Aurora Concert Video Excerpts
Acclaimed master of the electric violin, TRACY SILVERMAN, and renowned Storydancer, ZULEIKHA, join forces in a spellbinding performance of improvisational music, story, dance and humor.
TRACY SILVERMAN was named one of 100 distinguished alumni by The Juilliard School, and is the world’s first concert electric violinist. Formerly first violinist with the innovative Turtle Island String Quartet, Silverman is on the faculty at Belmont University and Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, and is a devoted teacher of youths of all ages and levels, in developing alternative string styles, from classical to jazz to improvisation.
ZULEIKHA is an award-winning international performer, educator and humanitarian who uplifts audiences with her humorous, soul-stirring performances and has collaborated with numerous award-winning, world musicians and poets, including Coleman Barks, poet and interpreter of Rumi, world percussionist, Glen Velez, maverick cellist, David Darling, and avant-garde composer/pianist, Terry Riley. Founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, The Storydancer Project, Zuleikha has created unique tools for greater health called Take a Minute™ Core Wellness Exercise and Body Listening Movement Arts, which are being used worldwide to help people improve wellness and create empowered responses to chronic stress and trauma.
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GERMANY – Arriving into a Hanover, Germany, in August, I heard the news that Europe had been having the most rain in 100 years. I actually experienced this everywhere I went this summer. Peaches were delicious, though some people were picking them and letting them ripen indoors because everything was so wet.
I first stayed in the village of Heckenbeck. There is a seminar house in Heckenbeck with a theater that is always booked. This village is a very creative place, and they present many interesting drama works, music and dance performances, and children’s works as well. I had a wonderful concert there.
Afterwards the director of the theater and seminar house called me back to the stage and presented me with a bottle of something only found in this place, a very unique non-alcoholic apple cider, pressed in a special way that makes it the ‘champagne’ of apples and a specialty of the region.
The group who gathered for the seminar were uniquely interesting as well: therapists, scientists, teachers, one climate change expert, people who love to dance, people who used to dance, caregivers of Alzheimers’ patients, and some people who have been working with me for a long time.
We practiced what I created, called ‘BodyListening,’ a body-friendly way to explore free movement. The process begins with the body lying on the floor, while attuning to a quiet deep awareness, and then moving in the way the body wants to move. This kind of interior work, with space to move fully, coupled with the time to inquire within has been shown to bring resilience to those who are in the practice.
In the afternoons we concentrated on working in rhythm, and learned about the way we feel inside of musical rhythmic structures. Being a musician, I enjoy the music of movement. It gives people a chance to explore different ways of moving. Rhythm is like a ‘container,’ a four-beat rhythm holds the space in a different way than three beats, for example.
Participants report that one of the outcomes of the seminar is a feeling of expansion of being, both physically and with awareness. Some people stay for more in depth private work. I love sharing this kind of space with people. It gives a place for our daily struggles to be explored amidst the spaciousness of freedom and wonder.
I learned that in the north of Germany, the ancient way that people built homes, with adobe, or mud and straw, was very similar to New Mexico. I saw some spectacular and yet simple homes, both large and small, that people had built themselves. We ate wonderful salad vegetables, fresh from their gardens.
This is a camp high in the mountains, where each summer the place is built up, with tents, a main big tent, seminar tents, and tenting for participants. I stay in a shed-style house with other teachers a bit below the main tent area. We have lots of rain jokes here, and they have a pile of French rubber mountain boots, which I usually have to borrow at least once each summer. This year I wore them the whole time.
The main tent is very large, and it is here that the classes take place. On a warm day you can open the side panels, and see the breathtaking views of what look like the European Himalayas, the Alps.
It is in this high mountain atmosphere that I have had the good fortune to lead experimental movement based in the presence of nature–divine and exquisite. Sometimes we go outside and work in the mountains, studying the way our beings feel inside of the body. Between earth and the sky, we explore the meeting of the physical with deep awareness, in expression. Learning from the way a tree is rooted, reaching into the sky, and then taking that lesson into exploration.
Often we work inside of the beautiful wood floored main tent. If it is cold, the staff light the gas heaters which when wearing layers helps to keep us warm. This year because of the dampness, we had to cultivate a lot of humor to continue.
The subject of humor is a constant lesson in my life, and one that comes in very handy. As my good friend Wavy Gravy used to say to kids when we worked together at Camp Winnarainbow, “If you don’t have a sense of humor, it’s just not funny!’
SANTA FE, NM – The autumn equinox is around the corner, and so is my upcoming concert with friend and violinist extraordinaire, Tracy Silverman. We have been wanting to artistically collaborate for some time.
The special live concert filming event will enable us to begin a work called The Aurora Project. We will be able to both perform together and work with groups of young people challenged by life’s circumstances, around the U.S.
I first met Tracy when he was performing with Terry Riley, a great contemporary composer of music in our time, with a heart in North Indian classical music as well as music in the Western world. Some years ago, I traveled and performed with Terry and Tracy and other highly skilled and wonderful musicians in Norway and that’s when Tracy and I began to talk about working together.
We both work with young people, and feel very strongly about carrying the joy of music, movement, and freedom into the ever-changing world.
Please feel free to let your friends know about this work and let us know if you are interested in bringing seminars or performances to your communities.
Don’t forget to Take A Minute™ for yourself as the busyness of life speeds into autumn.
Acclaimed master of the electric violin, TRACY SILVERMAN, and renowned Storydancer, ZULEIKHA,
Young people in disadvantaged circumstances nationwide will have an opportunity to participate in AURORA PROJECT workshops with Zuleikha and Silverman on the art and joy of improvisation.
International performer, wellness educator, and teacher in the art of movement and story, Zuleikha inspires dynamic creativity and rejuvenation through movement. Zuleikha’s training comes from years of intensive study with master teachers of healing and movement in both Eastern and Western traditions, including American avant-garde dance, Indian Kathak, classical music of Afghanistan, Balinese and Japanese dance, and therapeutic health exercise from the Taoist traditionsof China.
Zuleikha uplifts audiences with her funny, soul stirring solo performances weaving together stories and myths of world cultures in praise of Life. Her collaborative work with world musicians and poets has featured such luminaries as poet and renowned translator of Rumi, Coleman Barks, the poet Robert Bly, avante-garde composer performer Terry Riley,world percussionists Glen Velez, cellist David Darling, vocalist/instrumentalist Jai Uttal, the late African drum master Baba Olatungi, electric violinist Tracy Silverman, and other wonderful artists. Zuleikha uplifts theater audiences, schools and conferences with her solo performances and collaborations with musicians and artists throughout the US and abroad.
Edinburgh Guide describes Zuleikha as “a singular figure on the horizon of sacred theater and dance, a mistress of countless faces, who moves effortlessly through space.”Read More »