Location: Riverwest, 700 N Carpenter, Chicago, IL 60642.
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Our first gathering will begin with silence. By establishing a connection to our interior ‘empty space’ of calm, quiet, grounded connectedness, we will meet one another for the first time. Silence will be filled with collective chanting* led by Aaron. After we have caused vibrational changes in our bodies and our workspace, Aaron will offer a brief welcome and introduction to the weekend workshop followed by a grounding non-vigorous yoga practice. During savasana participants will be guided through a yoga nidra-like meditation* on the seven chakras. We will share in a closing chant before departure. Everyone will leave ready for a deep and restful sleep contemplating their first impressions of our ad-hoc ensemble.
*Participants need not be experienced meditators or singers.
Mornings are the perfect time to purify and energize with kriya yoga and vigorous asana. Our morning will begin with a brief seated centering chant followed by an introductory practice of “The Four Purifications” as taught by Baba Hari Dass. Rajeev will then lead a vigorous one-hour vinyasa practice focusing on standing poses and backbends to awaken and bring vibrancy to the body and mind. After savasana, we will shift into introductory theatre games designed to build connections between members of our ensemble and warm the channels of spontaneous play. These games will lead to more complex exercises including French physical theatre master Jacques Lecoq’s “Seven Levels of Tension” and “Balance of The Stage.”
After lunch, we will return to a short silent period of meditation. Time will then be allotted to debrief from the morning with a discussion period of questions and answers. Next, we will investigate how various pranayama techniques are perceived by spectators as conveying emotional states. Following work with Brahmari pranayama we will dive deeper into Vishuddha chakra with a unit on vocal work. Finally, we will begin to layer improvisatory work with the qualities and attributes of the seven chakras upon Leocq’s Seven Levels of Tension. In this work, we will portray healthy correctly aligned chakras spinning in the correct direction and unhealthy maligned chakras spinning in the incorrect direction. Complex characters will arise and encounter the space, objects, sounds, and each other. Initially, the whole group will work without any observers. Eventually, some will sit to watch the work of solos, duets, and trios in the process of discovery.
We will begin with a short period of gathering in silence followed by chanting. Participants will be invited to share dreams they had and journaled about over the weekend. Time will again be allotted to debrief from Saturday with a discussion period for questions and answers. Rajeev will again lead an energizing asana practice to wake up the group and get us breathing and moving together. This will include ensemble asana such as Surya Namaskar traveling across the floor and interwoven partner work that demands heightened awareness of others in a flow. We will then return to Saturday’s Layering Sevens Upon Sevens work with an eye towards developing our most interesting, surprising, arresting, and memorable combinations of layers and groups. We will hone in on the characters, scenarios, and situations we wish to rehearse after lunch.
After lunch, we will practice grounding restorative yoga and calming pranayama. We will repeat our favorite moments, characters, scenarios, and exercises from the previous four sessions and prepare an informal showing of our work to show to friends, family, and the Moksha Yoga community. There will be no pressure to “perform” or “perfect” anything. We will just share a bit of what we did over the weekend for people who did not participate. Participants will not be left without guidance during the vernissage. Aaron will be side-coaching participants and be providing context to the audience. Anyone who feels uncomfortable with the idea of participating in the exposition of our work is welcome to join the audience. No one will be forced to do anything they are not enthusiastic about doing.
Aaron Rajeev Kahn (b. 1975, Chicago) is an American artist currently based in Vilnius, Lithuania. His work as a theatre director, actor, teacher, vocal and movement artist, has been carried out around the world in two dozen countries on four continents*. When graduating from The Chicago Academy for The Arts he was a U.S. Presidential Scholar in The Arts finalist after winning the Young Arts Foundation National Competition. In the 1990’s, he established three companies in America: The EXIT Theatre Company, The Namaste Theatre Company, and Laboratory for Enthusiastic Collaboration. Abroad he founded Theatre en Jeu (Paris, 2010) and, with Lithuanian artist and anthropologist, Goda Palekaite, co-founded their currently active artistic agency operating at the intersection of theatre, space, and politics called Rather Than Happiness (2017, Vilnius).
With Peace Child Israel, Open House Ramle, and Seeds of Peace International Camp, he trained and directed Palestinian and Israeli teenagers in peace-building projects utilizing collective creation theatre techniques. This work culminated in Kahn’s undergraduate thesis “Peace-building With Collective Creation Theatre West of The River Jordan” written at Marlboro College and The School for International Training in Vermont from where he received his B.A. in theatre directing (cum laude). Among others, he has studied and worked with Judith Malina and The Living Theatre, The Bread and Puppet Theatre, Joseph Chaikin, Peter Brook, and Goat Island Performance. In 2002 he began developing the TEATRchakra method of training combining the practices of yoga and physical theatre. From 2008-2010 he studied Arts de la Scene at l’Universite de Paris 8 (Vincennes-St. Denis) and in 2012 he completed his professional training at the legendary Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He has been an active member of The International Theatre Institute (ITI-UNESCO) for over 20 years.
Under the auspices of Rather Than Happiness, Kahn co-directed a site-specific production of “Mud” ("Dumblas") by Maria Irene Fornes in an abandoned Soviet-era school in Siauliai, Lithuania; performed all the roles in the premiere reading the new play “Conversation on The Roof of Chungking Mansions” in Vilnius; carried out audio-visual research on the ancient Khazar civilization in The Caucasus Mountain region of Southern Russia and Georgia (Astrakhan, Kalmykia, Dagestan, Chechnya, and North Ossetia) with Goda Palekaite and curator Monika Lipsic, for a project in development inspired by Milorad Pavic’s “Dictionary of The Khazars"; wrote and performed an original monologue and lullaby called “Khazar Mythology” at The Calvert Foundation Gallery in London as part of the exhibition “The Future is Certain; It’s The Past Which is Unpredictable” which is transferring to The Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas this February.
Aside from his work with Rather Than Happiness, Aaron is a member of contemporary composer Arturas Bumsteinas’ noise machinery ensemble in “Bad Weather,” a sound art performance that premiered at Tadeusz Kantor’s Cricoteka Theatre in Krakow, Poland as part of the 2017 Unsound Festival and is currently on tour in Europe. In 2016 Aaron served as movement director and choreographer in Paulius Ignatavicius’ adaptation of Aeschylus’ “The Suppliant Women“ called “Europieciai” (“The Europeans”) at The State Small Theatre of Vilnius.
As a senior instructor of yoga, under his Sanskrit name, Rajeev, Kahn brings more than 20 years of practice and 15 years teaching experience to his thousands of students in over twelve countries. In 2009, while on the faculty at Rasa Yoga Rive Gauche, he was named a “pointure” (master teacher) in the book “Paris Yoga” (Parigramme Editions, 2009). In 2014 he was invited to Hong Kong to serve as Director of Learning and Development for Pure Yoga International the where he oversaw the continuing education and quality control of more than 280 teachers in four countries. From 2009-2015 he led retreats at Ulpotha, a village in the jungle of Sri Lanka. Since 2000 he has been a dedicated student of the world-renowned traditional Ashtanga Yoga master and silent monk, Baba Hari Dass. According to some scholars Hari Dass — considered by many to be a living saint — is likely the only silent monk playwright in world history. It is to Babaji that Rajeev credits his patience, humor, and optimism. Rajeev regularly returns to Mount Madonna Center, a community built by the students of Hari Dass, to continue his in-depth study of doing the dishes and other forms of advanced practice.
*The U.S., Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, England, France, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Holland, Belgium, Poland, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, U.A.E., Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Russia, Georgia, India, and Thailand.
Rather Than Happiness Facebook
"Mud” (Dumblas) in Lithuania Facebook
"Bad Weather” project photos Facebook