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Solo Sessions: In Dialogue, a SEEDS Artist Residency

Tuesdays, June 2011


“Gulf Oil Spill Crawl” Somatic Action. Crawling through the Farmhouse at the SEEDS festival 2010. Photo © Pooh Kaye.

Join Composing While Dancing: An Improviser's Companion author Melinda Buckwalter in a SEEDS (Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance + Science) artist residency at Earthdance. In Solo Sessions, we will work in the space as a group on our solo improvisation strategies. Then, we'll watch each other; we'll learn and incorporate new technologies by seeing others' strategies in motion. We will work both indoors and out in preparation for June 25, Global Water Dances day (http://www.globalwaterdances.org/), on which dances will take place around the world to raise awareness about water resources. Our participation in Global Water Dances (optional) will include a “somatic action” and solo improvisation at a public site along the Connecticut River.

Description of a Somatic Action by Melinda Buckwalter

"I did what I am referring to as a 'somatic action' last summer at the SEEDS (Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance + Science) festival around water. It was during the gushing phase of the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis. I crawled for three hours on an “information gathering” expedition focused on the crisis. There were three workshops going on, so I crawled in and out of the activities. People joined in at times. For an hour or so, I carried a log on my back, which kept slipping off. My score became that I had to reposition it without using my hands. As this went on, I realized that putting the equipment in place underwater to cap the well could be a somewhat clumsy operation. So, through the somatic action, there is some kind of “empathetic participation” is how I think of it. Perhaps one might describe it as shamanic in nature.

"One of the SEEDS workshop participants had shared the author of The True Power of Water Masuru Emoto's prayer to water: Forgive us, We're sorry, Thank you, We love you. In Emoto's book, he shows pictures of water that have been treated with hado or the vibrations of various words. His method seems to have some similarity to homeopathy, in which water is vibrationally imprinted with the active components of a drug (see Vibrational Medicine by Richard Gerber, M.D.). Saying Emoto's prayer as I crawled, I repeated and repented and sang to myself, contemplating the cleansing power of water figuratively, historically, biologically, physiologically. Would the water molecules of Plainfield, Mass. hear me? Would they respond by repeating the vibration to their fellow molecules of the Gulf? As it turned out, it was the day that they successfully capped the oil well! It created connection for me to a situation that felt hopeless and overwhelming.

"There is some corroboration for this feeling of connection through process: I heard in a radio interview that victims of abduction were found to have less post traumatic stress than their passive counterparts if they “did” something to escape, even if it was fruitless. For example, a little girl who tried to dig her way out of a subterranean pit, though unsuccessful, fared better psychologically than others who hadn't. A real little girl, abducted and stuck in a hole. Like Alice in Wonderland, she met the Somatic Rabbit in the nick of time. I believe that bringing the soma into environmental and social activism—in the great tradition of nonviolent protesters like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.—would be of benefit to humankind as we face the terrible consequences of our collective thoughtlessness."

Melinda Buckwalter is coeditor of Contact Quarterly, the dance and improvisation journal, and is a co-curator of SEEDS, an arts and ecology festival. She lives in Cummington, MA.


The theme of the 2010 SEEDS festival was NOURISHMENT. See last year's offerings here.

Photo by: Karen Schaffman


2009 Review

SEEDS Festival (Somatic Experiments in Earth, Dance, + Science) is an interdisciplinary arts and ecology festival initiated at Earthdance Workshop and Retreat Center, in Plainfield, MA. SEEDS Festival gathers artists, scientists, community activists, spiritual leaders, permaculture practitioners, and more, for a several weeks of workshops, films, lectures, residencies, and performances. Through this gathering, widely varied styles and approaches of interdisciplinary practice were presented, and new forms emerged, embodying the biodiversity we sought to create. It is the interaction and communication amongst a wide variety of life that strengthens the networks of our planet, of artistic practice, and of social interaction and community engagement.

SEEDS 2009 focused on potentiality. Potential for new growth is generated in places where diverse organisms meet. In this year of potential political change, we invited this phenomenon into our interdisciplinary investigations, setting up social experiments:

In the first week, we had several workshops and a mini-festival in the fields of dance research and practice, sustainable technology, liberation ecology, and mycological remediation. The teachers included Jennifer Monson, Simon Whitehead, Rafter Sass, and Skott Kellog. The weekend mini-festival was dedicated to Green/Body/Local and CI as a social experiment. The teachers included: Sondra Loring and Kavitha Rao, Karl Kronin, Camille Renarhd and Mark Moti Zemelman, Kristin McArdle, Neige Christenson, Dan Bear Davis and Sarah Day, Tamin Totzke and Dustin Haug, and a Global Underscore facilitated by Spirit Joseph.

In the second week, we invited a group of independent resident artists and scientists to work in the retreat space, inviting them to collaborate with the land and with one another as was their interest. Rather than a typical format of expecting production, we invited artists to see what emerged from the uniqueness of the event. The artists participating were: Camille Renarhd, Chris Peck, Emily Moore, Gabriel Forestieri, Kayoko Nakajima, Kythe Heller, Lailye Weidman, Marissa Perel, Mark “Moti” Zemelman, Sakura Shimada. As part of this event, we invited artist mentors Daria Fain, Robert Kocik, and Beverly Naidus to present their work and be available as guides for the artistic research. Artist and 2008 SEEDS co-curator Jen Harmon facilitated the week's residency.

Our Public Programming included films, lectures, workshops and performances, culminating in a final Community Day where participating artist residents shared their research findings in the form of performance, film, installations, and participatory projects. Additional events featured as Public Events included Lee Fogel's Wishing Garden, Tish Petrushka's Earth Magic, a film on Wangari Maathai by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater, a 350.org gathering connected internationally, a panel facilitated by Marissa Perel, a fieldtrip lecture demonstration at Tsegyalgar East, a Global Underscore, and films selected by Olive Bieringa.

The SEEDS Festival investigates arts and ecological research from a variety of fields of inquiry. It proposes several notions: that the intelligence of embodiment has specific offerings for our understanding of ecology, that artistic practice is a valuable tool and vehicle for this research, that when experiential research is shared, discussed, and archived, it indeed can benefit from and for this interaction, and that socially engaged research can mutually support the arts and the regenerative practices for the earth.

SEEDS Co-Founders

Margit Galanter and Olive Bieringa of the BodyCartography Project

SEEDS 2009 Producer & Earthdance Site Lead

Margit Galanter

2009 Co-Curators

Margit Galanter, Melinda Buckwalter, and Olive Bieringa.

SEEDS 2009 Team

Archivists: Lead: Rachel Boggia, with Ali Essekali, Julia Handsuch, and curators; Earthdance Producer : Spirit Joseph; Support Staff: Design and PR maven - Melle Dragon; Office Manager – Rek Kwawer; SEEDS intern – Dana Albertson; Summer Support and Earthdance Staff – Sarah Worden, Kelly Mariani, Jacqueline Rubinstein, Justin Manocchia , Kalyan Uprichard, Keren Ganin-Pinto, Roy Saguenbomb, Ania Witwitzka, Ti Knoepfel, and others.


2008 Review

The focus of SEEDS 2008 was ecology. In basic terms, ecology studies the interactions of organisms with their environment and with one other. It is a rich term because it highlights feedback and interdependence. A broad use of ecology invokes the connections between realms as diverse as the natural world, social landscapes, human behavior, and imagination. Through the theme, the Festival explored ecology both as a subject of inquiry, an approach, and a metaphor, thereby inviting new applications and research.

The SEEDS Festival was comprised of workshops, performances, panel discussions, land projects, and generated artistic investigations, forming a unique and vital organism.

You can taste some of these findings by visiting our living SEEDS blog- http://seedsfestival.ning.com/ or check out Margit Galanter on SEEDS 2008, interviewed by Marlon Barrios Solano on www.dance-tech.net at http://www.dance-tech.net/video/1462368:Video:21165

2008 Teachers, Facilitators & Panelists

Andrew de L. Harwood, Andrew Faust, Arawana Hayashi, Aaron Jessup, The BodyCartography Project, Bruce Hooke, Bryce Beverlin, Chris Aiken, Christopher Weidman, Claudia Wittman, Dana Salisbury, Daniel Lepkoff, Daniel Roth, Elaine Colandrea, Emmanuelle Pepin, Dr. Enoch Page, Jane Vorburger, Jen Harmon, Jennifer Monson, John Jasperse, Jonah Bokaer, Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Karen Nelson, Kate Bailey, Lailye Weidman, Liana Foxvog, Mark Lakeman, Martha Eddy, Marlon Barrios-Solano, Melle Dragon, Melinda Buckwalter, Ku and Dancers, Nala Walla, Olive Bieringa, Olivier Besson, Susan Schell, Suprapto Suryodarmo, Susan Sgorbati, Tamara Ashley, Terre Unité Parker, Tony Vacca

2008 Festival Curators

Jen Harmon, Olive Bieringa, Margit Galanter, Mark “Moti” Zemelman, and Shira Lynn W*

2008 Festival Support and Artistry

Earthdance Staff : Christine Yee, Eryn Rosenthal, Hannah McCarger* , Jason Comcomwich*, Margit Galanter, Mark Messer, Rek Kwawer, Shira Lynn W*, and Spirit Joseph

Administrative Support : Anneliese Moordhorst. Archivists: Melinda Buckwalter, Sandra Yee + Tamara Ashley; Graphic Designer : Alicia Marvan; International Research and Support : Diane Butler, Rachel Cooper (Asia Society), and the Waka Foundation. Production Assistant : Sarah Worden; Project Director : Margit Galanter; + Publicity Designer: Melle Dragon


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