Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blood Dazzler

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure to see Blood Dazzler, a dance theater work choreographed and directed by the sister team Paloma and Patricia McGregor, respectively. Based on poetry by Patricia Smith, the work contends with Hurricane Katrina illuminating the reality of the disaster. In the work, Katrina is personified as a scathing, unruly sister outcast from all the hurricanes of 2005 because of the measure of her destructiveness. In the work we meet the people, young and old, and even a dog who drowned fighting for their lives when no one came to the rescue, at least not as soon as they should have.

Every aspect of the show was designed to transport the audience there, to a desperate drowning New Orleans. Live narration by the poet served as an omniscient voice allowing the audience members into that time and place. Video projections of the news reminded us of what it was like to flip through the news channels at that time with detachment. Voice overs and sound effects made us understand what it was like to have choppers carrying the president and news crews fly over head without stopping. The performers, dancers and musicians, were emotionally charged with every step and every note, and as you can probably imagine this performance for the audience was heavy.

My reaction was volatile.  Unexpected because I knew what this was about and what it was going to be like going in. I've performed an excerpt of it before. Yet and still, it was heavy. My reaction in the moment:
I have to sit down. So I am. On the steps. Just gave Paloma a hug. Only got out of my seat because I saw Christal and needed to go speak. But my heart hurts. And tears keep coming out if my eyes. My nose is a little runny. And I think I was alright until they ended the show singing "I gotta lay down my burdens, down by the river side..."

My heart hurts bad now. Oh God! My heart hurts.

I already knew how it ended. I've danced it. I've gone there with the other performers. I've listened to Patricia's direction. But now...

While everyone spreads congratulations and hugs and maybe talks around it because it's too much to deal with. Or maybe talk about it because they're not that affected. I dunno. But God my heart hurts and I'm crying.

I have not been this MOVED by art in so long. And I know that art has this power. The power to move. That is what I am to do as an art maker. Performer. Move.

The other day on Oprah they talked about living in an age of "sedentary agitation." We sit on our asses and watch tv and get enraged and flip the channel and never do a damn thing about it. What do I do about it?

I think I'm crying because I'm overwhelmed... By that looming and loaded word: action. And I know I can interpret that however I want and I want to interpret that as Dance but somehow it doesn't seem enough. Seems too easy.

God. God. God. Make it plain. Just started up again with the tears. Gave Alex a hug. Needed that.
How do you deal with the weight of all the ills in the world? Do you just flip the channel, or do you channel your energy into some kind of action?

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