Sunday, December 20, 2015

Amherst Storybook Project, in Review

Each season, Artistic Director Merli V. Guerra leads Luminarium's annual Cultural Community Outreach Project, which uses dance and art to highlight a local historical or cultural landmark.

For its 2015 Season, Luminarium worked in collaboration with The Eric Carle Museum of Picturebook Art in Amherst, MA, to create a picturebook celebrating the town's current residents while paying homage to Amherst's deep roots in literature and children's books. Luminarium invited the greater Amherst community of all ages to contribute and to join them for the culminating presentation that winter.

The Amherst Storybook Project grew through five phases:

Phase 1: Gathering Artwork
Ages 0 through end of high school were invited to submit their artwork to be included in the project. Selected images were highlighted on Luminarium's facebook page, and at the end of the gathering period, 12 images were selected to continue on. (All were welcome to submit artwork, though preference was given to ages 0-17 for this section.)

Phase 2: Reimagining of the Artwork
Luminarium next took these 12 images, projected them from above onto the company dancers, and created a series of photographic stills in which the dancers and art merge to create fanciful and acrobatic landscapes.

Phase 3: Writing Submissions
All were invited to participate in this phase of the project. Writers chose images created in Phase 2 that inspired them, then submitted creative poems and short stories in response. Selected stories will be highlighted on Luminarium's facebook page, and at the end of the gathering process, one writing piece per image will be selected for the final book. 

Phase 4: Book Creation
Luminarium compiled a picturebook featuring the reimagined images of the company (crediting the original artists whose work contributed to the photographs' creation), alongside their corresponding short stories (crediting the writers). This book is now available for public purchase online, with all profits going towards Luminarium's future outreach programming. It can be previewed here.

Phase 5: Culminating Presentation
Sunday, November 8 at 12:30 and 1:30pm
Luminarium returned to The Eric Carle Museum with a culminating afternoon of short performances. Audiences (of more than 150 viewers of all ages) watched as the dancers performed in front of images submitted in Phase 1 of the project, flipped through the final printed book, then joined the company for a brief Q&A about the creative process. Each showing was 30 minutes in length, and guests stayed to chat with the company, sign each other's books, and take photos with the cast. *This performance was free, and only required paying for admission to the museum.

The final 12 images and performance photos:

Click on the image below to view our photo gallery of images from the final book, and the culminating performance!

"We really enjoyed the performance at the Eric Carle and it was so much fun to meet the 7-year-old who painted the heart and all of you. The whole thing had such a great feeling to it. Your work is so creative and inspiring.
Thanks again." 
Amy Gordon, professional writer, Amherst Storybook Project participant, and audience member at the culminating performance.

Supported in part by a grant from the Amherst Cultural Council,
a local agency which is supported by the
Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Friday, September 4, 2015

24-Hour ChoreoFest Hourly Blog!

Hello world!

As always, we are excited to bring you an hourly account of the makings and quakings here at ChoreoFest. Check back each hour to see the latest entry:

10pm: This is Aisha checking in from Paranarium House! (We are not scary, despite what the name might suggest).  We have already had an amazing warmup run by Tyler,  where we improved playing awesome games, being rockstars, figuring out who had the longest hair, and being fiercely competitive. I have already improved with someone I've never worked with before, the lovely Dream of Luminarium. I am tired, in the best way. Energy is high, spirits are up, and I can't wait to see what we build!

11pm: This is Heather and Whitney from Freedom Dances checking in from studio 2. So far we have deconstructed our prompt and created individual phrases using a generative construct wherein we dissected words into letters and translated them to movement associated with our prompt. Sounds complicated, but it has actually helped us to make a great deal of movement in a short timeframe. All that and we are only a little over an hour in! Right now we are working on putting all that phrasing together working in a trio and a duo. Excited to see where we end up. Bodies so far are holding up well, although we have started to discuss the availability of Advil for future use. Wish us luck :-)

Midnight: I am Swati from OnStage Dance Company and here we are trying to decide a deadline by when we want to be done. We aint sleepy though. We did decide to be done by 4 a.m. Perhaps, I am imagining this. I think I made that deadline for me so I can get 2 hours of sleep. Perhaps. Right now we are talking about baking. I think that's going to make us keep moving :)

3am: This is Gabby from Luminarium Dance, now better known as part of the collaborating team of Paranarium House.  We just finished our piece so WOO!!  It was such an awesome process to witness and be a part of, with so many different artistic voices and multiple facilitators.  It was just as mentally exhausting as it was physically.  We constantly had to use creative problem solving and critical thinking to answer our own questions.  As much as I'd love to tell you more, it's time for this sleepy Lumi to go to bed.  We did it!!

10am: This is karen, choreographic guru and Monkeyhouse Artistic Director. Directly across from me Nicole Harris and Kwaq7aj' are snoozing. Most companies seem calm as they gear up for the dress rehearsal at 11 am. Having not seen many of the pieces since the middle of the night I am eager to see  how each group resolved their choreographic dilemmas. I am so thankful that the building has been cool as I think that has kept tempers in check and allowed people to sleep more than in past years. By the way, JP Licks deserves a round of applause for keeping everyone caffeinated throughout the night!

11am: My name is Matt and I'm dancing with Paradise Lost! I am currently waiting to start our dress rehearsal and see all the lovely work that everyone created overnight. My legs are a little sore, my eyes a little heavy, and my belly is full of egg sandwich. We had an awesome breakthrough last night that allowed us to get a whopping 4.5 hours of sleep, and we woke up ready to go. I'm very excited to show the Paradise/Monkeyhouse/Lumies collab, and to have an audience so so soon to share our work with!

3pm: Wow, we are so close to being done! The first performance just went off without a hitch, and the audience was overwhelmingly impressed by the creativity and caliber of the work presented. As ChoreoFest's videographer and tech help since 7pm last night, it's been an incredible experience as the "fly on the wall" hovering from studio to studio, watching the creation unfold. At noon, these poor participants looked exhausted, and yet watching them perform, you'd never know they've been up for so long, working so hard. Congratulations to everyone involved, and now I'm off to be Box Office for the final show of the day! –Merli V. Guerra, Luminarium Artistic Director/ChoreoFest videographer and tech genie.