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Harvest Celebration at the Westward Ho, October 30th, co-sponsored by ASU School of Dance, Dr. Pegge Vissicaro
The WWHo is a HUD assisted-property meeting the needs of 300 retired and physically/emotionally disabled residents under the direction of Linda Spencer, live-in manager.
The site is a historic structure in central Phoenix that was at one time the entertainment location for big name bands and Hollywood starlets.
The evening’s program was an integrated, outdoor experience that incorporated all the arts - building upon an existing relationship with the staff of Cultural Arts Coalition - http://artsCARE.org/cac.intro.shtml
A Long range goal of the CAC’s is to create a networking system of non-profits in the local area including the ASU educational system to support and promote the identified needs of this community, determined by staff and those living within this space.
The residents joined in providing the set up/put away power for the evening’s festival. All had been notified in advance and were invited including their pets. Everyone received glow sticks to wear setting the stage for fun!!!!
Alyssa, ASU Dance student, and judy butzine, CAC co-founder/codirector, welcomed the guests. Capturing community is about animating people through participatory arts programming that places them at the center of their own experiences-and documenting that experience in such a way that their voices and images are revealed, honored and celebrated over time. Melanie Ohm and judy butzine
Robert is a resident at the facility and performed classical Spanish guitar music for the audience. Rob has already volunteered to entertain during the winter holiday program. Others at WWHo will hopefully be identified as well for the December program.
Nutritious foods and water were served on a minimal budget through donations to provide an additional sense of communal gathering in a safe place, BUILDING COMMUNITY.
We could not provide these kinds of programs without the support of staff who give extra hours in their day to be available. Thank you Sharon Phillips...
Pegge’s husband Vito is from Brazil. The 2 of them have recorded drumming music for an international audience. Both of their contributions to the evening provided the ambience desired to bring us music creating rhythms for dance; connecting us to our heartbeats and the heart beat of the earth.
From Pegge Vissicaro: "The evening was a major step toward engaging "community" at the Westward Ho by offering the space for people to explore their potential for self-expression through the telling of stories for the Tree of Knowledge project; participating in the collaborative drawing; and moving to the drum rhythms as well as listening to and watching others. A reaffirmation about the true essence of community came as I reflected on the reciprocity that was demonstrated by the residents as they gave back energy to those of us facilitating the Harvest Celebration event. This aspect of community acknowledges the essential will of people to work toward the common good of humanity. It's a two-way street that is completely unconditional."
Dance is inherently a socially-based practice. It is rooted in community celebration and family rituals around the world. Yet professionally contemporary practice seems to have become so culturally marginal. How has this happened, and why does the field still seek to define professional practice as separate from community activity? Why do people seem to value individual physical virtuosity more than the power of dance to convey ideas and meaning? Simon Dove, Director of ASU School of Dance, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Everyone enjoyed the visual arts/performance events of the evening including Dr. Melanie Ohm, CAC co-director, and her husband Jeff.
Pegge’s mother Jeanne, an artist, assisted with the harvest mural and in the process listened to many stories, opening her heart to the residents and their dreams. (Please note at the end of this review her thoughtful comments.)
One young lady brought down her poetry to share with Jeanne.
The interlude following the first set of drumming and dancing began with a Conga Line that wove around the fountain and onto the grass. By now many more participants were moving freely to the pulsing beat of the music.
Even those in wheel chairs joined the circle to set the pace for others.
Bountiful thank you’s to the ASU Dance students for their commitment to show up and/or participate in many other ways to make this night a wonderful memory for all.
As Sharon Phillips so lovingly stated, "You all could have been any where else tonight but here. Thank you so much for thinking of us and caring enough to bring this event to us". We thank you Sharon for the gratitude we received from all the residents..."It was a Gift Freely Given and a Gift Richly Received"!!!!
WE have in the United States more than 300 million individuals in motion through space and time. Continued migration within our borders and across borders diversifies thought and interaction, reinforcing the connective tissue that unifies Americans. Dance creatively engages people to meet ‘differences’ as a strategy to adapt to these changing contexts, forming sustainable community connections. Dr. Pegge Vissicaro, ASU School of Dance and TerraDance founder/director.
Artwork is by Dennis Numkena, Hopi—Wooden mask is African, Gelede. (Gelede is a cult in Benin and Western Nigeria. The masquerades are in honor of mother--whose power, Ashe, is especially manifest in elderly women, female ancestors, and the female Orisha.)
The artwork on the right is a close up of the "Tree of Knowledge" wall hanging created by the ASU Dance students who recorded WWHo residents’ stories at the celebration concerning their life memories with dance and music.
From Jeanne: "One of the ladies that visited my table could not see well, mostly just the outlines of pictures. The project she was attracted to was a collaborative landscape mural with a pumpkin patch. There was one image of a pumpkin that had an oil pastel outline, which she followed around with her fingers. She asked for a pencil but then took a brown magic marker and traced a line around, perfectly matching the existing pastel line. I asked if she wanted to draw something else so she drew eyelashes and a face on pumpkin.
Another lady said to me that she couldn't draw anything from her mind because she needed to see a picture of it. On the mural there was an image of a cardinal on a branch that I suggested she duplicate, which she agreed to enthusiastically. I gave her some colored pencils and she took a long time carefully drawing another bird on the same branch with which she found great satisfaction. As time went on she opened up and began talking about her love for poetry. She went up to her room and brought down a pad of drawings and another tablet of her poetry that she showed me. As the night went on she read poems to me and later shared stories about her interest in music."
The 3 quotes in blue text included within this photo narrative, documentation are transcribed from the Foundation for Community Dance Magazine, Animated, United Kingdom, Autumn 2010
Documentation by judy butzine