UNTIL NOW, I have always veered towards being hopeful, a cliché-loving, the-glass-is-more-than-half-full, the-sun-will-come-out-tomorrow, rose-colored-glasses kind of guy. And yet circumstances in my life, such as abuse, or bullying, or the loss of my parents, or the death of friends or lovers at a young age, or even the ubiquitous broken heart from love denied—there’s my cliché-ness again—have pushed me to consider and question how to continue to live a hope-filled life even with so much injustice and pain in the world. I imagine that everyone falls somewhere along the spectrum of hopefulness and hopelessness, but it’s in these observed moments that I find an opportunity to discover how to continue to contribute to life as well. My name is Pollyanna, oh I mean Wayne, and I am a living cliché?—oh my!
Having hope is informed by my ability to connect with an elder, be that someone united by blood, or a teacher, or a member of my self identified family. This age-old way of engaging and learning and, sharing history can elucidate each of our to-be-decided-upon-choices in life; informing how we navigate a full sweep of options or paths.
Several years ago, Anna Halprin shared a story with me that I often retell: She related about how her brother loved to greet each day by taking his canoe out on the water. One day, walking with his canoe, both he and the canoe hit the ground, and he died instantly. Assuredly, I have reinterpreted some of the details of this simple and profound story, but, my take from the telling is that Anna’s brother died doing something that granted him immense pleasure; I remember the timbre of Anna’s voice when she said that that was how she wanted to go, doing something she loved.
The years, and the accumulated stories, such as Anna’s, provide a vista upon which to reflect how deeply fortunate I am to be privy to my elders’ gifts. Many stories have awed me, some made me blush, but I will continue to recount them until the end of my life. The gift of sharing, of remembering, of feeling part of a community that I believed in and one that believes in me, I trust. This is the cherished part of living a long life, helping to celebrate the next generation and the powerful act of giving back.
It is no surprise to regular readers that through my work at Dancers’ Group, I have, and continue to be, an advocate of Anna Halprin’s artistic voice and legacy. Being able to support an artist over time, in a variety of ways, is one of the great privileges of my work —and I marvel at how special this connection continues to be for me and so many others.
This month marks the culmination of a shared vision to bring forward a performance work that honors Anna and yet is a work uniquely another artist’s—Shinichi Iova-Koga. Sections of this work, 95 Rituals, have been performed in a variety of locations as diverse as San Francisco City Hall, Mattole Valley, Mills College Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Museum of Performance + Design, and in and around Fort Mason Center. From July 7-11, the culminating event of this tribute/new work will take place on the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco. For 3 hours each evening, 95 Rituals will reflect on past events, and what was gleaned will inform the Hyde Street Pier space—the boat, the deck, the audience, the tourists, the water, and the shore.
95 Rituals might just be the ultimate performance remix, a work to honor not only Anna Halprin, but me, and you. As we prepare to share this experience, please join us and add to the future remembrances of a time on the water, surrounded by light, love, sound, movement, and generous measures of hope.