Do the universal languages of dance and music have healing powers? Or are they just an exciting means of artistic communication which is able to evoke emotions in the artist and the audience more than any other genre?
Brazilian choreographer Andressa Miyazato in her new cross-cultural collaboration with renowned French composer Jean-Jacques Lemêtre, Taiwanese musician Li-Yu and students of the National Taiwan University of Arts takes the audience on a journey to the subconscious – into an experiment of collective memory, identity and empathy. For “Fleurs du Crépuscule” she finds inspiration in transcendental philosophy, Brazilian spiritism, Kazuo Ohno’s Butoh tradition, as well as, in the iconic dance theater of Pina Bausch.
Miyazato’s interdisciplinary work aims at making the invisible visible. She includes subconscious knowledge of movement and rituals of her South American, European, African and Asian roots in her allegorical choreography. The point of departure in this journey is the idea that everything in the universe is connected and that every person is an entire world – an archive of experiences – and possesses the knowledge and mindset of ancestral generations. Through Lemêtre’s spherical approach to create new sound worlds with traditional instruments from many different countries, Li-Yu’s ancient instrument and Miyazato’s meditative-sensual body language, the artists create a perfect scene of harmony with the universe at the beginning of the piece while convoking the cardinal dimensions. In this universe, the first thing that exists is emotion; then there comes voice, sound and movement.
A cubistic figure with many arms and legs appears on the scene to give space for a ceremonial dance by a wise, ghostlike shaman who intermediates between nature’s forces and humanity. The elder introduces the community to the need for rituals and rites of passage in a van Gennep sense to be able to control remembrance, feelings and a sense of belonging. The trance-like dance evokes associations of rebirth, guides through different forms of passages and establishes the world’s order. Is the shaman figure a he, a she or a dualistic trickster creature? It is not clear.
Miyazato puts emphasis on those special passage situations where the liminal phase takes over, things are out of control and there is fear of a void. She shows how close harmony and balance may be to chaos and disruption. Through the use of the bitter trickster-like machine creature which evades the stage after the passage scene in a bizarre formation of shadow and light, Miyazato narrates the story of collective memory and universal identity patterns of the human condition.
Is this creature Doomsday, a weird machine, Kali or Ogún? Or is it a representation of the shaman figure from the beginning? The deep quality of her movement language enables the spectator to repeatedly experience magical and new perspectives.
The title of the choreography is a wake-up call for humanity through the cathartic power of dance and music. Much has been written about collective memory and thought by scientists like Maurice Halbwachs or Jan Assmann; but humanity does not act in its collectivity and with the wise knowledge of its heritage.
It is two minutes before twelve. What will happen if we treat the world and ourselves in the same way that we have until now? What if a parallel universe existed in harmony with nature’s forces? In a disturbing dark carnival without sound Miyazato’s scene collapses.
After all, “Fleurs du Crépuscule” implicates the desire to heal the world’s pain while reactivating empathy in the audience and uncovering hidden traces of collective memory and knowledge, layer by layer. Being convinced of the power of social transformation through dance, the choreographer’s aim is to evoke collective feelings and awaken imagination. Because only through imagination may we open up and overcome set visions.
Humankind on its universal search for meaning still has the chance to change its path and give space to a metamorphosis of society towards empathy and gentle handling of nature’s forces and itself – as f the universe was full of flower petals… The shamanic creature has made its point. Now it is up to us: How will the next “passage” look like for humanity?