The next few weeks provide unique opportunities to dive more deeply into Faith Project/THE DOOR and CHI Awareness Practice - both for KYL/D and you, dear friends! This weekend, KYL/D is sharing an excerpt of Faith Project at the Temple University Faculty Dance Concert. I’m always so impressed with the depth and range of the individual dance artists that create the collective. Not only are they all well trained, and deeply intentional performers, but they are also thinkers and seekers, themselves. Kun-Yang often says that his dancers are his greatest collaborators. The company’s cultivation of fierce technique and deep inquiry are evident on stage.
Jessica: How has the process of Faith Project (the Story Circles, rehearsals, and reflections) informed your understanding of Kun-Yang’s CHI Awareness Practice?
Grace: Kun-Yang has not had us talk directly about the Story Circles in rehearsal nor talk about our rehearsals during the Story Circles. However, in both, we are present, aware, and receptive to voices/movement that are not our own. We bring our whole self into the room (during the process), and the Story Circles and rehearsals organically inform each other (because of the energy that each create and that remains, circling among us). This “organic informing” is part of CHI Awareness Practice.
Keila: For me, CHI Awareness is a reoccurring practice of being present, recognizing sensations, and being sensitive to the space and the people around us. CHI can’t necessarily been seen, it must be felt. As a result, CHI can be “seen” by the energy that radiates from someone’s being. Faith has a similar energy; it can’t be seen, but can be strongly felt. Through this project, I’ve truly enjoyed having the opportunity to listen and respond with my body to the reactions, words, and sensations within the Story Circles. I’ve given myself permission to take time so I can digest and understand how different spiritual people relate to their faith and how those beliefs are carried/reflected in the body. In doing this, I’m able to bring these sensations to the work of Faith Project - practicing being honest with myself, generous with the other dance artists, and trusting the unknown.
Jessica: How has your own relationship to your body changed during the process of Faith Project?
Grace: When we started this work, I was six months with child. I came back to rehearsals two weeks after she arrived, simply to observe. I was accustomed to my body being able to do pretty much whatever I asked. Now, sitting was a challenge. I have never been so weak. This experience of weakness physicalized my spiritual weakness expressed in the Christian Scripture: “While we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). In this text, Apostle Paul reflects on our weakness. We cannot reach God in our own strength; we are far too feeble. If we could, He would not be much of a God… but while we were still weak, God shows his love for us by entering into our weakness. He trades his strength for our failures (with his death) on the cross. This reality of spiritual weakness, informed by the weakness of my changing body, has deepened my experience of movement in Faith Project.
Keila: In this process, I’ve allowed my mind to be quiet and my body to respond boldly. There is incredible knowledge that lives in us that can transform space and people. This is beautiful! Through this work, I’m constantly using my body to uncover and express this knowledge. During this process, I’ve been allowing my body to celebrate the unique story she has to tell, while continuing to investigate the diverse, nuanced, and rich stories of the community that this practice is revealing.
Encounter, discuss, and unravel Faith Project with Grace, Keila, and the other dance artists at one (or all three) of the 2018 Open Studio Series. Space is limited, so reserve your opportunity to go behind the scenes with KYL/D!
~ 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.