Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers
Hatched, BAM Fisher, Hillman Studio

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home Again Home Again

At the beginning of March, Treehouse Shakers was on the road again, or really traveling the skies, and then the road again to find ourselves in Southwest Wyoming. For three days we led workshops in dance and storytelling-creative drama, to 3rd graders in Green River and Rock Springs. 500 students to be exact. And then on the fourth day we shared a performance of our dance-play, Coyote's Dance, and a public performance on Saturday. Our percussionist, Roderick Jackson, led an incredible African dance workshop for the public and the students from Western Wyoming Community College. One of our dancers, Malinda Crump, also led a yoga workshop. The tour was funded by Sweetwater County BOCES, WWCC's theater and dance departments, and the generosity from friends and family who fed and housed the company. This is our seventh year  to perform in Southwest Wyoming at Western Wyoming Community College's theater.
Company Backstage before Public Performance of Coyote's Dance

Roderick Teaching African Dance

I was born there, raised there, grown there. It is a powerful experience to come home to Wyoming, to give back. It was pure magic to walk into the elementary school where I went, and teach the 3rd grade students. My own memories dancing in my head; the scorpion who ran into our fourth grade classroom, the classroom where I told my entire second grade class that Italians come from the country of Boston (my mom is Italian, she was born in Boston, I hadn't really heard about Italy), the friends who helped shaped me. In one of the schools, my former principal was still hard at work (only at a different school). After having spent so much time in NYC's classrooms, it is so fascinating to tell stories to kids from Wyoming. When I pulled out my special goat-hooves rattle, someone in every class quickly guessed what it was. In NYC, my students usually guess something more along the lines of "shells" or "rocks." My Wyoming kids loved hearing the story of coyote, they know his antics first hand. They have grown up with coyote, he fills the landscape, his howls are to the towns as car horns are to the city.
Myself as Bluebird in Coyote's Dance (photo taken by Mercedes McAndrew)
It is magical to look at the desert landscape and remember crawling the mountains, hiding in crevices, skipping rocks in the river, playing dolls in the sagebrush. I am raising my own child in New York City,  and sometimes I forget that there is a place where children can play freely; that they can climb, explore, and imagine away from parents or watchful eyes. When I was growing up we came home at dusk to the sound of our parents calling us, each of us filtering from our own dusty spots. Our imaginations led us in every direction; sometimes to the "North Pole" where we would build igloos and forts in the middle of the snowy streets, to playing ant ambulance and rushing the mound of red fire ants to the hospital, to swinging on swing sets and creating our very best shows for the neighborhood to attend. I went home this time knowing that without Wyoming in my back pocket, carved into my memory, chiseled like an arrowhead, I would never been able to dream an imaginative life.

Coyote's Dance with Fox in Eagle Feathered Robe
This posting is dedicated to Jeffrey Hoyt, my childhood neighbor (1970-2011). I will always fondly remember our childhood days.

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