KulArts “She Who Can See”: A Revolutionary & Healing Dance/Theatre/Film Production

Yesterday was one of those fly dreams.
Where swift currents carry you exactly to where you need to be.
No need to swim upstream when you have the gift to SEE.

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Journeying through Frisco to the heart of the SOMA, 6th street, cutting through Saturday drivers, whose break heavy feet clog up the city streets. The parking gods were with us, we pulled up, blessed up, right in time to slide into the small theatre at Bindlestiff Studio. It was my first time going to this theatre that opened in 1989 and stands as one of the only, permanent performing arts venues that is rooted in showing Filipino American and Pilipino artists. The doors swung open welcoming us out of the cold windy streets into the warmhearted lobby.

We slid through the open doors, I walked up, received our tickets at the will call for “She Who Can See”. I spotted Alleluia Panis, the founder of Kularts and the choreographer of the piece standing up front, surveying who came in. She reminded me of a gatekeeper of sorts, making sure that those who entered the space would be safe in what I could already tell would be a magical undertaking. Every ceremony has an elder that creates a sacred space, keeping in that which is good and out what does not need to be there. This multimedia dance, film, and musical production was no different. Like all forms of healing art, this was just as much a prayer as it was a performance.

We descended the steps into the belly of Bindlestiff, and my eyes fell upon the audience, chirping and chattering in anticipation, packing the intimate studio space to the brim. No two seats left, said the big bodied bouncer who was guiding people to rest in their small wooden chairs. I said “Okay” and he kindly sensed my reluctance (which I thought I hid). He said, “We can ask this whole row to move over a seat for you? Do you want to ask?”

I smiled. Now, I’m all for asking for what you need, but often I’m not the one to be the first to throw a rock into a glassy still pond, to start all the ripples. I like to dip my toes in gently and smooth into the flow most of the time, like water.

He said “I’ll ask with you, let’s go”. As we ascend the steps to the top row, he says “Oh wait, it looks like there’s two seats, right there for you.”

“Perfect.” I said. In my heart I feel another blessing as I am guided to the apex of the theatre, centered in the aisle so nobody is between me and the dancers, and I’m levitated a few feet above the floor so I can survey the whole scene. I prepare to receive the transmission.

Before the lights dim, it feels like a family event, bay strong community present. Lights go down and Alleluia appears on the stage, introduces her visionary work, and again like a shaman herself playfully asks us to be aware of the surroundings, in the event that the spirits come into the building. We laugh, I pray, and so it goes.

I’ll be honest, before coming to the theatre, I thought that I was coming to see a FILM. Like, eat popcorn and zone into a 2d screen that would no doubt tell a compelling story, but still be on that 2 dimensional level. THIS. is the evolved version of a film, that tells the story of a young Pinay woman who can see beyond this world, and has a very intense and life shaking “homecoming” as she finally faces the spirits and energies that visit her.

Live dance performances, dope original music, and deeply moving theatrical storytelling with cinematic background, “She who can see” invites you to fully embody the experience of this young woman as she stands on the border between this world and the next. Her visions collide with her ability to exist in the day to day world, encroach into her intimate relationships, and ultimately change her mind-body and spiritual composition.

Four spirits danced in an out of her life, in a hauntingly graceful, yet playful and optimistic fashion, embodying the movements of water, earth, and fire. In the background, cinematic art is projected onto 4 screens, creating a fragmented effect that mirrors the hybridity of this woman’s awakening process.

I watched as this woman danced/swam upstream against the current of her spiritual inheritance, until she literally shook herself into chaotic exhaustion. As her grip on this dimension broke, I witnessed a healing take place. In one of my favorite scenes, spirits came into screen and stage, to perform an otherworldly intervention, (a)tuning up her vibration, and thus all of ours together.

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I was floored. No drought for me, rivers flowed down my face, straight up! This piece was so powerful and timely. To watch a young woman dance through indigenization, acceptance, healing and thus…empowerment, is a gift. I am in awe of Alleluia, the musicians, photographers, and dancers. All of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and thanking at the end of the production.

I live for this type of work. It gives me so much life to see these kinds of productions. And we know that it is much more than just art, it is ceremony, history, healing, consciousness, and awakening. What we all dearly need and crave in this lifetime. Everyone who left last night could see a bit more, and that impact is a revolutionary act.

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With my Friend and Performer: Sammay Dizon

For more on this Film & the talented artists involved like Alleluia Panis, Sammay Dizon, Florante Aguilar and Wilfred Galila check out the Ma’Artes festival artists page. Or better yet, enjoy the arts and pin@y culture in real life during the Month of May 2015, at the San Francisco festival. Check it out at: http://www.maartesfestival.com

Power up and power on brothas and sistas…

__Sam__

Eternal Queens

EQ in 2015: Homecoming

 Hello World! An update about Eternal Queens Crew in 2015! We’ve been working from the heart this year and are ready to serve up some new fresh flows to feed ya soul + and quench the thirst for the Eternal Queendom (you thirsty?? I know you are!).

Claire and I have been collaborating again with one of our favorite soul sistren Laila Espinoza on a new art show: Home Is Where the Art Is.

The theme of the show, HOME, invites us to collectively explore…What does home really mean? In our increasingly complex and multicultural global community, how do we maintain a sense of home-ness? Where is that? Who is there? What do we do with it? How/What do we create there? Is our home life art?

The show and these questions are matched with our Art Residence Manifesto:

In response to the increasingly growing gap between art and life as well as the the limited opportunities for under-represented artists in accessing spaces for art making and exhibiting, we establish the home as art space.

Because we don’t wait for opportunity, but instead create our own opportunities with whatever means and resources we have readily available to us,

Because we see everyday objects (natural and man-made) as meaningful art materials,

Because our homes are not just for living but for creating as well,

Because our home is the studio where creative ideas are born out of everyday life experiences,

Everyday activities and experiences shall not be separate from art.

With that in mind, Myself, Claire, Laila, and her son Nyanga, worked for 2 months together to build an installation within her home. Most importantly, we gathered. Spent time together. Cooked together, ate together and drank together, we danced, had family time, and allowed for unrestricted play and unraveled a free and unbridled unrestrictive creative process to ensue.

It sounds simple. And it a way it is. Presence with each other IS simple. In our increasingly digitized world, we become separate, alone, and as artists, sometimes our works can consume us. Our studios, depending on where they are can be isolating, and even cave like.

 

But at our artist residency in Laila’s home, that was opposite. We had no rules, everyone who came in to be a part of our gathering is an artist too. From her 6 year old son, who is a visionary painter already, to our partners, neighbors, and friends who would pop in for a moment. Hot pancakes and food would be shared and a paintbrush offered to their hand. When we create together, we heal together. It’s unavoidable. We become indestructible.

The PROCESS was ELEVATING, VISIONARY, ENERGIZING, and REVOLUTIONARY. We laughed until our sides ached, and slowly with each stroke created a friction that stands in opposition of the institutionalized narratives of “high art” “gallery art”. Our gallery is at home, where the family is, for the family, for our community to understand, feel, and reap the benefits from.

I remember Laila saying, “If my family can’t understand it, there is no point in making it for me”. Its an important question, who do you make your art for? Why?

At times I felt as if we were the many stars twinkling in galaxies. Shineing, burning up in intense heat, chaos and beauty all raveled into one. Deep connection, creative expansion, and collaboration with friends is art, it is home, those ideals don’t need to be separated and shouldn’t be.

Claire was our documentarian, historian, and captured our process on camera. She is putting together a short video to recap our stories. More to come soon J.

For me, the most important part of this was to breaking out of my habitual creative patterns and build with womxn who have their own unique styles. While Claire, Laila, and I all share passion for art that celebrates women, and we all include themes of spirituality and feminism in our work, we each bring a powerful piece of the puzzle to the whole.unnamed-1

So to work along side these two queens was a blessing, they are my teachers. Nyanga, Laila’s 6 year old is my teacher. His freedom and limitless expression is so perfect. This process was like a full circle, returning to the parts of creating that STARTED me to create in the first place—being with friends, having fun, and having no limitations. A childlike and playful mind is a valuable asset in this life that can be way too serious sometimes.

Having them mirror my work and finding commonalities, sharing stories, and influencing each other is a gift.

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IMPORTANT PROCESS POINT: to create with people you care about. To break out of boxes of ‘traditional art’, to challenge the idea of what/where art is/should be, and make your home a sacred space for connection and creating. In our hyper speed 24/7 culture where NOT stopping to connect in person is the norm, its crucial that we create and hold MORE spaces for each other to make art, build friendships, and come together.

I’d love to hear your ideas on what home is for you and how you create art in the home! Feel free to share in comments! Peace & Love my brothers and sisters!

HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS OPENS ON SATURDAY, APRIL 18th IN EAST OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA. MORE VIDEO AND PICTURES TO COME SOON!

-Samantha
Eternal Queens

EQ BACK IN ACTION!

Hello world. It’s been a while since Eternal Queens has been posting online. I have taken some well needed time to recuperate, regenerate, and revision major parts of my lifestyle. Sometimes to heal means to honor our natural cycles of action and rest. Taking refuge when one needs it is vital to health, and in a culture that does not value the act of ‘slowing down’ by any means, women especially must ferociously protect this right.

So, it has been done, and like all cyclical things it has passed, taught me much, and helped me to become a better artist and all around healthier person. Today I stand in gratitude for the lessons that arise from silence, stillness, and deep meditations.

I hope you too are finding peace and gratitude daily. I share with you an original EQ comissioned piece that honors this essence and beauty. Enjoy, and stay tuned in with us for more EQ in 2014.

A queen in a peaceful state of mind, surrounded by the beauty of nature.

A queen in a peaceful state of mind, surrounded by the beauty of nature.

 

Stay blessed!!! With love,

Samantha
EQ

Dr. Wu’s Healing Art: Traditional Chinese Healing Through Art

“My vision for the artwork grew when a patient who was ill with cancer asked me to paint a picture for him. Suddenly I realized that I had found a way to heal many more people than the number I could see in my office every day.” -Dr. Wu

I’m a student always. I never stop learning. Lately I have been studying herbal medicine from Traditional Chinese Philosophy. The art of healing through herbs is poetic. Each plant medicine, has a name and a poem that goes along with the type of impact the plant may have on the body. I love earth based medicine. It’s where we all come from and what moves me forward in life. Dr. Wu is a story that I really loved and reminds me of the power that comes from my own lineage. In particular, the story reminds me of  my own Mom, who immigrated to San Francisco in the 70’s from the Philippines, to come live her best life and became a highly successful CPA and leader in her field.

Maybe you’ll like the story too, or want to find more out about herbs, TCM and how to heal using non-pharmaceutical methods (when appropriate, people!!!!). Note: I’m not advocating NOT seeing a doctor if you need one, just saying there are many ways to find wellness, and you can explore what resonates best with your body composition, world view and beliefs. Do it for a reason, a purpose. My purpose of being the MOST WELL that I CAN BE, is all about stopping the intergenerational transmission of dis-ease and trauma from my ancestral lineage to the next.

Give thanks for sight and purpose. 1 love family, peace and light to you.

-Sam
Eternal Queens

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Dr. Wu came to the United States as an immigrant of a laundry man’s son, who then went off to graduate from Harvard and become a highly successful venture capitalist on wall street. He took a turn towards his roots and journeyed to study and eventually practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

The holistic system of TCM led him to begin to interpret and express the intricacies and poetry of this philosophy of health through visual arts. His work promotes balance, healing, and relaxation by connecting with deeply embedded aspects of our being. His art speaks to the soul, encourages our systems to heal themselves, and teaches about culture and history all at the same time.

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Hear his story and see more of his art here: http://www.wushealingart.com/