Elenna Mosoff on the UnCovered Deep Dive Dinner Experience
Elenna Mosoff is a certified Co-Active Coach, a Facilitator, a Creator, and a Professional Theatre Director. On this week’s blog, Elenna shares the inspiration behind the Deep Dive Dinner Experience and what you can expect from attending this one-of-a-kind virtual event as part of your UNCOVERED: NOTES FROM THE HEART experience.
How did you come up with the idea of Deep Dive Dinners?
Deep Dive Dinners was born out of the frustration I was feeling in 2018 with the echo chamber that social media was creating between myself and friends of mine who were hiding and shying away from hard conversations. It was becoming easier and easier to be avoiding each other and I couldn’t stand it. I met Danika Zoe, a fellow leadership coach at an event, and mentioned this to her and we decided to pilot a dinner with strangers having a hard topic conversation over dinner. What better way to connect with other humans than around a table where we can break bread together? This ritual has been around in various forms for all of human history. I think we just forgot about it as a way to connect with people outside our immediate circles – or we just haven’t had a way into them.
Right now, when the world is so divided and the chasm of our echo chambers seems to be getting wider and wider. We’re spending more and more time online because of the pandemic, connecting and showing up from our different world views feels crucial.
How would you describe the Deep-Dive Dinner Experience?
The Deep Dive Dinner experience is intimate and nourishing. It’s the kind of experience that fulfills a part of your soul’s longing that you didn’t know you were missing. At a Deep Dive Dinner, we aim to create a Brave Space for sharing, rather than a safe space. We acknowledge that we all have scars and real world experience, and that by coming and sharing our perspectives over dinner, we will inevitably be changed, challenged and enriched.
This is not a regular dinner party. There is no small talk here. What you get from a Deep Dive Dinner is persmission to “go there” with the support, framing and prompts created by expert facilitators.
Sitting down at a table with a group of strangers has the incomparable and odd benefit of making it a little more difficult to hate them with impunity. Prejudice and strife feed off of abstraction. The proximity required when sharing a meal disrupts our ability to cling to the belief that outsiders deserve what our minds have made up as a result of our differences.
In many ways, a Deep Dive Dinner is an in-depth process on a particular topic. What I think is unique about these dinners being paired with the concert is that it gives the audience an opportunity to dig deep and connect in a similar way to how an actor does when approaching a performance. They sit around the table, they look at the themes and they debate and discuss it from their own life experiences and perspectives. Deep Dive Dinners is your chance to do that.
What different topics have been explored in the past?
Past topics have included the following: Death & Grief, Money and our relationship to it, Ego and how it drives us, Intimacy and what rules we play by, the cost of being awake in the world, Bodies and our relationship to them, Boundaries, Family, Vulnerability, Failure, and Privilege.
What does community & change mean to you?
Community is essential for human existence. I do believe that modern society has lost community as a whole, and that we are constantly on a search for our own place within a community. Belonging is what we all long for, yet we tend to look for belonging through an individualistic lense whether that’s for financial gain, social advancement, or romantic love. The communities of friends, of family or of creative pursuit are also spaces we might find belonging and community.
Communities can be both long term and temporary. In many ways, this Uncovered concert brings a sense of temporary community – both to the creators who gather year after year, and the audiences who return to feel the music, the performers, and one another in the dark. We are collectively moved by witnessing the emotional and expressive journey happening on stage. Temporary communities are exciting, and fill us up with a sense of belonging around a particular event. Deep Dive Dinners are also a temporary community; whether that is a group you already know who come to deepen your relationships through the experience, or a group of strangers who’ve opted into the experience for a couple of hours.
Change, for me, is about adaptation. It’s about looking at what has been, accepting that it no longer is what we thought, and making new choices to move forward. Sometimes this is very painful. Sometimes it is exciting. Sometimes it gives way to opportunities and possibilities you might not have been able to fathom in the old way. Deep Dive Dinners and the Uncovered concert have all been part of the change of this time. Like everything that dies, there is a period of grief, which eventually gives way to acceptance (hopefully!) and then creation can happen again. Change is the only thing we can actually count on in life. The pandemic is showing us this over and over and over again.
Historically these dinners are held in-person, what can viewers expect from the online experience?
The online experience is quite powerful. Different than any Zoom meeting or hangout that you’ve been to, the Deep Dive Dinner online plays with turning the conventions of a meeting on it’s head by normalizing eating into our screens, creating moments for ritualized collective toasts, breakout rooms to get into an inquiry with one other guest, and a sharing of the first “bite,” as all of us will have our dinner from the same place! The online version of Deep Dive Dinners provides a rich way to be together in the digital space. You can expect to feel FULL in more ways than one!
Anything that patrons need to prepare in advance?
Once you’ve got your ticket for a Deep Dive Dinner, we will send you an email with all the details. Oftentimes we send an article or a short video to watch in advance so that we all have one common piece of material to work from. In addition, we will send you a big question to begin to think about so that you can arrive at the table with your own perspective already considered.
What topics can patrons expect to cover?
We will be primarily be diving into the topics of Community and Change. Something that is so fascinating about these dinners is that no two conversations are ever the same. The conversations are contextualized by whoever is around the table and has shown up. This makes the event itself rich as well as unpredictable. We want you to bring YOU and all of your heart and head thoughts!
Does every patron need to contribute to the conversation?
If you are attending a Deep Dive Dinner, you will be participating. There isn’t a way to hide in a format with this number of people. That being said, it is possible to do more listening than talking, but it will be impossible to hide, as the format and structure of the dinner are designed for everyone to be a contributor.
What do you hope patrons take away after having participated in a Deep Dive Dinner?
If you come to a Deep Dive Dinner, I hope you walk away feeling like your world has expanded a little bit. I hope you leave with a changed mind and heart that might be open a little bit further to strangers. I hope you walk away chewing on something somebody else shared that you may not have considered before. I hope this makes you want to stop and consider things more closely in your life. I hope you want to come to another one!
You have been on the UnCovered Creative Team for our last 10 concerts, what have been the highlights for you during that time?
Holy moly, so many! Where to start? Here are a few:
- My very first UnCovered was the Lenard Cohen and Joni Mitchell one – we were still at the Bathurst Street theatre for. It was the first time we wove text in with the songs and it was just so exciting! I’ll never forget the intimacy of that space, the tea lights all over the stage, and Bruce Dow’s rendition of ‘Both Sides Now’… my stepfather was dying at the time and it pierced my heart. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
- The John Lennon and Paul McCartney concert – this was the first time we were in Koerner Hall and everything just felt… elevated. It was also the first time we had actors play the characters in costume and create a world that they lived in onstage. This has evolved in various ways over the years, but it did set the stage for the creative formula of the concerts moving forward.
- The Joni MItchell and Carole King concert was very special because it had an entirely female cast. There were songs that were created with combinations of performers that would never, ever appear together on stage in ANYTHING, so it was exciting to see the diversity of performers come together to sing the music. ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with the full ensemble was the most exciting rendition of a Joni Mitchell song I have ever seen.
- There are a couple of moments every single year that I really look forward to, and my body is very familiar with the sensations that each of these particular moments produces. The first one is the first stumble through with the full cast and band in the rehearsal hall. Usually a full day rehearsal, it’s always so exciting to see all the work the actors, the singers, and the musicians have been doing in their individual silos come together into the first glimpses of what we’re creating. There is a palpable feeling of “oh my, this is so special!” every time we do this. I also love how in these rehearsals, we’ve been substituting hairbrushes for microphones, which reminds me of everyone as little kids singing in their bedrooms. We are not too far from the kids who dreamed of this moment. I will miss this greatly this year.
- The second moment that happens annually that I will miss is the first sound check and rehearsal in the theatre. I always sit in the house with Mitchell, just the two of us at the center of the orchestra, and while it is sometimes slow, it’s a beautiful privilege to get to have the house to ourselves and witness the coming together of it all, in Koerner Hall, empty, before the thousands of people get to see it. There is a tradition on the first day of performance that backstage, we have bagels. I will miss sharing bagels with the cast.
What are you most looking forward to from our 2020 virtual concert experience?
This may be a strange answer, but I am looking forward to all the feelings that arise in me as a result of the time we’re in and the necessity of the digital format. I don’t know exactly what this collision of feelings will be, but I imagine sadness, excitement, horror, longing, thrilling… all mashed into one. I know this will be a wild ride. This is the first year in ten that I won’t have been involved in any of the creative aspects of the concert itself, and that will leave a pang. I think also, seeing the performers we all love most at this annual event singing in iconic Toronto spaces will be amazing, and it will also stir up my longings for “the way things used to be.” I am looking forward to having that as a point of reflection and as a reminder of how lucky I’ve been to be part of this amazing company and ensemble for so long.
Elenna Mosoff is a certified professional leadership coach with an MFA in Professional Theatre Direction. After spending years as a professional director and producer in NYC and London, Elenna shifted her focus towards personal and professional development by creating experiences that lend themselves to the interpersonal sphere and the gelling of teams and groups. With her company The Mission Business Inc, Elenna has created and facilitated events for teams at CBC Digital, Ubisoft, TD Insurance, Autodesk, PwC, The Musical Stage Company and many others. Elenna believes that there is power in connecting the human parts of ourselves to one another, and that this creates an opportunity for a higher functioning and empathetic work teams, family units, and friend groups.
Elenna is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC & PCC) and a faculty member of the Co-Active Institute’s 10-month global leadership program based in California. She strongly believes that the world will be a better place when we practice getting real with each other and digging into our collective and individual depths.
Our facilitator team members are all trained in the Co-Active Training Institute’s method of leadership co-facilitation and bring a wide range of experiences and
diverse backgrounds to our Deep Dive tables. Each dinner is facilitated by two facilitators, chosen specifically for each company and topic.
Photo credit: Tempura/Getty Images