We Wait in the Darkness, by Rosy Simas Danse

It’s hard to transition from a jubilant party in the rain to a solemn solo show in a dark theater. I towel off in the bathroom of the Red Eye and think about how these theaters become something like home–the Red Eye, the Walker, the BLB, the Southern–places where I’ve been in so many contexts (performer, audience, choreographer, feedback giver) and I feel a certain freedom, or ownership. The space is soaked in memories: Painting Anna Marie Shogren’s sets for Thanks, warming up for Chris Yon, enthusing about cream puffs to Miriam Must, asking Hijack to crawl in the rafters, hugging my family after a show.

Anyway, a number of us are wet from the 100 Choreographers jubilee and trying to keep warm. Mad King Thomas is sneaking lunch during this small break in the day. Reading the program. Trying to settle.

The stage is designed well, and narrows the wide space for a solo performance. A big strand of DNA on audience left, a projection screen, a white dress on a hanger, and then three white panels on audience right.

A letter is read over the speakers–it seems to be a letter from Rosy’s grandmother to her mother. It mentions Rosy as a small and tricky child. I wondered who read it, and if not her grandmother, then how in the world do you cast someone to play your own grandmother? How do you find the right voice, the right accent? How, too, do you make that kind of recording without erasing the memory in your mind of your grandmother’s actual voice?

(I learned later that her mom read the letters live, so there’s your answer.)

Rosy enters and dances a long solo with her back to the audience, wearing a pair of gray underwear. Her back is expressive and I wonder what all her tattoos are. A clock ticks, thunder rumbles, a soundscore builds as she dances. At one point it’s quite loud and I am confused about whether or not I am also listening to real rain on the roof, when all of a sudden it cuts out and the room goes silent. Rosy stands up and dresses in the white dress, a dress from a different era, big puffy sleeves, a full skirt.

She dances in the dress, while photos are projected–other women in a group all wearing the same white dress as Rosy. It’s not a stylish dress, it feels old-fashioned and to my eyes, it’s a blend of childish and frumpy—a school uniform from the past.

She leaves the stage and a video plays of Rosy dancing, water flowing, landscapes. The video was multilayered, abstract, haunting–Rosy as a ghost, Rosy as she might be in her home. I wondered about how her dance practice is received among her family–I wonder how that part of her life interacts with the history she recounts here. (Probably I wondered this because it’s a tension in my own life. I regret sometimes developing my artistic voice so far from the influence and support of my family and home.)

I remember Rosy putting on all black and doing another solo, with hands that reminded me of birds. She tore up a large map of her family’s homeland and gave away big parcels to the audience. There were more letters from her grandmother, at least two.

I am headed to the Red Eye again tonight to give feedback to a different colleague. It’s raining again, but this time it is cold. I’ve been reading lately about epigenetics, and the way trauma (or health) can be passed from generation to generation, which was a large part of Rosy’s piece. I am getting ready to leave Minnesota after 13 years here, and history seems to be everywhere. I don’t have the deep roots that Rosy talks about in this piece, but I feel the beginnings of a new history, my own link in a family chain.

Artist: Rosy Simas Dance
Show: We Wait in the Darkness
Venue: Red Eye Theater
Date: July 12, 2014

Post by: Tara King

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