I am pleased to have our first two LOCAL contemporary performing artists - choreographers Margaret Liston and Shawna Emerick write about their RAW HOUSE experience last Saturday night. To purchase tickets to the next RAW HOUSE/RAW:Dance event click here. Like us on facebook! Photos courtesy of Mark Liflander, Liflander Photography. If you are a contemporary dance/performing artist living or working in the Rivertowns, contact us!
Shawna Emerick, Vital Dance Company, Moving Matras Performance Group
This past Saturday I danced. I became the dancer my Bachelors degree wanted me to be. But, more importantly than the degree, I continued to dance on my journey of self-expression without holding back. It’s hard. It’s terrifying. It’s awesome. I can't say enough about how important this freedom of expression, freedom to self-explore, and freedom to be an "artist" is. I believe everyone is an artist. But, to share my own 'art' was such an honor. To be asked by RAW HOUSE/RAW:Dance series to show new work, to dance with my dear friend Margaret, to speak to those who watched in the conversation after the performance, and to share part of my story, was all an honor.
Through dance, words aren't always necessary. But, I am so grateful for the words of those who were there. They felt my message, they gave me gratitude, and that gratitude was reciprocated. I couldn't believe how supported I was, and all other artists, even those who were audience members that night! That is what I gained the most from this performance: the support. To know that these people will, like myself, continue to go on supporting artists, creative expression, and specifically dance, just filled my heart! With the state of the country today cutting funding from the arts, and watching dance change in NY over the past decade, I am even more grateful for this support. Thank you, and I hope to see you at my next performance!
Margaret Liston, Choreographer, Moving Mantras Performance Group, former Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Company member; Artistic Director, Hudson River Rising
To have the opportunity to dance is special for any dancer, especially a "mature dancer," as we do not always have the opportunity to perform for an audience. So to be a part of the RAW House/RAW:Dance series with my friend Shawna was off the hook fabulous. I can truly say I haven't been the same since.
There is something very special about dancing in someone's home. So when RAW came up with the idea of inviting dancers into their home to share our work with an audience, well, it was magical.
The performance space is sacred to dancers - we respect the floor and what it will provide us. It is our partner, our support, our base. And this particular dance space of Naomi & Eric's living room possessed the feeling of suspension: perched on top of an outcropping of rock, the wall of windows giving us the bird's eye view into the tops of trees with the river in the distance. Weightless. What better feeling can a dancer have than to not feel the pull of gravity, but instead to be floating? It felt like anything was possible.
I presented 2 pieces of my own choreography - one, a light, joyful little ditty that came to me while on a retreat at SPACE on Ryder Farm. I had not produced any choreography in a long time. So it was a confirmation for me that I could still produce, I could still dance, I still had things to say - to communicate and to share.
The other piece I chose was an excerpt from the one-woman show I had written and performed many years ago that I wanted to revisit again. It was dramatic piece about grief that began with a poem followed by 8 minutes of movement and dance.
Very different pieces.
But that is what I love about dancing - sharing a human emotion/experience and sharing it through pure movement as if to say, "have you ever felt like this?"
We ended the evening with Shawna and me dancing a piece by Betsy Ceva called "HEAL," a Moving Mantra which we had performed while dancing in MMPerformance Group. As Shawna and I moved together as one I felt the audience draw in even more as if becoming our partner to witness, to validate, and to hold our space for all of us.
The respect, appreciation, encouragement, admiration and feedback that I received from the audience was like none I had experienced in a very long time.
Although I have been performing for over 30 years this will stand out as one moment I felt so validated as an artist.
What an honor it was to be a part of the RAW Series. Thank you.