Monday, February 01, 2021

"The Healer"

RAWdance in The Healer

RAWdance
The Healer
January 30th, 2021

Over the past eleven months, the idea of starting a meditation practice has come up on several occasions. To navigate the craziness of this time. To calm the body, mind and nervous system. I’m on board – I think it’s a great idea. Though I have found it a challenge to forge this new pathway. Breaking patterns seems to be an easier road for me than creating new habits. 

But then I realized that a meditation practice is very personal, and so it likely doesn’t look the same for every individual. For some, it might work well to have a certain time set aside where the practice unfolds in the same manner each session. Whereas for others, a meditative practice might include a number of different elements – yoga, guided meditation or immersive art experiences. This past weekend, RAWdance offered audiences the chance to try the latter. To dive into dance as meditation with the premiere of The Healer, streamed virtually, and co-presented by RAWdance and ODC Theater.

Choreographed by RAWdance co-artistic director Katerina Wong and inspired by the life and work of Wong’s aunt Szuson Wong, the thirty-minute quartet mines the process of healing through the lens of ritual, ancient practices and Chinese Medicine traditions. Overlying much of Daniel Berkman’s evocative score is the voice of Wong’s aunt, leading us through The Healer’s journey. A journey performed with such care and awareness by Michaela Cruze, Juliann Witt, Wong and Stacey Yuen. 

The Healer unfolds in a through-composed fashion; the choreography linked and connected from beginning to end without internal stops or starts. And this meditative marriage of somatics and mindfulness included a wide range of choreographic language. Attentive, in the moment tasks graced the work’s first minutes – removing footwear, washing hands, writing remembrances – which segued into a variety of Tai Chi modeled postures and progressions. Body percussion simultaneously released and harnessed energy. Tempo varied. Phrases and motions repeated and accumulated potency. And Wong thoughtfully injected moments of stillness and quiet throughout the material.

While internal, individual reflection was indeed present, the notion of the collective was so strong and palpable. The quartet would cluster together in a huddle or a lift, almost like an atom. These beautiful shapes would be followed by an outward eruption into the space; particles bursting everywhere. Several instances of shared vocalization peppered the work, as did powerful unison sequences that blended small reflexive shoulder contractions with large lateral Horton side tilts. 


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