The River

by Liz Tenuto ~ July 25th, 2015

Focusing on wellness and self help during the process of creating “This Year Is Different…” has been both illuminating and challenging. This morning I read “The River” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m sharing it here because it describes a process of self understanding similar to my personal transformation instigated by creating this piece for the Artist-In-Residence Program.

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Once upon a time there was a beautiful river finding her way among the hills, forests, and meadows. She began by being a joyful stream of water, a spring always dancing and singing as she ran down from the top of the mountain. She was very young at the time, and as she came to the lowland she slowed down. She was thinking about going to the ocean. As she grew up, she learned to look beautiful, winding gracefully among the hills and meadows.

One day she noticed the clouds within herself. Clouds of all sorts of colors and forms. She did nothing during these days but chase after clouds. She wanted to possess a cloud, to have one for herself. But clouds float and travel in the sky, and they are always changing their form. Sometimes they look like an overcoat, sometimes like a horse. Because of the nature of impermanence within the clouds, the river suffered very much. Her pleasure, her joy had become just chasing after clouds, one after another, but despair, anger,and hatred became her life.

Then one day a strong wind came and blew away all the clouds in the sky. The sky became completely empty. Our river thought that life was not worth living, for there were no longer any clouds to chase after. She wanted to die. “If there are no clouds, why should I be alive?” But how can a river take her own life?

That night the river had the opportunity to go back to herself for the first time. She had been running for so long after something outside of herself that she had never seen herself. That night was the first opportunity for her to hear her own crying, the sounds of water crashing against the banks of the river. Because she was able to listen to her own voice, she discovered something quite important.

She realized that what she had been looking for was already in herself. She found out that clouds are nothing but water. Clouds are born from water and will return to water. And she found out she herself was also water.

The next morning when the sun was in the sky, she discovered something beautiful. She saw the blue sky for the first time. She had never noticed it before. She had only been interested in clouds, and she had missed seeing the sky, which is the home of all the clouds. Clouds are impermanent, but the sky is stable. She realized that the immense sky had been within her heart since the very beginning. This great insight brought her peace and happiness. As she saw the vast wonderful blue sky, she knew that her peace and stability would never be lost again.

That afternoon the clouds returned, but this time she did not want to possess any of them. She could see the beauty of each cloud, and she was able to welcome all of them. When a cloud came by, she would greet him or her with loving-kindness. When the cloud wanted to go away, she would wave to him or her happily and with loving kindness. She realized that all clouds are her. She didn’t have to choose between the clouds and herself. Peace and harmony existed between her and the clouds.

That evening something wonderful happened. When she opened her heart completely to the evening sky she received the image of the full moon – beautiful, round, like a jewel within herself. She had never imagined that she could receive such a beautiful image. There is a very beautiful poem in Chinese: “The fresh and beautiful moon is travelling in the utmost empty sky. When the mind-rivers of living beings are free, that image of the beautiful moon will reflect in each of us.”

This was the mind of the river at that moment. She received the image of that beautiful moon within her heart, and water, clouds, and moon took each other’s hands and practiced walking meditation slowly, slowly to the ocean.

There is nothing to chase after. We can go back to ourselves, enjoy our breathing, our smiling, ourselves, and our beautiful environment.

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Text on stage

by Affinity-Project ~ July 1st, 2015

Text does strange things on the stage. For a trained actor, a bit of Chekhov can inaugurate an entire style of performance, with certain assumptions about what’s real, what kind of feeling is most powerful, how to get to that feeling. After turning away from text, towards gesture, task, state, other ways of articulating presence, we’ve been returning to our theatrical training to try to see what happens when a fiction is established on a stage. We’ve been trying to pause that process, to freeze it in action and look at it. We’ve been trying to introduce theatrical text onto the stage without having it establish a totalizing fiction. How to retain room for other kinds of meaning? For the body? For the logic of dream? For vision? For alternate fictions? How to use the text and let it use us, but without letting it become totalizing? A structural question to keep us occupied until fall…

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Sourcing, Processing, Book List

by Liz Tenuto ~ June 30th, 2015

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In the studio we are researching the pathways through trauma. We are talking about suffering, grief and how and why people are motivated to move into a new state of being. One of the positive things about trauma is once we begin to climb out of it, I believe we become more open minded, more sensitive and more understanding.

To support this research for the show, I’ve been reading a lot of books about self help, transformation and the body. Here’s my book list for the project thus far:

-The Psoas Book by Liz Koch
-Bright Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich
-The Thinking Body by Mabel Todd
-Feelings Are Facts by Yvonne Rainer
-Awareness Through Movement by Moshe Feldenkrais
-The Confidence Code: The Art and Science of Self Assurance–What Women Should Know by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay
-The Mystic in the Theatre by Eva le Gallienne
-We Have Always Lived In a Castle by Shirley Jackson
-The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

I’d love to hear what books about self help or empowerment have been meaningful to you. Respond below in the comments if you’d like to share.

(pictured: Courtney Russell, notice the pools of light around her)

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CP interviews Zürich arts curator, networker, and contexualizer, Marc Streit, for the (X)change micro-festival

by James Fleming ~ June 16th, 2015

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CP: Marc, in one sentence,what is your story?

MS: I have a passion for contemporary dance and performance, based in Zurich, loving San Francisco and having a queer mindset!

CP: What was the genesis of Zürich Moves? Where did the inspiration to create the festival come from?

MS: I wanted to create a platform for boundary-crossing artistic engagement and create a network of artists, who collaborate and nurish their work even outside the given frame of zürich moves! festival.

CP: As an arts curator, what are some themes, or aesthetics, underlying your approach to art? Tell us about your artistic eye?

MS: My approach to art can be on many different levels. For me an artistic piece should be somehow disturbing, challenging or make me want to look twice. I m not necessarily interested in a specific aesthetics, but rather in a certain approach on how artists deal with the spectator and are able to create an experience. I am interested to see how artists change perspectives and grow throughout their artistic practice.
I see myself as a networker, organizer, funder and contextualizer.

CP: How do you envision the queer arts sister city relationship between Zürich and San Francisco evolving in the coming years?

MS: No matter how the (X)change will continue, I want it to leave an impression on the artists and people participating.

CP: What can we hope to experience over the next seven days at the (X)change festival?

MS: Fresh air form Switzerland and hopefully interesting encounters both on an artistic and personal level.

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Click here to check out more about the upcoming (X)change: Zürich + San Francisco sister-city queer dialogue, check out the film screenings, cocktail gallery viewings, performances, and parties lined up for this weekend!

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legacy, layers and California (by Monique)

by xchange ~ June 11th, 2015

First, I have so enjoyed reading everyone’s posts so far.
Witches!
California!
Feminism!
Flappers!

So in my thinking about the next work I want to make, I am thinking a lot about layers, about simultaneity, and about holding conflict and opposition in one body mind. That which is ‘problematic’ sometimes enriches, that which is un-feminist sometimes empowers.

I just came out of a short run of my cabaret show, in which I premiered a few new stories and bits, many of which vaguely were about mothers: my mother, iconic mothers, drag mothers, and perhaps alternative ways of mothering and nurturing.

I also just finished Maggie Nelson’s superb little book ‘The Argonauts’ in which she practices a very personal and elegant kind of applied theoretics and talks a lot about queerness, sex, giving birth and parenting.
I have been thinking a lot again (again? always?) about my own choice not to give birth to children and I remain steadfast and content in it.

I will be coming to our (X)change work directly from the airport where I will have been in La Jolla (the very beautiful Northern beachfront part of San Diego – California’s Southernmost city) for the memorial of my maternal grandmother – my last and closest grandparent. I’ll arrive a little sad, tired and infused with legacy.

Matrilineage!
California!
Let’s make some new, weird little art-babies!
Let’s get all California together!

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