Monday, June 13, 2011

Peru Journal: Water's Edge

Peru Journal: Beginnings - Monday, June 13

The beginning of the end of CityDance’s performance life unfolds in a setting at once so logical and yet so startling. In this year of change and transition, of incredible opportunity leavened with heart-breaking endings, it makes sense somehow that we would finish our time together before the folding of the Professional Company of an organization Tara, Doug, Johanna, Teri, Ted and I founded one summer afternoon in 1996 and the beginnings of a new Company so far from home.

The road has always been our friend, a place of packed houses and huge publicity, of people stopping the dancers on the street, of engagement programs that light you on fire and partnerships begun humbly but built with such strength that they last for years and lead to journey after journey to distant lands. Here in Lima photographs of the Company are everywhere. They are, literally, the poster children of the Festival. They are the image on the poster, the logo for the festival, the art in the bookmarks and the banners on the street. They fill the newspapers and bound from the pages, the name CityDance Ensemble in 60 point type across a half a page.

In images Alice and Maleek and Delph and the Company which has moved on is bound together with the Company which is here, and we are tied so tightly together. Alice is 25 feet tall outside the ICPNA Cultural Center, leaping into the sky. Jason and Delph, Maleek and Giselle – they’re flying through space together with Rob and Kathryn and Noelle. It makes you deeply proud, and takes you far from the sense of loss that hangs in the air in Washington.

We landed last night in the early evening, going through the usual craziness of travel – of tarmac delays and white slips of paper that must remain in your passport that invariably fall out. Yet it was easy going, really – a good omen for a great tour.

To fly to Lima from Washington is to go almost due south, over the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Pacific on a single eight-hour trip to the Southern Hemisphere and the endless political geography that has defined so much of the last 60 years. Over Cuba and Columbia, over Ecuador and the vast geography that is the Amazon as it begins its endless journey from the East face of the Andes. Looking at the map at 35,000 feet you see the satellite view -- but with the water drained from the ocean and its sub-surface mountains and valleys – the fault lines clearly exposed, a plate tectonics relief map of the landscape of the earth and the geologic war zones that define the Ring of Fire.

And to land in Lima, in the late evening of June, where it is winter not summer, where the humidity is thick and cool and enveloping is to realize that we live in the only moment in all the history of time where its possible to do that – to go in hours on a journey that redefines seasons in the same time frame as most people’s work-day.

Now, here, on Monday evening at a table built literally into a mountainside, where the Company is in a moment of bliss, away from the drama that envelopes all of us in Washington, you hear two things – Spanish rapid fire and the endless, echoing sound of the Pacific slapping against the long, low shallow sand. Fifteen feet in front of me the earth falls off 200 feet to the ocean. Yet someone built a restaurant here, filled the floor with pebbles that rustle under your feet as you walk to the edge, and stand in the darkness hearing the ocean sing. I am reminded endlessly that we are capable of miracles. It's a bittersweet reminder.

One of the members of the Company said a moment ago, “we need to enjoy every moment – it's the end of an era.” That’s hard to take in – that this magic and the joy it brings the world over is fading to black.

Jose, the young man who made this entire trip possible because of his love and faith in the Company said “people are coming this weekend to your shows – and they are coming with expectations.” That’s the challenge you live for – to exceed expectations, to dance beyond yourself, to find a pair of eyes in an audience and see them transported even for just a moment to a place that, until that moment, only you yourself had ever seen and imagined.

The air is settling in, a hint of fog floating above the Pacific. It is, for a moment, harder to see. But here, in the far southern hemisphere, that will pass.