Meaningful moves

By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  October 24, 2007

“It’s a way to bring what’s inside the dance out,” he reflected. “The cameras are trying to be used as eyes — to bring out what the hand sees, what the foot sees, the forehead sees — to get the dancer’s perspective on things.”
Another thread in the piece is the “fiery, fierce feminine energy” of Buddhist dakinis, most often depicted in dancing postures. Still another influence is “terma,” hidden Buddhist texts. Jewett developed an animated font that makes letters (but not recognizable words) come alive, and they are then projected onto a screen or wall and on the dancers’ bodies. In that same vein, the dancers wear infrared lights that track their movement in real-time calligraphy.
“For me, the point is not that people understand the concepts that I’m working with,” explained Jewett. “This is my palette; this is where I make art from. In a lot of ways, the energy of Tara and the energy of Mary are not that different. Tara’s specialty is in helping to protect against fear. Compassion, care, vulnerability — those are all things that we human beings have real experience with.”
Perhaps the most dramatic effect of this complex dance/theater piece comes from vertically-hung ice blocks — 6x2.5’ — dripping onto a stringed instrument below them. Embedded in the ice are pebbles that hit those strings and trigger spoken text (written by Field) and specific moves by the dancers. The most surprising techno-overlap is that when a stone falls and strikes a string, a splash erupts in the video of an Alaskan river that is being projected onscreen.
“I would hope to bring people into these moments that are funny, fierce, tender, beautiful,” Jewett remarked. “Beauty is not really in vogue any more, but I think about what Trungpa [the late Tibetan Buddhist scholar] said: ‘Don’t be afraid to make a thing of beauty, because you’re making something vulnerable — don’t be afraid to put your heart and mind into your work that you genuinely feel is beautiful.’ ”

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