and today the house continues responding to those who enter. Neutra described architecture as alive— even going so far as to liken the experience of certain buildings to “the thrill of a lover.” I’ve been blessed to work inside his house’s crafted embrace.

The work I’m creating for the house involves some surprises I don’t want to divulge until I perform them. What I can tell you is that I’m attempting to embody this kind of posthumous life — the kind that Richard Neutra left breathing on Silver Lake Blvd. The agency that a house can possess is truly passive, and that’s a magical paradox. The house depends on the movement of others to animate, and at the same time its animations were premeditated. In this sense they are endowed with intention, despite being passive. They are designed reflexes.

The house responds constantly to light, wind, and, when they’re present, people. The design of these responses might be as simple as the positioning of a bed near a generous window. Afternoon sun turns commonplace wrinkles in the bedlinen to dramatically outlined fractals. They resemble human veins.

In this same bedroom, there is a double mirror. It allows you to see some piece of yourself reflected infinitely. At the same time, because of the way the mirrors are sized and arranged, it’s impossible to see your whole body duplicated more than once. With each duplication, the reflected portion of the body gets smaller.

I’ve tried to show this phenomenon with a mirror selfie, because anachronism is also inevitable when a house outlives its designer: contemporary culture and technology will always frame new images of the past. In the second reflection of my body, my iPhone cuts off my head.

VESSEL for the memory of movement - Rebecca Bruno

Rebecca Bruno

VESSEL is a dance work made in response to the Neutra VDL House upstairs kitchen. The work investigates the ideal of permanence in dance and the experience of movement as symbolic language through material processing.

A two-channel video is installed in the elevated window sills of the kitchen. One video frames two hands on the adjoining living room carpet articulating Dione Neutra’s ceramic vessel collection (currently existing in the kitchen) as well as imagined vessels for the space. The second video depicts one hand pressing against layers of tracings extracted from the dance in the first video. Above Neutra’s ceramic collection sit a series of oak sculptures cut to the size and shape of the tracings depicted in the second video. Through an extraction sequence from dance to video to tracings to wooden forms, these nearly hieroglyphic forms act as an attempt at communicating something before or between words; something past yet palpable, something under the tongue while legible. These vessels, the distilled wooden objects, serve as abstract containers carrying the memory of movement.

Thank you for reading! 

I hope to share this event with you. The process has been reflective and illuminating while so many exceptional artists have been working side by side in this landmark home.

video still

video still

photo credit: Andrew Mandinach

photo credit: Andrew Mandinach

Augment the Joy of Living - Andrew Pearson Blog Post

Rebecca Bruno

“I started designing the VDL by scrutinizing my own experience.” — Richard Neutra

Creating for the Neutra House is my first project with HomeLA, and home designer Richard Neutra’s statement above exemplifies why this house in particular is the perfect home to explore my personal creative practice.

I began creating solo work in 2015 as a way to remain playfully active in my choreographic and performance practice.  Like Neutra’s home, my first solo was created by studying and responding to a series of journals I had kept while traveling.  My process has continued to develop in this way, using self-investigation to create dance-theater performances that are both highly personal and easily accessible.  My work, influenced by my intensive training and experience in Western-concert dance tradition, has a pop-culture sensibility as seen through the lens of a gay-millenial-male.  I see dance as a social activity and therefore create work that studies and comments on the human condition.  

In order to connect to the humanity of the Neutra House, I turned to the writing of Neutra himself, and excavated quotes from both he and his wife Dione.  For this performance, I am creating four moments, all existing in a small corner of the first floor of the house, that will be shown in sequence over the duration of the evening.  For each moment, I’ve selected a quote that best represents my inspiration and thematic intention. 

The first moment exists in the bathroom.  In regard to his inspiration for building this house, Neutra continues “I wanted to demonstrate that human beings, brought together in close proximity, can be accommodated in very satisfying circumstances, taking in that precious amenity called privacy.”  This sets the scene not only for my bathroom moment, but for the overarching through line of my performance.  To borrow from Neutra, I use the “precious privacy” of a bathroom and the “close proximity” of his design to explore my own series of “satisfying circumstances.” 

From here, in a corner outside the bathroom, I move into an improvisational score inspired by Neutra’s somewhat jarring and comical quote “One felt a great sense of freedom in the VDL… and there were many options for getting off by oneself.”  

I transition next to a movement meditation in round-back chair in the opposite corner.  Neutra writes “In the redesign, the idea was to prove that even tight spaces can foster a sense of openness and tranquillity, if not freedom. In fact, the interior space is still a meager 2,300-square-feet, but there is nothing cramped here. VDL reminds us that all architecture grapples with the tension between privacy and intimacy. The most powerful architecture is shaped by the size of the human body, not the size of the human ego.”  The placement of this meditation (a practice which in and of itself is rooted in the separation of ego) is against a windowed corner, which confines my physical space, while widely opening my visual reach.   

The final scene is a playful moment in front of the mirror, embodying a quote from Neutra’s wife:  “I have been asked whether I would not like to live out my last years in my hometown of Zurich. No, I don’t think I would, even if I could transplant this house.”  She goes on to say “Only those, who have lived in a Neutra House, would ever understand how wonderful the daily satisfactions and delights are and how much this experience helps to augment the joy of living.” 

I am so in love with the phrase “augment the joy of living.”  This final moment is simple in nature, but filled with enough joy to hopefully spill over and infect the viewers as well.

One House Twice // Finding Light // Emily Meister

Rebecca Bruno

My gratitude towards this process - 

I was so excited to be invited to create with homeLA at the Silverlake Neutra House. I have been an admirer of their work, and so this is a dream come true.

I am just recovering from two fractures in my left foot, so this is my first project back after two months out. And it feels soooooo goooood!!

Our first rehearsal flowed with ease and many things revealed themselves so naturally.

Being within this space transforms you. It happens it a subtle way. The design, openness, colors, the varying perspectives, the way the light travels through each room, there is something so special that seeps into you. There is a calm. A beautiful serenity. Before you realize, you are in a state of deep relaxation. 

It is this feeling that is driving my work within this home. Gema Galiana and I are exploring what it is to be a woman living within this space during the 1940's-1960's. To be a woman within a home. 

Inspired by the idea of being 'kept and perfect'. Everything is 'perfect' on the surface, but residing below is something that is dark and slightly askew. 

Our movement is a reflection of our inner dialogue, secret thoughts, desires, dreams of other lives, of being wild.

We are sister wives of sorts. We have our own interests within a shared space, but share a deep connectedness to each other and our surroundings. One that has multiple layers. We have our daily routines as we move through the space, doing self-made and expected tasks. We may settle into a place to reprise for a while, shifting to and fro. The same cycle day after day ... it's as if these women are suspended in time... 

I am so grateful to be a part of homeLA and for the opportunity to create in this space with such amazing artists. I love site-specific work and collaborating. I am so looking forward to the continued discoveries and development of this work in this home.

More to come and I cannot wait to share in this with you!

Thank you + much love,

Emily 

Crystallized Music / Priyanka Ram

Rebecca Bruno

Goethe is quoted for saying, “architecture is crystallized music.” 

My practice is concerned with translating this “crystallized music”, whether from traditional architecture or the architecture of the body to create site-specific and time-specific musical compositions and visual scores. This translates to musical improvisation in the present.  

The inspiration, translations, and compositions which are coming from modernist visionary Richard Neutra’s VDL House has been both lifting and grounding. The other incredible thing has to be able to practice and play the Hupfer grand piano, which is from the early 1900’s and imported from Germany. The home and the strings continue to resonate a timelessness in spite of the specificities of time. 

Translation is a key part to trying to figure out notes, sequences of notes, and colors. My tools are usually: a compass, star map, measuring tape.

With a compass, I’m able to orient direction, which gives me notes to play to certain directions according to Greek tradition. Similarly, knowing the specific point in the lunar cycle, the day of the week, and the season gives me more notes.

The time of performance gives me a clue as to what type of Indian classical music raga to play. For every hour, there are usually 3-5 different ragas and I try and pick a mode that best suits the location and mood for the performance.

After locating notes, it becomes a simple translation to color according to the relationships between color frequency and sound frequency via our good friend Roy G. Biv (color spectrum).

Window proportions (or room proportions) can give me clues as to thalam (rhythm). According to height and width, I can divide up rhythm sections. The constellations above our heads at the exact moment can also provide points of shape to add to a visual score for more dynamism. 

These are some of the factors that lend to notes which can then lend themselves to musical improvisation. With these tools, I am able to walk into any room and structure at least 10-15 unique compositions. It's a system which looks for free flow. I'm looking forward to the evening of the performance to see how the light plays through this inspiring space and create melodies alongside that very special piano. 

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One House Twice/Two Passions Merge // Margot Moss

Rebecca Bruno

While studying Architecture at university, an assignment was to choose one of two designated structures and report on it, either The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove or the Kings Road House, RM Schindler’s home he built in West Hollywood. I was the only student who chose the Schindler house, the Crystal Cathedral was more widely known. Schindler’s intimate, modernist home appealed to me so much more, the up-tilted concrete walls, open living spaces and sliding doors opening to private gardens, a seamless marriage of indoor to the outdoor courtyards.

Learning about Richard Neutra comes along with studying Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright, all having worked together for a short time in the 1920’s. Neutra incorporated International Style so gracefully into the California landscape that it was being called “California Modernist”. Perfect lines and solid structure were combined with openness and airy floating glass, allowing sunlight to fill rooms unconfined by typical load-bearing walls. Neutra built a smaller home for himself and his family along the edge of the Silver Lake reservoir in 1933; another glorious box of light and air, facing the water, utilizing water, employing reflection as a means to enlarge the space in a sensory way.     

Emily Meister in rehearsal

Emily Meister in rehearsal

In considering, and working with, homeLA, and now the literary group ENTER>text directed by Henry Hoke and Marco Franco Di Domenico, the potential to celebrate the influence of California Modernism with intimate performance washed over me in a highly personal way. My passion for and studies of progressive design in alignment with this concept of an artists’ salon of performers, dancers, artists of varying disciplines - I've also danced and performed beginning back in middle school - reacting to the house and it’s own daring inventions seemed to melt together so beautifully first in my imagination and now through the reality of these artists' creations. This collaboration celebrates dance, performance, installation, poetry, text, and the legacy of Neutra and California Modernism.

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It hurts not to have a lover / Micki Davis

mmickidavis@gmail.com

Dear Reader,

The idea for this performance comes from a conversation with our gracious host and homeowner about the site's history and her own history in the house. From this conversation came two stories: one about the death of a previous owner at the hands of his abused children and the other personal story where Lisa and Vivian attend a candlelight vigil for two slain teenage women the first week they move to Rose Hill. Since then I've been thinking about the performance of vigils, in the company of strangers or by oneself, for those we may not know.

I should also mention I was drawn to the bougainvillea that dominates the gate and patio. Bougainvillea is known to Chamorros like myself as *Puti Tai Nobiu, *which translates to "It hurts not to have a lover". I thought it appropriate to use Flora Baza Quan's song that shares the same name as soundtrack and invitation during the performance to dance the Cha-Cha with me when prompted. This act, I hope, becomes a melodic act of respect and thoughtfulness to all the souls present on the property.

The following are photos from a workshopping of the piece during Tongva: Transcribing Spaces, some shots from rehearsals and the transcription of Puti Tai Nobio by my beloved mother, aunt and cousin.

Perhaps I can look forward to dancing with you this Saturday.
Sincerely,
Micki

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Auntie Darling and Mick, 
I hope this helps. I don't think it makes any sense. But we tried. 

IT HURTS NOT TO HAVE A LOVER
By: Flora Baza Quan

He created the world, love brought out
all the beautiful flowers.
The Lord performed so many
miracles and planted on the land
a tree full of flowers.

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

You are a flower among flowers
that stood out with all your suffering
You stood there strong
(Mit di hao kalang i Ninu) ? ? ?
But your name was your name,
well known, you stood out among the crowd
Flower of no lover, how our stories are so much alike.

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

You are the flower among the flowers
I wish I wasn't born, I wish I was unattractive,
I wouldn't be suffering like this.
I am envious of you, a flower without a lover.
But if I should consider, I'll think about it.
All I do is cry
All I do is cry

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

My heart is beating when I think
about not having a lover
I wish I was not a young girl
a flower without a lover, and
such beauty wasted. No one
is interested in me , maybe because
I am so fragile.

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

You are a special tree of flowers
They love you, you're a favorite
Full of thorns and feisty
Why do they always look for you?
I will bid you farewell, flowers
I respect your name, but
do not follow me, because
you're at a better place

Domestic Goddesspiration // Milka Djordjevich

Milka Djordjevich

Vacancy of the female body (not necessarily disembodiment)

                                                                                                                 A passive body with

intention/attention

                              Boredom, apathy, restlessness

                                                                          The reclamation of bitchiness/brattiness                          

Max Farago for Vogue Paris, August 2007

Max Farago for Vogue Paris, August 2007

Photo by Lukasz Wierzbowski

Photo by Lukasz Wierzbowski

Photo courtesy of @wagnerlas

Photo courtesy of @wagnerlas

Native HomeLA by Joy Angela Anderson

majikalnature@gmail.com

September 2016
Native HomeLA

“It's about our rights as native people to this land. It's about our rights to worship. It's about our rights to be able to call a place home, and it's our rights to water.” - Dakota access pipeline protestor*

Upon arriving at the home for our first rehearsal, flashes of childhood memories danced through my mind and body. This iteration of HomeLA is at a home situated on a hill that overlooks the Catholic school I attended. I attended Our Lady of Guadalupe with my twin sister Sunshine from 1st to 4th grade. My mom, a single mama, also went to this school. We all had the same 1st grade teacher. I remember her name, Sister Jose. She was the sweetest, most patient, loving nun and teacher I remember from my four years there as a student. As the years passed into 2nd & 3rd grade, the nun-teachers got weird. They were strict in the Catholic sense of discipline and punishment. This is when I began to question Catholicism. The 2nd grade teacher used to send students to stand in the corner if they misbehaved, the third grade nun would threaten with a ruler. Finally, the fourth grade teacher was not a nun at all. That year I joined the drill team and I got to move my body in choreographic unison with classmates to the music of the 1980s.

Although I questioned the organized religion and formalities of Catholicism, it was during these four years of my school experience where I developed a belief in things like spirits, souls and the power of prayer to a divine force. Every night, I was reminded by my mother to say my prayers before going to sleep. I didn't say the Our Father and Hail Mary or go through the steps with the rosary. I would use my own words and simply say what I felt, expressed gratitude and asked for protection. 

I grew up in El Sereno, a predominantly Latino & Chicano neighborhood. I am Xicana, (American-Mexican). I embrace my Native American roots and I am conscious that identifying as Xicana is an acknowledgement of a social-political identity. I am third generation Native of Los Angeles and I grew up here in the 1980s and early 90s. Being here for a performance rehearsal with artists so far from knowing what this neighborhood was like, brought on nostalgia, but mostly a weighted feeling of responsibility to comment on issues related to social-political-indigenous identity and land politics.

As a native and 3rd generation Xicana and Los Angeles native, I have particular memories and appreciation for this neighborhood. Yes, East LA neighborhoods like this are getting cleaned up, gentrified and are now desirable for speculative home owners and artists. The Los Angeles landscape has changed, I welcome change. East Los Angeles is more safe now. Like, I'm not worried as much about things like drive-by shootings. Unfortunately, this changing landscape threatens the local natives. Rents are rising and Tenants like my mom and grandmother who still live in El Sereno, are confronted with issues in regards to access, affordability, displacement. Just yesterday after rehearsal, I went to visit my grandmother. She shared that the homes owned by Cal Trans, one of which she has inhabited as a renter for over 20 years are going up for sale and she, along with my mother and neighbors are worried about their options. The massive displacement of working class people of color in neighborhoods like El Sereno all sounds too much like colonization. At first, I felt the responsibility to create work to comment on this reality. Then, I thought I wanted to invoke the memory of the stories of La Llorona (the crying woman) that created a bit of fear in my childhood. La Llorona is an Mexican folk tale of a young woman who fell I love, got married had sons then drowned them in a lake or river because she went cray cray after finding out her husband cheated on her. The story told amongst classmates at Our Lady of Guadalupe, was that she haunted the lake nearby at Montecito Heights. I used to have nightmares. As I thought about the story in contemporary times, at first I thought she represents the single moms loosing her sons to neighborhood gang violence. From a feminist perspective, I was disturbed that she was made out to be a mad woman who lost it because of a cheating husband. I then shared this with a friend who is a Chicano Studies professor and he shared another perspective of La Llorona. She was the woman who didn't want her sons to be exposed to the violence of colonization. Wow, then the thought of contemporary colonization of natives and native land brought me to want to create a piece on the land, on the hill facing my childhood Catholic school. Catholicism has roots in the process colonization. So, I decided to create a piece on the land. Land, especially Native land, native plants, and native knowledge is valuable to me as well as other native Angelinos and native peoples. Natives all over the world are and have been dealing with the struggles of being pushed out of their land. Native Angelinos are dealing with the feeling of being pushed out of their neighborhoods, their community, their homes because rents are rising and home ownership seems unattainable on working class non-livable wages.

I finally decided to invoke the indigenous Mexican, Nahua native representation of La Virgen before she was Catholic. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Tonantzin, according to history referenced by Ana Castillo in "Massacre of the Dreamers" (p 241). Tonantzin is a representation of a the divine earth mother goddess in Nahua culture. She is also cosmic. She is Our Lady Mother, the Milky Way who gives birth to the Sun God during the winter solstice (p. 243). Here in Rose Hills the roses will symbolize miracles, a reference to the story of Juan Diego who witnessed the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City where Tonantzin was said to have been worshipped. This story will be interpreted with an installation by artist LiliFlor in the garage. We invite you to come in with your prayers and offerings for this land, for our divine mother Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Madre Tierra the sacred earth mother.

As I return to my native home as an artist involved in healing arts, with a developed dedication and practice to prayer, a spirituality influenced by Native American wisdom, yoga and dance practices, I dedicate this dance offering to the sacred madre tierra (Mother Earth) my mother and especially all the single mothers. This is a ceremony, and a prayer, a dance to bring healing and balance to the land and my memories. Omeoteotl. Aho. Namaste. Ashe.

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The visibility of anticipatory preparations – persisting in moving on, being seen looking ahead –– Dorothy Dubrule

Dorothy Dubrule

I've been watching and thinking about the Olympics. As spectators, we not only take pleasure in the spectacle, but also recognize the state of our social politics in the performances and values assigned to the bodies of individuals from around the world. Conversations about the previous nights events include the sex of an athlete and whether they should be evaluated as a male or female based on their performance, why we still equate male performance with superiority, the inequality of opportunities to train based on race and nationality, the long history of that inequality, whether someone's performance should be judged differently because they were on their period at the time... all of this reminds me that a performing body can make the mechanisms by which we assign meaning and judgment visible. We can recognize our value systems at work – who deserves the praise and why do we think they deserve it?

In my work as a choreographer, I intend to make the seams of the performance visible. Rather than try to hide the effort and smooth out the transitions, as dancers are often encouraged to do in their training, I want to make all of those actions a primary feature of the dance. I want the audience to see the performer at work, see what they are trying to do, see them perform imperfectly. I am pursuing the underwhelming, I think. Sorry to my audience. But maybe the virtuosity is not in making the accomplishment look easy, but in the attempt to accomplish itself. I wonder if we can be impressed by sheer persistence.

For the Rose Hill performance, performer Jason Black and I are sourcing the choreography of Olympic gymnastic floor routines and removing all of the gymnastics. What remains are all of the transitions and preparatory movements that are performed with energetic emphasis, but mainly serve the purpose of expressing the fact that something really difficult and really impressive is about to occur. There are also many pauses – moments where the gymnast is looking ahead with anticipation, then lifts their shoulders, nods their chin and disappears into a tumbling sequence. Putting these sequences back to back, there are many preparations, many flourishes of the limbs.. there is a constant ascent, but there are no dazzling feats.

Learning the sequences, which are dominated by balletic shapes, I am investigating what the choreography wants to express. Something femme, something playfully childlike, but at the same time perfect and confidently executed. Watching the faces of the gymnasts performing the routines, especially in moments where their bodies are still, they look terrified. There is an enormous amount of pressure put upon them to master the sequence they are about to perform. And they are celebrated immediately, but not for long. Their careers may last at most one or two more Olympic cycles. In interviews I've heard gymnasts describe the breakdowns they have before marching out in front of the crowds. What are the values expressed in this choreography?

I'm watching and thinking about the Olympics and reflecting on the visibility of our own persistent ascents in life. Perhaps not altogether athletic in appearance and often lacking what most would consider dazzling feats, but seen and judged by others. I wonder if we can celebrate the simple repetition of looking down, landing, and starting again, looking ahead. I wonder if we can make a choreography that exists in the moment ahead. I wonder if the audience can see the brilliant thing we're preparing for, even when its not in front of them. I'm still working.

Gathering by Samara Kaplan

samarakaplan@gmail.com

Contemporary curators are often asked how they choose the artists they present. There isn't always an easy answer to this question. Within the politics of an institution, for example, there may be a variety of reasons artists are selected beyond the scope of their actual work. It is always a blessing when curators have the opportunity to carry out the projects that truly move them. This was my good fortune when Rebecca asked me to curate homeLA Rose Hill.

Being the curator of this iteration of homeLA, I had the task of inviting a group of artists to participate in the process of creating site specific work and performing in a non traditional, highly intimate setting. Being that the performance is held within the private space of a home, the task was both completely unrestricted by the normal institutional boundaries and also extremely nuanced. Not every artist wants to perform as part of a group show, not every artist wants to perform off stage or outside of a traditional context, and not every artist has an interest in fostering community through the accessibility of their work. In thinking about context, I came up with a few criteria that guided me in selecting the group of artists who will be performing at homeLA Rose Hill this September.

The first criteria in considering an artist's work is always rigor. Does this artist have an ongoing practice of engaging critically with his or her surroundings? My second question is whether or not an artist has an interest in performing in intimate spaces, where the audience could very well interact with the performers and where there is always an element of surprise. Does this artist have a background in teaching, or in collaboration, or in site specific performance that could contribute to this social circumstance? Finally, could this artist be engaged in the process of making work alongside other artists and open to sharing that process with the community? For homeLA, fostering community is absolutely essential, so those involved must have the generosity and openness that allows for this kind of exchange. I believe we are in a particularly crucial moment for performance in Los Angeles, where there is a growing community of artists who think and work along these very lines.

Once the artists came to together, it became clear that they already had deep connections with one another. A few of the artists attend UCLA together, others know each other from art school in San Diego, and many just know each other from their time spent in the LA performance community. The connections run deeper, still. As soon as rehearsals began, themes started to emerge. One such theme is that of being a beginner. A singer who hasn't yet sung in public; a tap dancer who hasn't yet learned how to tap; a chanter who isn't quite adept at chanting. Another theme, perhaps always existing within homes, is that of childhood nostalgia. One artist has been working with children and another is making a playful dance in the pool with flippers. A few artists are working with the idea of procession, moving together across the space. And others with intimate, one on one exchanges. The beauty of gathering a group of like minded artists together is just these kinds of connections. It's not just about who knows who, but the synergy that occurs when people arrive at the same place at the same time.

homeLA // Rose Hill Rehearsal, 2016. Photo: Andrew Mandinach

Can You (Still) Hear Me Worrying In The Bathroom

andrew.mandinach@gmail.com

So I'm not quite sure where to start, so I figure I'll jump right into it.

I have stomach issues. I say issues because I'm not quite sure what to call it. When I was younger we used to call it stomach-nerves. After a traumatic incident my senior year of undergrad, it was diagnosed as partial IBS. It has since been diagnosed as full IBS. I still call it my stomach issue because IBS isn't just about what you eat (although that's a big part of it), it also includes those "nerves" - that my dad penned early on - caused by anxiety and stress. I'm a worrier. I always have been.

I spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Not just my bathroom. Or the bathroom at work. But the bathrooms I've been forced to consider that I wouldn't have otherwise ever known about. The Target bathroom in Westminster, off the 405S. The 2nd floor bathroom in the Art of the America's building at LACMA. The bathroom of the Ralphs on Ventura in North Hollywood. Regardless of what they're like, I'm forced to experience them. Sitting. Thinking. Worrying. Am I taking too long? How long is the line outside the door? When will the banging start, urging me to get out? What interesting tile work. I hope that's just water on the floor. What's happening on Twitter? I guess I could post a picture for homeLA now. Etc.

As far as making work for/in/about my experience in bathrooms, it just sort of just happened. Of course the idea came to me while sitting in a bathroom. I thought about starting an Instagram account, as an archive of public restrooms, of places I'd had these intense intimate moments, and if it grew, I could connect to a community of folks experiencing the same thing as me, suffering in silence. I thought about making it funny, or sharing facts. I considered taking pictures from the toilet, keeled over in pain. Of the toilet? Maybe I'd caption the ambiance of the bathroom. Maybe I'd talk about the index of pain I'd felt in each space. Then homeLA // Angelino Heights. I had already done a piece in a bathroom during homeLA // San Marino, but it didn't have anything to do with my stomach. I liked the idea of doing another bathroom piece, but trying to visually represent my experience didn't seem like the right approach - not yet anyway - and I thought it'd be interesting to represent my experience through what goes on in my head. Let someone else hear it and experience space the way I do.

Having done that piece and now continuing the series for homeLA // Rose Hill, I have to say, it's a nice way to work through this issue of mine. It's such a big part of my life, but I don't like to talk about it. Even with most friends. It still feels embarrassing to do so. This process of creating has been very liberating, to literally give voice to an experience that's been so isolating. It's scary to have something hit you out of the blue and despite the time or location, you're forced to race the clock to try and find the nearest bathroom. Even when you get to the bathroom there are so many questions; the consideration of space as you sit and stare. The thought of the world beyond the door you've barricaded yourself behind. My work is about giving myself the freedom to talk about my issue, enlighten others of an experience most likely different from theirs, and in doing so open up new ways of thinking about bodies within any space.

Andrew Mandinach, September 2016

Trying To Learn How To Dance By Paul Pescador

paulpescador@gmail.com

I remember when I was a child and wanting to take dance classes, but my parents wouldn’t let me. Instead, I was forced into a wide range of intramural sports teams: from soccer to baseball as well as basketball, track and volleyball. I learned at a young age how to be the worst one on a team. I learned what it was like to be the last picked, to sit on the bench, to sit in outfield with my glove on my head and stare into space waiting for the snack break, hoping for those slices of oranges which were neatly wrapped in a plastic bag or gummy fruit snacks, the ones I normally was not allowed to have.

-Are you excited for your game tomorrow!?

-I don't want to go!

-It will be fun!

-I don't want to play.

-Why?

-I don't know if I like baseball...

-But you get to see your friends!

-They aren't my friends! They all hate me! They say I am the worst on the team.

-Well, you're not.

-Yes, I am.

I remember when I finally was allowed to dance I signed up for a tap class. I was very excited to get there. I was maybe 12 or 13, but needed to sign up for a beginning class, only to find I am the oldest, much older, most students were around 6 or 7 years old and I was also the only male. I would stand in class an awkwardly disproportioned teenager still needing to know how to shave my face while hovering over kindergarteners prancing around in pink tutus.

—-

Its 20 years later and I start dancing. It is 10 o’clock at night and I have had a beer. I told myself I wouldn’t be drinking, but I went out and needed something to get through it. They are out of town and I have the house to myself. I stand in my small office again with demonstration videos on how to do ballet. I watch the young girl with her blonde hair in a tight ponytail and black leotard explain how to point toes--so I point my toes. She tells me how to point them forward and backwards and to the side and I repeat. She tells me to bend my knees and I do so, but mine doesn’t look much like hers. She is more graceful and mine is more of an awkward squat. We do it again, and again, and each time I hope that my position becomes closer and that I can tilt and twist and pivot my body in the same manner that she does. It doesn’t look any better, but I keep on trying.

H asks me to send him photos of me shirtless. I causally stand in the mirror; take off my shirt and shoot. He tells me to try a little harder, the lighting isn’t flattering and I could probably take them from a better angle. I don’t know how to respond to that comment, but take them again anyway.

I wake up in the middle of the night and my ankles are sore from the pivots.

The next day I stand in the elevator on the way to work and practice pointing my left foot out to the left and then the right. I practice shifting into fifth position. The elevator is filled with people trying to get to the permit office. They don’t seem to notice my rehearsal.

I stand in the restroom in the large handicap and stretch my back leg using the handicap railing as a balancing bar. I want to feel flexible. I want to get better at this.

For a little while I am not thinking about him.

-- www.paulpescador.com

PROCESS. DARRIAN O'REILLY.

Rebecca Bruno

Process Record.

I grew up in the mountains of Northern California on a lonely piece of land that featured a swimming pool. When I was young, my mom practiced water aerobics everyday to the same mix tape of Lauryn Hill, Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin. I was desperately bored, sitting on the steps of the shallow end, whining as my skin puckered beneath the surface. The pool was large and deep— it seemed to mock me for having no friends.

By the time I was twelve, I’d found girlfriends, and the pool became a social hub for us. We swam and played, and I choreographed dances for when the parents showed up. The photo below captures a well-received performance to “I Like Big Butts” by Sir Mix-A-Lot.

I enjoyed thrusting my hips and vigorously shaking my butt because those were the moves that elicited the most laughter from my mother. When my English grandmother saw my moves she was horrified, but I shrugged it off. I had no interest in Victorian sensibilities.

My friends and I delighted in exploring the funky, soulful freedom that comes from the hopeful awareness of impending sexuality and the vastness of life ahead.

Fifteen years later, I seized the opportunity to choreograph a new pool dance and relive a time in which I could unceremoniously slap my ass to Sir Mix-Alot. The dancers are three young women—friends— in their early twenties. For me, that was an age when I was both a child and adult. The dancers waddle around in flippers and play together—another celebration of living on the cusp.

I think about the ways we use our imagination to create rituals that allow us to journey into the next stage. Often, for women, entering new stages involves changes in our body and our sexuality. Hence, I continue to be interested in calling attention to and relishing in anything my grandmother (in her Victorian denial of the body) would consider inappropriate.

Rose Hill // Host Lisa Moncure invites us in for the rehearsal process, performance, and a podcast - Margot Moss

dofilm@earthlink.net

Darrian O’Reilly and Sarah Summers in rehearsal. Photo: Andrew Mandinach

Darrian O’Reilly and Sarah Summers in rehearsal. Photo: Andrew Mandinach

Lisa’s home in Rose Hill is so full of life and color, as are it’s occupants, which will infuse this upcoming performance in rich and beautiful ways. I’m thrilled to experience how it all comes together-

homeLA // Rose Hill Saturday, September 24th: open house from 4:00pm-7:00pm Performances will loop, run for the duration of the event, or repeat hourly so you may plan to attend any time.

artists: Joy Anderson // Jay Carlon // Micki Davis // Milka Djordjevich // Dorothy Dubrule // Andrew Mandinach // Lisa Moncure // Zoe Aja Moore // Darrian O’Reilly // Paul Pescador // Elyse Reardon-Jung // Matt Savitsky // Alyson Van 

Listen to a podcast about homeLA and the upcoming September 24 performance in Rose Hill here: http://www.homestoriesla.net/2016/08/16/episode-17-dancers-in-the-house/"A roving, shifting company of dance and performance artists is nudging its audiences to think about home differently — by bringing one-off, site-specific performances to houses, live-work spaces and tiny apartments all over the Los Angeles area. Meet homeLA." - @homestoriesla. Thank You to Bill Barol of @homestoriesla! 

dance in private space open to the public  http://www.homela.org/