How does your religion inform your sense of identity and community?
Welcome to November! For the past two years, November has meant a performance of KYL/D’s HOME/S. 9th St - the world premiere at FringeArts in 2015 and at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in 2016. As my mind drifts through the memories of the process and performances of HOME, I’m reminded that KYL/D discovered through exploring the stories of immigrants that a common theme for their sense of identity and community was their religion. This through-line became an impetus for more deeply exploring the role of our religious orientations in the Faith Project. I’m recognizing other similarities between the process of HOME and Faith Project as the company and community come together to share their stories:
Community participants report seeing themselves and their story in the dance. One community member from HOME responded to the performance (translated from Spanish): “THANK YOU. I loved seeing the completed work and above all you made me feel very emotional. I don’t know if it's for having participated in the (story) circle or for the subject matter but I liked it. Many thanks for daring to take on these kinds of issues and for sharing in such a nice way our feelings.”
Community members and dance artists share deeply personal experiences.
Dance artists continue exploring elements of the community members stories in each rehearsal.
Community members reported feeling safe, comfortable, and welcomed to share their stories. Community member and Santeria priestess, Carolyn, reflected on the third Faith Project Story Circle, “As leaders of our faith, we’re often defending our religion. It was really wonderful to come together in the Story Circle, celebrate our faith, and share some of the things that are so important to us.”
The story circles for HOME were more based in verbal conversation. Faith Project incorporates movement and conversation by both dance artists and community members during the Story Circle.
HOME incorporated elements of theater in the process. We had workshops with Cornerstone Theater Company and Philadelphia director, David O’Connor. With Faith Project Kun-Yang is collaborating with multimedia designer Jared Mezzocchi and thought partner Kimerer LaMothe.
KYL/D Artist Evalina “Wally” Carbonell has been involved in both the process of HOME and Faith Project. In comparing the two, she reflected, “From both of these story circles, I have learned that through witnessing and experiencing movement, we can learn more about ourselves and each other, which results in empathy for one another's experiences. Through awareness that each performance has this potential for affecting our audiences, we can approach the presentation of our movement from a more giving and selfless perspective, taking the viewer on an experience through the specificity of our movements and the fearless delivery of ourselves.”
Readers, how does your religion inform your sense of identity and community?
~ Jessica Warchal-King
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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.