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Old 11-17-03, 11:45 AM   #1
Stephon
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Smile Basking in the Afterglow

Well, Motionfest East just ended and I am feeling exhausted and satisfied.

The gentle strains of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" are still running through my head, I am obsessively analyzing everything funny for why it's funny, and everything that's not funny for how it could be funny, all the while staying very aware of my breathing. Clarabelle says, "hi."

Just like my last Motionfest, I'm going to need a few weeks to digest all the information I was given and all the things I learned.

I'm very glad I was able to attend this year; once again it was invaluable. I met a wide variety of terrific people and had a great time.

Thanks very much to all the people who helped put it together. Here's a shout out (I was born in the '60s--what the hell is a "shout out"?) to Mike Rosman, who although he says he deligated more this year, didn't feel the burden any less, I suspect. And I'd like to thank Robert Strong, specifically, for giving me some very helpful thoughts and suggestions to use in my critique piece.

There's so much more about the last four days that I could run on about, but I'm going to take the opportunity reaquaint myself with sleep, and maybe post more later.
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Old 11-22-03, 02:16 AM   #2
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Four Broken Bones, Two Casts and a Crutch…
(or: How I Learned To Walk at MotionFest.)

I resumed driving one day before Michael needed me to fetch folk from the airport. My first was Julie Goell, on Wednesday. My second, also Wednesday, was Patrick McGuire, who’d been waiting. Answering e-mail, I got a call from Michael. "How fast can you be at the airport? Pat McGuire needs a ride. He's from Cirque du..." I interrupt. "Steve Ragatz's partner? I'm there in twenty minutes. Maybe fifteen.” Avner and his son Zev I pick up Thursday night. Thus is begun my annual MotionFest adventure.

Friday morning, I enter a womb of love and understanding. Tomi Casciero and I share a few special moments, as always. I chat with Todd Strong. "She was mauled by a tiger," he says of my injuries. Soon, it is more than one tiger, and by Sunday evening, it is rival gangs of tigers who have damaged me.

Friday, I do not attend workshops. I am not ready. I order lunch, make a sign left-handed, talk on the phone to Steven, which seems fitting, as most of my face to face contact with the intense Mr. Ragatz has been in the hallways of the Best Western that hosts MotionFest. I return home for a nap and to let the dog out. Back to the site for dinner at Harborplace. The show at Harborplace is well attended by MotionFest folk, and a few actual Harborplace patrons. Back to the venue, for a session I cannot focus on. I am distracted by rhythmic bumping. Patrick is practicing in another room. I investigate, watching unobserved for a few moments. The noise is bouncing juggling orbs against the circular platform that was so troublesome to fit into my trunk. Pat spots me, invites me in. I am amazed and flattered.

Critique Sessions go well, and two particular friends have offerings that are clearly in need of refinement. With luck, the comments of the assembled will be constructive.

Saturday: Avner's course, I think. I’ve heard the word "breathing" several times. Something as primal as breathing couldn't hurt to explore, and might be just my level, crippled as I still am. Todd calls out, "This woman was mauled by tigers. Won't someone carry her to Avner's class?" Keith volunteers. He lifts me into his arms, crutch and all- he isn't even attending Avner's workshop. He blushes when I kiss him for a thank you.

Avner shows us many things, including personal comfort zones and how to retain tension by suspending breath. I partner with Patrick for a handshake exercise, which we do left-handed, in deference to my cast. I invade his space and make him nervous. He winks at me, flashing his fabulous smile, and I think he is pulling out a standard stunt, a fallback response, because he is disconcerted.

Avner analyzes our stances, and manages to collapse several largish, seemingly well- balanced, individuals, then encourages us to do the same. Avner's enthusiasm is infectious and delightful. He keeps saying, "And next I'm going to show you something REALLY amazing!" I already see something really amazing, Avner. It's you.

Lunchtime: David Tyson joins me for chat, until he notices the time, hurrying upstairs for Tomi's tribute to Tony Montenaro. It's beautiful. Moni Yakim says a few words about Tony. I decide, listening, that I wish to take his afternoon workshop. Stephanie Monseau, gorgeous gal from Bindlestiff, chats with me afterwards about how MotionFest and those involved in it seem so love-based. She says it's not like this everywhere, with every instructor. I try to imagine: it's unpleasant. We haven't interacted much in the four years we've been nodding acquaintances, and I treasure this moment of shared insight and understanding.

Moni's workshop is stunning. We move in slow motion. We freeze. We spring into motion briefly, and freeze again. We make explosive movements, accompanied by vocalization. We work together in pairs and groups on an exercise called Imperceptible Engine, akin to another exercise I know, but this version goes exponentially beyond anything I've done before. I stretch muscles not used since October 10th, when I fell from a twelve-foot wall while performing. At the end, I’m soaked through with sweat, and by the way my muscles sing and zing, should be exhausted. I am not. I am energized. I race home to prepare dinner for my family, who will attend the Public Show.

The Public Show! Avner is, in fact, amazing. Bob Berkey is hysterically funny. Patrick McGuire is technically near perfect, and when he drops, covers with that adorable wink/smile combination that makes me wish he'd drop more often. Julie Goell is strangely cute or cutely strange, I can't decide. Onscreen, a clip of Tony Montenaro's performance in a previous show, which is introduced by Tomi Casciero, who plays Emcee tonight. Drew Richardson is a fabulously sweet example of the bungling clown genre, terrific both live and on film. He deserves an international reputation, and I hope he gets it. His hair alone deserves recognition.

My children are cool for sticking around after hours, for Critique Sessions. I wish to see Steven Lampredi's annual incarnation of Brain Surgery, Chris Davis's condensed dramatic rendition of Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum, (enacted by Pedro Tochcas) and Stephon Walker has brought his dove, Clementine, to show us. She’s a new addition to the Geek Show of Swami Yomahmi. Steph is very funny, and damn near perfect on his angles and timing. Alaina and Garrett prowl the room as tigers, ready to maul.

Sunday: eagerness and excitement for Moni Yakim's Intensive Workshop. Moni, leading morning warmups, greets me and tells me how brave I am, how amazing it was to see me yesterday, "balancing on one leg, in all these intricate positions." He shakes his head and pats my cheek. It feels like a benediction. I fall irrevocably in love with this man.

Moni's Intensive Workshop is very like the Non-Intensive, only moreso, and longer. I partner again with Patrick, this time for Imperceptible Engine. Within the context of this exercise, he is not nervous. Perhaps he is used to me now. Afterwards, we go to lunch, finding Rock Star parking in the Whole Foods parking lot.

The event winds down. Wrap Up and Horror Stories follow an afternoon workshop, in which I take my first unassisted steps. Wil and Robert’s story I’ve heard before, but it gets better every year. I leave when pizza arrives for an airport run, taking three people from MotionFest to resume their lives. When I return, I tell of my fall, with an assist from Michael, who used my accident as fodder for the RenFest cast party talent show, impersonating me aptly, I was told. I hear his version, but he refuses to act it out.

As I am ready to leave, Patty approaches, hugs me. She’s been a wonderful, gentle presence, and I’m lucky to have met her. In fact, I’m lucky to have met everyone at MotionFest, even the ones I knew before. It’s been an empowering experience. I felt enabled. Nobody said "don't do that,” “sit down,” or “you should rest." Instead, I heard, "Can I help?" "let me carry that," and "would you like a chair?" I was encouraged to do what I could, by people who understand what it is to want to use the body to move, to be active, to express.

So I say to all of you who participated in MotionFest, as Patty said to me Sunday evening, "Namaste."

I honor the spirit of God within you.

And...thanks.
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Old 12-01-03, 05:47 PM   #3
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Cybele, can I just say that Saving the Show and creating a playground with you in Patrick's non-intensive was one of the highlights of MotionFest for me?

I'm still processing all the marvelous information I took away from Avner's intensive, as well as Tom's. I'm looking into doing some more work with Tom in the cmoing months and possibly making it up to Celebration Barn next year.

Hope all is well with you! Don't let the tigers get you down!

~Charon*
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