Sunday May 9, 2010 - We went to Queens to find the place with the intriguing name The Secret Theatre where choreographer Laura Ward (above, right) and her all-female Company called Octavia Cup were rehearsing in preparation for their upcoming performances (May 20th - 23rd) as part of the Queens Fringe Festival.
For the performances, entitled ECHOES AND DREAMS, Octavia Cup
collaborate with poet Alberto Zayden (whose poetry
It was particularly pleasing today to hear themes from DAS RHEINGOLD in the sound-tapestry, since the dancers sometimes made me think of the Rhinemaidens: above, Katie Moorhead, Natalia Wodnicka and Laura Ward.
But I'm getting ahead of myself...
...because I first encountered Laura Ward at a Works in Progress performance in September 2008 and I was drawn both to her choreography and the music she used (Fa Ventilato's fusion of Wagner and Satie) and also to her powerful and unique dance personality. Since then I have kept in touch with her, waiting for an opportunity to see more of her work.
The Secret Theatre was not easy to find - thus its name! - but once we walked in the atmosphere was amazing. Dark and mysterious, redolent with the perfume of sweat and aspiration, I immediately felt at home. It's a very intimate space, and our two hour visit flew by. Above: Laura with Jaime Thompson.
ECHOES AND DREAMS is a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes, such as a dreamer might experience in a single rather restless night. The sisterhood of eight dancers appear in various relationships as smaller groups form an disperse in images ranging from the unsettling to the vivacious, as above when they invoke images of timid, curious meerkats.
The poet Alberto Zayden's voice looms up out of the darkness...
...and the dancers become ghostly (Laura Ward, above).
Then the girls might dream of shopping...
...and celebrating their purchases.
The dream shifts and they are meerkats...
...enthralled by the sleeping figure of Jessica Martineau.
In another sequence (the red shoes)...
The work ends with a ritualistic image of falling asleep or perhaps dreaming of death. If it all sounds fantastical, it is...because that's how dreams are. The work meshes as a whole by way of the music - which is other-worldly - and by the beauty and commitment of the women who are dancing.
The dancers of Octavia Cup, as seen in the above photo, are: Laura Ward, Katie Moorhead, Jessica Martineau (standing), Nana Hitomi, Natalia Wodnicka, Jaime Thompson, Kristen Goldrick and Georgina Aragon.
Throughout the afternoon, Laura (above) quietly kept everyone on focus. Her dancers are wonderful: strong, graceful, and steeped in their individual appeal and the joy of movement.
The rehearsal today was a moving experience for me, one of those times when I felt particularly close to the physicality of the dance and very much wishing I was (or had been) an active participant in the dancers' world. It's frustrating to find in your 60s that you've live the 'wrong' life all these years. But that makes me all the more grateful for these opportunities to observe at close range and be part of it.
I've had quite a time putting this article together, partially because it's rather difficult to describe a dream-world (it has to be experienced, really) and partially because Kokyat produced so many images that I wanted to use making the selection process both pleasant and time-consuming. I finally settled on the photos here to give some idea what the piece is like, and there is an additional gallery here.
All photos by Kokyat.