A dance performance that started as an experimental production by University of California, Santa Cruz, students will be featured next month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the largest arts festivals in the world.
Bodies in Crisis, a compilation of 10 dance poems exploring the emotional, political, and artistic ramifications of the September 11 terrorist attacks, will be performed nightly during the month-long Fringe Festival in Scotland's capital city. Local audiences can see Bodies in Crisis at the Rio Theater, 1205 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, on July 25 at 8 p.m. The Santa Cruz performance is a fundraiser for the dance company's travel expenses to the Fringe Festival.
Bodies in Crisis began when students in the UC Santa Cruz Theater Arts Department were seeking a way to use art as a tool for healing following the terrorist attacks. Performance artist and director of Bodies in Crisis Shakina Nayfack, then a student in UCSC's fifth-year certificate program in theater arts, traveled to New York to interview artists about their experiences on and after September 11. The conversations focused on the role of art in challenging a war mentality and creating a space for healing. Nayfack returned to Santa Cruz and, working with eight other UCSC theater arts students, created an original dance-drama collaboration called Ragesties, the first step in the evolution of Bodies in Crisis.
Ragesties premiered at UCSC during the winter of 2002. "I saw the show and I was amazed," said Ruby Monsen, a recent graduate of UCSC's theater arts program. Monsen was so impressed she volunteered to become artistic producer for Ragesties. "I felt it was a positive way for people to work through their pain about September 11 from the inside out, especially after we had been inundated by media coverage."
Each of the Ragesties 10 dance poems explores images from media coverage of September 11. The starkly named segments include: "The Airplanes," "The Escape," "The Panic," "The Collapse," and "The Bridge." Nayfack and her colleagues created the dance poems using Ankoku Butoh, a Japanese dance form developed in the early 1960s. Ankoku Butoh, which mean "Dance of Darkness," is a ritualistic dance form demanding integration of the dancer's body, mind, and spirit. The cast of Ragesties devised physical exercises to locate specific emotions within the body, and kept reflective journals about the process. Excerpts from these journals became the poetic text of the performance.
Following a two-week run of Ragesties to sold-out audiences at a campus venue, the company continued developing their performance. "Because America has changed in the almost 10 months since September 11 and we are all still healing together, the production had to change. It's not a static art form," said Monsen.
The core of the performance, including the original cast and electronic music score, remains the same. But as Ragesties evolved into Bodies in Crisis, it focused more directly on the individual performers. "Our goal," said Monsen, "is to demonstrate the internal tension between patriotism and anarchy, mourning and anger, fear and hope."
Tickets for the July 25 performance of Bodies in Crisis are $15 general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and will be available one-half hour before the performance at the Rio Theater Box Office. For reservations or more information call (831) 239-2979.