“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Fate sometimes puts a gift in our path — and we are wise to embrace it. One of my dog-walking pals, Claire, was raving one morning about a dance program she had just seen. She was so excited about it that she inspired me to check it out. I’m so glad I did. It was an amazing experience — inventive and provocative!
“The Matter of Origins,”was created by the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and offered by Peak Performances at Montclair State University. A fantastic alchemical brew of dance, words, science and art, it was inspired by two ideas: first, Liz Lerman’s curiousity about “the emotional ways that advances in science affect us” and second, a book on J. Robert Oppenheimer called American Prometheus. Says Liz: “In it, one sentence caught my eye and inner ear: the mention of Edith Warner, whom Oppenheimer hired to feed some of his fellow physicists on the secret project a few nights a week at her desert tea house. In an instant I imagined these people in her little space, eating, talking, questioning, wondering, and I mused on the possibility of the same for an audience.”
What an explosive creative mix: the atomic bomb and “tea and sympathy!” Using words, dance, video, and a small number of props, the piece blends art and science in a dazzling, disorienting way. In one sequence, we see the words, “My body spins, entangles, and decays” projected as two older dancers slowly wrap themselves around each other. In another sequence, a young woman interacts with a chair in at least 10 different ways.
In Act II, the audience is brought up on stage, fed tea and Edith’s special chocolate cake, and guided in a discussion by a group of gentle “provocateurs” — scientists who offered their own insights and solicited ours.
What an enchanted evening! If you hear about something that sounds intriguing, go for it! It will fuel your wonder — and your creative juices.