Saturday, February 26, 2011

A little research about existing parables, fairytales, my thoughts

Dohee Lee (right ) & me in the REDSHOES photo session with Steven Miler
I have been watching some japanese variety shows for some years and one of my favorite programs is called BAKUSHO_MONDAI JAPANESE CULTURE EDUCATION SERIES where a very famous japanese comedy duo explores the best of the best scientists, historians, artists, politicians, innovators, inventors of all genres in japan today in very frank and deep discussions and explorations in documnentary style, always engaging in an intensive conversation with all these amazing human beings. There was one exciting episode where a research scholar named TOSHIO OZAWA of folktales/fairy tales and oral- told tales was deconstructing and analyzing some of the most popular existing fairy tales to us.I guess his sharp observations and intense speculations on these passed- on tales have made the german  and european historians shocked and blown away with his insights. One of  many, of them was CINDERELLA, and he said " did you know? " DRAMATICALLY to the camera," Cinderella actually has went to the ball  3TIMES, SECRETLY BEHIND HER FAMILY, not just once before she left her famous glass shoe incident". Apparently Grimm's Tale's version of Cindrella is a diffrent title also. He explained how this "GOING THERE THREE TIMES " was regretfully important aspect of the story changed by Disney, into once, so the  important structure of the story  shape was destoyed. It goes soemthing like this:
Each time she goes to the ball, she is dressed up and dolled up so beautifully, and when she runs back home she goes back into this dirty attire. When she goes to the palace ball the 2nd time, the prince falls in love with her propose to her, but she runs away back home again.She dresses back into this dirty girl again. The third time she goes, she leaves her glass slipper, and the prince goes in a huge investigation to go find her, and when he finds her , they marry and are happy etc. etc. So Toshio was greatly bothered WHY didnt she just accept the prince's proposal in the first visit and just make the story nice and effiscient??? What was that purpose of going back and forth, back and forth..?? Then he thought: isnt this the behavior and the action of a typical adolescent youth? In the daily life, the youth might traumatize the parents, do "bad" things, etc. but any person , those kids truly have a yearning, and a struggle to show and shine their "TRUE SELF ", to be that special person that they potentailly can be. The daily and the mundane life is  somehow preventing them, having them feel trapped. He is certain of this. and not only do they yearn to be their ultimate self, but they also have this need to have a witness,  some one out there to accept them,  this TRUE SELF needs to be accepted by some body. But after the acceptance, they do not know - what the outcome would be- its a total terror and mystery what would proceed after that acceptance- they dont quite know why, but they go back, they must return back to their small, ugly duckling self. So does it mean they stay that way? No, after a while, a courage builds again, and a desire returns to be this  other self again, so she returns to the ball. So she gets accepted again, and she runs back home again. Isnt this the mirror of most adolescent behavior? he calls it a pendulum named Cindrella is swinging back and forth. She must wait until it finally stops swinging. And gradually, and surely, that pendulum's space will get smaller, eventually coming to a stillness. So.. if you erase this 3 TIMES going to a ball, reducing to one, this important message VANISHES.
 He explained that the true hidden tale of the fragile and struggling yearning mind of an youth, typical rebellious and complex behavior of an adolescent, and what it meant,explaining why and how the original un-altered tales in this way had to be the way it had to be in order to give us the powerful and deeply insightful message. Old folk stories and parables tells a tale of deep rooted issues- that is why it is so natural to tell the violence, the gruesomeness that it contains a lot of time in these stories.Humanbeing's life is or Animal's life is supported by taking another animal's life. They are also reminding us of this tale, so to denying that, he claims is dangerous.
Us, or we as people in the last couple of decades has changed and altered most of these tales, trying to fit them into a "morally correct" school text books- all us around the world has perhaps done this-I rose up from the sofa with my empty bag of potato chips and nausious -tired-sorry- greasy face and WANTED TO SCREAM with excitement.I felt like there was some kind of opening in my usually overly full spilling head. Another one was SNOW WHITE 's actual original story -  The The evil queen disguises her self first as an old woman selling  silk ribbons, and then end up strangling SnowWhite who lets her into the house and buys it.The dwarfs comes home later in the afternoon and find her dead. They somehow untie the ribbon revive her (!) , and then warn her to never let any body sell her anything.But ofcourse the next time, the dwarfs are gone to work in the woods, and Snow White is alone, and the evil queen now revists to sell her a beautiful poisoneous comb.And ofcourse Snow White is an impulsic shopper, lets her in,buys the comb, and let her comb her hair and dies.The dwarfs find her with a poisoneous comb and removes it, she come back to life.
The last visit one was the one with the posisoneous apple. The queen lets her bite an apple.The dwarfs comes home and could not find any thing wrong with the external damage of the body, and so tragically, they could not revive her. Days later, the prince walks by in the forest, falls in love with the dead girl , adopts the whole glass casket with him,  BUT IT WAS NOT THE KISS THAT REVIVED HER. The apple that was stuck in her throat has tumbled out by it self and saved her when the glass casket was bumped on a tree stump ,when being carried in the forest by the prince and his gang. 
TOshio Ozawa interepreted that it is a parable that humanbeings WILL MAKE MISTAKES, even MULTIPLE MISTAKES in their life, even stupid mistakes, but perhaps happiness still arrives, making  its message that that you will still turn out ok, even with some fatal mistakes,  a very positive and optimistic view/observation of life.  And that life will  perhaps turn out even amazing, like her meeting the prince after all the traumas she caused her self, despite the warnings of the dwarfs. If she didnt take a risk, if she didnt follow her curiosity and desires- she might have ended up cleaning up, and working for the 7 Dwarfs perhaps all her life doing their laundry. (!)The great thing for me was,  the KISS OF THE PRINCE did not save her. That is ofcourse, was made up by Walt Disney.He was a sweet romantic, I can see that with all his re-imaginning of all the tales in his beautiful hand made,  historical innovative animations.
- In this way I am starting to researching many things like Grimm Brothers..who existed about 200 years ago - for instance that they have been collectors of oral tales, specifically from the women around them. I loved this fact they were writing down an oral tradition of story tellings, and it has become a very visual thing to us, reading with our eyes as a book, and how different it was then !! from hearing a dramatic story teller who was almost like an actor, a singer, a poet and someone who probabely delivered  the oral tales with certain energy, synergy with the listeners, providing a sensory universe feast, like the old woman Femann (spelling check ) that the Grimm Brothers often talked about. She was a GREAT story teller.
one of the multiple grandmothers that will battle with the girl Miwak on the first chapter
Jason Puccinelli's pupeteering swan is slowly taking its shape for the 2nd chapter

Steven Miller-Our beloved photographer who has shot our REDSHOES poster last week
This last week that my collaborator Dohee Lee was here up from the bay area, a lot has happened. We have been thinking; we have been exploring many ways of "STORY TELLING". We would like to explore how the sounds, the melodies, vocals, movement and all of that embodiment- how that can tell the stories, how can we vicserally convey the rawness of the telling of the tales through abstraction,  thru surreal soup of soundscapes, with usage of Jherek, Joshua and Dohee's more melodic and structured, deftly composed, detailed music -like a passionate , oral story teller, likening the very dramatic and  almost spiritual embodiment of the BUNRAKU puppet theater's heart wrenching singing narrator.....with usage of familiar iconic figures, with audience interaction, and OFCOURCE with great humor- and in the challenging uncontrolled environment of 5 different sites of the outdoors. I hope to tell the stories that is an intense sensory experience...
Steven Miller ties ribbons around Dohee Lee & I
The Red Shoes Project is a contemporary fairytale told in five chapters, inspired by some of the iconic stories like pinnochio, Redridinghood, and the Wild Swans- A once broken and stagnant lifeless girl Miwak awakens, her soul, her creative spirit shunned and separated- almost forgotten in the attic.
Its a story exploring the struggle to follow one's creative path. This sonic and visual-movement theater is a re-imagineing of Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes, the tale of a girl who is cursed to dance herself to death as a punishment for following her desires. Or ,the original version has interpreted as"vanity" or some one who followed her obsession-when she should have followed the morals of the church, the community, and not ever breaking that code. I saw it as a heretic, or someone who dared to be a little different... or , our version is more like a question: what if we changed our perspective all together- this story of the girl who made these -what you call mistakes- betraying her beloved kind step mother, ignoring the warnings,slipping deeper into her explorations of her desire-obsessions that she can no longer see the same world as it was before she stepped into her dancing redshoes.I have grown up being acused of all of these very things- wanting to be an artist- when I was finally driven to make my own choices to live a completely creative life( life of an artist ) - even by my own family, it was considered betrayal, and all the walls came tumbling down since then. 
Our performances- our story of the Red Shoe Project are being held in conjunction with the first museum survey of Degenerate Art Ensemble's work at the Frye Art Museum in spring 2011.The stages we are in now-It is in the midst of creating, as I write, in my sleepy late hours of the night.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The People in the Project / & the Crazy wonderful people last week

Joshua Kohl of Degenerae Art Ensemble w/ Dohee Lee
Here we are.... just completed mountains of challenges, and we feel like we have just went up a medium size mountain in the snow storm and ice tornado , completing 4 performance showings! Now we are moving on to the next project - the RED SHOES!  GOODNESS WE FEEL SLIGHTLY GOOD!!! or, a little BETTER !! 4 more chapters to go, RACING WITH TIME AND BATTLING WITH ENERGY, FUNDING/STAMINA/PATIENCE/ UNEXPECTED HAPPENINGS/STAMINA ( did I mention stamina...?) INSANITY/ and  slight slight ALCOHOLISM (?!)
Jherek, Terry, Joshua, Dohee, Theresa, Leo and I doing  SERIOUS notes

One above is Ian Lucero, our beloved video artist/documentarian at the site form last week  performances:  ALL Photos taken by Bruce Tom.
Big THANKYOU to the string quartet who jumped in gracefully for two rehearsals and made our evening!!
Brianna Atwell - Viola!
Natalie Hall - Cello!
Kendal Seager -violin!
Karen Halliburton - violin!
Our wonderwoman Olivia Taguinod  at the door greeting and managing the chaos at the door!

Korby Sears ( musician! ) Robin Held (curator of Frye Art Museum ) & Jo-Anne Danzker ( director of  the Frye !)

Jherek Bischoff (composer) preparing for playing his double casio with the string quartet

Leo Mayberry ( video artist) humoring Theresa, our co- tech director

Brianna (viola left ) and Natalie ( cello ) tuning
Karen (violin left ) and Kendal ( violin right )

Terry Podgorsky ( our co tech director ) in my dressing room

Ela Lamblin's beautiful severed limbs musical instruments on the floor with (Miwak,) the protagonist

Claire Branch (stage manager), Theresa Ulrich and  Terry Podgorsky
So... we are now embarking on the next project: RED SHOES as I write this blog. Thankyou audience, for coming and supporting our work. The new piece will be an endurance piece just two dancers/ performers/vocals and physical theater, Dohee Lee and I, with an intense live musiscians/ guest group of performers, and YOU the audience as well, performing among and through out the Seattle's Frye Art Museum. It will also be performed in NewYork as well as the Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. I hope to invite you out for numerous experiments that we have already begun with the public... more later on that.

Thankyou all... said the black ridinghood......

 Mask by Brian Kooser, boots by Kellie Dunn, Costumes by Christine Tschirgi

Sunday, January 23, 2011

project is rolling... team number two!!

Here is Christine Tschirgi  in her studio working on Dohee & my costumes for the shows for the Redshoes. As you scroll down, you will see the delicate and deft details of some of the hand stitched work, dye work, and beautiful fabrics she has chosen and put together to create the garments.

Christine in her sewing studio

Black Ridinghood detail for Chapter one

the girl Miwak's cotume detail with Red ridinghood
 ...There are 5 chapters of this re- imagined fairytale, and a girl Miwak must go through each chapter as a trial/ test of her journey  ( by a mysterious, enigmatic & sometimes menacing shaman ) as one human being on a ride of an insane creative path. Dohee and I are constantly playing multiple charactors, and we are so excited to able to wear her sumptious and eye candy garments that will surely give us wonderwoman powers. She has been teaching me about what a bias cut is- to what smocking means, and also tips for all kinds of trouble on stage! We are eager each time to see her whoop out one after another, a gorgeous artwork.
I would like to thank again, all of the generous doners for the materials!! Christine has also brought in an amazing Kellie Dunn who have been working on our boots for the charactors. They are reaaly amazing.

Speaking of Shaman's costume, our collaborating scuplter Colin Ernst will be making a built- in mic facial mask for Dohee to sing and play with. His mask with a chest harp will be mounted and merged with Christine's Shaman garment. Colin, in the past has been creating Circus Contraption's crazy ride contraptions.
Kellie Dunn's wolf boots for black Ridinghood

On the left- Colin Ernst busy at work in our Frye Commerce Center working on our multiple items. Or.. he is actually posing for the photo. (? ) I will post his work soon!
Today we had a really great music rehearsal.Jherek's composition and Joshua's sounded so intensely beautiful. The string quartet musicians, Karen, Nathalie, Kendal and Brianna and we had a lot of good 2 and a half string rehearsals accompnaying my dance.. Jherek is a wild and remind me of some kind of a cartoon charactor, extremely animated in a kind of a TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE way.He memorized every detail of my Broken-Doll Choreography, and I was so touched he has been reworking some materials after much consulting/re assessing what the dance means to me, and to the piece. Speaking of intensley beautiful, Dohee's voice soared and pierceing, possessing the poor grandmother charactor in the screen- eagerly waiting for the little red ridinghood  :)We all felt the power of her charactor today and got so excited.
Robb Kunz is doing our sound installation for the Swan chapter!
Theresa Ulrich and Terry Podgorsky has been a dynmic tech team for the shows.Without them, we would not have any of these production possible.As I gradually got to know Terry, he is like a true diplomat, and  a kind spirit. I over hear a lot of the consulting, discussion, and problem solvings that go on between him, Theresa, and each team members across the big echoing space. I felt comforted by his presence in the huge wide vast big 6000 sq feet space!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The project is on the way ! - introducing team number one first :)

This is a sketch by one of our collaborator/Sound sculpter Ela Lamblin.He is a sculptural instrument inventor with a keen awareness of how the body can relates to the instrument in space- and  at the same time able to create beautiful sounds.It will be a device that is integrated with my body on which i can learn to play substantial musical compositions. Most part of our project has already moved into the Frye's Arts Commerce Center( In Seattle Washington ) and everyone is hard at work........

The second photo is of my collaborator and dancing/ music partner for the project Dohee Lee.She is a percussionist/vocalist and dancer that is deeply involved  in the style of Korean shamanistic peformances.She has been coming to our 3rd intensive rehearsals ( all the way from Bay area)and am about to come up for the 4th one!
She is extremely hard core...I was hoping she would push me for this project but ACCORDING TO DOHEE, we ended up pushing each other ,and once we have started going, we had to tear ourselves from the project, and slam the door from each other so we could get some rest at least in the evening, and not keep going insanely like a coked up feverish people, tortured by the project and the pressure we gave our selves.   For me-Coming from the Butoh tradition of drinking SAKE after some session, I have come to realize VERY QUICKLY that Dohee is not only a master of drumming, but A MASTER OF HARD CORE DRINKING as well. She have told me stories that she and her Korean master teachers would drum all night and drink and drink, and DRINK all night ( and Day? ) as well.Goodness! we have hard core fun and challenge each other!.. the rehearsals are often filled with lots of laughter and saying to each other-  towards the end -" Oh my Gahd.....!" and Dohee asking " wow... you guys eat a lot..! "

As Jherek Bischoff, our collaborating composer would say, " dAnG , gIRL! "
 In this Blk and white photo taken by Rex Hohlbein, here is Jherek singing the part of the composition with the chamber ensemble that has done some readings of the composition of his and Joshua Kohl's.Joshua and Jherek, Dohee has been composing for the 5 chapters of our contemporary take,  a re -imaginiing  of the Redshoes story that the Degenerate Art Ensemble will perform this spring in Seattle and New York.Along with their music/ sound team, Suzie Kozawa and Robb Kunz will be joining for the sound installation that will accompany our pieces. In the photos, there are (Dohee singing, Dylan playing the cello, Briana on the viola, Kendal on the violin, Joshua on Dohee's drum, and Paris also on the violin  )
Here is Trinidad Martinez, my  friend and the star from my last big DAE project at the Moore theatre in Seattle.She is a dancer and a director from her group Magpie Productions. She has been TIRELESSLY helping my rehearsals,the chapter's choreography, being an outside eye, and giving me an honest sharp tongue and extremely objective eye and opinions so I can keep myself on my toes. (! ) She is spanish, I am japanese, we joke about being in the U.S. and comparing everything to our own countries. ( !) I think maybe we did that with Dohee too.
A photo below is Leo Mayberry, Jason and I. Starting with Leo, He is the  bold and  brainiac video artist who creates wild and playful, great obssesive, complicated  ideas onto a screen, always working with a challenging concept of illusion of the eyes, and he has been an incredible creative partner on the video concept working with the story, the charactors, the vision, , along with me and the team. (Leo and I somehow always go late in the night NERDING INTENSELYon the project plan and it is always a strange and relentless lullaby to Joshua, who ends up snoring HEAVILY on the couch while we are still scribbling and experimenting  with paper cuts or mock-ups on our living room floor ) The Scene with the mysteriously beautiful artificial trees is the scene of the "Black riding hood". She
disguises her self as the mischievous girl in the forest but she is also the wolf. Who has made the trees?
 Above photo is Jason, he MADE THE TREES for the video realm as well for the sets. Jason Puccinelli, our new team collaborator and guest here, is biting on a SWAN's neck. Yes, there is a swan chapter that I will be dancing, inspired by the WILD SWANS, by Hans Christian Andersen. I will explain why so many fairy tales are intertwined with the actual story later, I would like to talk about Jason. He is a painter/ performance artist and and also an installation artist who has a very strong vision and a unique perception. He makes work that asks viewers to question the society we live in and immerses them in carefully constructed interactive performance installations.I enjoy very much working with him ! He is creating the sets and most of the props for the project. He and I have had intense brain-storming sessions in the beginning with the concept escpescially of the protagonist's journey through out the piece.We have been focusing greatly on the SWAN CHAPTER lately, and continuing our dialogue as it keeps evolving to an exciting place. Below is Joshua Kohl of DAE. ( Degenerate Art Ensemble) and above -mentioned people at work! Team number two will be positing next week!