Ashley Harrison, originally a farm girl from Paris MO, got her start as a tot sewing costumes for her barn cats. After perfecting this particular brand of feline torture she went on to earn her degree in fashion and theatrical design from Stephens College. Since then she has been designing for various productions of dance, theatre, and film as well as holding positions in costume shops as a patternmaker, cutter/draper, and shop foreman. In 2008 she helped start the Kansas-City based children's theatre company Bellenwhistle Productions, which went on to create an original production of Alice in Wonderland that preformed at the Off Center Theatre and the Nelson Atkins Museum. Currently, Ashley is on her 5th year as a patternmaker and designer for the talented competition dancers at the Columbia Preforming Arts Center and spends her summers as the costume shop manager and designer at the Okoboji Summer Theatre. She also teaches beginning sewing at Stephens College as an adjunct professor and on Saturday nights you can see her hosting at the lovely and local Sycamore Restaurant. This is Ashley's first venture into the realm of belly dance costumes and she is very excited to be working with such an amazing group of women as the Moon Belly Dancers!
Nicole Hawkins-Beasley is the Resident Costume Designer for TRYPS Institute at Stephens College. She holds a BFA/Technical Theatre-Costume from Missouri Valley College. She has designed for TRYPS, Stephens College Dance and Theatre Department, Battle High School, Columbia College. Nicole has been assistant designer for the Straw Hat Players, Moorhead Minnesota as well as seasonal costume staff at Columbia Performing Arts Center. She has worked as Costume Consultant for MOON Dance Company. She has worked as Wardrobe Mistress for MU Concert Series, Lyceum Theatre, Chautauqua New York and Stages St. Louis. Nicole is also the director of the T.H.R.E.A.D.S. Costume Academy at TRYPS Institute.
Jennifer Luchau is a largely self-taught seamstress who loves to dance. Her first design work was for her middle school production of The Wizard of Oz at the age of 14. Since then, she has done costumes for the stage productions of Tom Sawyer, Sabrina Fair, and The King and I. Jennifer also creates original costumes for Candace Grossman’s solo shows. For this production, Jennifer has created the costumes for the dance pieces entitled Demon and War. Jennifer would like to thank Kandice Grossman and Nicole Beasley for giving her this amazing opportunity, and for their friendship. She would also like to thank Sharon Hanson for her assistance with the manufacturing of the pieces for the Mother Nature performance. Jennifer is a manager at JoAnn Fabrics, and would like to invite you to stop by anytime for assistance with your own costuming needs!
Lisa Carlos’ love of sewing began nearly 40 years ago, with the gift of a new Singer sewing machine (one that she still uses today), and a summer filled with sewing classes. From designing American Girl doll clothes for her granddaughters, to quilt tops, baby bedding to wedding dresses, she loves to create items with character and function; letting the recipients personality and use be her guide. She enjoys exploring color, texture and drape to keep her work fresh and exciting. Born with a love for all things arts and crafts, she also enjoys paper quilling, making jewelry, crochet, and occasionally turning her kitchen into a laboratory for making bath and body products. Lisa also has a passion for belly dance, and draws from her own experiences as a previous Moon Belly Ensemble dancer to create unique costumes that blend expression and function for the performers.
Jessica Hawk grew up surrounded by the arts, although she has pursued science as a career. She received a degree in Physical Anthropology from UM-Columbia with an emphasis on forensic science. Currently she is employed as assistant lab supervisor for the diagnostic molecular biology lab division of IDEXX Bioresearch. She has been a member of the CoMo Derby dames since 2007 and serves as League President on the Executive Board. She has formal training in oil painting, and has dabbled in 3D paper art since childhood. In her non-derby time she enjoys painting, crafting, drinking wine, pole fitness, and reading with, not to, her cats. She is honored to have been invited to be part of such dynamic woman-centered artistic project.
Ella Folkerts is a 20 year old Columbia native, who has been heavily involved with the theater scene for almost a decade now. She graduated from cosmetology school in April of this year, and is currently working at Red the Salon here in town. She enjoys spending time with her family and her boyfriend, watching Netflix and eating lots of unhealthy snacks.
WT Bryan grew up on a farm in mid-Missouri and is a lover of mother nature. He has more than 15 years experience in construction and woodworking and is the owner of Against the Grain Woodworking, based in Columbia, MO.
To really get into the mindset and feel of a natural disaster, I write this barefoot. Just as my feet desire to be freed from the confinement of footwear, a hurricane refuses to be confined in any way. Going barefoot feels natural, wild, laidback, and informal. There is nothing formal about a hurricane. It causes destruction if it makes landfall, it affects the weather hundreds of miles away. It makes a big dent in many ways.
There is a calm before the storm, and then small waves begin to mix with high winds. As heat and pressure builds, the storm intensifies – with the eye of the storm as the control center in the middle of chaos. This is what I keep in mind in my role as the Eye of the Storm – an almost calm and calculated expression even as the cyclone continues to spin faster and faster. All control lies in me. I am powerful and strong. I make the decisions. Taking all of this emotion and choreographing a performance piece on a new (to me) apparatus is a fun (and dizzying) challenge.
The scene begins with ocean waves beginning to mix with sudden temperature changes and increasing pressure. The eye of the storm then awakens and begins brewing a briny concoction of the fear, intensity, and destruction. As the finale piece in a show about the state of the world that we live in, we are portraying what is to come next if we don’t begin to make changes in the right direction. This piece speaks not only of environmental degradation, but also of current human rights issues such as immigration from Syria into Western Europe and police brutality against minority groups here in our own country. If we let these kinds of issues build and build, we can only expect a hurricane-like ending.
Image from Golden Spiral: Complex Geometries in Nature
Delving into this role and what "Warrior" represents to me has been a challenge but I have started to form some questions in my mind: What enemy is she up against? What is this rage burning inside her? Seeing all of the pieces coming together during practices and watching the story of "Mother Nature" unfold, I have started to find some answers of my own translation and found more than one story. "She," this warrior spirit, is waging a war against a society that is killing the planet, and destroying all of her natural resources. All in the name of, what? More, we want more! More things, more property and prestige, more wealth, and more power. This beast of "more" is tearing down forests, killing innocent living creatures, and poisoning her to satisfy its hunger, but the hunger is insatiable. The beast grows and requires more to get its fill and it will never be satisfied. Warrior is raging for Mother Earth- she is her protector and a soldier in the battle against her.
Warrior also represents to me someone who is angry with society about the expectations placed on her as a woman. She is expected to be pretty, thin, and sexy. She is hounded relentlessly by media all around her with images of perfectly fit, perfectly manicured, "flawless" women and made to feel less than or unattractive if she does not possess these traits. She is objectified and mistreated by men and is taught by a large percentage of society that this is "ok" and normal. She is filled with rage at this and wants to show other women they are beautiful in all of their shapes and sizes. But also that they are more than just their beauty! We are strong, we are powerful, we are fierce, we fight as one, and we are warrior!
"Warrior" collage by Kandice Grossman
In MOON Dance Company’s upcoming show, Mother Nature, I perform in a piece which focuses on female objectification and its negative consequences on the individual and our society.
Exploring my role led me to think a great deal about female sexuality and how it is perceived in our culture. Certainly there are some women who are strippers or sex workers by choice. They feel empowered by using their sexuality to their advantage, and find it rewarding to provide that form of companionship or entertainment for a living. But they are the minority. For every woman who feels empowered by this chosen profession, how many more are sold into slavery via human trafficking, or coerced into this life out of desperation? I personally believe that sexuality is healthy and beautiful, in the context for which God created it, as an act of love and complete devotion between married adults; the sex industry (and our hyper-sexualized culture, more in that in a minute) distorts sex into a commodity, which cheapens it.
I've also been thinking about female sexuality in a broader context. In our society, it seems that the female body is always on display. Consider the countless overly sexualized models you’ve seen in advertisements, female movie characters without any traits other than their looks, or the commonplace occurrence of women harassed and cat-called on the street. In daily life, female sexuality is a double edged sword; women are criticized for being too sexy and women who have "let themselves go" are ridiculed for not being sexy enough. A women’s body is not simply her own, but is society’s to be consumed and judged. The everyday dangers are that women are seen, at least on a subtle level, as objects, or that none of us can live up to unrealistic standards. At its most destructive, objectification contributes to sexual assault.
In this piece, I portray a character caught in a situation and culture in which she is used and valued only for her body, which makes her feel that she has no value at all. I hope my performance will inspire consideration of how we as individuals and as a culture perceive and respond to female bodies and female sexuality.
"American Girl" collage by Kandice Grossman
When I was creating and tying together the concepts of this show - I realized it read more like a poem than a narrative. For example, dance 1 notes in journal read:
forest floor mushrooms bursting into morning light
flower girl prostitutes swaying out of puberty
These short lines then became motivations for movement. So, in many ways, Mother Nature is essentially an ecofeminist, postpastoral movement poem. Terry Gifford, in Pastoral (1999), describes the postpastoral mode of creative writing as possessing six interconnected characteristics, which Mother Nature possesses:
1) A sense of awe with respect to nature that comes from repositioning a subjective perspective from the anthropomorphic to the ecocentric. In other words, taking the human out of the center of the world.
2) An ethos that is neither myopic nor overly selective in what aspects of nature it chooses to represent. In other words, the mushroom and the compost pile have equal worthiness of attention.
3) An understanding of the internal and external influence of nature. In other words, the environment affects our emotions, attitudes and sense of well-being.
4) Recognition that culture is not opposed to nature, but rather is nature, just as nature is culture. In other words, by viewing the body as wild, we remove the division between body and nature. We are essentially animals. By viewing culture as a mere organization of the wild, we remove division between culture and nature. It is a breakdown of the hierarchy of intellect over body, culture over nature.
5) Embraces the transition from consciousness to conscience. In other words, aware of the life that surrounds us and in response are growing more empathic towards that life and our role as caretaker.
6) The postpastoral mode is ecofeminist in that it recognizes the exploitation of nature resembles and partakes of the same mindset as the exploitation of women and minorities. In other words, we are addressing environmental and social exploitation at the same time.
Adrienne Rich writes in "What Kind of Times Are These" in Your Native Land, Your Life:
And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about the trees.
I agree with Rich. We can't listen to sexism without talking about the trees.
"Iris" Collage by Kandice Grossman
This blog is designed to provide information about Moon Belly and MOON dance company happenings. At times, it becomes an open journal of our various theatrical explorations. At other times, it serves as a source of education on belly dance culture and history.