Category Archives: Performing Arts

the LIFESTYLE Farewell

Dear Friends and Family,

After three years of facilitating the LIFESTYLE arts collective, we’ve reached a point at which we’ve decided to move on from this project in light of other endeavors. Although our website will continue to exist as a historical reference of the artists and artwork that were featured in this space from 2011-2014, we will no longer be collecting or publishing new content. However, before we officially sign off, we’d like to take some time to look back at what’s been an incredible experience connecting and building with you all.

When we launched the LIFESTYLE in August of 2011, our goal was to create a space for dialogue, expression, collaboration, and artistic exchange rooted in the active processes of Reflection and Response through the arts. We sought to create an interactive, inspiring, and open space where artists from around the world would be able to share their work and their thoughts, centered around the idea of Reflection and Response. We also wanted to maintain the LIFESTYLE as an independent operation, free of ideological constraints or financial directives.

Our various projects have included the Artist Feature Series, Events from the Collective, Talk of the Town, Snapshots from the Collective, Original Mondays, and the Porch Swing Residency. The way we see it, all of the posts in these series add up to a dialogue exploring Reflection and Response from the perspectives of different people, art forms, mediums, and locations. Each person’s contribution to the LIFESTYLE served as a showcase of individual creative expression, while also functioning as an interactive piece of a larger-scale discussion.

We structured the LIFESTYLE around the framework of Reflection and Response – a concept that we believe drives artistic expression, yet rightfully remains open to interpretation. We believe art – in all its forms – serves as a venue through which people express themselves based on their experiences, perspectives, feelings, thoughts, and desires. However, art is often cautiously viewed as a simple, trivial aesthetic activity, providing a basis for it to be marginalized in educational institutions and omitted from broad economic discussions.

The concept of Reflection and Response stands in direct opposition to these traditional views, positioning art instead as a result of an artist’s active, unique processes of reflecting on their surroundings and their experiences, and, in turn, responding through creating something new, and inherently powerful – whether that’s a painting, an installation, a performance, a poem, a song, or any other creative output. Although these processes can be consciously harnessed, they also often indirectly affect a person’s work. We think this concept of Reflection and Response helps explain the essence of creativity.

We’d like to thank all of you who participated in this project as artists and readers, and we hope this space has served and inspired you as powerfully as it has on our end. We’ll forever respect the views and artworks that were shared here, and we’ll continue to build from this foundation as we move forward with future projects. Much love!

Reflection and Response.

– V & P

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Artist Feature: Linda Wartenweiler

We met actress Linda Wertenweiler recently through some friends of ours in Brooklyn. Linda has been living in New York since 2006 working on her craft, performing, and acting on camera. In this interview, she discusses her journey from a rural setting with a distinct culture to the fast-paced and eclectic city she now calls home. She cites the importance of dedicated moments of Reflection to provide breaks in the rapid pace of life, and she considers the data gathered from Reflection as necessary input when Responding via the dramatic arts. Recently, this artist appeared in a 1980s-style horror short film, Imprisoned Souls, and is filming another short entitled Canvas, set to shoot in May of this year. We are excited to have the unique perspective of this active craftswoman who is consistently dropping dope projects!

Linda Wartenweiler

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

LW: I was born and raised in beautiful Switzerland (Amriswil TG), right at the border to Germany, Lake of Constance. In 2006 I left my banking career at “home” in order to chase my childhood dream: ACTING! New York City has been my residence ever since and I am loving my new chapter and my life fully!

Being from such a different continent, culture and being from the country side, New York has enriched my life, perspective, lifestyle etc. tremendously! Lots had to be learned, lots had to be explored, lots had to be understood, lots of adaptations needed to be made…. Looking back today to where I was 8 years ago…. WOW, how much growth has happened in me in this fast paced city!!! I am truly grateful and happy with every single experience and lesson that currently is in my back bag. I am looking forward to fill my bag with many more adventures and experiences.

The transformation from the banking world into the acting one was quite an interesting journey! My acting experience was very small, my desire of my heart and soul to pursue it was and still is super strong. Looking back on my growth and path as an actress/artist/human being makes me very happy and evokes a satisfying feeling all over me. It was THE PERFECT decision that I made back then!! “Don’t dream your life, live your dream!” is what is driving and pushing me. The future is unwritten, it will be what we are making out of TODAY and the NOW. Anything is possible if you believe it is! 😉

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LW: Reflection definitely is a very, very important part of my life. It shows me all the colors of my past, it shows me where and who I was then, who I became and where I am heading towards. To me response contains sort of a reality check. I get to see if I am still on the “right” track or if there needs some adjustments to be made. In general I believe that whenever someone intentionally stands still for a little while and starts his/her own reflection process then it means to me that this person cares about himself/herself. It means that this person was running and running and doing and simply functioning without being aware anymore of its initial intentions. Or this person is focused on his/her way and is simply checking in if everything still is ok with what is going on. Sometimes we come off track because of many distractions in our lives or our needs and wants simply change as we do daily.

How does this definition fit in with your acting career?

LW: All the knowledge about myself is more than essential for my work as an actress! The better I know myself, the more I feel myself, the better my work will be as my inner life always reflects my outer life after all. As an actor you need the understanding of your behaviors first, you need to be able to see life in general from a psychological point of view. You need to have the understanding of yourself, your surroundings and of the whole world in general. With your own interpretation of it all you then will be able to use all that data in order to let it flow freely into your work. Reflection will be your helpful guide and director in order to grow faster if you are willing for this exciting adventure to happen…

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

LW: During the past few months I have actually given a lot of my time and focus to myself and to my inner world. Reflection was and still is a big thing in my life and will always be. So it is truly funny to me that I am doing this interview about this subject with you right now Peter! That’s just how the Law of Attraction works after all. 😉

One of my last exciting acting projects was the 80s horror slasher short film “Imprisoned Souls” in which I am portraying the villain “Jeanne Wrayy”. My talented writer and director friend wrote this part for me. Thanks to this character I had a true breakthrough in my craft and that character opened up a whole new dimension in my acting reality. It’s absolutely inspiring to me and I am now applying all the new knowledge into my work.

I just got cast in a short film called “Canvas”, which we will shoot in the beginning of May 2014. This time I will play a lawyer’s wife who is an avid supporter of the artistic community. It will be a very fun project that includes some of my talented friends in cast and crew. My other focus is also in taking new headshots within the upcoming 2 weeks and updating my acting reel. Within the past year I have grown and evolved a lot in my personal and artistic life. It is more than time to capture this “new” me at this point in my life/career in order to sell myself more specifically and effectively.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Perry Young

Perry Young has been a dope actor and performer since we met back in Berkeley during our high school years, and he continues to tear up the stage in NYC and around the country, having recently performed as part of the musical In The Heights. Perry talks with us about the consciousness of reflection that leads to awareness in the present, while he views response as one’s intuition to get where they want to be. The Coming World, another one of his recent works, locates its characters in deep Reflective dialogue and Responsive action as they traverse difficult circumstances. Moving forward, Perry is also looking to work on an original web series dealing with his reality of moving to NYC as an artist. Check out the interview for more insight and info!

Perry Young

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

PY: Born and raised in Berkeley, CA. I’ve had the pleasure of living and performing in several cities and countries, as well as touring all over the US with the musical In The Heights. I’m currently growing my mustache in Brooklyn, NY.

In The Heights

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

PY: Reflection to me has an inherent feeling of the past, a look back on where I was and where I am today. There’s an almost meditative quality to reflection, a consciousness that you are aware of where you’re at in the world and how you got there. Response is your own gut feeling to where you are, where you want to be, and the steps you’re taking to get there. They’re both equally important – reflection being the potential energy and response the kinetic.

How does your work in The Coming World fit in with that definition?

PY: I recently worked on a play entitled “The Coming World.” The play largely dealt with the in-between – the words on the tip of your tongue that you just can’t seem to utter, and the actions that we lay awake at night thinking about but never take. It followed three characters and how they responded to the weight of their circumstances when they were pushed to the edge of reason. What are they willing to fight for, what do they regret about what they’ve done and how do they cope with loss? In that sense, the show very much can be broken down into Reflection and Response. There was a very reflective quality to the play as the characters dealt with certain tragedies that arose and their own responses/feelings of responsibility for what has happened in their lives.

The Coming World

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Zach Mack

Zach Mack is a renaissance man from the Bay Area who currently lives in Oakland. Recently deciding to plunge full-time in pursuit of his goals in radio and media, Zach has been producing news stories for various local public radio stations, hosting/creating two standout original weekly podcasts — Dino Pants Radio and The Four Man Rotation — and performing with an improv troupe at the Magic Jester Theater. Throughout our dialogue, Zach drops gems of knowledge accrued through working hard to forward his creative medium. Zach is making moves out here in multiple realms of craft surrounding his interest in radio, and it’s dope that he took a moment to lend his voice to the Collective!

Dino Pants Radio - Zach & Josh

Sometimes its important to just STOP… clear your head, assess your feelings and then act accordingly. Trust your gut but don’t be afraid to seek out advice from people wiser than yourself.

– Zach Mack

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

ZM: Born and raised in the Bay Area. A California kid to the core, currently living in Oakland. Its a great city that apparently draws a lot of comparisons to Brooklyn. Would love to live in real Brooklyn at some point though.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

ZM: Sometimes its important to just stop… clear your head, assess your feelings and then act accordingly. Trust your gut but don’t be afraid to seek out advice from people wiser than yourself. Last year I made the decision to quit my job to pursue this radio-media thing full time. Its been scary, fun, soul crushing, and inspiring all in one; ultimately I know it was the right decision. That response came after much reflection.

I’m still figuring out what works for me but trying to avoid those safe decisions that you know are comfortable in the moment but that you’ll regret in the long term because they don’t challenge or forward you. I recently received some great creative advice; simply put “Always be making.”

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PODCAST: Hella Oaklandish Scamming Grandmas (February 22, 2014)

“Our friend Mr. Todd stops by to showcase his new radio piece Hella Oaklandish and talk about everything from scamming grandmas to bad business proposals.”


What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

ZM: Right now I’m immersing myself into the world of radio by helping produce news stories for a couple public radio stations. While journalism is pretty new to me I realize it’s a necessary skill for making good radio, even when it’s not totally news based. Alongside that, I am hosting and creating two weekly podcasts. Dino Pants Radio, a fun show with music and banter, as well as a newly formed sports show for the everyday person titled The Four Man Rotation.

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PODCAST: The NFL and the N-word (March 19, 2014)

“The NFL looks to ban the N* word. Is this move progressive or misguided?”


Also, I recently began performing in an improv troupe through Magic Jester Theatre in Oakland. What started as a way to sharpen my wit for radio has turned into a full fledged interest. I find improv to be one of the most life applicable activities I’ve ever taken part in.

Who or what inspires you?

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Feature: Tanya Jackson

We’re honored to present this week’s feature on East Harlem-based educator, documentary artist, and performing artist Tanya Jackson. Collaboration is hard work sometimes, but nonetheless forces everyone invested in the process to grow—Tanya discusses her experiences working with other artists on some inspiring film projects and how she herself grows and develops through each project. Watch as she builds an exhibition of how we as people can be reflections of one another as we respond to the brush strokes that paint the canvas of our lives.

Tanya Jackson

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

TJ: I’m a native New Yorker. I was born in Long Island and during the early years of my childhood, I bounced around various sections of the city. At about age 12, I moved to Hudson, New York where I finished high school. From there I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of New York at Albany – SUNY.

I lived in Philly for about 11 years and recently moved back to New York where I currently reside in East Harlem. But I spend a good amount of my free time in the artistic bed of Brooklyn.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

TJ: Reflection is a process used for recalling experiences in order to analyze and evaluate our thoughts, feelings and actions, as well as the social context that informs how we address those experiences.  Reflection is how we make sense of our lives and the world around us.  Response is replying, answering or reacting to something – and the reaction can take many forms.

Artistically, I respond through my role as an educator, media maker and performing artist.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

TJ: I recently worked with Visual and Performing Artist Frances Bradley shooting and editing the promotional video for the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project.  The project is a depiction of her experience as a victim and survivor of sexual assault.

When Frances and I first started discussing ideas, I found myself reluctant to take it on because I was dealing with a lot personally – including the loss of my father and my younger sister within a few months of each other. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and all those things made me feel defeated. But creativity has the power to revitalize.

As a documentary artist, it is always challenging to document someone’s personal life. It requires you to be present as a human being but detached as an artist so you can operate from an objective standpoint that allows you to convey their message in the best way. Even though Frances only needed basic videography services, it ended up being a pretty tough project.

The experience depicted in Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is not isolated. One in six women are victims of sexual violence, and through visual art, Frances managed to capture themes that reflect the psychological and emotional trauma every victim deals with after being sexually violated. You can’t spend countless hours shooting and editing that type of footage and ignore that.

Retrospectively, learning about Frances’ experience and working to capture the message she was trying to convey challenged me to reflect and cope with my personal history of being sexualized at an early age. I was on a creative journey that no other project had ever taken me on. Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? is truly the Art of Healing and working on the project helped my own healing process. My contribution to Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt is paralleled with Frances’ work – and is the response to that reflection.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

TJ: Ironically, the majority of projects I’ve worked on for the past year focused on relationship and sexual violence.

I’m co-director of an after school program where I also teach high school students documentary filmmaking around social issues. This past spring, my students chose to explore dating violence for their term project after one of their peers shared her experience of being in a violent relationship with her child’s father. After showing my students the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? promotional video, the same student who shared her violent relationship experience, shared how inspired she was by Frances’ courage to give voice to her trauma, and work to heal. Frances’ story, in part, helped this student find the courage to profile her own story in the students’ film, Journey to Survival, which confirms the necessity of the Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? project.

Last year, I co-starred in the short film, Bottom, written by up and coming director Chinonye Chukwu.  Bottom addresses sexual trauma’s effect on intimate relationships. That film is currently in distribution and recently premiered at the Los Angeles OutFest Festival.

Promo photo from "Bottom," a story of love between girlfriends taking an unexpected turn.

Promo photo from “Bottom,” a story of love between girlfriends taking an unexpected turn.

In the beginning of July I (humbly) served as a production assistant for an episode of Lisa Ling’s Our America series, which airs on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.  I say humbly because I haven’t been a production assistant in a couple of moons and I certainly didn’t see myself chiefly responsible for getting coffee and loading camera equipment at this age. But the experience and networking opportunities were well worth it!

I am currently working to finish the documentary for Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt?. And I will also be working with Ms. Chukwu on her next short narrative, A Long Walk, a story that takes place in Philadelphia during the 1980s, and explores the effects of staying silent after witnessing injustice.

Who or what inspires you?

TJ: I find inspiration in lots of places.  Throughout the course of my life, the Black experience in the world, the struggle—how people fight against various forms of oppression in this world has always moved and churned my spirit.  As a youth I danced, wrote poems and made speeches about the Black experience. Ms. Debbie Allen was a huge inspiration to me in my youth because of her ability to channel different forms of artistic talent as a means of expression.

Learning inspires me! I earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in media studies, with a specialization in media literacy education (MLE).  As a student I was always excited about investigating all kinds of interests, especially when it came to studying how people consume media. The best practices of MLE rest in the awareness that inquiry and co-creating knowledge in an educational setting cultivates learning that requires constant reflection and encourages intentional, conscious response.

The energy of NYC inspires me.  I am inspired by my students and the communities where I work. I find the perspective, courage and vulnerability of other artists inspiring. Beautiful imagery in still and moving images cause me to soar. Direct engagement with all sorts of art is inspiring to me. I especially like being pleasantly surprised by art and nature when I’m walking about in the world.  I tend to get lost in my head a lot when walking and when art or nature unexpectedly jumps out at me, I’m immediately reminded that beauty can be just as real as it can be imagined.  Of course, a well made documentary film or video can inspire creative ideas.  Lastly, and most importantly, I find inspiration in myself when I am centered and in tune with my own creativity—true inspiration comes from the inside out.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

TJ: Art is a universal language and the life-size art of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? tells a story that the majority of women in our lives are experiencing. People are becoming more visually oriented and conversations about sexual violence, it’s impact on victims and the healing process, needs to reflect that trend.

Only four out of 12 pieces of Womanhood or Woman’s-Hurt? are finished and we’re raising $25,000 to complete the project and we need all the support we can get. Every dollar counts so please contribute to this project.

I’m just beginning momentum for my company, Life Happens Media Works.  The Reflection and Response theme of LIFESTYLE resonates with the direction I plan to develop future work; taking part in this interview has been very helpful in developing these concepts. Thank you for your time and interest in my story.

I also want the Collective to know that our gifts matter! Our existence matters, even when we don’t feel like it does. We must continue to reflect and respond through our work and just Being the unique expressions of Love that we are; we are messengers!

Shout out to…?

TJ: All my homies! The driving force and PR department of the Womanhood or Woman’s Hurt Project, Frances Bradley and LaToya English; Frances Bradley again for her courage, power and artistry, she definitely inspires me in multiple ways.  Thanks to the Educational Video Center where I currently teach documentary filmmaking. EVC has been such a great place to merge my skill sets in education and media making. As I enhance my artistic skills, I can’t ask for a better day-job set up. Thanks to filmmaker, Chinonye Chukwu for being my artistic angel. She has lovingly included me on really amazing projects in ways that challenge and honor my gifts. She has provided a significant amount of loving support and encouraged me to continue being a true artist! Shout outs to all artists! Shout outs to my family and friends who ground me, save me and love me through thick and thin, Shout out to the city and people of Philadelphia for helping me mature and cultivate my work ethic. Thanks to New York City for its energy, urban beauty, diversity of people, and its art and experiences. Thanks to the Universe for everything!

Check out more of Tanya’s work below:

Breathing Easy: Environmental Hazards in Public Housing (Trailer)

Tanya currently serves as co-director of Educational Video Center’s Youth Documentary Workshop. Breathing Easy: Environmental Hazards in Public Housing, is one of the student-made films in her workshop. Breathing Easy was produced by high school students who participated in EVC’s fall 2012 Youth Documentary Workshop. Students focus their attention and cameras on the harmful impact that lead poisoning, mold, and pests and pesticides in low-income housing has on the health and wellbeing of their communities. They investigate how these pollutants affect their fellow student’s Harlem apartment, and show how the information and advocacy provided by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and other health experts give hope to a family in need.

Alaskaland (Trailer)

One of Tanya’s artistic roles is as a script supervisor for film productions. In 2011, She served as the script supervisor for the feature length film, Alaskaland, shot on location in Fairbanks, Alaska. “Alaskaland tells the story of Chukwuma, an Alaska-raised Nigerian struggling to balance his cultural heritage with the pressures of the larger world around him.  After a family tragedy forces a two-year estrangement from his younger sister Chidinma, the siblings reconnect in their hometown. Although their time apart has created new frictions, they find their reconciliation bringing them closer to each other and to their roots in this gorgeous, knowing debut film.

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Hannah Connor and Flor Macías Delgado

The LIFESTYLE Feature series expands. Tonight we add two new voices to the ongoing conversation. Hannah Connor and  Flor Macías Delgado are two creators and agents of change that come to us from Madrid by way of Washington DC, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Maine, Bologna, and Amsterdam. These two minds engage with the interview on a personal level and bring us their unique perspectives on Reflection and Response and experiences directing the Madrid theatre group “The Auxiliares” for their performances of Eve Ensler’s award winning play, The Vagina Monologues opening on March 11th.

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

HC: I tell people I’m from Washington, DC. I moved there when I was 10 years old and I feel like the city has defined a huge part of who I am. Free museums, beautiful cherry blossom trees, AND Barack Obama, who couldn’t love it?! But I was actually born in a small town in Maine and grew up in a farm house that was 200 years old. My dad wanted to have goats, but instead he had three daughters…

Right now I’m living in Madrid, Spain on a Fulbright grant. By day I teach at a bilingual high school in the outskirts on Madrid and by night I explore the millions of things to do around Madrid, cook exotic foods and play board games.

FMD: It’s a complicated question, really; and never coming to terms with answering that question is what has guided my interests in life. I am originally from Los Angeles, CA but I moved to Mexico City when I was five years old and lived there for ten years. I spent the last three years of high school in Los Angeles, then moved to Philadelphia for college. Besides that, I have lived in Bologna, Italy; Amsterdam; and most recently Madrid, where I’ll be until next summer. After that, who knows. I have yet to figure out my next move! There is so much of the world left to see!

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

HC: Before I go to sleep at night, I often lie in bed and think about three positive or happy things that happened that day. Sometimes they are little things like someone saying hello as they pass me on the street or bigger events, such as, finally finishing a project that I was working on. I think that reflections (whether daily, weekly, or whenever it feels right) is an incredibly important part of being in touch with yourself and the world around you. They are a way of looking back and asking yourself “Am I doing what I want to do with my life? Am I spending my time that way I want it to be spent?”

Reflections are how we notice what is happening in the world. And response is what we do in reaction to those reflections. Our responses are the actions we take to work towards ending injustice and improving the lives of ourselves and those around us.

FMD:I think any art is a reaction, whether it is to a social cause, or your mere inspiration, art is always a response. I want to direct, write and produce pieces that make you reflect about society, and incite an immediate response from the audience. I think that pieces that leave the audience in a happy state of “Aw, that was nice” are a waste of time. I want people to have a definite reaction to my art: be it anger, shock, or even disgust. I want to bring to light issues that are not usually talked about in theater pieces. I am all for the responses.

How does The Vagina Monologues fit in with that definition?

HC: The Vagina Monologues (TVM) and the entire V-day movement is a response to violence toward women. TVM is a play based on interviews with women that raises awareness about issues related to women. The monologues cover a range of emotions and many topics, focusing on women’s sexuality and the stigma surrounding rape and sexual assault. Discussing these issues, especially through a theatrical work, is a powerful way of creating a conversation about these very important topics.

FMD: The Vagina Monologues is all about inciting the audience to reflect on women’s issues and has brief episodes of audience participation. It’s not a play you watch and then go out and live your life the same way. It challenges you to do something to stop violence towards women. At some productions, people are asked to stand if they–or someone they know–has ever been a victim of sexual violence. I am always shocked to see how many women stand up. The first time I was ever involved in TVM I couldn’t believe how many of them were people I knew personally. It really did change me. It made me see that TVM wasn’t just a play, it was part of a movement, and it did more than just entertain people for an hour and a half.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

HC: In college I studied urban studies, and as a city lover, I’ve been spending my time in Madrid learning about the history and confluence of cultures in the city. Over the next half year, while I’m still living here, I’m excited to continue these explorations.

At the end of the school year I’m planning on moving back to the States and next year I’ll hopefully be teaching in a public school in a city back home. Our urban education system in the United States needs a lot of work and I’m looking forward to becoming part of the movement to fix it. 

FMD: Artistically, I have been quite dormant. I have been working on grad school applications, specifically to Migration and Ethnic Studies programs around Europe. I am interested in working with immigrant teens, and using art and theatre as means for social change. I currently work at two high schools in Madrid and plan cultural activities that challenge the students to look at their culture from a different standpoint. I want them to talk about racism, gay rights, discrimination, abortion, and what those issues mean to them as Spanish teens. I try to keep busy learning French, and getting involved with animal rights activism.

Who or what inspires you? 

HC: More than anything I’m inspired by people who find unique ways to follow their passions and impact the world in a positive way.  Besides these people who make my life interesting and eventful, I’m inspired by the little things that keep me smiling every day: watching the sunrise over the Reina Sofia on my way to work, seeing the masses of people constantly walking on the streets of Madrid, or drinking tea at one of my favorite cafes.

FMD: I am constantly looking for inspiration and find it in the simplest ways. My students inspire me. Working with teenagers is what I want to do in life, and their passion for living is refreshing. They see the world in a different way, they believe they can achieve anything they set out for, and I think that as we get older we lose part of that. We become more realistic and forget the passion we had when younger. I see inspiration in simple acts of kindness. I want to create art that inspires people to do something about the society they live in. I want to inspire change in some way. Lately, I have been obsessed with “What Would You Do?” clips, so I would also have to say that John Quiñones is the man.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

HC: Come see the Vagina Monologues!! If you are in Madrid, our show is going to be baller. And if you are somewhere else in the world, find a show near you!

And just as importantly: Stay informed on the issues. One in three women on this planet will be impacted by violence in her lifetime. That is an alarmingly high number. The first step in changing those statistics is being aware of the facts. Change comes from within and every person on this planet can do their part in ending violence against women.

FMD: We are really proud of our cast and crew, and cannot wait until we put up our bilingual production in Madrid. Also, we are always looking for help, so if you are in Madrid and want to get involved, let us know at vdaymadrid2013@gmail.com

Shout out to…?

HC: All the “Bobs” of the world! One of the Monologues in TVM,Because He Liked to Look at It, is about a woman who learns to love vaginas after she is with a guy named Bob. Bob loves vaginas and understands how they are magical, beautiful, powerful, and oh so very important (we all came from a vagina!). We need more men like him in the world!

FMD: Eve Ensler, the author of TVM; and all artists, and activists who work hard to make the world a better place. My very own “Bob” and my mom, hi mom!

-Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Jorge Pascual Blanco

Jorge Pasucal Blanco esta en motión. Nació en León donde desarolló su creatividad y empezó de destacarse como actor y escritor. Cómo actor, ha interpretado monólogos como una adaptación de  la obra de Michel Houllebecqe comp parte de la presentación “Ampliación del campo de batalla,” en la Facultad de Cine, La Bañeza. También interpretó “Polizones,” presenaciones multidisciplinarios en el Centro civico León-Oeste

Como escritor, ha sido publicado en Leteo varios veces: ““Morir de viento,” y  “Petit Comité.” En 2006 recibió un Accessit en el premio “Eugenio de Nora.”

Su estilo personal y emotivo viene de su experiencia multidisciplinaria. Acutalmente presenta obras innovadores como “Pilasia,” que se presenta como una mezcla de pilates y poesia. Abajo aparece la entrevista y ejemplos de obras del artista.

Jorge Pascual Blanco is a person in motion. He first developed his creative interests as an actor and writer while growing up in his hometown of León in Northern Spain. As an actor he interpreted stage productions of Michel Houllebecque’s “Ampliación del campo de batalla,” in the Facultad de Cine, La Bañaeza. He also performed “Polizones,” a multidisciplinary presentation at the Centro civico León-Oeste.

As a writer he has been published various times in Leteo: “Morir de viento,,” and “Petit Comité,” represent two of his most important works, among others. In 2006 he was awarded  an Accessit for the prestigious “Eugenio de Nora,” award.

His personal and emotive style is informed by his multidisciplinary background. Currently he performs innovative works such as “Pilasia,” which mixed pilates and poetry. Check the interview below and links to examples of Jorge’s work.

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicos, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JPB: Yo vengo de aprender mucho en algunos cursos de formación teatral y sobre escritura creativa, performances y sobretodo he aprendido en otro nivel en algunas exposiciones que he hecho de mi trabajo en varios locales aquí o allá. He oído recitar y expresarse poéticamente de manera muy personal y en otros casos de manera muy pobre.

Así que ahora me falta regresar a la teoría un poco, probar a mezclar estos lenguajes artísticos, experimentar otras cosas. Leer mucho de la vida y de los libros..     

JPB: My backgrond is in theater, creative writing, performance, and I have done various shows and expositions at various venues. I have heard poets and other artists express themsevlves in a a moving and personal way and also others in a much less interesting way.

I need to revisit theory a bit, to try and mix these artistic langauges, and to experiment with new things. Also, to read from life and read from books…

Que quiere decir reflexión y respuesta para ti?

What does reflection and response mean to you?

JPB: Yo, como ya he dicho vengo del mundo del teatro, aunque me guste todo tipo de lenguajes.. eso depende del qué hacer.

La reflexión para mi es todo el proceso que consciente o inconscientemente te ayuda a recopilar información para echarla a la “pila” del mundo emotivo o sensitivo o mundo más visceral.

La respuesta es todo aquello, que después de haber pasado la parte de reflexión, se acumula, para de manera consciente, mediante impulsos, transcribirlo al lenguaje creativo, sea el lenguaje que sea.

Por supuesto que el orden no tiene por qué ser lógico, se puede por supuesto tener una reflexión profunda después de una respuesta, incluso esto es más artístico si cabe.

Para mi “respuesta” es el poema en sí, y “reflexión” es todo aquello que influye a la hora de escribir el poema, ya sea mucho antes de haberlo hecho.

Puede  pasar, que se tenga un poema y no se llegue a escribir nunca. Eso pasa porque no se indaga qué herramientas hacen falta, o son más necesaria, para ese poema…o puede ser que no llegue el momento preciso para hacerlo. Puede ser que cuando nos encontremos en la vida ante algo que queremos que pase,  ese poema salga solo por pura inercia, por tanto pensar en ello, en ese viaje, en esa chica, cuando no te enteras estas recitándolo. ¡Eso es GRANDE! .

También.. yo definiría reflexión como una consecuencia de estar en contacto con el mundo en todo su lirismo, por ejemplo estar en contacto con elementos, objetos de un personaje ficticio de teatro, entonces esta respuesta se podrá dar de manera muy lúcida como pequeñas verdades al actuar, segundos perfectos que sacarán al espectador de su butaca.

 “Debes comenzar a amar el arte en ti mismo y no a ti mismo en el arte” K.Stanislavsky

JPB: As I mentioned before I come from the world of theater, although I do enjoy all types of creative language…depending on its use

For me, reflection is a concious and or/unconcious process that helps one take in information in order to access the emotional/sensisitive/visceral world.

Response is all that information accmulates after reflextion has occured and can be translated into creativity through concisous or impulsive action.

The order in which the two processes occur isn’t necesary logical: one can experience profound reflextion after response, which can be an artistic triumph.

I would say that the poem itself represents “response” and reflextion is all that influnces its creation, from a long while before the writing to the event of makign the poem. This happens because one need not invrstigate tools or methods that aren’t being used, are needed for whatever poem, or because the right time for the poem never comes. Perhaps a poem comes out when we find something desirable in life and we think in that event, trip, that woman, without knowing. This is HUGE!

I would also define relfexion as a consequence of being in contact with the world and all it’s lyrcism, with natural elements, ojects that belong to created characters onstage. This makes for a lucid response with small bits of truth, seconds thta transport the audience from thier seats.

“Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” K.Stanislavsky

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your art fit in with this definition?

JPB: La poesía es pura intuición.. pero claro.. si sólo me fiara de mi intuición, escribiría poco..jaja.. Uno escribe con intuición (..cuando la tiene..), pero debe recopilar toda esa intuición.. Darle ritmo, sonoridad con sonidos de “r” o de “L” o escribirla con forma de desierto o de mar, o darle aspecto de plato con esa forma oval..

Hay demasiadas estructuras, herramientas estilísticas, para darle forma a un texto, lo que hace falta es conocer su por qué y así darle la forma adecuada, usar las herramientas precisas para darle ese por qué  y pueden ser muy variadas si el texto tiene fuerza.

Si uno sabe el por qué se ha escrito ese texto.. puede ser un texto amoroso y darle una forma de diálogo de una mujer y un hombre, así uno se puede acercar a uno mismo y sentir qué cosas diría o no..

Mi arte se mete en la idea de la vivencia personal. Yo escribo de determinada forma, triste, melancólico, onírico, dependiendo de qué vivencias tengo , eso es para mí “reflexión” y luego tengo multitud de “respuestas” en torno a ese poso de experiencias que pueden ser rabia, amor, expectación, ensimismamiento.. etc como todos tenemos respuestas, yo tengo esas respuestas que se crean automáticamente en mí, en mi arte, como consecuencias de esas vivencias; mediante una especie de liberación.

Hay una liberación en el arte, el arte es algo para mí liberador, y muy estimulante, ya que en ese proceso, nos conocemos a nosotros mismos.. esto es labor de toda una vida.    

JPB: Poetry is pure intiuition..but of course… if I only trust intuition I would write little..One writes wit intuition (when its there) but that inutuion should be compiled together and igven rhythem and sound with sounds such as “r,” or “L,” written as if it were the desert or the sea, or given the oval shap of a plate.

There are so many structures, tools, amnd skills,to form a text however with a reason for a text an artist can choose its form and use skills and techniques that convey this meaning. Good texts can have various techniques that work to convey meaning.

When one understands why he or she has written a text, be it a romance between a man and a woman, one can get closer to the self and feel thigns that the artist feels.

My art comes from personal experience. Depending on events in my life, I write from various perspectives, sadness, meloncoly, dreamy. These perespectives are my reflexion and then there is a multituld of reponses based on these emotional deposits such as rage, love, hope, enthusiasum, self-absorbtion..etc just as we all expereicne responses, these are examples of responses that automotically come from me and through in my art as a result of these lived experiences.

Within art there is a liberation: art is important stimulant for my inner liberator. It’s stimulating because we get to know ourselves much better which is a lifelong search.

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

JPB: Estoy intentando acabar un poemario para mi novia que se va a ir a San francisco y no voy a verla en tiempo, y eso es importante. 

Quiero seguir aprendiendo a recitar con “free jazz” igual algo más ligero..ufff

Quiero hacer algo con un escultor en una galería de arte Amancio González a través de dibujos y poemas y el hilo conductor del vino como elemento socializador (..)

Y no sé qué proyectos me deparará el destino. Escribir algo que refleje cada vez más lo que siento en ese momento..irme acercando a mi verdadero lenguaje interior.

JPB: I am trying to finish a book of poems for my girlfriend who is going to San Fransisco soon, whish is important for me.

I want to continue learning how to recite with “free jazz,” and something lighter…

 I want to do a project with scultpor Amancio Gonzalez withdrawings and illustrations, poems, with the focal point as wine.

Who knows what projcts destiny has in store for me. I will focus on writing poems that focus on the current moments..approaching my true inner language.

Quien o que te inspira?

What or who inspires you?

JPB: La similitud de la naturaleza con las sensaciones y vivencias humanas. El amor. Las mujeres que saben ser ellas, los hombres que saben ser ellos.

La debilidad humana. La pasión. El romperse por dentro haciendo algo..

La manera de amar.

Un botón, un alfiler, unas zapatillas, la distancia entre las personas ..las físicas y los obstáculos que nos ponemos.

Un niño mirando las nubes. Una chica que se peina.

 Garazi.

JBP: Similarities between nature and human emotion and lives expierence. Love. Women that know to be themselves and men that know how to themselves.

Human weakness. Passion. Breaking up inside doing something.

Ways to love.

A button, a pin, shoes, distance between people, physics, and obstacles that we creative.

A child lookign up at that clouds. A girl combing her hair.

Garazi

Hay algo más que quieres que sepa el Collectivo?

Is there anything else you would liek the Colective to know?

JPB: Querría saber más del colectivo y conocer más sobre sus inquietudes.

Pero así en general que estoy abierto a escuchar proyectos e investigaciones, colaboraciones para aprender.

“El arte no imita a la vida,  la vida hace el amor con el arte..”

JPB: I would like to learn more about the collective and more about it’s fears.

In general I am open to new projects, investigation and collaborations to learn more.

“Art doesn’t limit life, life makes love with art.”

Saludos a….?

Shout out to?

JBP: Peter , Gracias por todo.

Garazi que tengas buen viaje…

JBP: Peter, thanks for everything.

Garazi, have a safe trip.

Ahora pasan las hojas anegadas de tiempo por la lluvia reciente..
Pasa el viento como las ráfagas de los flechazos, como pasado esparcido en el rostro
y agua fresca arrojada al despertarse..
como recuerdo

Kilómetros: Una colaboración con ilustrador Pablo García.

Kilometers: A collaboration with illustrator Pablo García

Snapshot #1

Shanpshot #2

Poesía grabada en casa de Alfonso en León:

Poem recorded at Alfonso’s house in León:

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Diana Cervera

 The Collective really brought some solid Reflection and Response this week. We at the LIFESTYLE are proud as hell to present Diana Cervera, a woman who took the idea of a feature and turned it into a piece of art. Eclipsing the idea of multi-talented, Diana’s various skills in Sonic, Dramatic, Literary, and other mediums inform and reinforce each other to make each piece a comprehensive collaboration between different parts of the expressive self. Peep the interview for some key knowledge, check out the soulful strains of “TE BUSCO,” and read up on the powerful words of LATINA HEAT.

The Collective Speaks.

Leading off with some basics where are you from? And where are you at?

DC: I am from Rialto, CA where I currently reside but my roots lay in the lands of Yucatan, Mexico. I am currently looking for my footing for a truth I am at the shoreline where the waves crash staring at the sea…contemplating what it all means.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

DC: Reflection and Response is a way to Evoke and provoke. Its a means by which to question, critique, explain invent and reinvent. I think that it encompasses the art making process in itself and the constant search for ourselves. To truly reflect is to look within and understand whats there, where it comes from,why it is and our response is perhaps a way to try and understand that meaning that feeling. Its a spark, a chispa. I believe that we must constantly reflect but dont take the time to do so enough. I personally am looking within myself to try and really see whats inside whats there and what I can do with it.

How does “Latina Heat,” and “TE BUSCO,” fit in with that definition?

DC: The name of the first piece is “Latina Heat” a monologue I performed for a production I directed last year at UCSD entitled In Lak Ech, Tu Eres mi Otro yo (You are my other self). This show in itself encompases the idea of reflection in that we are in some way a reflection of one another if we could only look past our preconceptions and socialized forms of knowing ourselves in relation to others. In Lak Ech comes from the Mayan saying meaning you are my other self which was considered one of the deepest forms of respect in that each other we see ourselves.This piece was a “reflection” and “response” to the ways in which Latina women are portrayed in the media and therefore come to exist in the public imagination. This piece explores not only the concept of stereotype but also explores the idea of love and self love. Our love for ourselves is the most powerful understanding we can come to know and give to others. This piece aims to critique the hollywood stereotype of what  a Latina woman should be but it also is a very personal reflection of my dreams hopes and visions of love.

The other piece entitled TE BUSCO is a song I recently wrote and is a reflection of one of the most beautiful and trying emotions I have ever felt, Love. This is a raw take that took me a few nights to really get together but its from the deepest places in my heart. This song speaks of a search, it speaks of a moment so present yet so far, of a feeling so powerful that it can withstand anything. I think this song is a reflection of emotions ones heart can feel but may never be known, perhaps only the moon or the stars will be witness to these unspoken dreams. This piece speaks to the idea of a feeling or emotion that can perhaps only be sung in order to be understood or felt.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

DC: I am currently working on a short play which is an extended version of Latina heat. This play, like the monologue , will delve into various concepts such as the idea of love, sexuality, femininity and the search for the self. The play will have various characters and multiple realities, you gotta see the end result because it all makes sense in my head. Right now I think it sounds like a locura but thats when I know Ive got something. For now Im seeing fairy godmothers dancing Bomba and novellas coming to life…haha its gonna be wild but I promise its gonna be good. This will be my first time writing, directing and acting in an actual play so wish me luck!

Who or what inspires you?

DC: The coincidences of life inspire me the moments in which a person you never thought you would meet teaches you something so profound and beautiful about lifeand about yourself. These moments have proven to be the most inspiring moments in my life. With this is my families love which is unconditional and never ending its so beautiful to me. Love inspires me.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

DC: Always listen to your heart even when its wishes seem illogical or impossible. Siempre sabe el Corazon. Always believe in your own power you can really do anything you dream, nobody can tell you that its impossible.

Shout out to…?

DC: I would first like to make the biggest shoutout to my Mom and Dad Maria Casanova and Alfonso Cervera who have given me character virtue and most of all life. To my brother and sister Ponchi and Denise for always supporting me and loving me and the rest of the familia in the US and in Yucatan. I would like to give a super special shoutout to my friend and Mentor Jade Power Sotomayor who has taught me to believe in myself and always follow my heart. To never fear nor doubt my own strength  as a Mujer. To the one and only Leslie Quntanilla, Joanne Gomez, Qui Qui, Mars, Sarit, Moni and all my friends who have loved me through the many phases of my life and locuras. To the ART COLLECTIVE @ UCSD. The Bostick Family, your lovely thank you for all your blessings. Of course to the cuates in NY! Megan Branch and Mr. Vicken Donikian!!!! Your beautiful and your work inspires me to keep up the grind siempre! Last but most certainly not least, the most loving shoutout to the one who has my love, un beso siempre.

Con todo mi Corazon

Diana Cervera

TE BUSCO

LATINA HEAT

(Lights Dim..blue perhaps)

Deja que salua la luna….(song by pedro infante plays..)

Demetrio enters…

Mujer- Demetrio, llegaste!! (smiles.. holds his hands in hers)

Hombre- (hugs her tightly ) Como no, tenia que verte, antes de ..de que me vaya

Mujer- Quisiera que, que esta noche nunca se acabe’..…. Que pudiese estar contigo siempre que no tenia que decirte adiós. …..Llevame contigo, ay llevame contigo

Hombre- NO NO! eso no….la guerra no es para una mujer. No me perdonaría si te pasara algo….

Mujer- Pero tengo miedo, miedo que te olvides de mi que , que encuentres a otra que nunca regreses y yo me muera de la tristeza

Hombre- No NO…. eso nunca. Yo solo respiro por ti, (caresses her face)  mi corazón solo latte por ti….. mis ojos solo te ven a ti! YO solo soy para ti… (pulls her coser) ya sabes que TU eres la duen~a de mi corazón….

Mujer- Pero….siento que algo en mi se muere lentamente…mi espíritu no esta tranquilo cuando estoy lejos de ti…

Hombre- Mira, mirame a los ojos, (holds her face intently). Yo te amo…te amo…y aquí te dejo mi promesa. Te prometo mi amor.  Te prometo que regresare por ti..… (pause). Te puedo pedir algo??

Mujer- Claro

Hombre- Te pido..que me esperes que me esperes hasta que regrese por ti…te juro que eres el amor de mi vida la unica mujer que hace que mi corazón pare. que mi mundo se pare…siento algo aquí (ponits to his heart) que me dice que tu eres mi amor, la única que yo amare’ (places necklace in her hand)

Mujer- (pauses, thinks for a moment, in love. scared) Te amo…te amo,  tanto que me muero pensar que no te podre ver (comes closer) ni besar tus labios que tu estaras lejos, lejos de mi, mi amor….pero te esperare!! Te esperare hasta que regreses hasta que regreses por mi.

Hombre- (pulls her closer) Te amo. Te amo y vas a ver que pronto estoy de regreso y vamos a ser muy feliz, nada puede parar lo que siento por ti….

(both move in as if to kiss…)

Diana- Have you ever been lost in a dream, or an illusion. Have you ever been so enamored by something or the idea of something that you lose yourself in imagining, what it would be like….

(sings) DEJA QUE SALGA LA LUNA..…PA QUE EMPIEZE NUESTRO AMOOR. Love, la promesa de lo eterno the promise of the eternal, THAT which can conquer all ..you see I fell in love with with love , with the stories on the bronze screen as I watched novellas with my abuelita and my mom…. I would always pretend to be the characters. My favorite was always the protagonist the mujer who finds true love whose destino leads her to to fall into a love battle but whose passion in the end allows her to survive the war…”Estoy tan feliz madre de que mi vida es perfecta y que dios me ha mandado el amor de mi vida!!! hay Miguel Ramon me haces tan feliz..” I dreamed with her ….what would my love look like, how would he sweep me off my feet?? would he bring me serenata? roses!!!! Maybe both! I couldn’t wait to fall in love!!! She was always played by a beautiful mujer who was petite, dainty, and meek….

And then there was the villainous cousin corrupted by greed and jealousy …. she was usually played by a mujer who was also beautiful except she seduced men with her voluptuousness and her uncontrollable passion….

“Todo lo que amass será mío!! Maria Jose, todo! Miguel Ramon sera MIO!!! aver quien puede mas primata mosca muerta….…..!”

As I grew older this enamoramiento, this love turned into a dream that I would be a STAR!!! LA PROTAGONISTA ESTELLAR!! Except instead of novellas I would go straight HOLLYWOOD. I spent hours online looking up auditions or trying to figure out the way it works how I could  get in. I was convinced I needed an agent that it was only a matter of time before Id be found! Discovered…. But sometimes I felt that this dream was inalcanzable almost unreachable… calls for hispanic actors would catch my eye…but the only women I saw making it in hollywood that were Latina were Penolope and Salma. As I followed my destino I soon realized that I didn’t exactly look like the women on the screens that I adored Im not skinny and I didn’t really have nice clothes from expensive stores and so I thought I could never be beautiful or sexy.  In middle school I wouldn’t eat because I wanted to make moves towards my dream I remember crying and thinking that I wouldn’t make it that there were no women like me in hollywood that no one would ever notice me. I don’t have an accent. Im not what their looking for……

You see dreamed that I would light up the screen!!! That hollywood wouldn’t know what hit them!! Id have my own show you see and it would be different from anything else because my show would  be about people like me it would represent my gente tell their stories show what their life was like (lights change dim) “12 woman have been found dead in the desert of Juarez there are no leads the police are afraid to dig too deep… OR is that they themselves are a part of the whole murderous plot!”

Director- CUT!!!! (from offstage in sound booth) Diana I don’t know how to tell you this but the ratings are down you see at the end of the day this is … well American Television and the people they see you and well… they want something more spicy something more Latin….these ratings gotta go up…were selling an image and if people don’t buy it then were gonna have to cancel the show….

(moment)

Diana- Alright lets take it from the top…… (dim to black) I think we can put something together

Director- alright lets take it from the top…your on in 3,2

Diana- (in the dark) Ladies in gentleman….your watching …LATINA..HEAT…

LIGHTS! MUSIC! (LA COMAY by Sonorra Carruseles PLAYS)

(enter 2 dancers 3 woman dance)

(music cuts!)

Diana- Latina HEAT!!! Donde aqui traemoooo puro (all) FUEGOOOO!

(lights change)

(beat)

But I guess hollywood doesn’t care about las Mujeres de Juarez or a woman that can speak her mind. It’s only interested in consumption of the Latina body, my body the way it can sell what it can do for men in american households but the truth is the reality is I’ll never be Latina enough! never be sexy enough for you…and the moment I become too Latina you boot me off every channel! see you cant have too many people like me in hollywood because hollywood is what tells the rest of the world what this place looks like and I’m from California and all but I’m not exactly the California girl the rest of the world imagines even tho California’s demographic population is almost 50% Latino or Hispanic

Ratings wont go up if I’m not sexy enough if I’m not spicy enough if my body cant be packaged and sold in sealed with a stamp that reads AUTHENTIC LATINA. JLO adorns the cover of people magazine with a headline reading most beautiful woman in the world but she’s not on that cover because she looks like Selena and besides the allure of her nalgas and her now blonde hair I question what classifies as beautiful in hollywood…This predicament of being caught between virgen and puta, Latina or white, Mexican or American taught me to hate myself…taught me to think that I could never be beautiful to anyone…that the curves I had could not be desired I started to believe that my dream could not come true because no matter how great of an actress I was no mater how much talent I had I could never be what they wanted.

These feelings changed when I started to create my own art and carve out my own spaces for teatro and musica and dance. When I met mujeres who empowered me with their words because they danced on the hyphens and could not be labeled their art was chicano the best of both worlds.I became strong in my identity proud to not fit in, happily resisting the heat of the melting pot. But the feelings of not feeling beautiful never went away……

Our hombres have also been taught to seek beauty only in the slenderness of a woman’s curves they are taught to see through the lens of a hollywood camera rather than with their own eyes, with their own alma and sometimes they cannot see fire within our hearts, the passion with which we move throughout the world.

I want to reclaim these hips these curves not as symbols to be exotified or our ticket in but as markers of our strength pride in how we stand and the dignity our history carries even if we cant roll our r’s our shake our hips. To believe that we are beautiful just as we are….even when we are taught that our fuego within is too much to handle….

(looks at necklace…)

The truth is hombre Im scared to love you. Im scared that you don’t exist… Im scared to believe in your words Im scared to let you look into my eyes and see my fear of believing in your promises because I thought love….love is supposed to be…like in the novellas. That you could truly only see me that my words could soothe your soul no matter where you are….that my love is enough to be your In’lak’ech, tu media naranja. Because the way I love is like the ocean. Fuerte y appasionando. Constant and flowing like the tide crashing along the shore of an untouched beach in the dream lands of Yucatan…….

I wish that you could love me…love me for me….love me for me….just the way I am….

(Deja que salga la luna begins)

END

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I am currently looking for my footing for a truth I am at the shoreline where the waves crash staring at the sea…contemplating what it all means.

Reflection and Response.

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Feature: Megan Branch

Live from the LIFESTYLE workbench…Feature No. 3 is here!! It’s hard to believe a month has already gone by since the debut of our feature series with Samuel Bostick, followed by The Know Nothings two weeks ago…

Today, we are PROUD to present the one and only Megan Branch, a woman with mad creative talent in acting, singing, dancing, photography, and writing…Reflection and Response to the fullest, in all contexts. Her drive and passion for her craft continue to inspire us in our own work.

She was featured singing the hook on Peter’s acoustic version of He’s Your Guy last month. Now, through the LIFESTYLE interview followed by an excerpt from a rant she created, we take a look at how Megan defines herself and her work. Digg!

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MB: I was born in Albuquerque but I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Right now I live in Brooklyn, New York.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MB: Reflection and Response in my life is the ability to be moved and changed by the world around you, whether it be a painting, a song, a piece of conversation you hear on the street, a beautiful sky, a delicious meal, a piece of text, a news article, anything that affects you and in turn changes you, inspires you enough to further create and respond. Now, that response also comes in many forms, like a LIFESTYLE blog, one line of poetry or a raw fit – to me reflection and response is when art in its many forms affects you in such a way it alters the way you view the world, it changes you, and you it. This change begins a conversation, a response, and in my opinion, makes the world better than it was before.

How does Ghost fit in with that definition?

MB: Ghost is an excerpt from a rant I wrote in my Chicano Teatro class my senior year of undergrad at the University of New Mexico. The title used to be called This is Why You Hate Me, needless to say I was very angry at the time, specifically with the person whom I’m addressing throughout the piece. Anger can definitely be inspiring and is almost necessary when writing a rant. But I think since I’ve revisited this piece recently I have found that I am less angry but still passionate when speaking to this person through my writing and have since edited the final paragraph with a different point of view. Reflection is beautiful in that way because I am recognizing that my work is growing and changing and morphing and through my response I can now make something new.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

MB: This rant inspired an image, which has inspired the opening scene of a one woman show I started writing this past summer. I am hoping to have it finished and start performing it within the next year. Stay tuned! I am also in the middle of rehearsal for Execution of Justice by Emily Mann at The New School for Drama where I am getting my MFA in Acting. The play opens in two weeks and I’m hella excited to be making my New York stage debut! haha.

Who or what inspires you?

MB: New York City is definitely an inspiration everyday. I see such crazy things here, such glimpses of humanity on the street or on the subway. New Mexico inspires me. That beautiful part of the country, my history, and the history of my family fuels everything I do. All of my family and friends that live there keep me pursuing my dreams. I see what my grandparents have done with their lives in order to give their children and their grandchildren opportunities they never had and I feel so moved to continue to create and educate myself on their behalf. Their love and support keeps me going. Education inspires me. I can’t seem to read enough or watch enough or see enough. My favorite playwright is Cherríe Moraga, her essays are also incredibly inspiring. She inspires me to continue to write and ask questions about who I am and my place in the world and meditate on those questions deeply. And Vicken my muse, lol, no but really, Vicken is MORE than inspiring.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

MB: THAT THE LIFESTYLE IS SICK! And KEEP IT GOING HOMIES!

Shout out to…?

MB: To my sister Sierra who just started seventh grade and is growing up way too fast, she’s so smart and amazing and I’m so proud of her.

To my beautiful mom Mary who battles Leukemia every day but is still living to tell the tale! She is such a fighter and surviver and the best mama. I love her so much.

To my homegirls; Mimosa Twocrow one of the most creative people I know, a sick make-up artist, and ill photgrapher, get out here to NYC ASAP. And Klarissa Gallegos you too! It’s time to make your restaurant idea a reality! Much love.

To my professor Leonard who assigned our teatro class to write a rant. And introduced me to so many incredible playwrights.

To Chris Leslie who directed me in my first play when I was eight. That theatre was my refuge and I don’t know what I would have done or who I would be without it.

To Ernie Badinsky the Polish Prince. One of the most creative people I have ever known. I will now make art in celebration of the incredible life he had.

To E, with who I can’t even begin to describe all of the life gifts you’ve given me, you taught me that being an angsty teen was okay and gave me outlets for it, to name a few Johnny Cash, Modest Mouse, and Quentin Tarantino.

To P-Mu who’s going hard in Spain and doing big things! Thanks for including me in your music Pete, it means a lot.

And to my cariño Vicken. One of the smartest and most beautiful people I know. Talk about making dreams a reality! Vicken DOES IT. He never neglects his own ideas and I always see them come into fruition. From the day I heard about the LIFESTYLE as just a random topic of conversation to the day I saw him and Peter launch it in our apartment. Vicken never fails at being 100% who he is and putting 100% in everything he does. Vicken is always Vicken no matter where he is or who he’s with and that teaches me so much. He is one of the most talented artists I know and inspires me to devote more to my art everyday. Te amo.

Ghost (excerpt)

“Invite that brown friend of yours over HERE” your mother said. She couldn’t remember my name – “she doesn’t come from anybody we know”, “what’s her last name?” “Yeah I’ve never heard of them.”

My brown skin blended in with the saltillo tiles and adobe. I felt her eyes pierce through my new transparent self.

The ‘Mexican Room’ as you called it, decorated with rugs and furniture and a collection of Mexican dolls smuggled across the border like immigrants in your father’s van. I snuggle up against them and sit with them on the shelf. Together we stare aimlessly at this odd family around us, forever missing our home, they were my camouflage, my friends, foreigners just like me.

When I discovered the ‘servant button’ built into the floor under the dining room table, placed ever so conveniently for the masters foot to beep, I buzzed it repeatedly, for minutes on end, you told me to stop but my finger pressed on, I hid under the dining room table…waiting for a ghost, my ghost to enter dressed as a maid.

“Get up!” she whispers. “Fly away!”. “Fly away” she yells! I grab her hand and we fly out of the window and up into the sky, we fly over your house and onto mine. As we fly my ancestors join me from Delia and Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Mora. We laugh as we fly over Los Sangre de Cristos and Las Sandías. We are free and together, juntos at last. Our laughs get louder and our whispers get stronger, you think it’s the wind and so we keep on laughing. I wave to my mom and my grandma below…I laugh harder and harder until my laugh wakes me up…I am met with the angry yell of your father telling me to stop.

Reflection and Response.

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