Wow! What a rush these first couple months of 2017 have been!
On the eve of the Women’s March on Washington, Natalia Zukerman invited me to perform at the Sisterhood In Song concert. I danced to Anne Heaton’s poignant “Maybe It’s Peace” with Mona Tavakoli on cajon. (This song continues to be one I am grateful to wake up humming!). Here’s the video.
After dancing that one planned number, I laced up my boots and gone to sit in the audience to enjoy the rest of the concert. The evening was full of incredible music—Edie Carey, Arianna Zukerman, The Northern Lights, Raining Jane. I was moved to tears several times. Grateful for the invitation to sit, and listen and feel. Grateful for art during a time of such shock and grief, grateful to be coming together, to be healing and strengthening each other as we readied ourselves for the work that was to come.
Much like an episode of Oprah, the evening was also full of surprise gifts for the audience. When Natalia introduced Nicole LaRue, the woman who designed the logo for the Women’s March on Washington, the crowed gasped and stood and applauded, we were starstruck! Nicole was followed by a second surprise guest, Sara Bareilles (!!) bringing us to our feet again. She played her incredible song “Seriously” which is her imagining of what President Obama might’ve been thinking about incoming President Elect Trump, but couldn’t say publicly. For her second song all the evening’s musicians joined her on stage for her anthemic hit “Brave” and then they said, “And Sarah too! Come dance!” (gulp!) oh wow, ok. I thought to myself, this is one of those moments you just say yes. I unlaced my boots and got back up on stage. Truly improv-ing it, I just kept listening to the song’s lyrics and telling myself to keep being brave. It was a joy, and honor, a great rush. Here’s the video.
This is what we do – we make art, we share it, we invite others to join, we step up, we keep listening, we leap.
The next day I joined the sea of pink hats that blanketed DC. There were SO MANY OF US. In DC, in cities and towns across the country, around the world. We can know, and keep reminding ourselves and each other, we are not alone. The museums and restaurants of DC were open, everyone was friendly in accommodating the thousands of extra people coming in to use the restroom and get a bite to eat. At one point a marcher asked one of the police on horseback which way to go to stay on the route and the officer said “well, at this point there’s so many people, the march is just… everywhere.”
In February the company and I got to perform Rocked By Women on the Olivia Travel “Festival At Sea” Cruise. What a joy to share our full show with an audience of what felt like my Olivia family and my Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival family. Several of our artistic collaborators were also onboard the ship – Julie Wolf, Aarin Burch, Shelley Doty. I was honored that Amy Ray was also in the audience.
The dancers and I spent the week in the company of inspirational women:
• Labor and Civil Rights Activist, Dolores Huerta (always the last one to leave the dance floor! She trained to be a dancer and tells everyone they should too so that their legs will be strong for marching and protesting when they are 87) “Repeat everything positive that has been done and that we are doing now.”
• LGBT rights activist, Edie Windsor (who wowed us all with a poignant duet of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Julie Wolf at the piano)
• Obama Administration’s Tina Tchen (“Support the entertainment that portrays what we want to see.”)
• Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund’s Aisha Moodie-Mills (“When we are not at the table, we are on the menu in America.”)
• Advocate for gender equality and social justice, Billie Jean King, “What are your strengths? Work from there.” and “Sponsor one other human who doesn’t look like you.”
• USAID’s Claire Lucas, and all the speakers, emphasized the importance of running and electing LGBT and feminist candidates at the local level, starting with School Board.
The final night of the trip, Alyson Palmer of BETTY, orchestrated an incredible Chix Finale show “Dames at Sea”- weaving songs with Women’s Names in the title together with truly inspiring stories of powerful women of history and mythology. Winning the “best guest dance appearance ever” award was THE Billie Jean King getting up on stage and doing the moonwalk during the band’s cover of the Michael Jackson song.
SBDP, plus guest dancer Dawn Robinson-Patrick, joined the awesome Chix Band (Shelley Doty, Katie Cash, Kofy Brown, Julie Wolf) and Ty and Ingrid of “Mouths of Babes” for the Pretenders’ song “Rosalee”. It was fabulously fun, embodying the spirit of the powerful women Alyson and the other readers had evoked in the show as we twirled, as sirens, as witches, as friends – dancer Rose, danced down the isle handing out roses to the audience before joining Nina and then Shanise on stage. We all together lifted Ingrid up over our heads for her final vocal. What a blast. What a cast!
Now it’s March and we keep on marching. Many folks are on their feet and in the streets, weekly, daily. Leading up to International Women’s Day, my friend Caity Rushton sent me a Facebook message “I want to create an international flash mob for women and their allies. An action where we put our art to the heart. Our pain into flame. An amazing art piece for peace. A political action of vibes. I know we can do it, and I know it can shift the energy of the world. Plus, it’s just fun. I need your help with the movement part. Are you in?”
We created the “WONDER Flashmob” to Emeli Sandé’s incredible song, and in just a week 2,000 people joined the Facebook group and started learning and practicing the dance. On March 8th I spent the day with hundreds of women all over the Bay Area, teaching and performing the dance on the front steps of Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland City Halls, joining with protestors at Justin Herman and Frank Ogawa (Oscar Grant) Plazas. What a joy! Such a thing to dance with strangers, take each other’s hands, look each other in the eye, be brave and silly and full of wonder.
Here’s a fun news video that captures an aerial shot of one of the flashmobs in front of Oakland City Hall.
Though first designed for International Women’s Day, I hope that the WONDER Flashmob will continue to grow! I think the song’s title makes it a good fit for the Science/Climate Marches planned for Earth Day (April 22nd). The dance could be a way to emphasize the value of curiosity and excitement for learning. Join the WONDER Flashmob Facebook group to start learning the moves and organize actions in your area!
Keep being brave and full of wonder.
We are not alone.
In love and awe and gratitude,
Mark your calendars for these upcoming dates:
This Sunday, March 26th at 11:15am – Sarah dances in the service at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Road, Kensington, CA.
Saturday April 29th – Sarah does a solo performance and teaches the WONDER Flashmob at Oakland Dance Festival, Jack London Square – free!
Sunday April 30th – Sarah will teach a 30 minute class and perform at Project Bandaloop’s “Community Day” at their studio, 1601 18th Street in Oakland.
Sunday May 28th – Sarah will join a panel to discuss the Trump administration’s impact on the LGBT community and the role of the artist in shining a torch on these issues. San Francisco International Arts Festival, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason.
May 31st-June 3rd, Excerpts from Rocked By Women – Wednesday May 31st 8pm (w/ post-show Q&A), Friday June 2nd 9:30pm, Saturday June 3rd 3pm. San Francisco International Arts Festival, Fort Mason “Fire House”. Early-bird tickets on sale now.
June 2nd & 3rd – see Sarah’s choreographic collaboration with Linda Carr and Berkeley High Dance Production, exploring the question “What is feminine?”. Berkeley High School Florence Schwimley Little Theater.
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