What is your own relationship to and/or interest in spirituality?
I've been an atheist for the past decade. I believe there's some kind of life force that runs through the universe like a current that every living and non-living thing is an expression of, but I don't see that within the constructs of the Judeo-Christian traditions, which are the only faiths that I've really had any exposure to. I am Jewish, and was raised in a Jewish family. Although I was bar mitzvahed at the age of 13 as is customary in my religion, I was only educated in my faith in a very surface manner. When I started reading the bible about 15 years ago at a time when I wanted to learn more about religion, I became turned off by the fact that the origin story involved punishment for seeking knowledge of good and evil, as it seemed to me to be some kind of justification for a social structure. I couldn't understand why seeking knowledge of any form would be a bad thing. That said, I know everybody doesn't share my outlook and I regularly engage with people about their beliefs regarding religion to understand how they've arrived at their relationship to their faith, and potentially educate myself about something I may have been missing. And although I call myself an atheist, I do not consider the issue closed, just that's where I am right now given my understanding and experiences.
What interests you about Faith Project?
In addition to recording the dance artists, I'm a big fan of KYL/D's work, so I'm interested in the opportunity to document the creation of one of the company's pieces from inception to finish. I usually come in at the very end of a production and record the finished project, so the opportunity to be there from Day 1 and see it emerge and evolve was something I was very much looking forward to. I also think the company's emphasis on using the surrounding community as a partner in developing new works of art is a compelling and unusual goal. Documenting that relationship is something that's been of interest as well. Finally, I find this experiment that KYL/D is undertaking of whether the essence of people's intensely held beliefs and experiences with faith can be distilled and expressed through dance and whether the art form can play a role in promoting understanding among different religious groups as an interesting project to see unfold.
When you interviewed me for the audition-shop two years ago, we spoke about KYL/D’s CHI Awareness Practice. How are the Story Circles and rehearsals informing your understanding of CHI Awareness Practice?
I think the Story Circles are the main way in which I see the CHI Awareness Practice coming to life. My understanding is also helped along by speaking with Kun-Yang about its role in KYL/D's process. To digress a little bit, I was writing fiction for a while and I always looked at my writing as a semi-spontaneous disgorging of experiences that I had accumulated over a period of time. It seems somewhat analogous to KYL/D's CHI Awareness Practice of immersing the dance artists in stimuli related to the subject in which a dance is being constructed, and letting those stimuli work their way through their bodies in an effort to allow the dance artists to tap into the work and into themselves in a more meaningful way. I think you could really feel that process in the arc of the three story circles, as with each new story circle the dance artists became more and more connected to the faith participants and what they shared about their faith. I think by the third and final story circle there were some real magical moments in which the dance artists were responding in the moment to the sharing of music and prayer and connecting to what the faith participants were expressing.
How is Faith Project different from (or similar to) other projects on which you’ve worked?
I've documented the creation of works of art before, but it's usually been a single artist working in their studio. I think the main difference in documenting this work is trying to capture all the facets that the creation of a new dance involves, which includes many different people working towards the same goal- whether it's Kun-Yang and the dance artists in the dance studio, or Nicole Diroff from the Interfaith Center deciding how to recruit faith participants, or the faith participants sharing their experience, or composer Cory Neale coming up with soundscapes that will underscore the dance. It's a very collaborative process to create this work, so capturing all of those elements has been the main difference from other projects I've worked on.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about yourself or Faith Project?
Sure, I really believe it's within the ability of the human race to solve whatever problems in the world we face, whether it's hunger, disease, war, global warming etc. We just need to not let other things get in our way.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, Bob, and bringing your own vision and artistry to Faith Project!
~ Jessica Warchal-King
NOTE: To make a comment on this blog, you do not need to make an account- just click "Comment(s)" in bottom left hand corner, write your comment in the comment box that appears, click "Post Comment..." then type in your first and last name and click "Comment as Guest")
Major support for the Faith project has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.