by Hannah Gaff

An UpDate on UpLift. On Sunday, March 13th we facilitated a three-hour workshop and hosted a works-in-progress showing at the Circus Center in San Francisco. These events culminated our 2.5 month stint as Artists in Residence at CC. This residency has allowed us the rehearsal time and space to forge forth in a first round of creation and adaptation of our newest piece. We’re extremely grateful to the Circus Center for welcoming us into their space and also to the incredible group of workshop participants and amazing artists and colleagues who joined us for the showing and generously gave us their feedback, dreams, ideas, hopes, and musings - all sparked by the work we laid before them!

It was a big day.

The first half of the day was spent facilitating our workshop - Transcending Technique: A Workshop in Devising Acrobatic Stories. We had 17 amazing bodies of all shapes and sizes and from many different movement backgrounds participate in the workshop.

First off, we got to know each other a little bit:

We pushed ourselves to our physical limits: 

We were UpLifted:

We explored physical partnering and storytelling: 

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And finally, in ensemble, we created a performance!

After facilitating and participating in the workshop, I was exhausted. I had succumbed to the irresistible temptation to throw myself body and heart into the movement work, rolling and catching and throwing bodies as we crafted story and images with the workshop participants.  I realized that I had expended too much energy and my body was in need of rest. However, I was not at my limit, simple approaching it. We ask an incredible amount of our bodies in this work. We push ourselves to our physical limits and then we push past. We have a great sensitivity and awareness of our own physical and emotional bodies due to this. We freely express and embrace our limitations, all while pushing ourselves and pulling each other toward that vulnerable state of being tired, at our limit, toes at the edge of the cliff and ready to fall or dive, or give ourselves over to the abyss. These moments are gifts and full of beauty. We up lift each other in these moments. We let ourselves be taken. Sometimes we have moments of beautiful, authentic failure. The audience was alive and breathing and ready to catch us in this moment. We seek this visceral emotional connection with the audience in our work, always.

As Alyssa and I plan for the next phase of rehearsal and development of UpLift’s three-woman piece in April, I can’t help but feel proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past three months. Our primary goal for 2016 is to establish a community and name for ourselves in the Bay Area. We’re only three months into the year, and we’ve already done so much! We’ve had the privilege to perform at Athletic Playground, AcroSports, and Circus Center, three of the top movement and acrobatic training centers in the Bay Area. Each of us has developed relationships with fellow movers and performers in each of these training centers. Both Nicholette and Juliana train at Athletic Playground and Juliana works there; I teach and manage the performance program at Acrosports, and work at Circus Center.

We're in the process of booking a couple of performances in April and early May - more information coming soon. And, we have a new website in the works! We can't wait to share our work with you again, and to hear your feedback, dreams, ideas, hopes, and musings once more. See you soon!

Photo and video credit - Travis Gaff