Thursday, June 28, 2012

Season 9 Creating an Art Quilt

Nine artists used nine fabrics to create nine rivers  for Season Nine's Art Quilt 
for the Great River Shakespeare Festival. Front row:  Margaret Kiihne, Kathy Seifert, Dee Cipov, and Mary Kaser. Back row: Mary Alice Anderson, Connie Larson, Mary Lee Eischen, John Baird, and Jeanne Oost,  stand in front of the art quilt.

Here's a peek into some of the thinking, creating, and working together of these artists, quilters, and stitchers.


The fabrics were gathered up from Season Eight by Margaret Kiihne and Jeanne Oost.  Thoughts began swirling in Margaret’s head as the winter passed.  Then she called all the quilters, artists, and stitchers together to begin the creation of the Season Nine Art Quilt.  We met on February 17, 2012.

Connie Larson and Margaret Kiihne hold up the art quilt to audition fabrics.  Everyone considers the next fabric.

Fabrics get laid out.  Thoughts shared.  What about a different construction technique this year?  Quilt as we go?   Columns of fabrics?  What about rivers of fabrics?   Nine fabrics for season nine?  All  decisions were made by consensus.  Lots of ideas to share. 

Many hands make light work.

Mary Kaser, Connie Larson, and Mary Alice Anderson stitch together.

Kathy Seifert and Dee Cipov discuss another river of fabric.

John Baird, crafter, for the Great River Shakespeare Festival’s costume shop stitches the last quilted rivers. Jeanne Oost, custom shop supervisor, supports the fabric as John sews.

John's treasure.  

Detail for the fibula or clock pin used in the art quilt.

Write up about Season Nine's Art Quilt.

Nine Rivers of Elegance for Season Nine


The whole group standing in front of the Art Quilt in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center of Winona State University. Group picture taken by Kathy Christenson.

Find out about everything happening at the Great River Shakespeare Festival.

Raffle tickets go on sale soon.  Buy a ticket to win this beautiful work of art.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Jacqueline Markevitch Paulsen

Jacqueline Markevitch Paulsen

Jacque took a little time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about her passion for movement with dancing  Nia, teaching dance, and balancing life in relationship with her family as a mother, wife, and friend.

Jacque has been dancing and moving her whole life.  Moving in her body has been a calling; and seems to take new shape and form as she dances through life.  Dancing in studios and in troupes has been part of her history from being a backup dancer for a hip hop group out of Detroit called Slice to dancing with a dance company out of Rockford, Illinois called Midwest Movement.  As a young dancer, she was asked to dance in ways that stressed and injured her strong body. At one point she suffered a shoulder injury that did not allow her to raise her arm.

When she began dancing the Nia Technique, the joy of movement was a new concept for her.  The Nia Technique encouraged people to listen to their bodies and to move in ways for pleasure instead of pain.  An appreciation and a love for her body began to grow.

Nia is a sensory-based movement lifestyle that leads to health, wellness and fitness. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries worldwide. Trainings are designed for those seeking personal enrichment and professional development. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities.”

Though the students are following Jacque’s lead in the class, each is following their body’s way.  And some of the movement can create some laughter.

The Nia Technique is a combination of dance arts, martial arts and healing arts.  Nine movement forms make up Nia. 

Dance Arts:

Isadora Duncan

Martial Arts:

T’ai Chi
Tae Kwon Do

Healing Arts:

The Alexander Technique
The Teachings of Moshe Feldenkraise

If a person wants to go deeper in the practice of the Nia Technique, the trainings build like a martial art belt system.  The first belt is the White Belt.  Jacque took the White Belt intensive training in 2010 with Winalee Zeeb at Heartdance Studio, in Lansing, Michigan.  In the White Belt, there are 13 fundamental principles of Nia.  This training was very embryonic for Jacque.  It was life changing; a portal back into her body.  She found truth about her body.

In the 2011, Jacque took the Green Belt training at Studio Nia in Portland, Oregon with Britta von Tagen.  This training was challenging.  It cleaned up her technique of Nia.  She enjoyed taking the training at the Nia Headquarters and home studio of Debbie Rosas, co-founder of the Nia Technique.

Jacque’s life is full to overflowing as a Nia and Modern dance teacher for adults and children.  She is pursuing a master’s degree at Winona State University.  In her home life, she is married and has two young boys.  How does Jacque balance all the complex parts of her life?  She schedules it.  She consciously holds space for each role.  Whether it is dancing with a friend to practice the craft, or taking a hot tub, Jacque builds these things into her schedule.  She sets clear boundaries to make her life work.  Her life with her family must come first.  Her work with Nia in the Winona Community and her vision for health and movement are high on her list, following family.

In Nia, Principle Five of the White Belt is called Life as Art.  For Jacque that means living in each moment.  Sometimes it seems that life is too busy to integrate that into consciousness.  Her little son, Zephyr, reminds her to stop each time they come to a flower to have a sniff.

One of her favorite parts about dancing Nia is that no matter what she feels like before coming into a class, afterward she feels great.  Dancing gives her a sense of submission to her body’s way.  There is nothing else going on for one hour except to dance.


One of Jacque’s favorite movement forms is Feldenkraise.   Sensing how the body moves is powerful work.  The Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Education says
 “Learning to move with less effort makes daily life easier. Because the Feldenkrais Method focuses on the relationship between movement and thought, increased mental awareness and creativity accompany physical improvements. Everyone, from athletes and artists to administrators and attorneys, can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method.”

Duncan dance was one of Jacque’s least favorite movement forms due to what she perceived as a lack of structure.  As she realized that it had everything to do with sensation, she has grown to appreciate it.  Duncan dance is an “in-road” for some people into Nia.  The freedom makes it more accessible.  Lori Belilove writes about Isadora Duncan:  “Virtually single-handedly, Isadora restored dance to a high place among the arts. Breaking with convention, Isadora traced the art of dance back to its roots as a sacred art. She developed within this idea, free and natural movements inspired by the classical Greek arts, folk dances, social dances, nature and natural forces as well as an approach to the new American athleticism which included skipping, running, jumping, leaping and tossing.”

Photographs were taken in a Nia class with Jacque at Winona State University in the Integrated Wellness Center in spring 2012. 

The Alexander Technique is about moving from the top.  Joan Arnold says, “The relationship between the head and the spine is of utmost importance. How we manage that relationship has ramifications throughout the rest of the body. As the boss -- good or bad -- sets the tone for an organization, the head / spine relationship -- compressed or free -- determines the quality of the body's overall coordination.  Our neuromuscular system is designed to work in concert with gravity. Delicate poise of the head sparks the body's anti-gravity response: a natural oppositional force in the torso that easily guides us upward and invites the spine to lengthen, rather than compress, as we move. Instead of slouching or holding ourselves in a rigid posture, we can learn to mobilize this support system and use it wherever we go -- in the car, at the computer, in the gym.”

Child’s Pose, pictured above, is an asana, a posture that is held in Yoga.  The pose has a calming and restorative effect on the body.
To find out where Jacque is teaching Nia and learn more about Nia including classes and trainings in the area, go to the Nia website:

How do you like to move your body?  What are your favorite movement forms within Nia?  Curious about what rocks your world. Leave a comment or two and let's get a conversation going. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gift of Trees Japan-United States Cherry Blossom Centennial

Centennial Celebration

Misato,Japan-Winona, Minnesota, USA
Sister Cities Anniversary
June 10, 2012

On Sunday, June 10th, Winona accepted the gift from Misato, Japan of cherry trees.  The celebration took place along East Lake, East of Hamilton Street in Winona.  This historic event marks the centennial celebration of the 3000 trees given to the United States in 1912 from Japan.  Today, Sakura, cherry trees show an incredible display of beauty each spring. 

Dr. Matthew Strecher, translater and Councilman Al Thurley, Master of Ceremonies 

Dignitaries from Japan and the USA shared words of friendship and hope for stronger connection with our two nations.  Winona Mayor Jerry Miller spoke of the bond that our counties share; he expressed a hope that as the trees grow in strength may the bond strengthen with our nations.   Mayor Miller paused to allow Dr. Matthew Strecher to translate his words into Japanese.

Mr Yasuhiko Kamada, Director of the Japan Information Center in Chicago spoke of his earliest memories of the Sakura, cherry trees blooming at the beginning of the school year.  Their beauty was a sign of new beginnings and a fresh start on the first day of school. “May the cherry trees be a symbol of a special bond that grows,” he said.  His wishes for blossoms on bright and windy spring days elicited laughter from the crowd about his reference to the extra gusty wind blowing on Sunday.

US Senator Amy Klobuchar talked to the crowd about the Cherry Trees as a generous Symbol of Hope.


Ken McCullough, Second Winona Poet Laureate 2009-2012
Mr. McCullough read a Japanese poem in English and Japanese  Every Japanese school aged child is required to memorize Neither Yielding To Rain.

The Sakura blossoms have inspired many songs and artistic works.  Japanese and United States singers.

Artist, Ms. Yukie Ota

Mr. Yasuhiko Kamada, Director of Japan Information Center Chicago, US Senator Amy Klobuchar, Winona Mayor Jerry Miller and Misato Mayo Sasaki planting Sakura blossoming cherry trees beside Lake Winona.

Winona, Japan, USA, Misato Flags 

Blossoming Sakura for hope.  Thank you Misato, Japan.  We are blessed by your friendship.


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