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Book Party #1

Friend, playwrite, director, and Dancemeditator, Kate Temple-West, wrote this about the Skin of Glass premier on Sunday the 6th in NYC:

“Today was Dunya’s book launch for Skin of Glass!

It took place at the beautiful Metropolitan Building in Queens, owned and designed by Eleanor Ambos, who also owns the Harder Mansion/Mill upstate where we will be having our Summer Movement Monestary. All of Eleanor’s sites have a romantic, out-of-time atmosphere, as well as a strong sense of protected space, as this is clearly important to her. The Metropolitan Building is a beautiful red brick warehouse with many magical floors. The second floor where the event took place has an antique library feel, with soaring ceilings, thin Doric columns, beautiful distressed painted wooden floors, and antique furniture. It manages to feel spacious and intimate at the same time.

A screening of Dunya’s Dancemeditation films played as people entered, accompanied by very talented live musicians, Premik Russel Tubbs, Narin (tabla), and Annemarie Wiesner (violin) with live dancers around the perimeter of the theater space who eventually made their way to the stage area in front of the film screen. The Dunyati Alembic dancers, including Nisaa Christie, Anita Teresa, Kate Russel, and Carleen Bevans, interacted beautifully in their meditative state with the film. They were dressed in long flowing silks in light colors of peach, lavenders, and pink, overlaid with cream. They danced with veils of varying shades, mostly doing slow movement, in contrast with the faster movement in the films. It was an excellent intermedia improv. My favorite part was the film close up of Krys Statho chanting Ya Shafi (it means, ‘to heal’), as live musicians played, so that there were no words, only Krys’ lips mouthing. I wish I could think of a more descriptive way to say “it was beautiful”. The chanting and music along with the dancers’ slow meditative veil work felt very healing and profound to me, and I’m always interested when that can happen in a performance context. It is a rare experience.

Then Dunya read, interspersed with some more choreographed pieces with Anita, Nisaa, and Kate on a tiny raised stage behind her, reminiscent of a slice of Dunya’s apartment, on oriental rugs, with colored scarves behind them, and an ornate mirror. — o.k., much more ornate than Dunya’s, but with a similar feel. Their first piece featured the dancers’ undulating spines, and later they did some hand work that made them look like a multi-armed goddess. They were accompanied by dancemeditation practitioner Annemarie’s soulful violin.

Dunya read from the section “Blue Eyes”, and about her experience seeing Butoh master Kazuo Ohno at La MaMa. When she read from the final chapter, “Blood”, about what it means to be a Sufi teacher, it brought tears to many of our eyes.

Afterwards Dunya answered questions from the audience, and then signed books as everyone mingled, chatted, sipped good tea and munched on cakes and tea sandwiches.

We were thrilled that Liz came all the way from Minneapolis to be there! Carlene came from Maine to grace us with her dancing, and Gayla also came a long way, helping out by being the financial end of the book signing. I was the “stage manager”.

It was a very memorable event. I was really happy to be a little part of it, and I’m excited that her book is now available! Hurray! It was also wonderful to reconnect with some beloved Dancemeditation folk.


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