Monday, October 02, 2006

Explorations, Yom Kippor, etc.

Whew, this has been an intense two days! Sunday, we (Elizabeth, Theron, Coke, my friend Beth, a wonderful dancer-masseuse named India, and three or four other dancer-musicians) did another dive into a few of the poems. We worked with one called "Reasons to Live" and another one called "4th of July, Jack London Square, Oakland."

I continue to be impressed with Elizabeth's leadership; she always comes to rehearsal with organized ideas about what she wants, but remains open and flexible to other people's input. We went through each poem several times. I was afraid that after an awkward first go-through people would want to take their ball and go home, but no one did. Instead they reported back thoughtfully and honestly that "that felt awkward," talked about it for a few moments, and then went forward again.

Second time around was more integrated. It takes a lot of courage to just show up for a project like this one, where everything is so up for grabs, and no one can tell you that you're "doing it right." Everyone, even the most talented artists who come to these open rehearsals, carries their own stuff about doing well, their own inner critic, and yet everyone was willing to deal with it and keep playing.

There is so much here that is a metaphor for life--not even a metaphor, but a one-to-one correspondance. if we can stay "in"--if we have the courage to keep playing and creating, despite all the voices telling us we are doing it wrong, then something beautiful emerges. It's a law of nature.

This next week, Elizabeth will be writing grant applications, and she and I will decide on some dates to do explorations that will involve creating new poems. Yikes! Now I'll be on the spot.

Meanwhile, I have two unwritten poems clamoring in the pipeline, plus the final scene in my new play to write.

I'm enjoying the fact that Elizabeth leads on this thing; reminds me of one of my favorite lines in a Sweet Honey in the Rock song, something like "The older I get the more I realize that the secret to my going on/Is when the reins are in the hands of the young as they carry us against the storm." She is only thirty, but so much more self-assured and focused than I remember being at her age. Hopefully, there will be more and more collaborations with women (and men) of different ages, and backgrounds in my future.

These past few days I alternated between my two spiritual practices--Interplay and Judaism, with something that looked suspiciously like grace. Rehearsal/exploration time at Inteprlayce Sunday afternoon, then a nap, then Kol Nidre service (the evening before Yom Kippor), a profound and moving communal evening deepened by the singing of our cantor, Shulamite Wise Fairman, another blooming young woman leader with the voice of an angel and the spiritual depth of a very old soul.

Lots and lots of singing, meditation, communal and personal reflection, and prayer. I love to pray in the Kehillah community! I get so deep--deeper than I can get on my own. The group energy carries me. The haunting melodies and harmonies, the sight of the familiar faces gathered together, fall of another year, the raw honesty of the Yom Kippor service, which is all about acknowledging our errors and misdeeds, facing them squarely, cleansing, and going on--is so vital to me.

Today, (Monday) I went to services in the morning, then over to Interplayce for a Wing It! rehearsal from 1-3. At rehearsal we spent a long time just moving to music together, and then when the music stopped, we took it up ourselves, with voice and percussion; we went on for quite a while, I have no idea how long, since I was lost in dream-time. It felt like moving from one kind of prayer-space to another. the dance studio is no less sacred to me than the ark and the Torah; and the synagogue service no less joyous than the space of improvisation.

The two are so well-mixed inside me, what I yearn for now is to mingle the people. I want to bring more of my Wing It! friends to synagogue so that they can hear and see and experience the ecstacy of the music and dance there, the sound of the Hebrew, the abandon of the singing.

And I want to bring more of my Jewish friends into Wing It!, to bring more minor melodies, and rueful irony into the mix.

I have to say that the ne thing I couldn't do in all this shape-shifting spiritual/physical/creative activity was fast. It always just gives me a massive headache and makes me cranky, and I don't see how that contributes to anything. I did make a concession to the holiday by not ordering a BLT for lunch, even though that is my favorite.

After rehearsal my friend Colleen "Coke" Nakamoto, a dancer/poet/performance artist interviewed me on video for a project she is doing on sacrificial love. She was raised Christian, of Japanese heritage and culture, with the idea that women must sacrifice themselves constantly for other people--their comfort, health, and self-expression. Doing so has literally made her sick, so she's doing a performance project, involving dance, spoken word, and these video pieces, to wrestle with the concept on her own terms. (If you are in S.F. go see it at the Noh Theatre space at 2840 Mariposa St., SF, on October 28th, 8 p.m.)

We had an interesting conversation. Maybe it's cultural, but I seem to have missed some of the female socialization about self-sacrifice--although God knows my mother tried to get it into me, but something about it just didn't take. I remember my mother saying, "You only want to do what you want to do!" and I thought, "Well--yeah-doesn't everyone?"

I knew from a very young age that I loved doing this weird and wonderful improvisational art-making with friends, from the time four girlfriends and I formed a modern dance troupe in 9th grade, up through Drama Club, and later, with the Boston Theatre Group, riffing on Shakespeare's sonnets. I always, always wanted to be engaged with the deep and sacred play of making things, and here I am, decades later, still doing it. So much else I let go of, or it fell by the wayside, or, let's face it, I failed at, but this thing, this evanescent, elusive, oddball, joyous, raw, risky, openhearted thing is still with me.

Back to synagogue for the late afternoon and evening service. I feel full up with music, just brimming over. And wiped out.

My Yom Kippor resolution was simple--for the last few years I've been writing, "Make a volunteer committment and stick to it" on my to-do list, and finally the woman from the Big Brother/Big Sister organization called me back, so now I need to call her and get matched up with a little sister and do that weekly. Balance. I told Coke that since I'm single with no children, I need to build in more opportunities to sacrifice my time and energy towards the welfare of others. People in families do that naturally. (Although actually being a big sister to my grown siblings and their spouses does take up some of my time, trying to support people long-distance, and be a good auntie.)

And now to find the time for all of it...

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