Open Hand Open Space Performance Series 2017

Open Hand Open Space Performance Series at the Aikikai of Philadelphia
October — November 2017

Experience creativity in an Aikido Dojo. Aikido is a martial art that develops nonaggression to avoid direct conflict and restore harmony to a situation. Open Hand Open Space Performance Series presents artists working with music, dance, images, and language to examine questions such as How do we occupy space with our bodies as we move through the world? How do we handle feelings of aggression and instances of conflict? What is the dynamic between the unique individual and the body of society? What is it like to experience peace? What is grace?

2100 Chestnut Street, 2nd floor, entrance on 21st Street
All performances at 7:30pm
Free and open to the public
program is subject to change, this blog will be updated

All performances are now complete: 
Wednesday Nov 29: Robert Peagler (social innovation design) + David Brick Ensemble (performance)
Monday Nov 20: JungWoong Kim (dance), with Ben Bennett (sound) and Michelle Shafer (dramaturgy) + Brad Forbes (music)
Wednesday Nov 15: Christina Gesualdi Ensemble (dance) + Jude Robison (space exploration)
Wednesday Nov 8: Erik Ruin Ensemble (visuals and sound)
Wednesday Oct 25: Lily Kind (dance) + Andrew Simonet (reading)
Thursday Oct 19: Joy Mariama Smith (performance installation) + A to Z (dance/music)
Wednesday Oct 11: Asimina Chremos (every angle shines a movable gleam)
Wednesday Oct 4: Jesse Sparhawk (harp) + Merian Soto & Marion Ramirez (dance)

INTRODUCTION Good evening. Welcome to Open Hand Open Space Performance Series

My name is Asimina Chremos and I am an artist, a dancer, and a student here at the Aikikai, and I put this series together with the encouragement of the Sensei, Roderick Johnson.

Thank you for finding your way here. This place is not a target. This place is not a bullseye. It's not clearly marked or brightly lit outside, and the address is not really the address. This is a place you have to look for and discover. To find yourself here, you have to have read and absorbed the little bit of information on the flyer or the blog, or you heard from a friend, to find the way in the building you might have to notice some new details about a part of the city where you've been before.

What's happening here is that a performance is happening in a place that is not an auditorium or a theater. This is a hybrid experience, an example of how different cultural practices overlapping in the same physical space. In regular life we wear shoes to protect our feet from hard surfaces, rocks, stones, dog shit, and whatever else our feet are likely to encounter out in the world. In here, this floor is kept very, very clean. It is a special room for a type of physical where faces end up pressed into the floor. Unlike the sidewalk outside, surface has softness, a bit of cushion. Maybe you felt that sensation as you walked across the space to find a seat for the performance. Already we are having an experience here that is asking us to be inquisitive, curious, gentle, to feel some softness and be a bit vulnerable.

And thank you also for taking your shoes off. When you enter a space,  maybe it is a new place or a familiar place. Any place you enter has a whole invisible matrix of histories, customs, and uses. An Aikido dojo such as this is a place where a whole set of traditions and cultural practices are embedded. For example, it is a tradition for all the people who use the dojo for aikido to bow to the image of O Sensei every time they step on or off the mat, which is this pale green floor surface here.

You have not been asked to do the bow every time you go on and off the mat like an aikido student, but I think it will add to your experience for you to know that that his how this surface is normally approached. You are most welcome here, in your role of audience member, witness, and participant of the Open Hand Open Space Performance Series.

I think we can all respect and experience this hybridity of form and function and expression and this merging of history with the present moment,  and the overlay of different traditions and creative practices in the same space. The man who founded this dojo, Henry Smith, was a remarkable person whose life's work bridged theater, dance, and martial arts. May we all be so fluent in various cultural forms and finding the connections between them.