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$4,430 pledged of $15,000 goal
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$4,430 pledged of $15,000 goal
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About this project

What we're up to      

The Open Choir is a free, public event, where everyone is welcome to participate. A core of artists leads participants and guests, both new and returning, through a flow of songs, looking for the possibility of a simple and alive kind of experience and interaction. Everyone is invited to join through dance and song, or find his or her own way to support what happens. During these non-sectarian encounters through songs of the African diaspora participants of different backgrounds become co-authors of the meeting, creating an artwork that respects and embraces cultural variety.  

With theatre craft as a tool, we follow the thread of our research on human contact as a way to mutual transformation. This collaboration joins the creative forces of the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, Italy, the NYC Seed Group, and individuals from a range of NYC communities. Together we are investigating how processes such as singing, dancing and interacting are among the most fundamental elements of human behavior and contact, which we consider to be at the core of an active and living culture. We consider culture not only as an item subject to the laws of markets but as a dynamic force adapting itself creatively in order to respond to specific historical circumstances. We explore practically this potential of contact, action and transformation through the participatory event we call Open Choir.

The Open Choir is a search for meaning, engaging questions about community, belonging, identity, diversity, culture, performance, interaction. Who are we when we could be together without fear or shame?

The Open Choir catalyzes a shared space of recognition. Even if only for a moment, across boundaries masking skills and values, needs and desires, who are we when we enter a moment of possible relatedness?

The Open Choir challenges the habitual tendency to be inwardly passive in interactions. It is a simple opportunity to see and recognize each other without calculation. Who are we when we see each other?

How it all began

The Open Program began hosting weekly Open Choirs at West-Park Presbyterian Church during an NYC residency in January 2014. The NYC Seed Group grew out of these initial encounters, as a collective of individuals interested in collaborating with the Open Program to further the research and development of this performative form. We pursued this collaboration at West-Park with ongoing Seed Group meetings, as well as weekly Open Choirs during each of the subsequent Open Program residencies (throughout 2014-15). Through the Open Choir, we have developed meaningful relationships with individuals from various NYC communities, some of whom work with songs of tradition as an integral part of their community life.

The Open Choir continuously integrates new participants, and their song, dance, and spoken word. It encourages the emergence of a fluid community based on what we consider to be active culture: a space where individuals can create and explore meaningful and fearless interactions which are the very basis of theatre craft and creation.

What's next

Already, several hundred people have participated in Open Choir events. We have met and worked with individuals from a number of communities from throughout the city - most notably, members of St. Augustine Our Lady of Victory Church in the Bronx. Now, together with these new friends, we're gearing up for the next round of public encounters.

In October and November we will host an expanded series of Open Choir events throughout New York City – not just in our home base, at West-Park Presbyterian Church, with whom we have forged a strong partnership since the beginning, but also in other locations, in other boroughs.

This is where we need your support

In the current stage of the development, the Open Choir can only take place and grow with the guidance and participation of the Workcenter’s Open Program team.

Their expertise is based on the Workcenter's three decades of practical research in the performer’s craft and in the work with songs of Afro-diasporic traditions. These are the songs we sing in the Open Choir; they are subtle and powerful tools for human action, interaction, transformation, and connection.

We want the Open Program to come to NYC again this fall, to help the Seed Group’s ongoing efforts to develop the artistic capacities necessary to continue the research on the Open Choir, as well as to host weekly Open Choir events for our fellow New Yorkers, old and new friends, and strangers.

Your support will contribute towards the artists' 11 international flights from Italy, local transportation (for the Open Program artists, as well as community collaborators), artist accommodation, outreach to new individuals and communities, as well as production and documentation costs for our public events.

For all this, we ask you to help us raise $15,000 – every little bit helps!  

We thank you for being a part of our creative efforts. We look forward to meeting you, in song and dance, this fall! Come and take part in this adventure. 

See you at the Open Choir!

 

Risks and challenges

Risks and challenges may surely appear, as they usually do. Collaborating with so many people, across continents, as well as across subway lines, often means that there are many factors that cannot be accounted for in advance.

All kinds of things could happen: from technical inconveniences, like a guitar string or other technical equipment breaking before a performance, or heaters seizing up on a cold autumn day in the performing space; to human health problems, including fatigue, or one of the singers losing their voice; to transportation delays, or bad weather that might prevent people from wanting to stick their nose out of their warm houses; to a venue or partner cancelling at the last moment.

As many of these eventualities are by nature unforeseeable, we cannot truly prepare for them in advance. Rather, in the years of our common work as a performing company, travelling worldwide and working in a variety of contexts, we have encountered challenges of this type numerous times. We know that one of our major strengths is an ability to adjust and to find a creative way to approach such challenges. In fact, we have found that they often serve to help us discover new possibilities, in ourselves, in our colleagues, in our neighbors, and in our world. In fact, we firmly believe that this conscious choice to place a priority on people and their coming together, rather than on fixed schedules or plans, is a force that keeps the world spinning in the right direction. So with your presence and support, we dare to try to move the city!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Signed postcard from Pontedera and the Workcenter.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Open Choir Movement 2015 audio-gram (a short song dedication).

    Open Choir Movement 2015 photo with personalized dedication.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Open Choir Movement 2015 video-gram (a short video dedication).

    Open Choir Movement 2015 poster with personalized dedication.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    A 45-minute ballroom-dance lesson with a Seed Group member who teaches ballroom dancing in the public schools.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 poster with personalized dedication.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    A one-hour personalized, invented walking tour of NYC for up to five people with a Seed Group member who gives tours of NYC cultural institutions.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 poster with personalized dedication.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    A one-hour fitness-training session with a Seed Group member who is an actor and fitness trainer.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 poster with personalized dedication.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    A 45-minute lesson in Indian classical music or help to plan three days of a trip to India with a Seed Group member from India, trained in her country's classical-music traditions.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 poster with personalized dedication.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Free attendance to an Open Program performance anywhere in the world (you and a friend).

    Printed Open Choir Movement 2015 photo-calendar.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    A one-hour professional photo-shoot with a Seed Group member who is a professional studio photographer.

    Printed Open Choir Movement 2015 photo-calendar.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    A one-hour children’s cooking class (ages 6-12, max five children per class) with a Seed Group member who has taught children's cooking for several years.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 tote-bag.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    An invitation to participate gratis in an Open Program workshop anywhere in the world.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 tote-bag.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Dinner with Open Program and NYC Seed Group members – we cook and sing for you!

    Open Choir Movement 2015 tote-bag stuffed with goodies.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Private performance of Open Program's Electric Party Songs or The Hidden Sayings – in your home.

    Open Choir Movement 2015 tote-bag stuffed with goodies.

    Our warm thanks on Open Program's Facebook page, Seed Group website, Workcenter newsletter.

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Funding period

- (59 days)