Being Called to Matera

ElaineWatermark Arts Videos, Materadancescapes, Artist Videos, News, Watermark Arts in Italy

A magazine photograph of a renovated cave room in Basilicata, Italy, intrigued me. Every cell of my being knew I had to be there. All obstacles dissolved and in no time at all, I was transported from my home in the Hudson Valley of New York to the southern Italian town of Matera.

Image by Prue Jeffries. Naomi Walker, Claudia Catani & Elaine Colandrea with San Falcione and Matera in the distance, from Materadancescapes film Chiaroscuro.

I have followed that call for over 15 years, making pilgrimages to Matera to retreat into what I call earth wombs, caves that were once sea beds, with shells and fossilized sponges embedded in the curved limestone walls. This locale has cradled me in the breath, sound and movement explorations of Continuum – a biological awareness practice based on the fluid nature of all life.

Image by Prue Jeffries. From left to right: Claudia Catani, Elaine Colandrea and Naomi Walker in San Falcione from the Materadancescapes film Chiaroscuro.

Image by Prue Jeffries. From left to right: Claudia Catani, Elaine Colandrea and Naomi Walker in San Falcione from the Materadancescapes film Chiaroscuro.

Matera has nourished my soul in transrational, inexplicable ways. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being a troglodyte settlement in harmonious relationship with the environment, as well as the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera has been continuously inhabited since Neanderthal times with a history of providing refuge for spiritual seekers.

Image by Prue Jeffries. Elaine Colandrea in Materadancescapes film The Heart of the Cave.

I wanted to transmit my experience of being there – of wandering the shepherd’s paths on the steep, thyme-scented hillsides, of sheltering in ancient, frescoed cave churches known as rupestri with my fingertips touching the furrows of long ago pilgrims’ carved crosses in the cave walls. The vastness of the Murgia plateau under the strong Mediterranean sun, the fields of asphodels in springtime flower, the falcons swooping and diving in the ever-present wind currents – all of this and more I had absorbed and wanted to share with others.

Image by Prue Jeffries. Materas’ Murgia from Materadancescapes film Chiaroscuro.

As a dancer, my own sensed experience was my place of beginning. Like other artists, investigators and shamans, I know things by becoming them. A creative collaborator once wrote that in another time and place, I would be a temple dancer. The limestone caves and landscape of Matera – sacred places of refuge, discovery and sustenance – resonated for me as the temple for this dancer. An American by birth, with grandparents of southern Italian heritage, I embarked on conveying to others the healing this locale offered me, the inspiration for communitas I found there, and the deep sense of home I discovered in Matera – all of which grew into Materadancescapes.

Image by Prue Jeffries. Nature in the Murgia from Materdancescapes film Chiaroscuro.

In this endeavor, I have been assisted by many along the way. Watermark Arts Creative Director and heartfelt collaborator Prue Jeffries traveled with me to Matera, along with her trusty drone “Stella” and video equipment. With an intrepid sense of adventure, she has filmed and documented my journey, along with her own perceptive and artful eye for nature in this compelling landscape. Spending days with footage, the Materadancescapes film collection has come into form under her loving attention.

Elaine Colandrea

Photo by Prue Jeffries. Elaine Colandrea in Parco Murgia Timone, Matera.

A number of people native to Matera have served as loving guides to this land of cave churches. Damiano Scalcione was the first person to generously welcome me to Matera, and has continued to do so with every visit. Claudia DiPerna, along with her husband Michele Cenzone, opened my eyes to many of the cultural features of Matera. Michele Cappiello and Maria Teresa Barbaro graciously and kindly offered their vast knowledge of the local nature, history and culture. Paolo Montagna, Director CEA, made arrangements for us to film in Parco Murgia where Chiaroscuro was created at the San Falcione location. Francesco Catucci hosted us for the filming of In the Heart of the Cave. Since my first visit to Matera, Antonio Panetta of Locanda di San Martino, along with the devoted staff, has provided me with a gorgeous location for visits and workshops and made me feel at home. Each of these individuals has gone way beyond themselves to support me while I am in Matera. I treasure them as friends of my heart, fellow pilgrims in the journey of life.

Elaine Colandrea, February 2020

View the Materadancescapes Collection.

How to create Living Water Art with Suzanne Wright Crain

ElaineArtist Videos

Continuum Teacher and Artist Suzanne Wright Crain teaches how to create Living Water Art in this video created for Watermark Arts’ Somatic Movement Summit: The Creativity of Health, Mirroring Nature held at the Omega Institute 2019. Edited by Prue Jeffries.

How to create Living Water Art with Suzanne Wright Crain from Watermark Arts on Vimeo.

Watch an interview with Suzanne on Continuum & Creativity.

How to create living water art (video transcript):

Okay, I really hate being videoed but I promised Elaine. Sorry I can’t be with you.

Theodore Schwenk said, “water everywhere is one connected organ of intelligence.” And it’s with that in mind, that I’m inviting you to try the living water art making process. This came about when I used to be a regular painter, and then having studied Continuum there was just so much resonance that one day I was just fully connected with the water on my painting, and it just took on a whole other life. So, I started painting in this way, like being in a dive and then at some point feeling called to the work to express. You know, we are doing all these impressions and then at some point we want to express. And this is really a wonderful resource. I want to open that up to you.

We do not put brushes on the table. I’m working right now with the canvas pads so you choose a size of canvas pad and the side that we paint on [is the one facing you] when you open up the pad. So there’s a front and a back. It’s not rocket science. If you paint on the back it’s just kind of a different texture and a different color, so don’t worry about it. But the first thing you’re going to do is turn it over and mark your name on it. Because it’s a real bummer if you make an amazing painting and somebody else thinks it’s theirs or there’s confusion so with so many people in this retreat I thought, put your name on it. You know, Kindergarten 101.

Alright. Now you’re coming to the table already from a resonant place. So I’m just inviting you to find that again. This water on your table was collected from the lake, I think yesterday, so inviting you to take a minute and tune in to the water, the water that’s from a living source. Then give your canvas a good bit of water, and then take a step back and just take a moment to feel how the water in you and the water there is connected. And you’re invoking dialogue with the paint, with the water, with the canvas. Then without going into the thinking part of your brain you glance over at the table of colors and feel which one kind of tickles you, like wants to play with you. And then you just grab it. Okay, now, a little goes a long way. You’re welcome to use as much of the paint as you want. But in my experience it’s better to kind of limit your palette when you first start to three or four colors. And then I like to move a little bit when I’m doing it and just see what wants to come out.

So it’s a dive, it’s just you’re creating art while you’re diving. Ooh, what do I want, who’s tickling me. Oh no, I can only do three – always exceptions to every rule. Not that that’s a rule. Okay, red, who do you want to be with you?

Okay, now I’m just gonna play around with it a little bit, turning it, feeling what I’m feeling in my organism. Taking it, smearing it a little bit. What does it want to be, who’s it becoming? And then I like what’s happening. It’s like, ooh, I see a face.

And we the ideas, it’s on the process, not the product and as you’re making King it. We just want to move with it maybe do a little sounding topped Hi, are you play have fun, enjoy it at some point you want to step away from it finally We step away from the painting, have a pause. feelin is there, you know it’s going to continue to move and shift. You can add a little water. You can also take your paper towel or your rag. I like to have a fresh edge on the paper towel wadded up like this. And then you can remove a little bit of water. So you have too much somewhere and it was cooling and you’re like, oh well I get the way it was. So you can take a little bit off. You know, I prefer not to use brushes because that takes you into a different part of your brain. And some people have been shut down through our trauma or whatever and it’s just better not to do the traditional thing. If you want to find a lead, excuse me a leaf or a flower or a stick or something you can play that way but Try not to bring in that part of your brain. What else you take as much time as you need and when you’re finished, inviting you to take it to the ground. Put some pebbles or some rocks on to hold it down from the wind. And you might want to do several if you if you feel like you’re in that flow or spread them out.

Art is your birthright. Have fun. Enjoy your day of silence. I’m Suzanne Wright Crain. I’m sorry I can’t be with you. I love you.

In the Heart of the Cave (Nel Cuore della Caverna)

ElaineMateradancescapes, Artist Videos, Watermark Arts Performances

Filmed on location in Matera, Southern Italy, a Unesco World Heritage site and European Cultural Capital for 2019. The cave town of Matera is one of the earths oldest civilizations, inhabited continuously since Neolithic times. The landscape of Matera is filled with rupestri, or cave churches, which have drawn spiritual seekers for millenia.

NY based choreographer and dancer Elaine Colandrea, whose grandparents are from the Basilicata region of Southern Italy, performs In the Heart of the Cave. She has taught Continuum in these beautifully renovated earth wombs for well over a decade.

Music: AVE – Composed by Morena Boschetto with vocals from Simona Arbizzani & Morena Boschetto.

Filmed & edited by Prue Jeffries
A Watermark Arts project – first in a series filmed in Matera in 2018.

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Wind Dances III

ElaineArtist Videos, Watermark Arts Performances

A new video by Prue Jeffries, who along with composer Morena Boschetto, movement artists Simona Arbizzani & Elaine Colandrea, created Wind Dances III – a spontaneous collaboration that combined the fruits of a day off shopping trip in Venice with a windy early evening on a hillside in northern Italy after a Continuum workshop.

As you view, please move with us, following the breeze of your own breath.Read More

they were all there, homage to my father, Max Schaefer

AdminArtist Videos

This video was inspired by a dream I had shortly after my father’s death in December 1979. The background E sounds are recorded from a Continuum workshop with the late Emilie Conrad, the founder of Continuum Movement. I created the soundscape and video. It’s a meditation on death, mourning and the element of water which is fundamental to this piece as it is to all life. And most of all it’s an homage to my late father, Max Schaefer. Read More

Fougaro Nafplion

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A Greek women power trio with Nana Simopoulos on guitar, Vasso Dimitriou bass guitar, Ioanna Mitsoglou drums.  At the grand opening of Fougaro, in Nafplion October 2012.

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Sept 11 St John the Divine (video)

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A Firemen’s Memorial at the Cathedral of St John the divine.  Original composition by Nana Simopoulos called “I Will Remember You” sung in six languages and performed by artists from religious faiths from around the world. – See more here.Read More

Traveller (video)

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A glorious tour de force, an album of Lois Walden’s original songs, sung with passion and vibrancy accompanied by a collage of brilliant performers.  Lois was co-executive producer, and participated in all the arranging, mixing and production.

Lois Walden and Paul Buchanan: Everyone’s Gonna Be Saved

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Balinese Dancer Bonnie Simoa

AdminArtist Videos

The video portion of a story broadcast on KVAL & published on
Stacey Katlain: Videography/Editing
Sara Sebastian: Videography

You can view the full story here:

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