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Nancy Houfek-Brown Address Notes r

Nancy Houfek-Brown Address Notes r

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Published by Celeste Bergin

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Celeste Bergin on Apr 11, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/24/2012

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 April 10, 2010Columbia Art Gallery  Artist 2 Artist(Notes by 
Celeste Bergin
 )Keynote address by: Nancy Houfek-Brown
 What we can learn about communication from theater:
 Today we will be talking about taking secrets from the theater to use them incommunication. How do we take the tactile experience of making visual art andmake it verbal? What we will be addressing is our stories, connection and energy. We’ll betalking about the spirit or soul that comes from us and “lands” on anotherperson (gesturing with a large arc motion). We will talk about that thing thatcan be described as “being on the same wavelength” or “having chemisty”….the electrical something that is referred to as “chi” or “prana”. The Russian word for it is “wooch” (phonetically) and “wooch” translates to“rays…like rays of the sun”.
Sharing your gift:
Let’s think about what you have to share with people as a gift, for that is whatart is. We often feel subordinate (to galleries), but this is incorrect, in fact weare offering a benefit or a solution. What are art galleries without art? What, forthat matter, is the world without art?Here are some practical ideas to begin:1. Look one another in the eye. If you do not do this immediately peopleunderstand that you are not connecting with them.2. Find out as much as you can about whomever it is that you seek to tell yourstory to: Find out their back-story, the details….who are they, what is their age, what can be learned about where they came from and what they are doing?3. What is at stake? What do they have to gain or lose from talking with you?(Seriously, this is a deep question. What are they missing by not knowing you? These things must be thoughtfully considered and defined).
 
Envision “connecting”:
Everyone who owns a dog has one of these (a tennis ball)—but I assure you,this is a new one. (A volunteer named Tom joins Brown on stage).(They toss the ball back and forth…not slowly, but not fast—with an “even”rhythm:“Are you ready?”“Here it comes”“Did you get it?”“Yes”“Buy my art” (laughter)
 
(note: this simple ball toss demonstration mostly illustrated the slower cadencenecessary to send and receive messages well). Think about “landing” your energy, one person at a time, one idea at a time.Do you know what “mirror neurons” are? (People will mirror one another inconversation). Know this and be aware of it, it is a way to see that you are onthe “same wavelength” or sharing common ground.
Loosen up before entering a conversation:
 Actors physically stretch out their arms wide open toward the sky and thenshake them (somewhat “wildly”) to shake out tension. (Brown asks theaudience to do that with her). Try it…especially before speaking with peopleyou haven’t talked with before, you will feel “lighter”, more open and lessfearful.
Posture, stance, presence:
Indira Ghandi said: “no one can shake hands with a closed fist. So when youmeet people and speak withthem, keep your body open. Uncross your armsand uncross legs. Stand openly, with hands open, feet planted on the ground. Think of your voice as a ball toss, making certain that your voice is “landing.”Stand centered, to the center of the earth….Breathe and land your voice on theperson as the “fountain” that you are (Brown motions an arc with her arm, likethe same arc of the tennis ball in flight).
Give the common everyday words you use some respect:
 When we say certain words over and over we tend to shorten and mutter the words, and this can sound small and dismissive. Say some words barely moving your mouth…and then say them again with good breath and widening yourmouth. You’ll notice immediately even you feel differently about the same word.For example, I work at the
 American Repertory Theater.
(spoken quickly withoutmoving her mouth). Now, is this better: I work at the
 Amer---i---can Rep---er--tory The—a---ter.
(elongated). Can you tell immediately how the words

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