Photo by Karen Mason Blair
(re)MOVE: Back Toward Again the (re)TURN Facing
Performance dates: April 22-24, 2016
May we turn inwards and stumble upon our true roots
in the intertwining biology of this exquisite planet.
May nourishment and power pulse through these roots,
and fierce determination to continue
the billion year dance.
— John Seed
The poem above is an epigraph from The Greening of the Self by Joanna Macy. “The life pouring through us, pumping our heart and breathing through our lungs, did not begin at our birth or conception,” Macy observes. “Like every particle in every atom and molecule of our bodies, it goes back through time to the first splitting and spinning of the stars.”
Macy calls the time that we have entered “The Great Turning”: the returning of the self to its deep kinship with all of life; the world as its body.
My readings in quantum entanglement, physics, general systems theory, and evolutionary biology have taken me into areas where the spiritual, philosophic and the scientific interchange; they strengthen, rather than oppose each other. At the heart of this interchange is our movement that reconnects us with the natural world, with ourself, with each other and with our evolution in this cultural time. (see Kimerer LaMothe’s book,Why We Dance).
My personal religious experience has led me to deep questions about the absence of the feminine in the Abrahamic religions, and the egregious effect this has had on the evolution of our collective body and the earth, particularly in the West. Studies in Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Five Elements/Movements and yin/yang theory of Chinese philosophy have given me a lovely place to explore ideas that heal the cracks in my Judeo-Christian experience.
In these spiritual philosophies I sought new movements I could repurpose toward my own becoming. I found connection: between human, heaven and earth; to the root of all the universe for which we belong; and to the “primal mother” that enthralls my curiosity and imagination.
The valley spirit never dies;
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.
It is like a veil barely seen.
Use it; it will never fail.
— Chapter 6, Tao Te Ching
In developing this work and selecting music, I felt drawn to the sounds of These Hills of Glory, by Wayne Horvitz. It interested me that the characters for yin and yang are represented by the dark and the light side of a hill. In Horvitz’s music I could hear the “ancient and the future ones” that Joanna Macy speaks of in her work, moving me to create this dance through my recent flourishing and (re)TURNing within a dynamic, divine feminine-infused philosophy of life.
The image of feminine yin and masculine yang energies as both heavenly and earthly body stirred my desire to embody this movement as a woman for our time. These kinetic images form the choreography to the four movements of These Hills of Glory.
The score is written for string quartet and a fifth improvised player. For this fifth voice, I chose clarinet. The earthy sounds of this instrument, and its presence and silence in (re)MOVE remind me of the feminine voice, always present throughout time, even when not seen or heard.
I was also inspired by the blurred line between the formal and spontaneous, laws and chance in this music. While I adhered closely to the scored structure in Owcharuk’s music, with Horvitz’s score I first created set movement material then restructured it through a simple use of the Generating/Controling cycle from Chinese 5 Elements Theory, using chance and intuition. It was a magical process!
The opening of (re)MOVE (Movement I of These Hills of Glory) explores separation and relationship between the five female dancers through the Chinese five elements, also translated as ‘movements.’ I began with movement material for five solos that each dancer learned independently:
Within this space, human emotions emerge. For me this opening section asks: Is there an ancient truth forgotten, now being recovered? In a time of human and earthly pathologies stemming from the great forgetting, can we hearken to a call for a furious and ultimate loving change?
Section 2 of the dance is a solo that responds to this question. (Movement II of These Hills of Glory — a furioso — is a serendipitous placement of musical development for the dance!) The movement embodies ancient wounds and is medicine, strength, a yowl and groan, in my imagination of mythic and mystical female movements of spirit: Kali, the Hindu Goddess of highest compassion and destroyer of the human ego; The Woman Clothed in the Sun, the mystical female mentioned in the book of Revelations; The Primal Mother of The 10,000 Things from the Tao Te Ching.
As noted in Post #2 I inserted Owcharuk’s entire work between Movements I & II and III & IV. Owcharuk’s music is danced by four dancers, scored for quartet and absent the dancer that begins (re)MOVE as the element of fire. Her return to the work is a significant turning point and influences a shift in relational alliance between the five dancers through the fourth movement of Horvitz’s music. This shift, (re)TURN, or “Great Turning” perhaps, I believe to be of utmost importance in our time…
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity
we shall harness for God the energies of love,
and then, for a second time in the history of the world,
man will have discovered fire.”
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin