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Author: Amy Sigil

CHARGE: Austin, Texas pt. 2

Austin, Texas

November 6th 2015  9:00pm-9:10pm

Kylie Phillips

I was not on a CHARGE mission this night, didn’t even bring my iPad for taping.  I went with April Rose to a house warming party for one of her friends, Melanie.  I am on the back porch chillin’, and in walks Kylie Phillips and her Dad Swift.  I could tell she was a performer right away.  She was so animated with her Dad!

Lauren Checchio was also at the party and we were fortunate enough that she brought her dumbek with her.  Lauren is a bad ass drummer from austin.  She was playing and young Kylie (12 years old) couldn’t stand still.  I asked her, “Do you want to learn something?”  She said yes right away.  Lauren handed me the drum and jumped up to show her some steps.  It was so much fun to watch, but every time I watched the dancers I fucked up the rhythm!  I had to concentrate.  Then Lauren switched me spots and Kylie started talking about crumping.  I begged her to show me something.  We practiced the first 4cts crumping and I added a 5-6-7-8 hip step thing.

Raven grabbed her phone camera, Lauren drummed, Kylie and I danced and April Rose called out the highlights.  I know it’s poor lighting and I debated wether I should post the footage.  The beauty in this one though is the spontaneity and organicness.  I had just met this young lady and we were dancing together.  In true collaboration.

So, after the magic I talked to Kylie and her Dad about the project.  Turns out Kylie is already a celebrity in her own right.  She is Kyliegirl414 on youtube!  She is a singer, songwriter, dancer and choreographer.  She travels for performance and already has a music video out!  Watch it here…..KylieGirl414

This explains why Kylie was so willing.  I thought to myself, she’s a professional!  Her interview is one of my favorites.  She just turned it on when I said go.  I went home immediately and googled her.  She’s amazing.

I do wish there was more light, but what I love about this event is the age difference.

At the end of the evening the host, not Melanie but her husband, stopped to tell me something.  He explained that Kylie’s father Swift and him had toured together for many years.  he told me how special it was to watch our interaction for him.  Full circle friends.  Full circle!

CHARGE: Austin, Texas pt. 1

Austin, Texas

November 15th 2015  3:00pm-5:00pm

April Rose Burnam

April Rose was on my ‘exception to a stranger list’ since the project first conceptualized.  She is one of my dearest friends, for a very long time, and I don’t know if we have ever created together.  I have choreographed, she has choreographed, but we have never made something together.

We started in her living room standing, moved to the floor sitting, then to the dining room table.  It was unclear at the beginning which movements we were technically banking but we continued to just explore.  It was casual work, mixed with random love and snuggles with her animals.  Raisin, the small mixed breed dog, and Butterball a fluffy calico cat.

Once we got to the table things really began to solidify and the “choreography” began to take shape. The piece seemed to say ‘relationship’ right away.  The movements were slow and calming, but it seemed like there was an undertone of misunderstanding.  Now that I have watched the video again as I write this, I actually think it is about actually understanding!  About two people in different places with deep connection that spans time and distance.

We tried a lot of other stuff with the table, but once the music was chosen, it defined where the piece ended.  We used almost everything we banked sitting on the floor but nothing from the standing session.  I was really satisfied when we were able to incorporate some of the ideas from the sitting session because I was unsure how everything was coming together.

I’m very interested to hear what everyone’s different feelings will be about this piece.  What does it reveal?

I really love what we made, but more than that I loved these things:  Watching April in a healthy happy partnership, living in her new house, seeing the new Rose Movement Studio, dancing in her classes on a Wednesday evening, watching her with her animals, hiking the green belt and the making of her interview (so great!)

I have been in Austin for 7 days, the longest we have stayed anywhere since we left Sacramento.

I love you ApRoRo!

CHARGE: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Carlsbad, New Mexico

November 2nd 2015  10:40am-11:00am

Phyllis Beaver, Anna, Don and Joe

On our way to Carlsbad Cavern we found Brantley State Park.  It looked like a beautiful spot to camp.  On the long road out there was a pull out on the side of the road by a small creek.  I could see another trailer parked with a campfire.  We decided to save the $14 and boondock (free off road camping) for the night.

I took a small hike around the area.  It was a lovely spot but full of trash.  I wandered by the creek and noticed that the other campers were trying to take a group photo.  Raven encouraged me to go help.  We chatted for a small amount of time.  They are 6 friends all over 70 years of age.  They had met at dance class at the senior center about 5 years ago.  They are all locals.  They meet here once a year to hang out, catch up, fish and play games.  We excused ourselves to the trailer for the night although they did invite us to stay and play games.

In the morning I took my time with coffee then headed back over to the creek.  Anna came out to meet me immediately.  I walked over to their trailers with them and started on my speech about my sabbatical project, hoping they might be interested…their first answer was no.  Phyllis had a sensitive back, Don had a shoulder issue and Joe sat quietly.  I could tell that Anna was considering.  I got my persuasive voice on and started my pep talk.  I won!  We settled on a game plan.  Don would play his guitar and Joe would teach me to 2-Step.

Don began playing “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. Joe was saying “not right” and grabbed a small CD player.  He was not a teacher and Anna stepped in to tell me “It’s 2 steps then 1”.  As Joe and I danced he explained to me that his 2 Step was unusual and unique.  He once taught it to an actual dance teacher.  Anna videoed and Phyllis, despite her back , and Don, despite his shoulder aches, couldn’t help but to stand up and join us.

I really wanted to get Don’s Folsom Prison Blues, and I also really wanted to dance with Anna because originally she was totally game, so we worked out a quick little sequence of “step touches” and went for it.  Phyllis joined us.  Anna also asked me to show them what I do, so Don played something on his guitar and I think I performed one of the worst solos of my life.  But they smiled and laughed and I am sure it was genuine.

After the interviews Phyllis invited us to come to her house, “where there’s plenty of room”, and stay with her.  She offered to open the garage where we would have a huge dance party with all their friends.  We exchanged information and now plan to visit again.

The highlight for me was this:  As everyone else was chatting, Phyllis walked by me quietly then stood right beside me.  She said, “You touch everyone you meet don’t you?”  It began a thought process that lasted the whole days travel.

Maybe this project isn’t just for me?…

CHARGE: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

October 30th 2015  6:00pm-8:00pm and 9:00pm-10:00pm

Kara McDonald

One of my students, and dear friends, has been battling breast cancer for the past year and a half.  It was a top priority for me to make it to Santa Fe to be with her.  I wanted to be here sooner.

This project is predominately about working with people whom I don’t know, however I knew there would be a few exceptions along the way.  Kara being the first of them.  She just finished her last chemotherapy and I knew we needed to dance together.

We began by catching up on health issues, family stuff, and romance.  I told her about CHARGE and she was in, immediately.  I was really excited about collaborating, to make something co-created by the two of us.  I have so far created with people in an all “follow them”, or “follow me” way.

We just started moving.  I used some of my Pilobolus technique to open my mind and body and receive.  There was some awkward moments in the beginning, but we were both patient and kept discovering.  We kept digging physically without much dialogue.  We banked what we loved without counting or solidifying too much detail.  It was beautiful.  We were just moving, laughing, and connecting.

We took a dinner break after about 2 hours and walked her crazy ass 9 month old puppy to grab some food.  Then back to creating for another hour.  We video’d the piece for memory and agreed to hit downtown Santa Fe the next day to find a great place to document.

Day 2
Halloween day!  We taped in numerous places.  Warehouse 21: a youth safe house, and a few spots in the park.  My favorite was the tunnel.  Kara and I were inspired to re-work a couple movements to adapt to the tunnel.  It was a truly beautiful experience to dance the sequence numerous times in her comfortable surroundings.  I don’t remember which take it was, but at the end when we were back face to face, I saw her struggle, I saw her victory,  I saw her fear, and I saw her strength.  It moved me to tears.  The rest of that story is really hers to tell.

We went to a local pub for Halloween festivities that night.  I wore a tiger onesie, stayed up late, got up early, hitched the trailer and on my way South to Carlsbad.

I think this is Raven’s favorite piece so far.  I sang this song over and over in my head for a full week following this event.  I love you Kara.

CHARGE: Concho, Arizona

Concho, Arizona

October 29th, 2015  9:00am-9:05am


Raven’s Dad and wife Tori bought some property in Concho, AZ.  We made it a priority on this trip to make it out there.  It is 150 acres in the middle of the high desert.  20 miles on a dirt road with the nearest neighbor over a mile away.

Raven’s Dad is a good ‘ole fashion country boy with a side of red-neck.  He moved to Arizona so he could ride his 4 wheeler to the store with a gun on his hip and a rifle mounted in the cab.  I was immediately inspired to ask him to make something with me during our visit.  Leonard says there are only 2 types of music, Country and Western.  I knew this.  I also knew he is not so open to what he would consider “hippy shit”.  I needed to think strategically about how to get him to say yes.  I should come with a plan, or even a little choreography.  I picked up an old pair of cowboy boots from a resale shop, selected an old Randy Travis song and worked out 2 counts of 8.  Something simple just in case we couldn’t figure something out together.  I thought I would propose it on the 2nd day.  Warm him up a bit.

Day 2:  I chickened out 🙁

I’m not sure why I felt so scared of it.  I am completely comfortable with people saying no to me.  I usually have to use some sort of persuasion to creatively get experimental movement.  I told myself he was going to say no, I was going to push too far and things were going to get awkward.  We will never know if that would have happened because I never even asked him.

In the morning I was kicking myself with my old new boots.  Lame.  I totally let that moment pass by.  I feel like I should write about both the triumphs and failures of this project.  So here’s a video clip that I consider a failure for this project.

I asked Raven to come outside with me and tape the little combo I had done for her Dad so I could reference this.  I don’t like the combo when I watch it.  It was made for more, not just for me, but for an experience that I didn’t grab.  I am not sure if I don’t like it because of what it represents to me, or because I just don’t like it.

I do love this 1951 Chevy behind me named Jake.  I love the colors!  I love the morning light in the desert and my new old boots.

I will remember this feeling next time I second guess myself.  Remember…CHARGE!


CHARGE: Jerome, Arizona

Jerome, Arizona

October 23, 2015  6:15pm-6:20pm


Tiny little ghost town turned biker-artist community.  On the advice of Sherri Wheatley we rolled through.  I have never been here even though I lived 2 years in Arizona.  We got in late so we found a fireman to direct us to a free land space to camp.  It was incredible.  Small dirt road turns into a beautiful pull out on a gorgeous bluff!  In the morning we walked to town.  Literally the second shop we entered, I met SunFlower, who was working in the shop. She spoke to me first, “Well, aren’t you a work of art.” Still new to how I would be asking people to participate, I started by just asking her what time she got off work. I took a walk down the street but could not stop thinking she was the one for this stop, so I went back and asked if she’d like to dance with me when she got off work, she was so excited to do it.  68 years young, mother of 6 and grandmother of 12, I could not wait to see what would happen. I was really surprised that I met my new dance partner so quickly!

I met her at 6pm outside and she drove me to the park.  We talked of her 6 daughters and shared grandma stories.  She said she has known me before and we were supposed to meet again.  I picked the song for her.  She cried when she heard it.  Then she just started dancing.  I followed her.  We danced it 3 times and she lead me every time.  It was again almost dark.  Sorry for the video quality.  SunFlower was worth the wait.  She wanted me to know that the universe is giving her a farm with goats and room for all of her family.  We are going to meet again, I am sure about that.  I think she is a medicine woman with a lot of wisdom.  While we were dancing together she was whispering, “These are the crystals they gave me.”

All light had been replaced by only a sliver of moonlight as we finished up. We exchanged a couple of hugs and SunFlower said, “OK…we’re just going to walk away now…” I could tell that she was fully connected to the experience, and as we parted she returned to her car and I heard a loud, “Whoooooo!” I smiled to myself. We had met for that joy, I am certain.

The process was different for me – she just took off flying and I had to find how to keep up with her.  We literally worked for 3 minutes during the 3 times we played the song.  Ready, Set, DANCE!  I have thought about her so much after this event and we have been texting each other regularly.  I can’t wait to go visit her on her Universe Farm!

CHARGE: East Jesus, Slab City

Slab City, California at East Jesus

October 19th 2015  4:30pm-6:30pm

Mopar and Raphaelle

This was my first opportunity to start CHARGE!  I was excited and anxious on how these other humans were going to find me, or I find them.  I promised myself to continue to stay open to how things would magically happen.  Trust.

The very first evening we pulled in to East Jesus at Slab City, we were introduced to the “family”.  Enter Mopar, aka The Wizard.  He hugged Raven first and whispered into her ear “I am stronger for you.”  When he went to hug me it was tight and full of emotion.  I looked at Raven right away and winked.  I waited until the campfire that night to propose the idea of making some movement art together.  He agreed.  I asked him about what music he loved and he told me about his most favorite song, Desiderata.  We planned to work the next evening on something but his schedule “filled up” and we postponed to the next evening.

The next day I took a run to the canal for a short swim.  As I was walking back, a maroon van rolled by me very slowly.  The girl who was driving and I made eye contact as she passed.  I knew right away we were meant to know each other.  She made a U-turn and rolled down her window.  “I just got to Slab City and I have no where to stay.  Do you know how this whole thing works?”  I brought her back to East Jesus and introduced her to Frank.  Her and her boyfriend decided to stay.  We went to the Hot Springs that evening, and Mopar and I were talking about the dance project.  Raphaelle asked to join.  YES!

Right before sunset the next day, Raphaelle and I started the project.   We created two very small movement sequences.  I wanted to collaborate more but we had to save time.  We had to video before dark and we were chasing the sun already.  Raphaelle was a joy to work with.  Up for everything. Mopar came in with very little movement and began narrating right away.  I said “yes” even though it wasn’t my first thought.  I taught Mopar one of the small sequences of movement and I was delightfully surprised at how beautiful it was on him.

This video is the first take.  We did 3 of them total but the magic in the first one is undeniable.  Mopar picked the music.  When I watch it I feel joyful.  The process was so fun for me.  This is my first “Free Event”.

Raphaelle a hippy chick, Mopar a wizard, me a lizard and we all have the right to exist.