“In wrestling with the present-past, we are not advocating for the ‘change takes time’ approach to the future; instead, we are acknowledging that addressing the future is an everyday series of nonlinear, often iterative undertakings.”
Facilitators Ty Defoe (Giizhig, Oneida/Ojibwe Nations) and Jamelyn Ebelacker (Santa Clara Pueblo) discuss what it means to welcome one another in space, the Native lands represented in the festival, and practices of knowledge sharing.
The local Northwest Arkansas team–Amber Perrodin, Octavio Logo, and Danny Baskin–discuss what it means to host and to be hosted, including the many reasons we’re excited to host such an amazing group of artists in the Northwest Arkansas region next year.
In choosing a collaborator, considerations can include skill sets, resources, temperaments – but most importantly, find someone who is willing to dive into the unknown. You’ll want to find someone who is willing to share, grow, and inspire with you.
Begin on an equal playing field.
This is often impossible. So if you can’t begin here, find a way to get here. Maybe this is with transparency and trust. Maybe this is agreeing to terms. This can be as simple or as complex as a contract.
Consider the aim or intent of what you’re doing. Ask why. Consider the structure. Ask why. Consider the process. Ask why. You get the picture…If something is status quo, ask why. If something is implied, ask why. An important follow up may be how.
Communication is key. 50% of communication is listening. It is as important to speak as it is to listen, if not more so. There is so much to learn through listening. Listening can also include watching, sitting with, and considering. Listening is a sign of respect for your partner. Listening is an acknowledgement that you don’t know everything. Listening is an opportunity.
Take the pressure off. Jump up and down, shake it out. Great ideas don’t come from fear. They come from play. A what if state of mind. In order to truly play, one has to feel safe. Remember, if you haven’t created a space of trust, you won’t be able to play.
Don’t be afraid to erase, cross out, rehash, or start over.
The best idea is rarely the first idea. Part of the process is being wrong, not quite getting it, fine tuning, etc.
A few thoughts on collaboration…
From a young age, I learned the value of collaboration. I learned to see the richness that comes from togetherness, the strength of a vision when it includes more than your own. Collaboration is not always easy, but it is rewarding when done right. What constitutes ‘right’ can be slippery, and oftentimes we get it wrong.
Live in America is a collaboration years in the making. The beauty is, so is the Momentary, and so is Northwest Arkansas. You can really make the case that collaboration is our throughline, our bloodline.
Live in America is made up of a multitude of minds, ideas, conversations, decisions, lives, spirits, and practices, converging in a festival. The Momentary as both a structure and as an organization runs on the collective efforts of departments, relationships and mediums practicing its very ethos as an interdisciplinary site. Northwest Arkansas in its continued expansion inspires methods of shared resources, knowledge, and histories while catapulting itself into the future. These separate entities are in themselves made up of mini and many collaborations. Together they move in circular relations between site, region, people, power, and vision. They are in constant flux…expanding and contracting….In October 2021 we’ll see these collaborations take shape in physical and energetic ways. My hope is that the fuse of the festival will not die out. I want to see it pour into the cracks and crevices of this region, this site, these people…that the stories, lessons we experience here and now will live on for generations to come…teaching us a better way of being…together.
The life experiences of those who live on border regions are significantly affected by the ramifications that come with national boundaries. These dynamics appear to be exacerbated in the Ciudad Juárez and El Paso region: a metropolitan area with a population of over two million that has been a point of continuous tension on the sociopolitical landscapes of both México and the United States. A desert split by a river. A community divided by a wall.
However, human nature is always finding ways to not only survive, but thrive. The same way we adjust to the extreme weather of our desert region, we adjust to the political climate that constantly and permanently throws curveballs at us. In the face of separation and exclusion, we build bridges.
These bridges, both physical and metaphorical, serve as the framework upon which our narrative is weaved. How do we, as a border community, fight for our humanity in our daily lives? What connections do we make between the varied and contrasting experiences of our region? What limits do we encounter and how do we deal with them? The answers to these questions are difficult to pinpoint and are not static. Nevertheless, the search of them is what sets the stage to the different artistic practices that are born on the border.
Inspired by these premises, we developed the multidisciplinary, multigenerational, and multicultural performance “El Puente” (“The Bridge”). We invited a diverse group of experienced and admired performers from the region to come together and use their practices to explore the connection and separation that occurs in our community. Each performer draws from their personal and professional experience to create a dialogue—between themselves, their culture, and the audience—and to intimately tell their border story.
The performance is build around a sound piece inspired by the natural, mechanical, and human sounds of our border, which serves as both a background and connector for the spoken word, dance, musical, and acting pieces that are part of “El Puente.”
“El Puente” is produced by Amalia Mondragón and Edgar Picazo. The sound design is by David Delgado and Julio Mena, and the performers are Nancy Green, Telón de Arena, James Magee, Tereso Contreras, Jennifer Burton, and Cassandro el Exótico.