Artists at Work

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Indy Convergence Flash Blog: Day 1

By cindy on May 8, 2012

Daily we’ll post first-person accounts and impressions of The Indy Convergence through the eyes of Cindy Marie Jenkins, Resident Artist since 2009.

Today was an extraordinary first day. Starting with the fact that I had real staff duties as Resident Artist, it felt awesome to be able to

Me, Alice & Sarah with our tall PBR's after finishing the Flash Blog

help Robert and Caitlin with general getting-shit-ready-for-new-people.  This morning I was greeted by Sarah W. G.’s 2 & ½ year-old when I picked her up, and we traveled together (just Sarah and me, not Olivia unfortunately) to the Wheeler Arts Center.

Every day at the Indy Convergence begins with movement of some sort, and this morning was a meditative yoga session with Jaclyn Virgin. I honestly think of Jaclyn as my first yoga teacher, from my first convergence in 2009. I was able to keep up with a lot of people and go at my own pace without judging myself. That in and of itself was an accomplishment.

Then we had coffee, breakfast and chatted with each other. The Convergence always has some ‘regulars’ and then ‘newbies’. The newbies were quite intrigued by the whole experience and made a point to introduce themselves. Once we started the general housekeeping and ‘way things will go’ talk, we threw a lot at everyone. I always think it’s weird to start the post-yoga with things you cannot do at the rented space, and always forget to mention that to Robert & Caitlin. Maybe this flash blog will remind me.

THE PROJECTS. Most everyone has a side project (I am part of 3 and writing/directing my own) plus we are ALL part of the Umbrella Project. Typically everyone’s projects are interesting, but this year they are all fascinating. Everyone opened up immediately to the idea that we are all in this together. Two are specifically based on Greek mythology, which just makes me squee – and I do not use that term lightly.

Most importantly, we all understood very quickly that this is a process. Robert, Caitlin and Ian made a huge leap in the 3rd year (I was not able to attend) toward creating an environment where the audience arrives on our last night for the artists’ benefit. They are invited into our process and not there to see a ‘show’. Last year it felt like a sit-in with some art happening. I was nervous, but for the people in whose pieces I was performing, not for my own. I knew where I was at in the process and what I wanted to get out of the evening, and I got it. That is a sensitive and difficult line to cross in this workshop situation, and the Indy Convergence has the vibe down pat.

I can’t even explain how exciting the work sounds. After our project check-in, we had another short break. It was just enough time to grasp the enormity of the work before us, yet we are still so close to the beginning that no one is overwhelmed yet. (That will change soon.)

Then we jumped into the first project. Tina, who is an Early Music professional gone “to the dark side” in her own words, chatted about variants in sound and music in a storytelling context, then showed us the 3 silent films she is considering for use in her project. One of the most important parts of the convergence – which Caitlin reminded us of – is to allow your project to change and morph over the course of the two weeks. As we watched these fascinating silent movies – one from 1909 that took my breath away – Tina discovered it will be too long a segment and so we decided on the spot to work on the 13-minute early version of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” I am sure I will write more about that soon, but quite frankly need to get to the Improv class before our Flash Blog is over.

We usually do all the workshops at once, but for scheduling reasons they are scattered this year. This is the part when each participant teaches the group their specialty. We had a tag team of Acting, Voice and Dance Improv. Acting I had been through last year, taught by Zack who is just inspiration and too much talent rolled into one person. I still made many mistakes and firmly believe in his philosophy of turning story-telling faux pas into improvements (think Benjamin Zander’s “How Fascinating” video). We got closer to the Movement Improv, which holds the potential for my arch enemy —- contact improv. But Ellen Denham, one of my favorite writers/opera singers in the world, jumped in with Singing Improv. I love this. I always have. So I jumped in with gusto. I learned over the course of it that she has a grant for her Convergence participation this year and logged in my mind to ask her about it.

Then–Movement Improv. Ashley Benninghoff is one of the most amazing, sweet, talented with no pretension people I have ever met in my life. She easily and seamlessly guided us through multiple short and longer exercises to get us comfortable with our bodies, how they move and they come in contact with one another.

Here lies the brilliance of the Convergence. Yes, we literally end up rolling around on teh floor sometimes. That just happens. We actually fall into the stereotypes of an artist retreat that many people mock.

And you know what? For me, an introverted, actually shy person who is scared of her own mind and what comes out of it sometimes, but more importantly, who is not comfortable in her own body, this is the adrenaline rush I need to move forward with my work. I asked my husband Dan why he is always SO supportive of me traveling to Indianapolis every year. His answer boiled down to the fact that I always return invigorated, I always return with a writing project finished or having taken great leaps, I always return creatively fulfilled as well as creatively exhausted.

I also always return with many new, good, even great friendships. After our dinner and this current Flash Blog in The Sinking Ship with tall PBR’s, I have to say that this year shows signs of one of the better experiences I could possibly predict.

Much more later, but there is my 2(5) minute Flash Blog!!! May 7th, 2012. Where and Who am I again? Ah yes, Cindy, and Indianapolis is the only place I’d like to be right now.

Pictures by Alice Venessa Bever

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