Each and every day, I lose myself in the immediacy of the moment, find myself in the joy of the movement. Each and every day, I learn more and more...and, within that new knowledge, realize that I have so much farther to travel.

Shallom Johnson is a contemporary dance artist, visual artist and freelance writer based in Vancouver BC. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Contemporary Dance from Simon Fraser University, and has been active in the Vancouver dance community as a choreographer, performer, and instructor since her graduation in 2004.

Shallom is interested in art in public spaces, site-specific performance, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community involvement. Her street-based artwork, performance and photography examines and documents who gets to make art, where it gets made, and where/how the creative process and product is viewed. In the future, she hopes to explore this theme further via new media and technologies, new methods of creation, collaboration and community engagement.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Very Long Week!

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Wow, I'm sorry I haven't updated in so long! This week has been intense...I just finished four shows in the past two days, and have had rehearsal until 11pm almost every night before that. So please darlings, do excuse me if my writing has been a little...sparse. I have much to share but really I don't know where to start! So I will start with tonight's show, which is fresh in my mind.

Contradiction Dance had an amazing performance of Objects of Hope: The America Project. It was a part of a benefit concert for a belly-dancer named Adriana, who needs to get knee replacement surgery but came up $5000 short in funds. Two of the dancers in the community organized a benefit concert and raised the money she needed, and sold out all 230 seats!

The program was very mixed, we were one of a few contemporary dance pieces, mixed in with a lot of belly-dancing and ethnic dance groups. The stage was teeny tiny but we gave it our all and did our best in such cramped quarters. I think that the changes we've made this time through really strengthened the message of the work, and the audience was engaged and present and really "getting it" all the way through.

At one point in the last section of the piece the other dancers pour five buckets of topsoil over my head and then wrap me in the American flag...this was the first time we had actually done a run of the piece using soil, and it got in my eyes and ears and mouth and for a while it was hard to see but I just kept going...finished strong and the audience loved it. We made people cry...and got a standing ovation at the end, which was lovely. With a politically motivated piece like this, I always tend to prepare myself for the worst (ie: a really conservative audience getting angry or offended) and hope for the best. In this case, we definitely got the best. Lots of positive feedback afterwards, which is always so great to hear.

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I should have a video of the performance at some point, but probably not for a while. If you want to see the first draft version of this piece, click through to Kelly's blog (performed at the DC Improv Festival a while back). This version featured Meghan Bowden, getting drenched with buckets of water (the soil was a substitute, because cleanup was supposedly easier than mopping up water...). I actually think that in this space, the soil was probably more visually effective than using water. But it was hard to tell from the inside of the piece. The next version will have us falling and rolling in red white and blue paint on stage, and then the paint being washed away by splashing buckets of water.

Messy work, but fun...I am excited to finally show the work on a real stage, in a theatre, with lighting and sound technicians and lots of space and the full prop requirements. We will be doing a residency at St Mary's College in December, performing on their stage every night and possibly teaching classes during the day.

I feel like I am all over the place lately, in a good way...our show on Friday was Broadway Jazz at the Ritz Carlton (oh, such funny backstage pictures!) and the two shows this morning were site-specific performances at the Takoma Park Community Center with the Dance Exchange. Next week I will be assisting Peter Dimuro in remounting Gumdrops and Funny Uncles, a Dance Exchange project celebrating families of all kinds. More on all of this to come soon. Believe it or not I am actually getting some of my evenings off this week, so I will have more time to write!

Sometimes I am amazed at the ability of my brain and body to multitask as much as I need them to...

Photos from the DC Improv Festival version of Objects of Hope: The America Project, courtesy of Anthony Hytt.

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