Blue Moon/Red River started as a hint of an idea last summer when percussionist Tom Teasley and I decided to collaborate. This project provided a route to integrating live music and dance and the sounds and wide spaces of the American Southwest gave us creation myths, colors, climates, landscapes and petroglyphs. We use a video animation of animals, moon and sun, water spirals which are re-creations from a rock drawing by a young Navajo man that I met at the bottom of Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Canyon de Chelly belongs to the Navajo nation and a guide is required to travel the length of the Canyon. You see stunning and ancient etchings in the sandstone. Petroglyphs are pictographs. They convey their meaning through a pictorial reference to the physical object, not unlike modern representational signs that indicate public toilets, or directions in airports or train stations.
A petroglyph can be interpreted as a water spiral, or the scene of a hunt with rider on horseback, but it is not written words and is open to interpret. Perhaps the etching had the most meaning for the person who created it and for his/her immediate circle. In Blue Moon/Red River, an Aqua-sonic, an instrument with water inside, creates bravado for a marking ritual. Performed by the dancers as members of an immediate circle, Tom seemingly leads the action as the dancers ‘mark’ each other.
From the drawings and symbols we used early on, there was an angularity that inspired the movement choices, and creation myths provided a reference to deepen the physical storytelling. One story about the beginning of the world, and another about how people were made are embedded in a larger score of Tom Teasley’s live original music that combines acoustic percussion with electronics. The eleven dancers form organic and human landscapes evoking the effort to climb to the top of a mesa. There is persistent sound reminiscent of the winds of the Southwestern plains. We are inspired by the idea of the mythic ‘frontier’ and the emotion generated by the landscape and its history.
The individuality of the modern tattoo is likely to have a deeper meaning for the person who wears the ink. We are using tattoo from within our circle, our own cast, but we are also asking for tattoos from anyone who might want to contribute a photograph of their own marking. The tattoos may be used to create movement or may contribute to the projections in the show.
Lang Theatre at Atlas