10x10 makes happy and sad

By weeklyvolcano on June 2, 2007

When I first met Josephine and Paul Zmolek, they had a "Masks of Thespis" art display up at their Barefoot Studios, and I felt an itching need to get on their stage and learn something about movement; I yearned to be “in” my body, and their studio seemed to be my ticket to greater self-awareness.

But I have a nuts life, and it got in the way of my following through on my urge.

I might have missed my chance to learn with two amazing, enigmatic teachers, though I hope I’m wrong.

At last night’s "10x10," a varied assortment of performers hit the stage, from two strong and expressive dancers, Katherine M. Stricker and Stephanie Kriege, joined by Jeanne Douville in one of piece, to the never-say-quit (despite the CD skips) 7 to 12- and 12 to 17-year-old performers from the D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts, to the mime-ist dancing/acting stylings of Jamie Pederson, with help in conception and direction from Ron Gilbert, who also produced and directed some quirky, riveting, experimental, moving film for the night.

I stood by a window and the breeze carried occasional train sounds in with the cool on the back of my neck.  It was a peaceful, intimate, engaging, thoroughly pleasant (though that word seems so weak) evening, capped off with insightful and thoughtful conversation intended to help provide feedback to artists work-shopping pieces.

Yeah, it was all idyllic and perfect, except that the last, peppy little piece, conceived by Klair Ethridge, written directed, and performed by “many people” (per the program), a fun peek at a dance studio, with some spoken word by Ethridge and ending on a familiar "Sound of Music" song.

So Long? Farewell?

My heart jumped in confusion.

As each performer stood in line and expressed words of gratitude to the Zmoleks, and Barefoot Studios, I felt something akin to a rising hysteria.

What?  So Long?  Farewell???

With a sad smile that conveyed warmth and soul as only Josephine can manage, she told me, “we don’t know.”

She continued to tell me, “it’s been a rough year.”

Over a year ago, in April, a bus crashed through the office, then Dome District construction began, and then the landlords approached the Zmoleks with a 50 percent rent increase, and implied that at any moment, the Zmoleks may get their 30-day notice.

So classes have been interrupted, and the Barefoot Studios, and "10x10," may be on the endangered list.  Will the Zmoleks leave Tacoma? Will they continue Barefoot in another location?
All Josephine could tell me with her sad smile was, “We don’t know.”

Before I heard the familiar, “So Long” song, I remember standing back with a profound sense of peace, feeling like this space in Tacoma was just as it should be, with the bright walls painted creatively with care; with the huge scarves that hang like banners, colorfully flirting with the mayhem outside the doors of the studio, working their diagonal design against the horizontal of the building seen out the windows.

In her words to the Zmoleks, Kriege said, “a building serves as a vehicle for a community.”

In this building, the Zmoleks have served up Beauty, Joy, Integrity, and Kindness, per one performer, and have been like the best kind of warm pie that makes ice cream perfectly melty, as Pederson analogized.

So now what?

I keep hearing Josephine’s “we don’t know.”

And it makes me profoundly sad. â€" Jessica Corey-Butler