Here is the moment where the human sees their full suffering; their full insignificance. The clown is a metaphor for the cosmic joke that is human existence… a joke that is as sweet and beautiful as it is sad, and sad as it is beautiful and sweet. The other dancer is a human who is drawn into the orbit of this clown, becomes entangled in the realization of their insignificance, a crashing realization that is brought to life by the haunting music of the Antlers. Their song “Kettering” immediately positions the audience into an otherworld atmosphere, one that slowly builds in tension, a brimming undertow, that finally engulfs the dancers halfway through with a magnificent drop. From there, the dancers move into contact. Their interaction is far more dialogic, designing each other’s movements with a spontaneous flow of information, kinesthetic, visual, tactile, emotional… The dance is completely improvised from beginning to end. Continuing with the cosmic references, I wanted to explore how we as dancers could imitate the behavior of stars and planets in outer space. Of course, my love of spinning and spiraling was a natural fit, but deeper inspection revealed a range of motion triggered by gravitational pull, slinging, trembling, as well as the power of internalizing the process of a star… in imploding into a blackhole, thereby creating a new internal universe. I was reminded of Emerson’s saying about how during our darkest winter, we may discover an invincible summer within us. And the philosophy of Carl Sagan that reminds us of our insignificance in this grand universe, as well as our connectedness through the stardust in our DNA. This philosophy leads me to see everything as neither good not evil, just as is… the stories we attach to things help us to heal, to make sense of, to give meaning to and importance to what happens in our lives. But in reality, we could attach any story. We could attach a thousand stories. The only thing that is real is what we feel in our hearts in that moment. Perhaps the only thing that is real is love?
Through the elements of contemporary dance and contact improvisation, we honoured this idea of creating in real time. Being authentic to that moment. I was inspired not only by the intellectual concept, by the interaction with my contact partner Gabe Reese, by my connection to spiritual realms and the music, by my secret internal universe of love and dreams and human experience, but to the audience, who I felt breathing with us. Which brings me to the final part of being made of stars... we are all connected.
The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff… We look at stars at say, “look at those things of beauty”… but they are mortal like us. They are burning like us. Falling apart like us. The stars say: look at these things of beauty, these sad human beings. Their end, just as insignificant as their beginning, is inevitable. Yield that gravitational pull. Dance like a wounded bull. Your stage is a pale blue dot in a faraway place. You’re beautiful. Collapsing, human being. I can barely remember you, only see your trace, an echo of a memory, a whisper in space. So be kind to one another, let your compassion not rust, as beneath your foolish attire, look at us...We are all made of stardust. (The introduction I wrote based on the writing of Carl Sagan.)
Many thanks to the producers of Threshold, Sian Bhala of Opalesque Dance and Holly Wodetski.
For more photos (gratitude to Tidal Creations photography) visit here.
To hear the beautiful song by the Antlers, click here.
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