Walter Parks has been a part of farm happenings since he and musical partner Stephanie Winters, who named the farm, performed at the first Split Tree 1994 spring festival as The Nudes, a guitar and cello duo singing original songs. One of their waltzes from their second "Boomerang" CD was donated for this CD. Walter wrote it after waltzing with Powers' teaching partner, Angela Amarillas, at the first Split Tree Viennese Ball in 1997. Parks has written a fine new original waltz for guitar and cello after waltzing with former Stanford dancer Tara Rishko at one of Richard Powers waltz weekends at Split Tree. Both waltzes will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart and set your bodies twirling into waltzing heaven. Other original and traditional waltzes from the popular dance bands "Misbehavin'" and "Atomic City Rhythm Rascals" in additional to pieces by Parks and Alan Dynin, Robert Jamison, and Mary Jo Strickland, will have you out of your chair and up and dancing before you can count to three. Some of the waltz rhythms are subtle and require close listening. Our cover lady in evening gown is the lovely vintage dancer Lin Heilman of Cincinnati, who made her beautiful 1850s period gown for waltzing at the 1996 first double vintage dance weeks in Paris and Prague.
Split Tree Farm Participatory Arts Center is located in the center of 200 acres in rural NW Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, TN. The movement studio, with its hard maple, floating floor, overlooks panoramic views of Lookout and Pigeon mountains from a high ridge top. Dances, retreats, and varied workshops are held in a glass-enclosed, air-conditioned dance pavilion with full outside decks and a hot tub. The movement space and stage are attached to a large farmhouse with a fireplace, two kitchens, three full baths and sleeping accommodations with 24 beds. Two cabins offer private space. Sheltered camping is available in a nearby large barn and open pastures offer abundant tent sites.
This land was part of Sid Hetzler's family land, which was owned by his mother's family since the 1840s, his ridge land acquired in 1870. Sid bought this land from his aunt in 1977 and made it his residence after the main house was built in 1978. During Ph.D. semiotic studies at Emory University in the late 1980s, he became an avid waltz, contra and swing dancer as an unexpected effect of his dissertation research (see web page) into the idea of festivals and unique festival spaces. He begin to dream of sponsoring festivals with this property as a theatrical, dramatic open space. But the resources were not available until two storms changed that. In August 1992, an old cherry tree in the back pasture was struck by lightning, splitting it into four large limbs that touched the ground from the standing trunk. Then, in March 1993, a blizzard struck the entire east coast. Dozens of large trees on the property and nearby were blown over. These storms finally provided the sign, the name, and the lumber that were needed to start changing a dream into reality. With help from many dance volunteers, led by Don Walker and Daniel Lee, the open dance hall was built in 1994. In 1996, the studio was heated and weatherproofed with sliding glass doors, and the fine maple floor installed. Finally it was air conditioned in March 2000. Who knows Split Tree's future as an open space for quiet meditation, energetic dancing, ensemble music-making around the Steinway, shared writing sessions, modern dance choreography, leadership development, private conferences?
The idea of Split Tree is one of an open space designed to be a safe play space for experiencing personal growth through shared creative activities in a natural environment and in a community of imagination. By offering weekend and full week active participation in social dance, modern dance, music making, movement, writing, acting and other art forms rather than the customary passive concerts, participants experience release and regeneration of their energy and dreams. The frequently reported life changing experience from immersion in Split Tree events has emerged from an interplay of forces: the inherent beauty of the spacious studio, undeveloped farm land and surrounding mountains, a tolerant leadership vision, and a sensitive architecture that has been built and sustained by a base of volunteers and participants.
Split Tree offers its visitors and resident artists, both as professionals and emerging talents, opportunities to experience a broad range of traditional and innovative activities varying from exploring waltz styles to musical improvisation to open group writing in a tolerant, healthy communal atmosphere conducive to playfulness and intimacy. The Split Tree emphasis on community life includes the past and future reality of artists and other committed individuals living on the property and contributing to Split Tree activities as they reflect and work. Our idea of participatory arts in simple words was summed up best by San Francisco's living history society, PEERS: "More than anything else, we are dedicated to the idea of entertainment as something for people to do rather than watch." At Split Tree, the artist in all is invited to come out and play, not merely to listen or look while crammed in a seat in the dark.
In the words of pianist Alan Dynin, whose genius is heard on this special CD: "Split Tree means to nurture not only each participant's inner artist, but also to support local, regional and national artists, workshop leaders, and performers whose talents and energy expand the Split Tree participatory vision. To the fullest extent possible, live music is used for events. Through personal inspiration gained while here, we fully expect numerous individuals to recharge expressive and creative activities in their home communities while contributing to, and hopefully becoming a part of, our community here. Amid the soul stultifying overload of ever faster streams of "information" and media stimuli, Split Tree is a haven where life can slow down to focus on doing and being in a way that is truly satisfying. We look forward with excitement to Split Tree's continued growth as an oasis where meaning and joy, and communion with self, nature, and others can be sought and found. In this collection of waltzes is found that same spirit of dynamism and stillness."
Special appreciation is given to donors and organizations who have made Split Tree and this CD possible: Walter Parks, Richard Powers, Don Walker, Becky Forster, Sorrel Hays of Southern Pitch, Inc., several hundred financial contributors, and other anonymous donors. And we thank the musicians on this CD: Alan Dynin, Daron Douglas, Paul Moore, Robert Jamison, Mary Jo Strickland, the Atomic City Rhythm Rascals band, and, of course, Walter Parks and Stephanie Winter of The Nudes, and Walter's two waltz partners and muses, Angela Amarillas and Tara Rishko.
Sid Hetzler, April 2000
Check out the artist's website:
1. Captain O'Kanes--The Atomic City Rhythm Rascals
2. Bare Necessities -- Daron Douglas and Paul Moore
3. Funky Waltz -- Walter Parks and Alan Dynin
4. County Clare Waltz -- Daron Douglas and paul Moore
5. The Waltz for Tara -- Walter Parks and Gary Tussing
6. Robertson County Waltz -- The Atomic City Rythm Rascals
7. Phyrigian Waltz -- Robert Jamison, Alan Dynin, and Daron Douglas
8. The Artists Life -- Alan Dynin and Walter Parks
9. Where Do We Go From Here -- The Nudes
10. J.J's Hambo -- Daron Douglas and Paul Moore
11. Scarborough Fair -- Walter Parks and Alan Dynin
12. Carmena -- Mary Jo Strickland
13. The Last Waltz -- Daron Douglas and Paul Moore
14. Brueblue -- Alan Dynin