Photo by Kyle Filley of UNA in San Francisco, taking a hike in Bernal Heights
Kyle Filley climbing Mt. Sopris(CO)
A 4 week tour is an incredible opportunity for creative energy and curiosity to thrive. Being a part of UNA’s Carbondale and San Francisco residencies was a great privilege. I am so thankful for all the people involved in making these adventures a reality.
Chuck’s ability to generate new material, while investigating ways the dancers could contribute our own voices and material, helped create a lot of possibilities for how COLORING could transform and near its end. He extended that curiosity to our audiences at Lowell High School and the ODC studio showing guests by asking them a central question from the work, “What do we have in common?”. One of the more striking responses like, “We all come from a woman’s womb”, was used (among other students’ responses) as source material for a rich exploration, improvisation near the end of our time in SF. Engaging with residents in both cities helped resolve questions we had inside the work and stir up elements of the dance difficult to see without an outsider’s perspective. Overall, the responses from audience members were very strong. In both places, people came up to us after excerpts of COLORING having experienced emotional ranges greater than they had in a long time as well as specific feedback about a particular minute of the 45 or so we shared. These people shared what they felt from the heart and often wanted to engage with us about how we could go even further. I am so glad I got to hear them. Their responses will stay with me for a long time.
As for working together as a company, I could go on and on about the bonding that evolved during those 4 weeks. In short, we lived together, laughed together, cried together, and pushed ourselves together. It was incredibly difficult as we neared the end to imagine how this powerful, supportive force could simply move on. I know as we continue to prepare for our ODC premiere in March, we will have that history to draw so much strength from and bring that vibrancy into the studio and ultimately the theater.
Thanks again to Peter and Mike Gilbert as well as Kathleen Scheible and Teri Dowling for being such gracious hosts. Your support gave us the opportunity to invest as much as we could during the day and truly recover each night.
Looking forward to more rehearsals at our current NY home - at the 92Y in Manhattan - to keep the momentum going and dive even deeper into COLORING. - Kyle Filley
Emma Whiteley and Chuck Wilt performing COLORING at a lec-dem for Lowell High (SF)
Emma Whiteley at Ocean Beach in San Francisco
What a breath of fresh air. Nestled in the gorgeous mountains we found a small community genuinely excited about producing and seeing dance. With its thinner air and to die for lunch paninis, Carbondale greeted us with open arms and open possibilities. Contrasting our sporadic bursts of rehearsal time in New York constrained by side jobs, budgets, space, and general city life, Colorado gave us consistency. A morning commute of just ten minutes in a car, all together, three meals a day, and plenty of after work conversations and movie nights to bring us closer together in mind and in spirit. Feeling like a family inside and outside of the studio is a difficult feeling to conjure and yet as we drove past herds of elk or deer, I could relate to their primal unity.
As the world becomes seemingly more divisive, a question that Chuck has posed to the company and to audiences throughout the process of this piece is “What unites us?” Engaging with the community in Carbondale and the time and space given to continue to develop this piece showed me that just about anything can unite us as long as we take a second to stop, take a deep breath and recognize it. Thank you Carbondale, Dance Initiative, and our generous hosts. - Emma Whiteley
Max Canion performing COLORING at a lec-dem for Lowell High (SF)
Max Canion at the Launchpad in Carbondale
Colorado: Colorado: Joining UNA for a 4 week residency was such an insightful and heartwarming experience. The process of being integrated into the company was quick and unexpected as I dove into traveling, living, creating, and bonding with admirable artists.
Creating at the Launchpad was a meditative experience as we had all the time to experiment, generate and play with movement material and focus on our intentions behind the work. It felt like we had limitless potential and could really see the seeds of Chuck’s work come into fruition.
Besides all the nights of laughter, Harry Potter nights, communal cooking and nature walks, a moment that stood out to me the most was relaxing in the local hot spring as it snowed. The hot spring fluctuated between a bit too hot, just right, and freezing with everyone huddled up sharing the best spots when possible. It was uncomfortable but simultaneously perfect because we were all in good company.
San Francisco: I felt like visiting San Francisco and Chuck’ home was a great continuation of the the work as it symbolized a lot of subject matter we had been exploring: different facets of identity and culture and how we relate to one another.
We had many moments sharing our personal experiences throughout the trip but when we sat down to go through an organized and thoughtful questionnaire I felt a real change in the intention of the work itself, my overall connection to the work and everyone involved.
I imagined the structure of an organized questionnaire spreading like paint into deep conversations of our histories, what drives us, our passions, our resiliency and ultimately what brings us together, our humanity.
The conversations we had were handled with care as we shared vulnerable moments and learned more about one another. For me, I found out a lot about my queer identity and shared things I haven’t with anyone before. I found a strong trust in the group and am very grateful for the conversations we had.
I’m very excited to continue working and accessing the potential of “COLORING”, carrying the empowerment discovered so far. - Maximillion Canion
Rebecca Margolick surveying the Carbondale landscapes
Rebecca Margolick teaching local company in Carbondale Colorado their company class
To spend a month together with this group of fine people, is a gift. We danced, cooked, watched movies, played games, laughed hysterically, hiked etc… Time brought us even closer, and that closeness so naturally translated into how we danced together in unison or otherwise.
One early evening post rehearsal in Carbondale, CO, Max, Kyle and I were out for a walk around the beautiful lands where we were staying.
Out of nowhere, a huge herd of Elk shot out of the woods about 50ft in front of us – and they kept coming, one after another. You could even hear the babies’ yelps through the mass of galloping bodies. It felt like I was transported inside an episode of Planet Earth. The thunder of their hoofs pounding into the earth, the backdrop of the mountains and the colour of the impending sunset; it was all so vivid and surreal.
As the elk began grazing in the field and as others continued to emerge from the forest, a massive sturdy stag was staring us down, watching us closely to assure that we were harmless and to protect the herd. We stood completely still, in awe, hearts pounding. The way the Elk moved about was fascinating. They created these rounded patterns as they flocked.
What I was most struck by was how the elk shared the guard duty. A couple of them would stand watch as the others ate, then they would flock and switch positions, and so forth, so everyone got their turn to eat while maintaining the safety of the group. It was a mystery to me how they knew which direction to go and when, and who’s turn it was, because to me, it seemed like there was no leader as they moved fluidly and simultaneously together as one.
This made me think of some moments in rehearsal or a showing while on tour. At times, there would be this similar sense of unity, awareness, and listening, as if we are all tuned into the same channel.
These moments of unity, to me, are like a meditation. There is a sense of clarity and grounded-ness between us - dare I say it – like those elk. There is a listening and a trust between us, as if we know we can move forward together without hesitation. When we are moving together, it feels as though we are connected by a flexible invisible electrical wire, sensing everybody and moving through space as one; with all of us leading together. - Rebecca Margolick
Jen Payan on our climb up Mt. Sopris
UNA's post show silliness after our performance for the Spectrum Dance Festival (CO)
Always an exciting moment when a residency tour comes around with my UNA family. Especially with this tour having a new addition to the company, Maximillion Canion! Just loads of gratitude for the opportunity to singularly devote time towards this new work outside of the new york city hustle.
Our first stop was in Carbondale, CO at The Launchpad Space for the Arts. Colorado is utterly breathtaking both literally and figuratively! High up on the mountains, we quickly realized the altitude shift was no joke and had to keep very hydrated while rehearsing. Hosts Peter and Mike Gilbert gave us a beautiful stay right off their property with ridiculous views of the Rocky Mountains and cozy robes with slippers to keep warm. We felt very welcomed and thankful! We filled the house with laughter, collaborative cooked meals, rest, harry potter films, and meaningful conversations that all together help us find a deeper connection with each other and even with the work. The Launchpad gave us the opportunity to share with the community and enjoy the work of local artists as well. Most of which we hope to cross paths soon again!
Our final day post-performance, we victoriously went on a hike up to the Thomas Glacial Lakes for a dip and final city cleanse. My first official hike of my life and my top favorite moment of this residency. I left with such a grounded sense of self and an eagerness to take on the next residency! - Jennifer Payan