‘Gestures’ Column: Tap Into The Power Of The Troupe

This is the June edition of the new ABS column ‘Gestures,’ in which we reflect on women’s contributions to music and movement

SheWolf Sacred, founded in 2017, has given a home to artists of all kinds, from performers of dance, music, poetry, percussion, and storytelling. Their aim is to create a space for ritual and transformative energy cycles through movement. With a constantly fluid formula for success, SheWolf Sacred has now summoned, reclaimed, healed, and thrived through the loss of their stage, their audience, and their actual physical touch.

What came first? Was it music or dance? SheWolf Sacred would probably answer that question with the community came first. While the past year has given us all time to rethink our priorities, SheWolf has used any and all available platforms to keep reinventing themselves with a fresh st(ART). When we speak of human interconnectedness, the power of mutual care and respect shines bright.

“The beauty of community and the acknowledgment that we can’t do anything alone means we need each other. We are all interconnected in a really intelligent and intricate and miraculous way. When one action happens, it creates a ripple effect and we are all connected in that way. It’s about keeping your own sense of self while also acknowledging collaboration and being with each other in a way that is productive and compassionate and a way to still honor all of our differences.” – Julie Brannen (she/her/they/them)

Julie Brannen © Phil Solomonson

That is why SheWolf Sacred is different! You don’t have to be a professional performer, no. SheWolf Sacred has this open space of free art expression, which is key nowadays. Human connection is beyond physical presence. Human connection is food for the soul. It fulfills the heart as we continue connecting with ourselves, connecting with nature, connecting with every living being and all life has to offer. It’s why we are here. We are one.” – Brissa Del Mar (she/her)

Brissa Del Mar © Phil Solomonson

Performance as therapy and the cycles of theatrical energy await us on the other side. While we revel in the shadow, doing our own personal transformations, we do not have to do it alone. Isolation has given way to confirm that humanity carries on through the darkest of days to the still morning of tomorrow.

“Yes, I am a dancer but I would be a dancer in a vacuum if I didn’t have musicians, an audience, stage, studios. You know, my artistic and diversity are very routinely interconnected emotionally, physically, and spatially.” – Shiwali Tenner (she/her)

Shiwali Tenner © Phil Solomonson

“Nothing exists in a vacuum therefore everything is interdependent. It is the essence of everything. We are essentially interdependent as creatures here on Earth. The more we recognize it, the more we can all move forward in harmony and understanding that whatever we do affects everything else. A balanced world would be one where we listen to the rhythms, the natural rhythms within ourselves and within nature, rather than what we’re taught with culture.”   – Gaea Lady (she/her)

Gaea Lady © Phil Solomonson

“I find inspiration from my life experience and my peers around me. My vision, especially with me being autistic, is people would understand more better as to what that disability is. My vision is for us to understand each other like when we drum and stuff like that. People are aware of the cues and signs, stuff like that, of autism.” – Victoria Djembe (she/her/his/him)

Victoria Djembe © Phil Solomonson

When it comes to compassion fatigue, losing the love of what once moved you to great heights of freedom and expression, the struggle is real. What would it have been like to watch male actors play out on stage the roles you longed to fulfill yourself? From the Shakespearean age to today, we will always battle to overcome adversity. Together is the place to start. Forging our way to a better future inside and outside the box is exemplified by the SheWolf Sacred tribe. Just because no one else can heal you or do your inner work does not mean that you can or should do it alone.

“I really love connecting to other people because we’re all so multifaceted and there’s a lot that can be built or even experienced when we come together. If I’m lucky, if I am resourceful, I can find them and do things with them and contribute to what they are doing.” – Coelti (they/them)

Coelti © Phil Solomonson

“Experimenting with the video camera as a stage platform, taking online classes to learn about theatre and writing within this online stage platform, and experimenting with devising theatre online with a group of physical theatre artists. I’ve also been writing a lot more, working with my imagination to create new worlds. My family, are all immigrants. We are from a country that really values community and interdependence. It’s more of a group-oriented society than an individualistic society. For me, communities and the circles I’ve surrounded myself with, the friends I’ve made, have all been intrinsically linked to my development as a person, as an artist, as a thinker. I believe it’s our responsibility to take care of everybody and make sure everyone is included, loved and properly supported. Interdependence has everything to do with who I am and the art I make, and the person I want to be.” – Danielle Levsky (she/her)

Danielle Levsky © Phil Solomonson

Variables and unknowns filter through minuscule molecules of thin air while we travel from the glory days of the past to the golden age of the future. Creating art means that loving yourself today could equate to a cold day of criticism tomorrow. Even in going from stage to screen and soon enough, back to stage again, SheWolf Sacred has always kept collaboration at the center of their focus and drive. Their main mission is to create socially responsible art that formulates them into a true community organization.

“My vision of a balanced world is one in which the individual in authority is not looked at by the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, nor their mental health conditions or physical disabilities. I think a balanced world is able to identify or move to space where we are able to highlight their abilities because we each have them. We all could thrive in that environment. For example, I am not one that works with numbers but in a balanced world, there would be access to those modalities. In a balanced world, reiki would be covered by insurance companies. In a balanced world, we would all have the opportunity to mentor others in the same capacity – based on what our wants and needs are. It’s not just about what people need but also what they want for their lives. People should be able to have the kind of lifestyle that is conducive to what and who they are.” – Julie Pacheco (she/her)

Julie Pacheco © Phil Solomonson

“Oh, shit. How do you put that into words? What would a balanced world look like to me? Everyone could live the life that they felt. It was good for them – like I’m a minimalist. I don’t need a pet house, I don’t need no fancy cars. I don’t need any of that. I’m perfectly fine living in a bus and being able to travel to Prague, you know, so that’s my vision that I should be able to be happy and live somewhere where I can live that and not feel the pressures of having to have a house with a picket fence. And, you know, because that’s not my vision. But if it is, then you should be able to live in that same neighborhood with that picket fence next to me and my bus, you know.” – E’a the Wholistic Artist (she/her)

E’a © Phil Solomonson

“Within the cosmos of the U.S., it’s really just a macrocosmic vision of what happens in our own personal world. I see parallels so often in life and in collective life. Within the U.S. there is so much shame and within my personal family, so much shame, that is attributed to being dependent on anything.” – Jane Justice (she/her)

Rebecca Jane Justice © Phil Solomonson

“We are all connected to each other. We need each other for support, to be able to share with each other our lives and our feelings. We need to be able to speak truthfully to each other, share our hopes and our dreams. We need to be able to feel that we have a safe space in doing that, that we can hear each other because as a culture, we all need to be respectful of not just each other as people but as independent beings within ourselves and then also connecting to people around us, connecting to the Earth which means that we are connected to the mountains, the plants, the trees, the waters, rocks, stones.

“We are dependent on the planet so we need to respect and honor the planet. Even outside of that, out to larger spheres like the heavens if you will, or the spiritual boundaries – not even boundaries but the spiritual aspects of our lives speaking to our guides and to the planet. I see this as a gigantic spectrum of the feeling acknowledging that we don’t exist alone. There is a respect for the variety of life, the variety of our species, thoughts, and different ways of living. Genuine curiosity is a brilliant way to approach life.” – Antonia Callas (she/her)

Antonia Callas © Phil Solomonson

It is not a type of enmeshment that we seek when we say we are stronger together. It’s just that often other people and other people’s ideas can be better than your own. As you navigate through life, be open to collaboration. Find a group of people that challenge and inspire you.

“I feel like just maybe getting more women into the political arena may help with some of that. I mean, in a perfect world. I don’t know. Is there a perfect world? I’m not sure. But I feel like maybe that is the first step and we have to take baby steps because everybody is so on edge right now and so triggered by everything that you can’t even have a conversation with people because they just start to fly off the handle about everything. Can we meet halfway or find some common ground? Because everybody – every one of us – can find a place where we have common ground and we can have a conversation. And maybe the conversation is where everything begins.” – Teresa Venus (she/her)

Teresa Venus © Phil Solomonson

“I always imagine myself filled with the power of healing, filled with the power of inspiration. In my dreams I am loving. I am someone who can spit on the Earth and a flower will grow. Basically finding myself in a space where I am seen in all my beautiful glittery glory but also helps other people see their beautiful glittery glory.” – Audrey Herrington (she/her)

Audrey Herrington © Phil Solomonson

“Despite our differences, we can read the same novel and experience the same emotions and understanding. We can go to the theatre and cry or laugh at the same time. These experiences are just some of the underpinnings of our shared humanity that vividly illustrate the idea of universality. I help connect women to the wild women – the divine and ancient feminine through the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I am writing a book of my own on how to run your own wolf woman circle. In all these endeavors, I encourage people to speak their truth and remind them that I am here to listen to them.” – Antonia Callas (she/her)

  “I do believe that everything comes down to personal responsibility. We gotta take personal responsibility and that is being responsible for our own emotions, actions, behaviors. Take personal responsibility for our triggers, this will allow for us to be seen as we are in the here and now.  We need to be seen for who we are. That allows us to come together and create greater things from our hearts.” ~ Brissa Del Mar (she/her)

It is to see beyond what is in front of us and embrace opportunities to learn and to connect. If we focus on the differences and the barriers between us, we may never see above the walls. Spend that time with people. Make the conscious choice to enjoy these moments or suffer the isolation alone. Let’s spend our energy growing and blooming.

“Where we can dance ‘together’ even when we are not in the same physical room, this is powerful.” – Julie Brannen (she/her/they/them)

SheWolf Sacred is composed of Julie Brannen- founder and executive artistic director. Brissa Del Mar is the Community Director as well as Kristen Perry and Vanessa Leon, Production Directors (not pictured). Members of SheWolf Sacred contribute in many ways from performing to healing to healing through performance, performing with inclusive boundaries and now online outreach benefiting local charities.

It is not in death that we part but in life that we live together.

Octavia Reese © Phil Solomonson
Radia Ali © Phil Solomonson
Laksha © Phil Solomonson
Ellen Dancer © Phil Solomonson
Montana Potter © Phil Solomonson

 

*All images: © Phil Solomonson / Philamonjaro Studio

 

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