Week 24 | Artist 24: Created to Create 2016 | Connie Rotunda, Performer/Director/Teacher
Connie Rotunda is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitionercm, performer, movement director and teacher. She has worked as a training program practitioner in the NYC Feldenkrais Method® Professional Training Program. She holds an MFA from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. As an actor, she has worked regionally and Off-Broadway, created and performed sketch comedy with Alarm Dog Rep, as well as performed and taught as a guest artist. She has been a company member with Wallis Knot, an experimental theatre company based in Brooklyn, NY.
Current works-in-progress are the development of a new play by Emily Davis inspired by the paintings of Remedios Varo with the Messenger Theatre Company and “A Woman’s Work” – a trio collaboration with Bethany Caputo and Fern Sloan, inspired by aging, wabi sabi and the self-images of female artists. She has taught Feldenkrais workshops and classes in a variety of settings throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, Florida and Pennsylvania. In addition to Feldenkrais, her teaching and practice are influenced and guided by the work of Michael Chekhov, Mary Overlie, Kari Margolis and Trish Arnold. Connie currently holds the position of Assistant Professor in the Theatre Arts Department at the State University of New York, New Paltz.
Where were you born?
Colorado, born and raised (as my mother used to say).The suburbs of Denver. Mountains and aspen trees. Blue skies. Crisp air. King Soopers.
Where do you live/work?
Upstate New York in New Paltz; back to mountains and blue skies after living in Manhattan and Brooklyn for thirty years. I am learning to enjoy the country. There is a forest behind my home with wild yellow iris and deer dancing in the long grasses. Continual bird song. I do miss my Brooklyn, though. I have traded the comfort of snuggling in the warm close space among the brownstones and gritted city streets to the vast blue-green distance of the forest and winding country roads.
What fuels your desire to create?
Fear. Is that right? Yes. Partly. That impulse of energy that needs to go somewhere and if it doesn’t express itself outward it wreaks havoc inward. Followed by joy.
The best thing about being an artist is...
Bringing the expansive, opening, curious, not-knowing, glorious, mistake-ridden, destabilizing, illuminating developmental process into aging and maturity.
The biggest obstacle to working with self is?
That moment of beginning...finding the clarity of my intention and then leaping! I am great at leaping into the creative pool when there are witnesses and other players in the room, but when alone it is very easy (and tempting) for me to sustain the moment prior to leaping into inertia. Yeah, sensing that moment and then that little push to leap...
What advice would you give self at the very beginning of your training and professional career?
Hang out where people are doing the work you want to do. Hang around. Be in the room. Really be in the room. Listen. Observe. Offer what you have to offer. Trust. Breathe.
How did the discovery of Chekhov transform your practice?
It gave me a language–a rooting–an open-ended discipline to explore and define what I had been doing intuitively, but without a true practice or knowledge to sustain me. Feldenkrais said that “in order to do what you want, you must know what you do.” Chekhov opens the door for me again and again into a more clear, specific, heartfelt knowing. I am finding a very synergistic dance in my practice between Feldenkrais and Chekhov work.
Are there any rituals you created to help you “face avoidance” that plagues artists occasionally? Would you describe what works for you?
I made this great discovery that I discover again (and again) every time I start. My avoidance is actually a necessary part of my process. I am learning to embrace my avoidance. Sitting on the sofa looking out from the big picture window that frames the forest in the back of the country house, sipping a cup of coffee with a purring cat on my lap, while contemplating the movement of birds and the grounded reaching beauty of my favorite duet of trees, inspiration slowly percolates in the background of my mind. There is something in the rhythm of walking down a long trail that frees my thinking and brings a quiet idea into the foreground, illuminating the first step or next step of a project. Daydreaming at a café with my journal open to a blank page, the arrangement of words or images I have been seeking drift in and make themselves known. I have come to call it my “slow thinking time.” It may look like avoidance, but it is actually me working on a very low simmer. Just beneath the surface. The tricky part is to sense when it is time to make the leap into that moment of beginning. Sensing the gap prior to the leap.
Talk about a piece of work that you experienced recently that moved you and how it found its place in your work.
Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog.” I love the way she tells a story – how she arranges words and images quilting the narrative. It is a beautiful contemplation about life and death and diving and joining. Her voice. And then, since David Bowie’s death, I have found myself falling down the rabbit hole of video and stories about him. Something in me registered how he appears to use himself with ease and heart, both in his work and his life and the way his story and narrative unfolds and comes back to itself. It is all simmering. Just beneath the surface, yet to be found.
What other art form to you connect to?
Music. All genres of music. Photography.
How does this craft/discipline help you in your work?
Music opens up a dialogue and provides a through-line that I can move into and with. Someone once said, “Music is the river that the boat of story floats on.” I am not sure where the quote comes from. Photography provides a frame for my imagination.
Describe effective techniques you use to increase your focus/productivity on a project?
Moments and then more moments on the floor doing a Feldenkrais lesson...listening to one on recording, or finding one in memory that feels right for the time. Walking. Always walking. In the room, out of the room. Walking.
How do you reward yourself for a job well done?
A nap, tulips, wine, window shopping. Not necessarily in that order.
In 2016, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2016.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2016
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.