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| from Calgary looking ahead to the Calgary performances
The Bow River runs right by Wojciech and Melissa Monteros’ home, where we three Body of Water artists are living and working together for the second week of the Calgary portion of the project. The rhythm of our workdays are determined by the weather, the perpetually shifting river, and the working schedule of the dedicated and inspiring young dancers of W&M Physical Theatre’s Surge Company. Only a few days into their season, these dancers bravely leapt into our collaboration, and into site-specific dance practices.
The other day, I waded into the river to photograph the Surge company dancing: their heads in the water, bare feet resting on the pebbles and stones, a line of still bodies drawn on the shore; an image complicated by the troubles of our world and all its’ current struggles and inequities. I noted the intense power of the dancing body (simply, eloquently, wordlessly) casting perspective for the incidental audience gathering on the bridge above us. By placing themselves in a vulnerable position, the dancers became incredibly strong. I am grateful to the Surge guest artists’ willingness to work with us on this creative process. It is a gift to us older artists to collaborate with young artists, and witness their bright light illuminating paths we may have danced before.
| from Calgary looking back to the process in Whitehorse
BOW: post from the field # 1: September 17, 2015
| from Calgary looking back to the process in Whitehorse
During a break in the rain, we drove to Long Lake in Whitehorse. We took with us the clothes and shoes and the 6-foot standard folding table around which we had constellated for a few days in the Old Fire Hall. We imagined filming a sequence on the shore of the Lake — enacting a scene of bureaucrats around a table who are in conflict with, and ineffective to protect or relate to, the wild space surrounding them — the illusion of human control maintained by sedentary paperwork, to the detriment of water and all Nature.
Instead, shortly after carrying the table down the hill to the shore, Anne and I waded it into the water, pushed the table legs into the silt, yelling and laughing from the impact of the cold water. With the immersed table, we created the brief illusion of standing (dancing, sitting, crawling) almost on the surface of the water. For the Body of Water performance in Whitehorse on Friday September 4th 2015, we immersed three tables this way, end to end with enough space to wade between them. The cold water gushed off our heavy black clothing when we stood up. The shoes may still be wet.
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Presented at the University Theatre, W & M Physical Theatre’s preview of its latest work in development Waiting Rooms in Heaven summons poignant reflections on life and the life (not) lived.
The piece takes place inside a room decorated with pristine white chairs. The only exit is a door atop some stairs, but out this door are a flock of birds that obscure the sky. This place is nowhere exact or well-defined. It is a metaphysical space whereupon eight unfortunate individuals enter into without any answers nor any clarity. Regrets from the past soon reemerge and make heavy the souls of those trapped in this mysterious unknown.
There is woven into this piece this desire that life choices were not so permanent. It is an idea that repeats itself as a wish that life were written in pencil than in pen, that one could go back and do things differently. It is an idea, however, that removes the opportunity to not only learn, but to also experience life in the moment. After all, what is a life stripped of its spontaneity? What is a life interrupted by fear and anxiety?
Driving this idea of doing one’s life over again are the “what ifs” the adult characters of this piece find themselves trapped within. Repeated again and again are what the characters wish they could have done differently if only ‘this’ or ‘that’. It is fitting then that the there is an almost violent sense of control in the movement. As if trying to change the outcomes of some past scenarios, the dancers attempt to manipulate and bend to their will the other. Their efforts are in vain just as wondering “what if?” is a futile attempt at changing the past. Where they manage to exert any sort of “real” control is in throwing the rows of chairs into one large pile. Of course, what meaningful impact does such a destructive action have in the grand scheme of things?
The company has incorporated in this piece four actors who range from 10 to 60 years old. It makes sense that the two adult characters would carry some baggage as they certainly have had the years to accumulate such burdens, but what about the little girl and teenager trapped in this room with the others? How do they, who appear to be brother and sister, fit in this place? Perhaps their baggage is of the second-hand kind, the kind handed down through the generations. If this is the case, then perhaps their wish is not to have lived life differently, but to have been born into a whole different life altogether.
The piece ends on a hopeful tone when the door is opened once again and, this time, soaring birds greet the characters. It is an invitation to let go and move on, to fly away and live a life unrestrained.
Here, the company’s latest work explores the idea that the gravity of our burdens are only as great as we allow them to be. While the current circumstances of our lives may be cemented as a result of choices made, the life not yet lived remains to be written. And this life that waits for us relies upon on the right state of mind which, in the end, makes all the difference.
With this only being stage one of development, it will be interesting to see how the piece evolves and what it will ultimately resemble when W & M Physical Theatre brings Waiting Rooms in Heaven to Calgary again in 2016.
W & M Physical Theatre’s Waiting Rooms in Heaven ran at the University of Calgary’s University Theatre Jan 22 – 24, 2014. The piece was presented as part of U of C’s School of Creative and Performing Arts’ Dance Pro Series.
Choreographed by: Wojciech Mochniej with Melissa Monteros
Performers: Wojciech Mochniej, Laura Henley, Rufi O. Rodriguez, and Serenella Sol
Guest Performers: Valerie Campbell, Valerie Pearson, Griffin Cork, Ruby June Bishop, and Kent Brockman (bass)