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Willow Chang (Hawaii)

“Fire, Earth, Air” 
Performance demonstration

"Truth Through Movement: Cross Cultural and Energy Exchange"
Practical workshop


Willow Chang

Willow Chang is a multi-disciplined artist based out of Honolulu, Hawai'i. She works in the creative arts in many fields: as a performer, instructor, choreographer, designer, producer and musician. She also teaches numerous styles of dance that span from Hawaiian Hula to Oriental bellydance, Bollywood and theatrical modern dance. For the past 4 years, Willow Chang has produced a large world dance concert and workshops titled PUJA, (which draws from the Sanskrit word meaning an ‘offering’ or ‘blessing’). This annual event features local talent from Hawaii as well as international guest artists.

As a bi-racial person of both German and Chinese ancestry, and having grown up in multicultural Hawaii, Willow Chang has been exposed to rich diversity and a wide array of experiences from many cultures. In addition, she travels annually as an artist to many international locales and have a great opportunity to experience various cultures first hand from locals who sponsors her. It’s an invaluable experience that helps her expand as both a person and artist!

As an artist and as an educator, Willow Chang is constantly challenging and questioning herself: What is identity? Who and what influences form it? How does one find the balance between creation, innovation and tradition? How can one find ways to blend seamlessly the fusion of multiple cultures, disciplines and experiences? And, do we always need to be seamless?

Performance demonstration “Fire, Earth, Air” 

Dancer, Choreographer, Costuming: Willow Chang
Music: Fire Burning Festival (O-Hitaki Matsuri)/ Japanese Shinto priests
Frog Chorus/ Music and ceremony from the Shuar
Emmeleia/ Dead Can Dance
Rising/ Lhasa Original
Painting: Stephen Little
 
Where does a journey of the heart begin or end? Here is a meditation to purify, honor and reflect on the complexities of love and the embodiment of the Shiva cycle of Birth, Life, Death and Re-Birth. This journey includes the transformation of the experience of calm within to extreme saudade (longing) when being on 'the edge' the only relief is release.
 
“I got caught in a storm
And carried away
I got turned, turned around
I got caught in a storm
That's what happened to me
So I didn't call
And you didn't see me for a while
 I was rising up
Hitting the ground
And breaking and breaking”- Lhasa
 
Fire, Earth, Air is a continuous set of dances that shows the journey and transformation of an individual, expressed in both physical gestures/movement and emotional and even a psychological shift. A song and dance cycle, it features several contrasts/shifts that are representative of:

1) Purification Ritual/ claiming or marking of the Space (here, represented by the Japanese Shinto Fire Ritual chant and the marking of a circular, sacred space).
2) The shift of Regulated/structured behaviors (Human/intentional) to Unstructured/Natural responses (prompted by the music of the Frog chorus).
3) The Recovery/ Ritual 2- i.e. an attempt to regain control with the acknowledgement that some shift has occurred. 
4) The Release- A narrative song expressing being carried away- my emotion, and the subsequent expressions of longing, grief and sadness, only to be resolved by Release and surrender (acceptance, acknowledgement or even Death).

The intention is to re-introduce these ideas and themes into the realm of what can be called theatrical dance. Willow Chang is very interested in the ways of integrating Ritual into dance along with the presentation of a psychological and emotional shift. Every choice is made based with this goal in mind- from music to movement, costumes to staging - each decision must support the other.

"Truth Through Movement: Cross Cultural and Energy Exchange"
Practical workshop

Movement workshop to contrast 3 energies: the Butoh inspired pace of the Fire Ritual and examination of different types of walks, the exploration of animal/creature like movement and the art of turning which is an nod to what I call the Urban Dervish.

A Review/Overview of the art of Mudras, hand gestures that are used both in sacred practice and dance. We can explore traditional ones with Sanskrit names from South East Asia and well as the creation of modern hand gestures and articulation as an extension of the body and the inclusion as an expressive tool.



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