Monthly Archives: April 2010

Photos

DSC_0347.JPGTaos, NM
Crested Butte  - 104

Crested Butte, CO

action5 - Version 2

Portland, OR

DSC_0024.JPG - Version 2

View from bedroom to Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs, CO

Oakwood Apartments, Burbank, LA, CA

New York  12

34th and 11th, NYC, NY

New York  173

Jersey Shore, from NYC looking west, NYC, NY

portfolio18

Venice, Italy

portfolio33 - Version 2

Toy Museum, Prague, Czech Republic

Time Time Time

At first glance it seems so easy to blog. You log on, you write, you press publish. In reality,  not that easy- the writing isn’t hard, it’s the finding time part that keeps stymying me.

My world this year has been continually in flux. From August through December, I was at National Geographic Adventure Magazine in New York city, working 45 hour weeks and enjoying every minute of it. Then I was in Scotland visiting my family. Then it was off to Breckenridge for 3 months to work for a photographic gallery and telemark, a lot. Then there was my class in hollywood–utterly amazing- take the class if you ever get the chance. Now I’m in Museum Curatorial studies, and it’s eight block and sunny and beautiful outside. In less than three weeks I’ll be in Ravenna, Italy, with the CC summer program.

Where does the time go???

I know it passes day to day, but where does the cumulative go? I don’t feel rushed but there are still a million and one things I want to do. In the mean-time, I’m writing a Watson Application, enjoying the beautiful people around me, and designing a museum exhibition for my class. Blues and shoes is tomorrow, and Llamapalooza is next weekend, as is regionals for ultimate frisbee. So much to do, so little time, so many cliches- all founded in truth.

Be Present.

-Jencks

Is May 12th really that soon?

Dear Blogging World,

I apologize for being so bad at updating.  I blame it on 8th Block.

Last time I wrote, I talked about my RIDICULOUS Spring Break (which was 2 months ago…).  Well, I did it.  All 4000+ miles.  I don’t even know how it happened. I even drove my friend’s (Justin) car.  A standard!  Yikes.  Sorry driving world…

Spring Break, in general, was ridiculous.  This picture captures that.
Spring Break, in general, was ridiculous. This picture captures that.

public market

olympic

From the Oregon coast.
From the Oregon coast.

In other news, 8th block is HERE.  HERE. HERE.

Relay For Life is TOMORROW!  My class (The Nonprofit Sector) has been absolutely amazing.  I’ve started training as the student research assistant for the History department.  AND I WON A MICROWAVE (for the apartment I’m living in next school year)!

The grass is green!  Students sunbathe in the afternoon.  Everything is just beautiful!

Eighth block just keeps on getting better and better.

Signing off from the alternate universe,

Melissa

It’s 8th Block, Let’s Celebrate!

As said by a dear friend of mine:

“Springtime on a college campus is the epitome of all things beautiful.”

So true. And after a long winter, CC is the epitome of that epitome.

8th block has arrived, and though we’ve still got one more block until summer break, there is a distinct mood in the air, and it’s excitedly suggesting, “Let’s celebrate!”

Sunset on the rocks at Lake Powell.

Us being epic again.Perhaps we’re all coming off stellar block breaks, such as my 1,340 mile (we GoogleMap-ed it) journey around Utah with friends. Destinations included Lake Powell, Green River, Moab, and a wide variety of national parks and forests. Mayhaps we all have amazing 8th block courses. I’m taking Teaching Through the Arts in Education with the amazing Kris Stanec, whose Power of the Arts in Education Course I took last year. Today my explorations of teaching art included making a Matisse-style collage. I'd like to think it was a decent variation on this piece.

^I’d like to think that it was a decent variation on that piece!

Some of us are just happy that the sun is out and we are surrounded by the persistent magnificence of nature. Even if taking Organic Chemistry 2 (my question: why?) or frantically rushing to finish a thesis, all of CC can celebrate the simple pleasures of spring in a community where inspiration is all around us.

Celebrate!

Put your hands in the air and say yeah 8th block!

Almost 3 Weeks of Missing Words

Wow, it is daunting to finally sit down and try write about all that has happened since my last post. A combination of not having enough time and not having the ability to organize my thoughts has prevented me from writing along the way. I’ll do the best I can to illuminate the incredible adventure that has ensued the last two weeks. I’ll begin with some thoughts I wrote the other day on a train ride…

April 16:

After frantically packing our things for the weekend, inhaling a few bites of food that was undercooked, excessively doused in soy sauce and by normal standards much too hot to ingest, I am now comfortably on a train to Kaohsiung, a smaller city on the opposite side of the country where we will be performing tomorrow. It is our first performance here and only one of three coming up in the next nine days. The first consists of a dance for film that we each made and a 10 minute piece that we put together. The next two performances are in Taipei, and are the showcases of my Thesis, one for TNUA (Taipei National University of the Arts) and one for TAV (Taipei Artist Village). Considering the time, language, and money restraints, not to mention the fact that I have never been solely responsible for such an event, makes the whole thing particularly stressful for me, especially as I again find myself battling my relationship to dance, which I often question in times like this, times that exceptionally taxing both physically and psychologically. I find myself gaining critical perspective on what it is that I love about the field and what it is that I do and do not, just as we all do as we perform every craft we attempt. Being so far away from common comforts and escapes, though, seems to intensify these reflections. Other than having far too much to do, it seems, than sit and evaluate my feelings, what a better time to become fully conscious of such things, just before I enter the world as a newly graduated young adult faced with a plethora of choices as to how I want to live my life, at least the next chapter of it.

This morning, we woke up early to teach at the Jin-Long Center, which we have been leading classes at twice a week at for the last 2 weeks. I cannot fully express how incredible teaching these classes is, in fact it is one of the most joyous things I have ever had the privilege of taking part in.

On our first day at the center, we were as nervous as kindergarteners on the first day of school, entering into a completely foreign place without the slightest clue as to what to expect, who we were going to meet, or what our potential was. After our classes, we had a meeting with the staff and personnel at the center, discussing the structure of our classes, the participants, expectations, plans, etc. We were pleasantly surprised by the classes we led and the center’s reaction to them, as they were hugely complimentary and enthusiastic. They expressed actual amazement by some of the participants and truly believe that this program is going to make a long-term difference in these people’s lives. I do not know about the long-term effects of our efforts, but I do know that our classes seem to bring reciprocal joy and liveliness, at least for the hour we have together.

The first class consists of 5-7 adults that have severe cases of autism and other physical and mental impairments, and the second consists of adults with Downs Syndrome. Both classes, the first in particular, requires the help of two staff members from the center and our translator Wen. The first class has much more difficulty ascertaining even the most simple movement tasks. Many of them require two or three people’s help to crawl or roll across the floor, some even to lift their arms, or to lay down on the floor (which we do for 10 minutes at the end of each class in order to cool down, focus on breath and relax both the mind and the body.) The second class is considerably more capable, we are able to warm-up, do some simple across-the-floor exercises, a movement game or activity and a cool down. The favorite activity so far has been Freeze Dance, which at least two of them would compete for the gold medal for in Freeze Dance Olympics if they existed (oddly enough, one of them is deaf… the other has nervously learned how to tell me in English that I am “his spice girl”). It is fascinating how different the two disorders affect the body. It is clear each can benefit from movement, but in very different ways. The autistic students have extremely tense muscles and joints and are often immobilized by this tension and by their nervousness. In this class we focus on warming up and loosening the body, helping them to gain dexterity and coordination, and most importantly to relax their body and mind. The students in the Downs Syndrome class for the most part are incredibly limber and quite coordinated, so we try to focus more on strength building and channeling creativity and confidence.

In the last couple of years I have discovered and fallen in love with a new avenue of the dance field, very different than the conventional one. Ultimately, it has caused me to redefine my philosophy of dance and performance, and the direction I would like to go with it. Basically I fell in love with the intrinsic properties of movement, and the ways in which it can facilitate physical and emotional well-being. Teaching these classes is wonderful, because these people can benefit from movement in their life more so than almost any other group of people that I can think of. Of any part of this trip so far, I wish that I could share this with people in my life. Unfortunately we are unable to photograph or videotape the classes, although they are documented by a professional videographer for the use of the center and TAV… for now, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

April 18:

Exchange performance with Tsoying High School. This picture was in the newspaper. It proceeded a news conference and was followed by a bombardment of Taiwanese high schoolers wanting photos and kisses with us. Probably the closest feeling to fame any of us will ever experience, and one of the oddest times of our life.

Our exchange performance at Tsoying High School, with the students, the principal and the super intendant. The governor was also in attendance. This photo was in the newspaper, and followed a news conference. It was also, just before the bombardment of Asian highschoolers asking for pictures and “kisses.” To say it plainly, it was a bizarre and unforgettable day.

Last night we returned from our eventful weekend in Kaohsiung. Tomorrow starts the beginning of my last class of college: Chinese Meditative Arts. Twenty-three other CC students have now officially joined us in Taiwan, and I have a feeling the last three weeks of our time here is going to be very different than the first. We now have access to a whole slew of resources and guidance in which we lacked the last few weeks, which I’m sure everyone who has been dealing with my desperate attempts for comfort and communication from back home are happy to hear! My thesis piece is complete and almost ready to perform. My written thesis is not finished. I am healthy-ish… despite my friends- stomach and head ache who remain loyally at my side due the undetectable and/or unavoidable presence of soy and wheat. TAV got insect exterminated, so we are no longer infested with too many flees and mosquitoes.

It is near impossible to appropriately describe what has happened the last three weeks, especially to our newly arrived classmates. They have been some of the hardest, best and obviously (as I keep being reassured) valuable times of my entire life. As my survival instincts kicked in at full gear, my fight or flight instincts battled each other and I at times in fact considered quiting and coming home early. All in all, what was formerly almost too much to handle is now humorous to recollect, and of course I am glad I stuck it out during the difficult times. I know how obnoxious it is to hear as I report from across the world on scholarship and grant, I now see light at the end of the tunnel that has been clouded over for a considerable time. Whether that has to do with a couple more days of sunshine, the arrival of a giddy and curious group of college students, or the development of my thesis, I am unsure – perhaps a combination of them all. I do know though that if I were to describe the details of my escapades, my blog would go on for days (plus I am not sure that I have the compositional talent to properly illustrate their true colors). The last couple of weeks have included… our birthdays in Taiwan (yes, all three), our memorable trip to Macau (the Asian Vegas), our trip to Kaohsiung (the closest to fame any of us will probably ever get), friends, no friends, performing, exploring, and lots of other adventures.

CC Dance in Taiwan Community in Taiwan at my birthday dinner

CC Dance Community in Taiwan (Jack, Casey and Mauro)

mallet

Yunyu bought us massage mallets from this fabulous lady.

Strange art outside of Taipei Main Station... part of the International Floral Exhibition

Taipei is wonderful because there is art everywhere, although sometimes it is a bit strange. This is outside of the Main Station, and is part of the floral expo.

motorbikes everywhere blog

There are motorbikes everywhere… and they drive like maniacs!

Luxury McDonalds- blog
There are also McDonalds everywhere. This one was in Macau… quite luxurious I must say.

Macau 2

The three of us in Macau.

Macau Casinos at night

Macau at night.

Street Vendor-blog
A street vendor.

Just a great candid

Just a great candid.

April 19:

I am finally posting this. The fact that it has taken this long, says a lot about life here. My apologies for my absence up until now, I will try to be better about updating more regularly. Sending my love overseas, and hope you enjoy pictures (which are in the media library, I am working on getting them all uploaded into a post)! Now I have to go to class and the first showing of my thesis) Happy day everyone 🙂

Words on a Whirlwind Week from Across the World

While Rosey and Dolo are both occupied with calls from home, I thought I would take a minute to sit down and write. It has been a week since I left Colorado Springs and what I week it has been— full of ups and downs and everything in between.

The excitement and curiosity of the first couple days seemed to delay our jet-lag, catching up with us a few days later, right when you’d expect it to subside and right when our schedule was the heaviest. It was Monday that I returned home, after navigating the city for the first time alone, with tears in my eyes only to find the others in the same state, locked out of our room and feeling like we were drowning ourselves in water way over our heads. That day we had woken up early, taken the MRT (Taiwan’s version of the subway) to meet Allen, our partner in the Dance and Disable Project, and gone to visit the two centers that we will be working at for the next few weeks (although I only had time to visit one, because the rest of my day was filled by travelling to another side of town to go have my first rehearsal with the 4 Taiwanese dancers that I will be working with as part of my thesis). The Dance and Disable Project is going to be a big part of our residency here at TAV, which in collaboration with the Shin-Lu Foundation, we will be leading somatic movement workshops with mentally disabled adults of varying kinds and severities, mainly those with Autism and Downs Syndrome.

At the first site, we met with the head personnel at the center and observed some of the activities of the members at the center. The language barrier prevented us from having any sort of communication with either the personnel or the members, and only a fraction of the meeting was translated for us. Basically, we established our class schedule and who will lead which classes (Dolo and I will lead classes at one center and Rosey and Allen will lead classes at the other) and were given protocol and warnings both for teaching people with mental disabilities and for doing so as foreigners. Although Rosey and I both have experience working with people, particularly youth, that have experienced emotional and physical abuse and/or neglect, mental disabilities is a very new arena for us. This combined with the inability to communicate through verbal language with either the students or those we are working under is intimidating to say the least. Now we are in stages of solidifying the structure of the workshops and plans of how to execute them. Our first class is next Wednesday, which also happens to be my birthday. Despite our list of fears, I have a feeling that we are going to be fine, and that this project is going to be both difficult and hugely valuable in ways we cannot even predict.

The same day, as I mentioned earlier, I had my first rehearsal with Hsui-Ping’s dancers. Originally, I was to have between 6 and 10 dancers and have around 8 rehearsals before my showcase, but conditions now allow for only 4 dancers and 5 rehearsals, which is not very many, especially considering only one of them can understand me when I speak and my attempt at counting to eight in Chinese sounds like a dying cat counting down (or up I guess) to her death. One of them, Sylvia (the one who can speak English), so nicely met me at TAV and led me across town to the studio where I met the others and led a moderately productive 2-hour long rehearsal, considering the circumstances. I have a new-found respect and empathy for foreign choreographers and teachers, it was oddly one of the more difficult things I have ever attempted to do. An hour or more later, after losing myself in Asia both figuratively and literally, I finally found my way out of the Taipei Main Station and walked home to find my similarly distressed and hungry patrons waiting for me to unlock the room so we could fall face-down on our beds, cry a little and turn on some Grey’s Anatomy and probably some angry girl music. After a little while of sulking and venting, we re-centered ourselves and regained our capacity to appreciate where we were and what we were doing.

The last week has been so jam packed it is difficult to recap. Basically, the next few days hit us with some personal crisis’ from home, which being across the world during has been both a blessing and a curse. We have finally been able to start rehearsing for the show we are performing in a couple weeks in Southern Taiwan for a performing arts high school as well as the town’s governor, although we have been relocated to the mirror-less and carpeted piano room for our daily rehearsals because the dance studio has a hole in the floor. We go back and forth as to whether it or our concrete studio is a better rehearsal space. We have seen some of our Taiwanese friends that we know from the CC dance program— I-fen, Jeff and Mauro, and they have all been so great, helping us settle in and become culturally attuned. We have had more interesting food experiences, which although we finally found out that our location in the city, the governmental district, is an awkward place to find food, our taste buds have yet to adjust to the foreign tastes and smells that in all honesty we find mostly repulsing. I-fen and Jeff took us to a night market for dinner the other night. Unfortunately, the fantastic carnivalesque atmosphere, that in the states manifests itself on some annual occasions but in Taipei is an everyday occurrence, was sadly annihilated by the wretched smell of stinky tofu lingering over the entire area. Yesterday was Rosey and Dolo’s birthday, and out of desperation caused by a combination of hunger and homesickness, I ventured out early and came home bearing breakfast and goods from McDonald’s and 7-Eleven. Never in my life did I expect that either could be so satisfying.

I think it is fair to say that being here so far been quite an experience. My senses seem to be on overdrive at every moment I am awake, as there is so much to see, to feel… to experience. Though I know you learn a lot in school, I think I have learned more in a week being here than I do in a month of being in school: about myself, about relationships, about culture, art, language (to say it in general terms)… and most interestingly the intimate inter-workings of them all. I have felt the full-spectrum of emotions, from the highest feeling of ecstasy, to the lowest of fear, sadness, frustration and desolation. With help from supportive e-mails and Facebook chats (which I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate), my often overly anxious disposition is cooled by the reminder to keep the big picture in mind. Being in a place so far from home puts a lot into perspective, forcing me to re-evaluate so much of the tradition and resources I as an American am so privileged to have, yet am so disabled by; and at the same time reminds me of all of the minute details of home that I seldom or never take the time to think about, let alone appreciate.

So for now, at the end of week 1, I am missing home and loving being here.