2016- Highlights from Abra Allan, Director
If there was a theme for 2016 at Motion Pacific, it would certainly be community engagement. This is true on so many levels, whether it be my work to engage the staff with a deeper understanding of and sharing in organizational triumphs and obstacles or the introduction of Breakfast and Boogie and a new group of community members that came with it or our summer residency which created a laboratory for creation and self exploration for a lucky few. 2016 is indeed the year that reached out, deepened our connections and heightened the numbers of those that feel part of this Motion Pacific community.
So much happens every year here at Motion Pacific that there is absolutely no way that I could cover all of it, that said I wanted to share with you a few of my personal highlights.
It has been a particularly interesting couple years as we reflect on our Youth/ Teen programming in light of the opening of multiple new dance studios in Santa Cruz striving to build similar programs. On one hand I feel a sense of accomplishment in the work that has been done to build this dance community, to build this arts community and these opening are a reflection of that growth. And with that growth comes an initial fear of competition, a fear that there will not be enough for all of us to thrive.
This year I watched seven students in our youth company
, ages 13-17, each create their own choreography. Going in, I was excited but did not hold super high expectations of these dancers going into their first creative works. In June, at their student show, they absolutely blew my mind. As they moved in the space I saw glimpses of all the teachers here at Motion Pacific that they work with but more than that I saw authentic creativity that came from them, and them alone. They felt safe to share, enthusiastic to share, which, let me tell you, as a parent of one of those 14-year old dancers, is not easy to come by.
In the Spring of 2016, this group endured significant set backs as they worked to support not one but two company members struggling with illness and injury. They supported their fellow dancers and simultaneously reset their pieces as dancers came and went . These dancers are a daily reminder of why we work so hard to bring programs that are focused not only on developing dancers but nurturing individual growth and self discovery. I will leave 2016 with a renewed sense of pride for this program and what we offer this community that is indeed different than anywhere else here in Santa Cruz and beyond. And that there will be enough for all to thrive. Every studio is different and there is indeed a studio for everyone.
Below is a photo of Mariah and Aya, two youth co dancers, from their June show:
This year I have received many emails from parents sharing gratitude for Motion Pacific and our work with their children but I think the one that stood out the most was a text I received from a grandmother saying that from the backseat of their car her 9 year-old granddaughter spontaneously said, “I love Motion Pacific. I always feel like I can be myself there”.
In the Spring Motion Pacific was awarded “Best Space for Movement Exploration”
in the Goodtimes for our work with max10. They created this category specifically for us. I included a screenshot below.
Definitely one of my favorite moments this year.
On April 21st we kicked off our 9th Dance Week on the streets of Downtown Santa Cruz. That same day, Prince died in his Minneapolis home. This felt very significant to many people and especially significant to a community of dancers that had been dancing and creating to his work for decades. That night on Pacific Avenue we had our first Dance Week Community Dance Party. We danced, cried and celebrated the life of this man that had inspired so many of us.
This year in August we hosted our first Summer Residents, Christine Suarez and Lori Teague. Christine and Lori were in Santa Cruz for three weeks. During this time, I struggled, concerned that based on low attendance at their ongoing workshops that maybe we had made a mistake offering this residency in our efforts to reach more people. The second week they were there I attended a workshop. Six of us moved and talked, moved and talked for three hours. There was an intimacy that this small group allowed for. The depth of sharing was so beautiful. The six of us would be forever changed on some level by that experience. After Christine and Lori left I reached out to both of them, for more information about their thoughts on the time in Santa Cruz both shared with me that never in their creative life had they been given an opportunity to have a daily practice for three weeks straight. Their gratitude was immense.
Last month, I had the honor of witnessing artist, Katie Griffin’s, vision come to life. For five years, Katie had been exploring work that she hoped would give her an opportunity to show her first evening length show. In June she was invited to be our 2016 Incubator artist.
Katie and I worked very closely for months. Her vision was clear. Katie ate, breathed and slept, this show (sometimes even sleeping in the upstairs studio, so she did not have to drive back to Hayward and could begin working again bright and early the next morning). Her vision was clear. From the music, to costuming, programs to lighting. Myself, Chip and Lyndia* (lighting intern) gave ourselves to her vision and in turn a sort of magic happened. The space was transformed, Katie was transformed and we were lucky enough to be witness to it. Photos linked here.
*Lighting intern, Lyndia, is new to us this year. She is a dancer, a creator (and the manager of Verve Coffee Downtown). It has always been hard to imagine a Chip counterpart (besides myself, of course) but Lyndia is it. Smart, funny and with a light-hardheartedness and creativity that has lent itself beautifully to these last two months of shows, we are grateful.
Only weeks ago, we presented our Stockings holiday cabaret fundraiser.
This production is elaborate with so many moving parts and a cast and crew that are never actually is in the same space together until opening night. By some sort of magic, this beautiful annual spectacle comes together leaving our sold out audiences begging for more (truly). This year was incredibly difficult on the tech end with multiple snafus with sound. I was so incredibly caught up and (honestly stressed out) that enjoying the show was secondary but each night I stopped and watched, Molly Katzman, teacher, performer, choreographer, in a hilarious comical burlesque piece and reflected on her development as a person and performer during my time knowing her (seven years). Brilliant. Truly. And each night I was able to spend five glorious minutes laughing my ass off thanks to Molly, who has become one of my favorite performers.
Here is a link to a gallery of photos from the event.
taken by Adriane White.