Esperanza Arts Center Streaming Event
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers at Teatro Esperanza
Faith Project/The Door
SAVE THE DATE
Limited-Time, On-Demand Stream
Saturday, May 16 – Sunday, May 17
Relive Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ performance of Faith Project/The Door at Teatro Esperanza. Described as “an ever-expansive and inspired choreographic journey”, Faith Project/The Door spotlights connections between faith traditions from around the world in dance and movement.
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Interview with Artistic Director, Kun-Yang Lin
Through the Faith Project, Kun-Yang Lin choreographed a new, abstract dance work for Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers that contemplates the relationship between religious practice and contemporary dance. An important part of the project consisted of “story circle” encounters with community participants from various faith perspectives, dance artists and other artistic collaborators that integrate fruitful dialogue with simple movement practices.
Engaging with practitioners of various religions in story circle encounters, Lin and his company of dancers consider the role movement plays in religious rituals and actions, and how the artistic process can provide both artists and audience members with a space for exploring religious differences and spiritual commonalities. The company worked with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia to recruit community participants, who engaged in verbal and physical call-and-response activities with the dancers and the project’s multimedia and sound design collaborators.
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers collaborated with Kimerer LaMothe—a scholar working at the intersection of dance and religion who has written extensively on how the body can be a vehicle for spiritual practice—to structure the story circle conversations. The company explored new possibilities in visual design with multimedia designer Jared Mezzocchi, and composer/sound designer Cory Neale who created a sound score for the final work.
“my challenge with approaching religion is my challenge with dance – there are many layers of the people involved – their backgrounds, their race, their religion, their sexuality… we use CHI Awareness Practice to tap into the spaces in between (all of these layers and) connect with ourselves, each other, and something bigger than us. This requires that we surrender, trust, and make ourselves vulnerable to what is unknown.” Kun-Yang Lin.
Three questions were posed in the first circle, the questions were:
What do you fear?
What do you love?
What gives you the most strength/joy?
Faith Project explores religious differences and spiritual commonalities through dance and music by spotlighting a variety of faith traditions from around the world. What were some keys insights you and the dancers gained as a result of your work on this production?
First, working with scholar Kimerer Lamothe, we posed to the dance artists and story circle participants: What do you love the most? What do you fear the most? What is the source of your greatest strength? She encouraged the participants to determine one answer that applied to all three questions. For example, for one dance artist, her answer was “freedom.” That drove the work and allowed me and the dancers to gain a broader perspective into religion and spirituality. This process also allowed me to see that being too close to a work often results in a lack of objective perspective which may result in one not being able to realize the work completely to its greatest potential. Most importantly, through the process of researching, listening, dancing in story circles, developing, and creating, both myself and the dancers learned a lot about who we are as artists.
Have the new discoveries you’ve made in the creation and presentation of this piece affected your work as an artist and you personally?
This project has led me to a number of important insights and discoveries: trust the body and its unique energy (CHI), a better understanding and empathy of each individual dancer’s faith background, allowing myself and the ensemble to be vulnerable and more open to the creative process, allowing differences to find their own place in discussions, and creating work in movement with the body as a ‘temple’ using dance as prayer.
An important prelude to the creation of Faith Project/THE DOOR and to each performance are the convening of story circles that integrate movement into a dialogue between participants of diverse backgrounds. Could you describe how the content and outcomes of these story circles have affected your performances since the premiere and will influence the upcoming production at Teatro Esperanza?
One story circle participant reflected, “I think my participation enhanced my appreciation further for the role that dance holds as an universal language that evokes the spiritual and religious gesture, the body language of prayer and soul movement of a community.”
Another story circle participant shared after the premiere of Faith Project, “my perspective on the collaboration of religion and dance changed. I had never experienced religious interpretation through the contemporary dance art form. My participation in this project has given me the ability to appreciate the process for creating new work even more. As an audience member you are able to appreciate the finished product, but as a participant, I felt even more involved and invested in the presented work.”
It was a true act of love and passion and compassion that occurred during our rehearsals and the premiere of this piece. There was only a slim chance of achieving what we achieved during the performance, and it was because everyone involved in this project and production all stepped in line with each other with an almost absolute personal commitment to one another and the work itself.
I believe the audience, community members, and students of Esperanza will be able to witness and experience this same collective energy through this upcoming production at Teatro Esperanza. The performance may change your understanding of the role/possibilities/relevance/ability of contemporary dance in fostering dialogue among people of different spiritual orientations and faiths.
Most importantly, in order to spotlight the power of dance, KYL/D will present a new version of Faith Project/ The Door at Esperanza – one without sets, and without multimedia – that will allow us to connect with one another more directly through the true joy of spirit of dance.May 16 @ 9:00 am - 11:59 pm