Moreechika: Season of Mirage

Moreechika brings together many stories: the belief of the U’wa people of Colombia, who think of oil as ruiria, blood of the earth, which must be respected as part of the natural world; the protests of the indigenous Kichwa women of Ecuador to Chevron oil; the debates in North America about the Keystone XL Pipeline through Native American lands; and the fight and martyrdom of Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa against Shell Oil, responsible for the destruction of the land and ecosystem of the Ogoni people. At several points in the work, the dancers whisper Saro-Wiwa’s courageous words, “dance your anger/and your joys/dance the guns to silence/dance dance dance.”

REVIEW:

“The dancers…are all powerful, with their stamping feet and piercing stares, but Chatterjea’s choreography also leaves room for brutal beauty and vulnerability. … The work evolves into a welcome healing ritual when rice showers down from the rafters, a reference to the cries for sustenance so often drowned out by the demand for fuel. The performers, and audience members invited onstage, contemplate the transformed space. A girl shapes a heart-like pattern from a rice pile, channeling all of her youthful concentration into an act of creation, not destruction.” – “New Ananya dance mixes anger and joy,” September 7, 2012, Caroline Palmer, Star Tribune

 

World Premiere: September 6, 2012, The Southern Theater

Running Time: 90 minutes, without intermission

 

Conception and Choreography: Ananya Chatterjea

In collaboration with: Laurie Carlos

Composer: Greg Schutte

Musicians/Vocalists: Laurie Carlos, Mankwe Ndosi, Pooja Goswami, Michelle Kinney, Renee

Copeland, and Lela Pierce.

Scenic, Costume, and Shadow Puppet Design: Annie Katsura Rollins

Lighting Design: Mike Wangen

Dancers: Sherie Apungu, Sarah Beck-Esmay, Ananya Chatterjea, Renee Copeland, Alexandra

Eady, Rose Huey, Orlando Hunter, Lela Pierce, Brittany Radke, Chitra Vairavan, and Hui Niu

Wilcox.

Guest appearances: Claire Wilcox and Lynn Wilcox

Puppeteer: Alessandra Lebea Williams

 

Almost Gone

From the ashes of death/ Charred bodies/ Breath rises/ Again

People who died suddenly with the explosion of a gas pipeline scrape their way back to life. They know that the real story of burst pipelines, and the sudden tragedy that was covered up, lies with them.

Vision

Alokdrshti/ revealing/ that which has happened will happen again unless.

From the shadows of death, we see the cyclicity of past-present-future, a vision terrifying, horrifying, epic.

Chakravyuha

Lotus-disc formation/ difficult to enter/ more difficult to exit/ Mythical?/Or is it the trap we live in?

Capitalism’s story, how we all labor inside of its systems, not fully awake, our souls filled with ennui.

Bird

Wings heavy with oil/ spilled spilled spilled/ across life

Inspired by the image of birds trapped in the ocean after the Gulf Oil spill.

Plastic Desire

Eddies of power/ gestures of flow/ that sit on supplicating bodies

Relationships of power and femininity are mixed up in a world run by the grab for resources.

Progress-nightmare-progress

Speedy machines/ efficient yet ruthless/ poking their eyes out/ on a whimsy of the night.

We are the agents of capitalism, fuelled by consumption, moving fast and efficient, till we end up in a barren landscape, a graveyard from where we cannot emerge, returning to a linear notion of progress till we drop useless.

Beauty

Pursuing the perfectly chiseled/ dancers embody rhythms and mudras/ age-old practices/ her face meanwhile/ staggers underneath her.

The ruthless pursuit of cosmetic notions of beauty leads to toxicity, physical, emotional, and mental.

Game

Surreptitious/ the disease crept up/ jumping into water/no longer joyful

Our joy in natural bodies of water is undermined by the contamination through unregulated practices of oil fracking. Particularly inspired by the 18-year-old young Kichwa woman who is struggling with cancer in Ecuador.

Face-changing

Weep, weep, weep/Unlikely passings/Unheeded tragedies/The terrible degeneration of/Elements

Mourn for the loss of those who are dying even as we watch the world disintegrate around us.

Charaiveti charaiveti

Keep walking/Not forward not back/But in ways/That circle/Around each other/To find that still center/That is action

Inspired by this statement from the Upanishads, this is a search for the sankofa energy, that, connected to the past and future with its rhythms in the present, harnessing an intent to remember indigenous wisdom that will guide the way forward.

Ruiria/oil drop

the flow/of/ancestral cultural memory/that heralds in/new wisdom

Like many other indigenous communities, the U’wa community of Colombia think of oil as ruiria, blood of the earth, and believe it is best left where it rests.

Tremors of spring

How many times did we/ almost…/ before we finally burst into flame?

Revolutions are sparked by the courage of a small group of people who inspire others to say “No!”

Anchuri!

We will fight/ the promise of the women/ we will protect

Inspired by the courage of women from the Kichwa community of Ecuador, who ran through forests for hours shouting Anchuri! Get out! to protest against the encroachment on their land by oil corporations.

Blinding storm

What is left to us/ when that which we knew/ as nurture/ as blessing/ turns against us/ raging a storm in our eyes?

An end-of-the-world image, when everything is upside down, that which we knew as positive has become negative. Pitted against nature’s fury, we fight back, but are compelled to end in quietude.

Occupy!

Join the space/ transform the dream-space/ into the arena of action/ working small gestures/ that create epic hope.

Inspired by Angela Davis’s statement at the Occupy rally in Philadelphia: “the unity of the 99% must be a complex unity!” We have work to do to stand together. Yet this leaderless movement offers hope for a paradigm shift, it allows us to stand in the same space and gather little bits of resources so they can be there for the entire community, for coming generations. There is no huge alternative, no epic plan for hope, only small daily gestures, to which we can all contribute.

 

Artistic Director/ Choreographer’s Note

By Ananya Chatterjea

Moreechika is the third part of our investigation into human contact with natural elements, and the systemic violence our greed has unleashed, particularly endured and resisted by women in global communities of color. Each piece, so far, has revealed its own life and stories, carrying us in a very particular journey of discovery. As with every piece, we found tremendous resonances between what was happening in life around us, and what we were working on in Moreechika. The mirage of a desirable notion of “progress” where we relentlessly consume material objects, not realizing that we are also exhausting our reserves of nonrenewable vital resources, has plagued me throughout this creative process. While I realize there is no simple “going back,” there is perhaps a way for us all to walk together with greater respect of the earth, its resources, and all life that inhabits it. Every single little gesture counts.

I want to humbly and thankfully acknowledge deep and sustaining inspiration for activists around the world whose continued efforts speak of tremendous courage and a commitment to hope. In particular, I want to thank Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose work in organizing the Ogoni people against the encroachment of Shell is legendary. Saro-Wiwa’s beautiful words, Dance your anger and your joys/dance the guns to silence, has been in my consciousness throughout the process of creating Moreechika.

I want to thank my collaborators for their incredible work. And above all, I want to thank my dancers, who bring inspiration, sweat, thought, and care to this process, and without whom, my work would have no substance. As our dancers have matured into committed cultural activists, their contributions have become more and more central to the creative process. The pre-show song we play, Emerald City, is written and sung by dancer Renee Copeland; in response to the research we did for this piece.

My ultimate hope, for this piece, lies with our audiences: when everyone joins us in spirit and breath, and even perhaps in movement, we are able to together transform a dream-space into a space of action.

 

Director’s Note

By Laurie Carlos

Clear the smoke… nothing is hidden… Oh yes my skin dissolves… and loosens and falls

Talking through the sleep… I have yet to be again… Raw to the sky to you… This is the long held note

Nothing is hidden… The broken cups burn… Clear the smoke… Dream… Danczas… Smooth… loosen

Halt the digging… use our powerful hearts… The flames of grass…

For us for you for us for us for us for us for you… Nothing is hidden…

The world burns up grasping over spills of oil drips. We are surrounded with the artifice of the products from petrol and unable now to even walk through water or wake from the haze of gas. Some of the world fight for the forest and re-appropriate undrinkable water burns the body, burns the wings of birds and chokes fish gills. The mirage of progress. The quest for nurture

 

Designer’s Note

By Annie Rollins

Ananya Dance Theatre’s Moreechika stirs up images of past, present and future hauntings of our human greed, insatiability and nearsightedness – I chose to echo that with a literal haunting in shadows. Shadow puppetry is arguably one of human kind’s oldest forms of visual storytelling and is said to have been discovered in the caves of our hunter-gatherers as they regaled their friends with stories in front of the fire after the day’s adventures. Those primitive shadows thrown from a roaring fire through gesturing hands to the cave walls began our relationship with shadow as a conduit between the here and there; netherworlds, afterlives and prescience. The Hungry Ghost image is one directly from Chinese mythology, a figure who symbolizes an unfulfilled life. They haunt the living in limbo until their hunger is satiated. Those that cannot be satisfied are doomed to linger in longing for the rest of our days. We hope they linger with you as you exit the theatre and move back to your daily routines.