All good things come to an end....Reshooting and a Conversation with the Fellows..... (Sept. 10-15)

Take 2, reshooting at "Face the Jury" 

 Dancer Charlotte Johnson, New Renaissance Artist, Elizabeth Baker, Photographer, Charlotte Suarez, and Film Maker Nick Gallina

Dancer Charlotte Johnson, New Renaissance Artist, Elizabeth Baker, Photographer, Charlotte Suarez, and Film Maker Nick Gallina

The first time we filmed at this location we did a night shoot and after reviewing the footage we realized that none of the creative team was happy with what we had done. There were many things working against us on the initial shoot, some technical and some personal. The night of this particular shoot I had just been told that I would have to deliver my son a few weeks early due to some sudden medical complications. Needless to say I was a little distracted and disconnected from the filming. After taking a step back and a few weeks off we decided to reshoot tho scene in the morning instead of at night. I developed more material for Charlotte and myself and I invited photographer Charlotte Saurez to capture the morning with her still camera. I'm confident that the material from this second attempt is richer and usable in the film. 

 It was a family affair on set, Charlotte Saurez's son Santi plays with my son Paxton, while my mother and aunt watch my newborn son Isaac. 

It was a family affair on set, Charlotte Saurez's son Santi plays with my son Paxton, while my mother and aunt watch my newborn son Isaac. 

A Conversation with the Fellows

On Monday Sept. 12, I participated in a moderated discussion with the other Rapid Returns Artist Fellows. It was an honor to be among these inspiring and eloquent artists. The ten fellows represented 5 artistic disciplines, visual art, theatre, music, choreography and literature. Hearing each fellow speak I found myself recognizing similar themes and challenges woven through out our careers, and still we all found unique and personal ways to thrive as artists. Creating art is a process, sometimes personal, sometimes communal but always rewarding. Even the perceived failures or bad ideas can reap rewards. I find that the biggest reward is found in the process, the journey of creation. 

Thank you Creative Pinellas and The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners for supporting my journey with this Rapid Returns Grant. You have supported not only the creation of art made by a single artist  but the creation of a more tightly connected community, and helped plant the seeds for future collaborations. 

The End

Filming winds down......Editing picks up....SPFestival 2016 in full swing (Aug. 26-Sept. 9)

 New Renaissance Artist, Elizabeth Baker, continues to develop the score and mix in Actress Becca McCoy's vocals.                                       photo: Elizabeth Baker

New Renaissance Artist, Elizabeth Baker, continues to develop the score and mix in Actress Becca McCoy's vocals.                                     

photo: Elizabeth Baker

Time to work on the film score.....

This past week I had the pleasure of being in the recording studio with Elizabeth and actress Becca McCoy as they laid down some vocal tracks to be included in the film score. Reading the text/poem written by Maureen McDole, Becca adds the vocal layer the score calls for. To hear Becca recite Maureen's rich text is deeply moving and it is an honor to have her as part of this project. 

SPFestival 2016

The SPFestival 2016 kicked off this week and I was thrilled to attend the opening party with Elizabeth Baker. My site specific work, look/see {the view from here},  premieres on Sept. 17 as part of Our Town: A moving Dance Tour. Elizabeth composed the score for this new work which will take place at Face The Jury, a public art installation in downtown St. Pete. I want to offer the audience a chance to experience dance from different perspectives, to that end there will be various spots to view the dance and the score will be available to download on a viewer's smart phone during the performance or the work may be viewed in silence with the sounds of the city as accompaniment. Dancer Charlotte Johnson will have wireless bluetooth ear piece so that she can hear the music. 

 

.........and then there were four (Aug. 7- 25)

 My family, Jon, Isaac, Paxton and I                                     Photo by: Charlotte Suarez

My family, Jon, Isaac, Paxton and I                                     Photo by: Charlotte Suarez

On July 29, 2016 we welcomed our newest family member, Isaac. He was unexpectedly early and there was a whirlwind of activity to prepare for him. Making a film while pregnant and exploring my feelings around motherhood and creativity has been surreal, eye opening, exciting, invigorating, frustrating, exhausting and yet all the while rewarding and inspiring. When I realized my son was going to arrive early, I went into mommy-nesting-preparing mode. There are no certainties in life and babies and due dates are no exception. Just about everyday during the filming someone would joke about me going into labor, or ask me if I was prepared. I don't think you are ever fully prepared to meet your child and become a parent. You can pray for guidance and grace. I have found that most of the time I am improvising my way through parenting. The only constant is my love for my sons. 

After taking some time to focus on my family, I returned to the film. Nick. Elizabeth and I have begun sorting through all our footage and working on order, transitions and picking our favorite takes, shots and scenes. Although I feel a sense of urgency to finish the film, I want to take my time and be sure that we are all crafting the best film we can and that it expresses the nuances and emotions that I was trying to capture. 

In Other News.......

In addition to creating my film, I have a few other projects I have been working on. The first is developing and launching the website for The St. Petersburg Dance Alliance. The SPDA was founded last year and our mission is to raise awareness and support for dance in St. Pete. I am so excited to share the with the help and guidance of fellow dancer, Sharon McCamman the SPDA now has a website!! Check us out at www.spdancealliance.com

I also have been working on a solo for dancer Charlotte Johnson. This site specific work will be performed on Sept. 17 as part or Our Town: A Moving Dance Tour of St. Pete. This event is part of SPF16 and produced by the St. Pete Dance Alliance, Dance Linkages, and the St. Pete Arts Alliance. 

 

 dancer: Charlotte Johnson                                                     photo by: Tom Kramer

dancer: Charlotte Johnson                                                     photo by: Tom Kramer

 dancer: Charlotte Johnson                                                           photo: Tom Kramer

dancer: Charlotte Johnson                                                           photo: Tom Kramer

 Elizabeth Baker, Composer/Renaissance Artist, Charlotte Johnson, Dancer and myself   photo: Tom Kramer   

Elizabeth Baker, Composer/Renaissance Artist, Charlotte Johnson, Dancer and myself 

photo: Tom Kramer

 

The arts scene in St. Pete is exciting, vibrant and growing. I am honored and inspired to be a part of it and to see what a valued commodity art is in my community. Creative Loafing released their Fall Arts preview and it is a joy to see so many of my friends and fellow artists' events listed. I am happy to say that two projects I am involved in are mentioned, ur Town: A Moving Dance Tour of St. Pete, and BEACON a performance series I co-produce with Lauren Slone. 

http://www.cltampa.com/arts-entertainment/article/20831446/fall-arts-preview-2016-et-cetera

A Different Point of View (July 29-Aug. 7)

One of the great things about making this film is connecting with other mother-artists and their children. I am humbled and grateful that so many women and their children have volunteered their time and artistry to be a part of this project. This week I want to take the opportunity to share some photographs captured by photographer Charlotte Nacole Tzimenatos Suarez. Charlotte attended The Motherhood Project Workshop and she and her two sons participated in the filming. Enjoy!

 Getting directions. 

Getting directions. 

 All smiles! 

All smiles! 

 Getting ready to knock the wall down!

Getting ready to knock the wall down!

 The group gathers at the Gizella Kopsick Arboretum 

The group gathers at the Gizella Kopsick Arboretum 

 Making sure we have the best shot. 

Making sure we have the best shot. 

 Nothing beats a mother's hug. 

Nothing beats a mother's hug. 

 Nick and Paxton 

Nick and Paxton 

 Boys will be boys.

Boys will be boys.

 Are we done yet? 

Are we done yet? 

Filming Continues........(July 19-28)

Sunday July 24, 2016

Day 2 of Filming- Gizella Kopsick Arboretum

An early morning for the cast and crew as we tried to capture a few group shots of mother-artists and their children and beat the heat! 

 Setting up the drone to get an aerial shot.                            Photo: Elizabeth Brinklow

Setting up the drone to get an aerial shot.                            Photo: Elizabeth Brinklow

 Nick and Elizabeth review the footage while I have a few moments to talk and connect with the cast.   Photo: Elizabeth Brinklow

Nick and Elizabeth review the footage while I have a few moments to talk and connect with the cast. 

Photo: Elizabeth Brinklow

Monday July 25, 2016

Day 3 of Filming

North Shore Beach and Gizella Kopsick Arboretum

 Elizabeth Baker and Jordan Peel smooth out the sand to create the set. 

Elizabeth Baker and Jordan Peel smooth out the sand to create the set. 

Even though it was early and we started setting up before sunrise, the beauty of the beach, the breeze and the sun was inspiring. 

Tuesday July 26, 2016

Day 4 of Filming

"Face the Jury" Public Art

 The set as seen from the production table. 

The set as seen from the production table. 

 Dancer Charlotte Johnson and I. 

Dancer Charlotte Johnson and I. 

 The production crew and volunteers! We couldn't have pulled off this shoot without some fantastic last minute volunteers. Thank you, Zach Twitty, Alyssa Rivera, Mauricio Gonzalez, and Jordan Peel!

The production crew and volunteers! We couldn't have pulled off this shoot without some fantastic last minute volunteers. Thank you, Zach Twitty, Alyssa Rivera, Mauricio Gonzalez, and Jordan Peel!

 It is exhilarating to see ideas and images come to life on film. The possibilities seem endless and each day had it own unique set of challenges and triumphs. The next step is to see what we have captured and begin to put it all together. It has been an intense week, and we are all ready for a much needed break! 

............ACTION! (July 11-July 18)

Monday July 11- Thursday July 14,  Making lists and checking them twice!

The week started with organizing logistics and materials needed for filming scene 1 at the Gulf Coast Museum.  The set build and design included white vinyl flooring, 180 cardboard bricks (which had to be assembled!), and a dozen rolls of white duct tape, not to mention the numerous magic erasers to keep the white floor white! There were also costumes to be steamed and pressed, filming gear to be organized and food to be arranged. 

Friday July 15- Loading In and Setting Up

Nick, Elizabeth and I loaded up all the gear, set items and costumes and headed to the Gulf Coast Museum to set up and prepare the space for Monday's filming. I can't thank Kimberely Circello,  and Kevin Rzeszut enough for all their help arranging for me to be able to film in the Gulf Coast Museum. The museum sadly sits empty right now, however it was the perfect space for me to film and I have a heart filled with gratitude for all the work that went into making it accessible to me. 

 Laying the white floor. We used one layer of painter's tape to protect the museum floor and walls and then covered it with white duct tape. 

Laying the white floor. We used one layer of painter's tape to protect the museum floor and walls and then covered it with white duct tape. 

 

Monday July 18- Filming Day 1

We arrived at the Gulf Coast Museum at 8:00am to finish setting up the space, work on shot angles and prepare for filming. I started the day filming with artist Carrie Jadus, we worked out a scene involving the two of us and ran through it a few times and then shot it from a few different angles.  What a wonderful way to start the filming! 

 and so it begins.....

and so it begins.....

 Nick Gallina and Carrie Jadus

Nick Gallina and Carrie Jadus

Next the cast of children arrived and it was time to PLAY! I had 5 children ages 2-10 come and be a part of a scene I call "Trapped" the idea was to have the children build a structure that would trap me while I was dancing. I wanted the children to be as authentic and real as possible so I gave them simple directions and then let them go. It was a lot of fun to watch them go from apprehensive and unsure to more daring and organized in what they came up with to trap me. I am not sure who had more fun me or the children! My son was very concerned about my being trapped and took on the role of saving me and destroying all the structures the other children built. Not a scenario I predicted! 

 Santi, Gus, Gia, Paxton, Lily and I playing in the bricks! 

Santi, Gus, Gia, Paxton, Lily and I playing in the bricks! 

 The view from above. 

The view from above. 

 Elizabeth within the blocks

Elizabeth within the blocks

By 6:00pm we had all the footage we needed for the day and began to take down the set and load out, after 12 hours our day was done. I left exhausted and inspired. 

 

Pondering, Preparing and Playing (July 4-10)

" The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves" - Carl Jung

This week was all about play, letting my creative mind play with images, ideas and emotions. Allowing my ideas space to grow and letting my play instinct take over. Making a dance film around the topic of being a mother and an artist at times feels like an impossible task, and it is easy to get bogged down in logistical details, and smother the creative force that compelled me to start this journey. While there were plenty of "tasks" to be completed, emails to be sent, costumes to be fitted and ordered and details to organized I found time to just be with my ideas and let them play and swirl around in my head. It is no coincidence that ideas and solutions began to fall into place as I was literally playing and spending time with my son. 

 A photo captured by my son while we were playing in the pool. Part of the film will take place in the water. 

A photo captured by my son while we were playing in the pool. Part of the film will take place in the water. 

Moving Forward.......(June 27-July 3, 2016)

A week of meetings, brainstorming with collaborators and costumes........

Monday June 27- Freshly inspired from Saturday's Motherhood Project Workshop my creative team (Nick Gallina and Elizabeth Baker and I)  met at 7:00am at the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum, one of the filming locations to further develop shot, movement and sound ideas. We spent the next 5 hours working on the storyboard for the film. A productive day filled with ideas and laughter. 

Next I headed over to the Palladium to meet with Paul Wilborn, Larry Biddle and Lauren Slone regarding BEACON, a dance series Lauren Slone and I co-produce which will be returning to the Palladium in 2017. It is extremely exciting that BEACON will be back at the Palladium and I can't wait to premiere the Motherhood Project Film on that program. 

Tuesday June 28- Thursday June 30- I took some time to reflect, rework my project budget, contact potential film participants, and research costume ideas. Since I am 33 weeks pregnant I also wanted to carve out some down time to take care of myself and spend time with my four year old. 

Friday July 1- FILMING BEGINS IN 18 DAYS! Had a phone conference with Nick and hashed out some more shot specifics, refined filming schedule, as well as rehearsed with Charlotte Johnson and Elizabeth Baker. My son was a "guest" in rehearsal and while at times it was difficult for me to juggle his desire for my attention and running a rehearsal, ultimately I feel that I accomplished what I wanted to and he had fun going to "work" with mommy. It's a blessing that Charlotte and Elizabeth are gracious and patient! Elizabeth even took the time to let Paxton try his hand at composing music while Charlotte danced. 

 

 Paxton shares his creation with Elizabeth. 

Paxton shares his creation with Elizabeth. 

 Watching and writing!

Watching and writing!

Sunday July 3-  Met with costume designer, Gillian Bertrand. After a lengthy search we have found some dress options that we both like and that will work for the film. Being pregnant while filming poses challenges not just in what I am physically able to do but also in how I can be costumed. Often what feels the most comfortable and allows me to move, looks like a big tent! One of the challenges is how do I express emotion through movement if no one can see my body move because it is hidden underneath a gigantic costume?  Hopefully one of the two options we settled on will work.....only time will tell.....stay tuned.......

Water, Permits, Test Shoots, Rehearsal and a Workshop! (June 18-25)

 photo by Nick Gallina

photo by Nick Gallina

The week started with a day of testing out dance and special effect ideas in the water. Nick Gallina, Elizabeth Baker and I gathered to experiment with sound, ink, paint and even jello in water to create the images wanted for the film. My son even got in on the fun! 

This week also involved securing permits to film on county and city property as well as acquiring all necessary liability insurance. Not very glamorous work, but exciting to see all the different aspects begin to come together, and I got to meet some fantastic and helpful people along the way. 

On Thursday I found time to make it into the dance studio with Elizabeth to work. I wanted to develop some material we had previously created, and dig deeper into the emotional context of the movement. This was a difficult creative day, I felt off and disconnected from my intentions, although it was frustrating I recognize that it's all part of the process.....I decided to walk away from it for a little while and give myself some time to digest and get space. As the days went by the path forward became clear and by Saturday I was ready to show my "work in progress" 

 The Motherhood Project Workshop!

 photo by Nick Gallina

photo by Nick Gallina

The week wrapped up with The Motherhood Project Workshop. Eleven diverse and inspiring mother-artists attended this event and we had a wonderful time. Ideas were exchanged and new friendships were made. We explored the joys, difficulties, frustrations and challenges of being artists and mothers, we talked, wrote and shared. I am honored to have spent the afternoon with these eleven women. Thank you to Gina Marie and Hi5us for allowing us to use The Raw Studios,  Nick Gallina for capturing the afternoon on film, Elizabeth Baker for performing live with me, and Maureen McDole for leading us all in discussion and writing! 

 photo by Nick Gallina

photo by Nick Gallina

 photo by Nick Gallina

photo by Nick Gallina

Getting Started...Creating & Collaborating (June 1-17)

An intense period of brainstorming, meeting with  collaborators and planning the logistics of The Motherhood Project Workshop to take place on Saturday June 25,  11am-2pm at the Raw Studios in St. Pete, Fl. 

Collaborators:

Dancer/Choreographer/Director- Helen Hansen French

Film Maker- Nick Gallina

Composer- Elizabeth Baker

Poet/Founder of Keep St. Pete Lit- Maureen McDole

Costume Designer- Gillian Bertrand

Dancer/Choreographer Helen Hansen French and Poet/Founder of Keep St. Pete Lit Maureen McDole present a day of exploration, writing, discussion and performance on the topic of "Artist-Mothers" and what it means to balance motherhood and creativity. Participants will be led by Maureen McDole in a writing exploration of motherhood and creativity, have an opportunity to share their work, as well as see a sneak peak of Helen Hansen French's latest solo focusing on motherhood and creativity. 

 Flyer I created for the workshop. I also created a Facebook event to help get the word out to interested participants. 

Flyer I created for the workshop. I also created a Facebook event to help get the word out to interested participants. 

 

As I work out the logistics and scheduling of shooting a dance film in four separate locations, I also found time to get into the studio and create movement. In addition to a solo I am creating for myself I am also crafting movement for dancer Charlotte Johnson and developing gestures for film participants. 

 

 Studio time, creating movement and sound score with Elizabeth Baker.

Studio time, creating movement and sound score with Elizabeth Baker.

 Exploring movement and sound. 

Exploring movement and sound. 

 Toy piano! Set design! and live music in rehearsal! so many things to be grateful for!

Toy piano! Set design! and live music in rehearsal! so many things to be grateful for!

Helen Hansen French

Helen Hansen French, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida received her BFA from The Juilliard School. Upon graduating she was invited to join Buglisi Dance Theatre. Tobi Tobias of the NYC Village Voice hailed her as “altogether luminous”, and Nancy Wozney of ArtsHouston says her, “generous and radiant performance stands out.”  

In addition to BDT’s annual New York City seasons she has toured nationally and internationally performing in such venues as, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Chautauqua Dance Festival, Vail International Dance Festival, Rishon LeZion International Festival in Israel, and the Oriente Occidente Festival in Rovereto, Italy. Mrs. French has been instrumental in staging BDT’s works at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pieve International School in Italy, North Carolina Dance Theater, The Alvin/Ailey Fordham B.F.A. program, George Mason University, University of California at Long Beach, and Richmond University. In addition to working with BDT Mrs. French is also a member of Karen Reedy Dance most recently starring in a dance film, Les falaises.  She has had the pleasure of performing with Nilas Martins’ Dance Company, participating in a residency at White Oak Dance working with choreographer Adam Hougland, and performing in the Guggenheim’s Works/Process program with Brian Reeder and Pam Tanowitz. She has presented a solo show at Studio@620 that featured the re-created works of Ruth St. Denis, Doris Humphrey and Jacqulyn Buglisi. 

Her own choreography has been shown at The Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Clark Studio Theater, Kaatsbaan, Studio@620, The Palladium and St. Petersburg College. She was awarded a 2015 and 2016 Individual Artist Grant from the city of St. Petersburg. 

Helen is committed to arts education and developing the next generation of artists as well as contributing to the arts community she lives in. She is a founding member of the St. Pete Dance Alliance and co-producer of Beacon: a performance series for St. Pete. She has been a member of the dance faculties at George Mason University, The Juilliard School, Flint Hill School (VA) and the Neighborhood Playhouse (NYC). Currently Helen is on faculty at John Hopkins Middle School and St. Petersburg College teaching the Alexander Technique as well as dance.

The Motherhood Project seeks to explore the complex and nuanced experiences of artist-mothers.  During this project, there will be a literary workshop and the creation of a dance film incorporating artist-mothers from across all disciplines, drawing on our personal experiences and highlighting our creative work and it’s relationship to our families.

Susan Rubein Suleiman wrote, "Perhaps the greatest struggle for a woman artist who has or desires children is the struggle against herself. No amount of money, no amount of structural change, can entirely resolve the fundamental dilemma for the artist–mother: the seeming incompatibility of her two greatest passions. The effect is a divided heart; a split self; the fear that to succeed at one means to fail at the other." The Motherhood Project Film is being made in collaboration filmmaker Nick Gallina, composer Elizabeth Baker, writer Maureen McDole, and costume designer Gillian Bertrand.