Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Revolution: Reflections

by Paul Gordon Emerson

Coming to the end of the first phase of creating "Revolution" is both a bit sad and also very inspiring.

Sad because Isabel has journeyed back to Chile, and left the magic she makes in a room to memory (at least for now). Inspiring because she has made something extraordinary and done what gifted choreographers do -- challenge the performers to be more than they were when she entered the room for the first time. Normally those journeys take months. She had three weeks. To create a dance in three weeks is challenging enough. To create a culture on stage is vastly more difficult. But this is what she did. To ask dancers, who are driven by their DNA to move, and most of the time to move at exceptional speed, to forsake the use of their legs would create its own revolution in most companies.

But in this one, it didn't. It created a willingness to understand. As esoteric as that may sound, its critical to the success of any art. Artists paint. They make music. They use inanimate objects to generate color or sound. But dancers are the color and they are, in many ways, the sound. So if something is going to succeed in the mission of challenging, inspiring or captivating an audience, the performers must embrace their roles. These did. The result was a wave of comments about "Revolution" being "breathtaking" and "brilliant."

As an outsider, what captivated me was the dual brilliance of making a work on an impossible subject not just compelling but embracing, and of making it on a group new to the concept and giving them the opportunity to thrive, and thus to realize the mission of the work.

For choreographers, this is a pinnacle. Its what makes something last. Its what makes something captivating for more than a few minutes, and makes it stretch in the consciousness into the days and weeks after the performance is long gone from the stage, but is lingering there in the heart.

There were two "Revolutions" at Warmer. One was the literal revolution -- the dance. The other was the one in the hearts and culture of the dancers. Rare indeed.

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