By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
May 1, 2017 (San Diego) -- “When imagination walks, she writes letters to the earth,” reads an excerpt from J. Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities. Her book is quoted in sermons and speeches, turned into theatrical pieces, and kept on bedside stands to be read before retiring. Commendable for a book that got its start as a self-published book in 1984 and now has over a quarter of a million copies in print.
The book, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble among other places, lists 76 human qualities in such a way that Amazon reviewers have stated they read it before going to bed. (Excerpt: “Patience wears my grandmother’s filigree earrings. She bakes marvelous dark bread….”) Patience, creativity, fear, and judgement are just a few of the qualities Gendler has commented on. The book is literally a book of qualities that are explored in short essays with accompanying artwork.
The book will be explored via a workshop, conducted by Gendler, held on May 6th, 4:30 p.m. -5:30 p.m., titled “Qualities of Creativity: Dancing with Words”, facilitated by La Mesa’s Visionary School of Performing Arts and Kidz Danz Kompany. Afterwards, you can delight in performances of “Ballet My Way” on May 5th-6th at Mission Valley’s San Diego Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. each night.
Visionary Dance Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director, Spencer John Powell, will premiere two new works “In the Land of Qualities – A Ballet,” a fairy tale inspired by Gendler’s book. Which will explore human qualities such as fear, charm, joy and power.
The second piece, “My Mother’s Son”, will be comprised of all male dancers.
“We are so excited to host J. Ruth Gendler,” Powell told East County Magazine. “I was very inspired as a young man when I first read The Book of Qualities. I’m excited to finally create a work from that inspiration.”
In a phone interview, Gendler said, “The work has such a life of its own.” Indeed, it does with Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts performing a cite specific interpretation of her book in April.
Gendler, a Berkeley resident, is an author, artist, and teacher, and was an artist in residence with both the California Poets in Schools and Young Audiences of the Bay Area. She has been described as “…experienced with the rhythms of creativity.”
“The workshop will be inter-generational for ages 8-80. “I believe everyone has something to say,” explained Gendler. Unlined paper, markers, and pens will be the tools of the trade for Gendler coaxing out the creativity in the attendees.
“Courtesy, curiosity, hope and dread” are the new qualities Gendler wants to write about after seeing life from a different age and time.
Visit www.VisionaryDanceTheatre.org for further information and tickets.