Like every morning after a performance, I feel empty. All of that space that was filled with rehearsals, critical thought, planning, emailing, and relationship building is now available again. I had a rehearsal for another project already this morning … but before I get to invoicing, cooking, and answering emails, I am giving myself permission to take time – to be still, and feel, and notice what comes up.
The performance was Erica Rebollar‘s Sacred/Profane. Tia Nina performed a short song and danced in the opening and closing pieces. The cast featured dance artists of various cultures and backgrounds. During an early conversation with Erica she shared her intention, to ask each women led women/girls danced company to explore sacred and profane through a feminist lens. The context of the work had to appropriate for all ages because children were in the show. At first, this censoring felt stifling because of the nature of Tia Nina’s work. Also, with that condition, how much risk taking in pushing the sacred and the profane would happen? And, the “feminist lens” part of the intention seemed to be replaced with “women experience.” The critical and political layers took a back seat in the name of accessibility and comfort.
The piece came together beautifully and received raved reviews from the audience. However, thematically, it felt safe. As a cast, we were just starting to understand where we all were coming from and what risk-taking looked like to all of us… as if we needed to make this work to make the juicier work. I appreciated everyone’s openness and commitment to the work. I was hungry for more conversations and deeper analysis of what we were all doing together.
The fact is that we are all super busy and when we take on projects, we usually can’t make time for them – we just add the rehearsals on top of everything else – and we show up, dance, and move on to the next thing. During very intensive process, our group time focused on figuring out the technical elements of the show, – out of necessity.
After the show, Tia Nina grabbed a drink and we reflected on everything – the show, the process, our politics, and what we want to do next. Here’s what I want to hold on to – I want to get better at talking to children, especially girls, about we are doing and why. We are celebrating our bodies, we are feeling good in our bodies, we are being ourselves and no one else, we are taking up space, we inviting the audience in and inviting them to be a part of it and clap along with us. And, to the vibrant and fierce older women our work is as much for you as it is for little girls – for all the same reasons. It is not about labeling or categorizing selves. There is still so much work to do to help everyone feel good in their bodies. It is a goal that I constantly strive toward in working with staff/nurses/caregivers at the hospital. Loving ourselves is key to gender equality. Sacred/Profane was a valuable step – images of only women/girls on stage are so powerful and needed. I look forward to watching a video of the piece and reflecting more. Gratitude.
Photo by David Dowling