Sunday, September 21, 2008

Commemorating 9/11 w/Dance

I went to the Joffrey Ballet concert in Millennium Park on 9/11. It was billed as a "tribute to the victims and heroes of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center." (I might add the Pentagon and the other plane, too.) So I was interested to see how a secular dance company was going to make a concert a memorial. The concert began with the Artistic Director coming out on stage and giving a welcoming statement, acknowledging the day. We were told that at the end of the concert there would be a moment of silence. A woman came out and sang the "Star Spangled Banner" a cappella. Beautiful. Then, the concert proceeded like any other dance concert, except that there was a lighted flag on the side of the stage which was somehow most noticeable for me during Gerald Arpino's "Round of Angels" from 1983, an exquisite dance about parting and death.
The program stated "Through the medium of dance, one of humankind's most fundamental means of creative expression, The Joffrey's performance this evening celebrates the loving connection among us all. It is our hope that this performance also expresses our shared capacity for all that helps us heal from the worst of tragedies -- the human traits of compassion, spirituality and ability to find joy again as we reconcile great loss through memory, ritual and the power of art." So perhaps the connection need not be explicit.
But, the final dance, another one by Arpino called "Trinity" from 1970, was quite profound and appropriate for the evening. It begins with the dancers dressed in loud bright colors walking in with lights that are like candles. Only a couple of the lights remain on stage for most of the dance, but at the end, the dancers bring the lights onto the stage, set them down, and leave them there. It was very profound. We shared our moment of silence, but then the dancers came out for their curtain call. I really didn't feel like clapping, not because they weren't deserving, but because it broke the mood. And, I think most people felt the same way because the clapping was half-hearted. It would have been so incredibly powerful if they had forgone the curtain call. It really would have made a statement that everyone would have remembered, internalizing in his or her own ways as we left the park in silence.

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