(You too can share your movement stories! See Reader challenge below)
What does a Story Circle look like?
The Story Circle is what it sounds - a circle in which people tell stories. In using it for community building, there are often guidelines and a prompt to and from which participants agree. Guidelines might include: everyone must listen without interruption; each person has two minutes to talk; you can opt to “pass” or not share a story if you’re uncomfortable, but it’s encouraged that everyone share something in order to create an environment of community and equanimity (even if that sharing is “I’m a little uncomfortable sharing the first thing that comes to mind, so I’ll share something else that the prompt makes me think about or feel). The facilitator will provide the prompt and also explain the guidelines and goals of the story circle. Depending on the number of people at the gathering, small groups might be created to allow for time management and a more personal connection. After stories have been shared, the group will come together as a large circle to debrief and share any reflections, realizations, and/or ah ha moments.
How does this relate to dance and KYL/D’s Faith Project?
Kimerer LaMothe is the facilitator for the Faith Project Story Circles and leads us (community participants, KYL/D artists, and artistic collaborators) through the guidelines, prompt, and the telling of stories. Our bodies tell our stories - our posture, the way we talk, how close we stand next to someone, the way we fold our arms or open our palms toward another person. Our bodies help define how we identify in the world. (On the audience survey that KYL/D offers at each of our performance, we ask our audience to self-identify. Click here to share the ways that you self identify).
The gestures and movements we create (unconsciously?) can reveal how we identify and who we are. In process, Kun-Yang often asks his dance artists to pay attention to these gestures and from them, generate full-bodied phrase work. Perhaps this will, again, be a starting point for the performance in March… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In a dance-based story circle, small groups will investigate the prompt(s) using gesture or movement. Participants don’t need to understand codified vocabulary or have previous “dance” experience. We are all constantly moving and living and experiencing the world through our bodies. It is from these experiences that honest, authentic movement emerges. As professional dance artists, I/we and the KYL/D ensemble have worked to tune into the subtleties of movement communication and refined languages through which we speak - codified techniques and rehearsed movement sentences or phrase work. But, everyone can and does move - it is from these movements that stories will emerge.
Kimerer will chose the prompts - they may be based on our ideas of faith and dance, or they may not. She will also provide guidelines on how to respond to the prompts - through movement or spoken language.
We’ll share our individual stories based on the prompts and guidelines - bringing awareness to our own internal and external, movement and language biases and experiences. Then, we’ll share our collective and collected stories, learning more about each other and ourselves from and during the process.
Kimerer will guide us in debriefing about the experience at the end of the Story Circle.
Who is participating in the story circles:
- Our facilitator, Kimerer LaMothe
- KYL/D’s dance artists and staff
- Faith Project Collaborators: Choreographer Kun-Yang Lin, Multimedia designer Jared Mezzocchi, Composer/Sound Designer Cory Neale, and Videographer Bob Finkelstein
- The Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia and diverse members of the community of various faith and belief systems invited by the Interfaith Center
What stories does your body tell? Pay attention to your body during the day. What gestures or movements are “habits”? (Do you rub your palms together? Sit into your hip? Tuck your hair behind your ear?) Make a movement list of five of these “habits”. Take a quick video of the movements and send them to me at email@example.com. I’ll share them with the other artists - maybe your movements will be used in our process! The most interesting video will win two tickets to an upcoming InHale Performance Series
~ 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.