ART | Art class for preschoolers : TREE (2)

After we had studied a lot of trees and gained enough confidence in drawing lines, creative flowed naturally. Then it was time to make art, applying those lines into creative work. In this term each artist had 2 master pieces. First piece was a deconstructed version of tree. We played with dots and continuation of lines, starting from small dots which represented seeds at the bottom of paper and bigger dots scattering on the upper part of the work representing fruits of this imagined tree. Then our young artists need to connect those dots – from seeds to fruits – with lines. Many lines from many seeds travelled up to form a patch of dense lines which turned to be a trunk. Those lines travelled apart from each other again to form many branches of the tree. They were intertwining, weaving, and criss-crossing with each other. They travelled up to the top part of paper to encircles the bigger dots which were fruits of the trees. Eventually, a clear image of imagined tree was revealed.

The second work, we invited kids to see what was inside the trunk. They were inspired by beautiful pictures of those year rings. A very curved line formed a circle, and bigger circle encircling the smaller one inside and so one. The most challenging part was that each line was parallel with the one next to it. This is about focus and control. The rings kept expanding until space on the rectangular drawing block was not enough and some parts of the out rings could not be seen as they could not fit in the paper. This concept was a huge thing for kids to learn. They learned that things which could not be seen did not mean they were disappeared. In addition, for older kids in the class, they learned about space as they needed to be a able to see the lines continuing even though they disappeared from the paper. In a way, they started to learn the concept of ‘cropping’. What’s more, for both younger and older kids, they saw that the shape of the rings, even though they tried to keep them parallel to the inside ring, transformed. Lines, when being conditioned with change of size or space, had their own journey and momentum. Nothing should be perfect in a world of creative art. Things evolve, develop, and change. Artists are not the ones who can control everything, but the ones who accept whatever happen and continue creating from them.

And from the photos they saw, some also saw smaller lines between the rings going perpendicular with the ring itself. Then they started to draw small lines between the rings and we agreed to develop on that idea. As a result, they had options to draw small lines between the rings or color in that space instead. The most beautiful part of this work was reserved for small dots which were to be added between tow rings the last. The idea was from a part of trees called xylem. It is a type of transport tissue in plants. The young artists apply white glue on paper in the space between the chosen two rings, then sprinkle cut out dots (prepared by teachers using a hold punchers) on the rule. With the glimpse of spontaneity and confidence plus combination of colors carefully picked by themselves, the artwork came out very stunning. It was such a beautiful work made out of simple things – just dots and lines.

It was such an enriching term. The value of not rushing through the process to force artwork to be prematurely born showed its outcome beautifully. It was our distinctive point that we prefer to walk through process of art making slowly from the beginning – from gathering experiences, translating onto paper, and transforming all creative marks into artwork – for the little artists to understand and be innately and daringly creative when they were to make art in the future. Most important part we learnt throng this journey was the learning how to appreciate beauty of simple things in everyday life which laid foundation of a positive and creative way of thinking throughout there life. 

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ART | Art class for preschoolers : TREE (1)

Art nurtures soul. Most of us know that, but only some of us give importance to an art class. It is true that early childhood kids are naturally interested in art. They enjoy scribbling, coloring and drawing. They are full of imagination but, sadly, it slowly fades away when they grow up and enroll to a school. Formal education does not allow enough time for this gift from nature to grow. Art call for preschoolers tries its best to keep this creative seed alive and to provide room for it to grow strong in adulthood’s wind.

Each term covers 8 sessions which focuses on different particular theme. For this term we talked about trees. By this I did not mean that we asked students to sketch trees as how we saw them. Rather, we had trees as a main source of inspiration for our art work, studying them through process of art making. There are still very few experiences in their lives to cognitively process conceptual idea. As a result, first-handed experiences are crucial for this age group. They learn best by seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, sensing them in a way most appropriate.

The whole trees were deconstructed into simpler forms which are easier for kids to appreciate. The whole class went out to our garden to look at real trees. They could go to the trees as close as they wanted, touching or hugging them. They were encouraged by teachers to follow the tree trunk and branches with their hands drawing in the air following the contour of the trees. They were told to look up and observe curve and criss-cross lines of branches, strong thick lines of trunks, small dots of leaves and beautiful color of flowers. Apart from observing the trees in the arts center’s garden, kids also had a chance to see photos of trees from other parts of the world. From real trees and photos of trees, we saw straight lines, curve lines, wavy lines, and zig-zag lines. Some lines were short, while some lines were long. Some were thick, and some were thin.

The next learning process is to translate all those lines onto paper. It was the most difficult part out of the whole process. The young artists tried drawing many kinds of lines, thick and thin, long and short, straight and curve, curly and wavy. They tried on different kinds of paper, different sizes, different textures, and different colors, using various tools and mediums. Actually this was a process of sharping their skill which could be tedious but with a sense of a playful experiment together with story telling, kids were engaged throughout. We spent a few sessions for this practice and at the end of the terms, each student had quite a number of different paper with many kinds of lines on them, including big mahjong paper which was bigger than kids themselves. It is a collection of lines of each individual not just practicing paper. You can think of these lines as alphabets. To be able to make words, you need to know the alphabets first. Similarly, to make art works, it is easier if you have some collection of lines ready to be used.

Next blog I will show you how the young artists put together their artistic mark making to turn them into artwork.

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LET ME SAY | When it is not easy, it is not.

Finally I came back to Singapore working with the same company as last time.

After I left the company in December 2015, things have been so complicated. Many changes happened in both good and bad way. I’d been traveling back and forth between Singapore and Thailand almost every three months before this final decision.

Why did I decide to come back? It was such a difficult decision to make. As an artist, there is no doubts it was the right decision. However, as a yoga teacher (as how people call me), as one of directors of my family’s businesses in my country, and as a buddhist disciple who (thought she) was ready to follow buddha’s path, this was the most stupid decision one could make. But there are many roles we need to play. Questions rise. How many of them are conflicting with the others. And how legitimate it was to prioritize one over the others?

Well, if I put it this way, it may sound more legit for every role I am playing. This company is distinct from other dance companies I know. It does not train me to be a better dancer, but to be a better artist with a well balanced of enough pressure and enough space for creativity. The most important thing that is a tipping point which brought me back here was its outreach programs.

Since young, I have felt the urge of making the art I do useful. I had a plan to do MA in dance therapy but until now I haven’t had a chance to pursue that dream. However, one of the main works we do in this company forced me to research more in how to use art, dance, movement, and creativity for therapeutic purpose. We call it ‘elderly program’ and recently, I have been very into it. We are doing research on how can we use dance to engage both physical and mental aspect of elderly people. Our assumption is that dance requires coordination of different body parts which in turn stimulates activities in a brain. And to inspire elderly people to dance, imaginary and creativity which fall under mental aspect come to play an important role. It is the doing the movements with some clear goal in mind that really helps elderly people as a whole person, not only physical body. We try not to just reach hands up and bring them down ten times, but to have a high cloth hanging rod in mind and the wanting to hang our clothes on it with a glimpse of joy from accompanied music and dance making elements that engage both body and mind.

Like movements session for elderly, I believe we should live our lives with clear goals in mind and have fun with whatever we are doing. Now I have completed my second month in the same company. To be honest, the latter has not quite been achieved yet. This also due to my worry for my other responsibilities in my home town too. My life as an artist would be easier and more fluid if I could ride on the momentum of work with out having to think about my works in another country. But well, it is family’s businesses and for my yoga studio, I have promised, I’d not quit.

Working in two countries sounds too adventurous for me. I am not excited about it. It is tiring. Nevertheless, I think the best thing I can do for now is find the meanings of every work I have to do and really believe in them as they are fuel for me to run this mental engine. I can work, be it art, business, or yoga, as long as I know they are meaningful. As long as I feel my life exists for a purpose.

LET ME SAY | A hole in a basket

When I look at my life right now, I feel useless.

And when I look at myself in the mirror, I feel disgusted.

Is that me?

I can find happiness all around me but not within me.

I am not myself and that is the hole in the basket.

I can’t be myself. 

I can’t speak my language. 

I can’t express the way I believe.

I smile for the things I’m not enjoying.

I cry over non-sense thing in other’s eyes.

I laugh just because it’s odd not to laugh at that moment.

I cheerfully talk just to kill the silence and awkwardness.

This is painful.

I am trying very hard to fit into this place. 

And to take every possible opportunity to be so many things I think I can transform myself into.

But more and more I realize.. I can’t stop being me. 

It’s not a choice. It’s not an option.

I really can’t

I may fill the basket with many good things and opportunities.

But the hole of not being myself is there 

And the basket will aways be empty.

It’s such a big hole.

LET ME SAY | My (not) yoga journal

I thought I was ready to give up dance.

I thought It would be fun to teach yoga.

to see happiness in the eyes of students.

When I was a dancer I denied calling myself a dancer.

‘It is too shallow’, I thought. 

I knew I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I thought I knew.

….

Then I was happy calling myself an artist when I worked in Singapore

As I could see happiness in people’s eyes

From what we did which was more than just dance 

and I felt my life as an artist was finally useful

without having to quit doing things I enjoy.

….

But there were some undeniable reasons 

 which made me quit my job

It was painful 

but I thought I could cope with it

I would turn myself into a yoga teacher.

A full time one.

I thought I was ready.

….

Now people call me a yoga teacher. 

Funny, I hear my heart cries, ‘I’m not’. 

And that means.. 

I’m not a yogi. 

I’m not that calm. 

I’m not ready. 

And worst, I’m not myself.

Though I can still see happiness in people’s eyes

But happiness in my eyes are running dry.

It shouldn’t be like this.

My life is out of balance.

And the stage door has not closed. 

I still can turn back if I don’t wait for too long.

But how? Now people call me yoga teacher

And they want me to stay

to facilitate their practice

No I’m not that important

But I don’t want to leave them for the second time

(I did it when I left for Singapore 5 years ago.)

But how to facilitate people to help them find their inner energy

while knowing myself that I am not living my true life.

….

The word karma yoga comes back to my thought.

The doing things for other people with detachment from its outcome.

This is karma yoga.. to run a studio and provide classes for them

This is the business that I need to take care

I need to run it for people who want to do yoga

I am not trying to be rich from this business

I just cannot leave them now

This is my duty 

I may not be a yoga teacher at the end

but I know this is one of my missions

to have classes available for them

to come to yoga

to practice

to find themselves

to be more peaceful

to be more comfortable within their bodies

….

Yes I want to run away

But I have work to do

I’ll do it first then I’ll run away

back to a life that I know how to live

I need to do it fast 

fast enough to make it in time

before the stage door closes down.

….

I’ll go back.

I’ll go back to live my true life.

SITE SPECIFIC | Blissful dance on the hill

I was on the hill somewhere in  India. The song by Deva Premal – Chidananda was in my head and the surrounding was beautiful. And I started to move.

I had been a dancer/movement artist for all my life. Things stopped when life force me back to my country. I was lost and couldn’t feel the new ground under my feet. Watching myself dance on the hill help realign my self a bit.

After all I still miss dancing with my ex company in Singapore. In other words, I miss my life. But this feeling shall pass. The road doesn’t end. I just made another turn.

COMPANY RHS | It is all about energy. It is all about mind.

Our contemporary dance company has a training class 4 days a week. One out of four is a body conditioning class. We do a lot of cardio and weight training. Our rehearsal director has a lot of administrative works to do recently, so it is always me who has to lead this class. But not for the class 2 weeks ago. I asked my colleague to lead the class as I felt very tired and (I hate to admit that I also felt) lazy.

My colleague is a fantastic dancer with a lot of experiences. She joined the company around the same time as me. Just only because my English is better so my director let me lead the class (and rehearsals, sometimes) more often than her. Normally, in the body conditioning class which I led, I always felt her energy was a bit low or because she saved her energy, but not in this particular session. When she led the class, she was full of energy and could do more than what she normally did. What’s more, it was me who was not able to perform as good as how I normally was when I led the class. Every session, I could psych myself up before we started push-ups which I counted loudly for everyone, and I ended up with more energy at the end of the class than when we started. But for this session, that energy kept going down and down.

I asked my colleague after the class how she felt. Not surprising, she said she felt she had more energy than usual. What I learned from that day was that working out has a lot to do with mind. It’s a mental work as well as a physical work. When you know you are leading, you prepare your mind so you have enough energy for yourself and everyone under your leading. You call for 32 push-ups and hold in a plank position for 64 counts and you know that you can’t fail. The only choice you have is to complete it. You’ve prepared your mind. 

So it is about mind. The mind has an absolute control over energy. If you don’t control your mind, it will control you (quoted from my Indian yoga teacher). It is the mind telling you that you can or cannot do. If you do it, you have to have already known that you CAN because it is the only way to succeed in that particular task. You don’t have to be a leader. You just really need to tell yourself that to complete the task is the only one choice you have.

it's good to be crazy. Craziness lifts energy high up.

It’s good to be crazy. Craziness lifts energy up high.

Cute time. Eh, cute?

Cute time. Eh, cute?

Yoga is always a good cross training

Yoga is always a good cross training

Me

Me

And then see what happens.

🙂

COMPANY RHS | Cover / Uncover


Today our company worked about covering and uncovering.

We just used scarf, jacket to cover a friend and a friend uncovered herself. Then took turn.

After that we shared about the feeling we had towards the word covering and being covered;

Me : Being covered = I felt safe. Cover come one = I felt love.

My partner : Being covered = She felt struggling. Covering me = She felt sorry for me.

So funny as we danced together. Same movement, but completely different feeling.

One Japanese dancer performed a movement of covering someone like making a nice packaging of something.

That made me think of how Japanese people like to wrap the products nicely, sometimes overly too nice.

She shared with us that Japanese wrapping things nicely was because they wanted the receivers to feel good.

I had a feeling that it was the same as Japanese people themselves.

Sometimes they wrap themselves very nicely with a lot of rules in their cultures cause they want other people to feel good.

There’s nothing good or bad about this. It is just my observation.

The rehearsal was fun though.

Picture for the photo shoot tomorrow. Not about this blog though. :)

Picture for the photo shoot tomorrow. Not about this blog though. 🙂

The ‘OTHER’ Me project | Do you think you know .. your ‘other you’?

I’m still exploring on the same project. I hope I won’t turn mad. Haha it’s fun.

So please kindly share with me your idea about your …. OTHER ME …. It’s fun to think about. (I don’t want to be mad alone. At least I need someone to be mad with. LOL)

…….

Now my macbook is about to explode. I have been storing too many videos. Though I try to keep my archives in 4shared.com, I think I still need an external hard disk.

Brrrr… dealing with computer thingy is the most frustrating task in the world.

DANCE PHOTO | Guess, which one is me?

The company I am working with – the Arts Fission Company (Singapore) is having a show end of August. So here is the first picture we are going to use for promoting.

photo taken by Edwin Wee : our rehearsal director

for more in formation : http://www.facebook.com/artsfission.company