I am always inspired by the ability movement has to express emotion. The way human bodies can be shaped, formed, and moved to embody a certain feeling or idea. The way limbs can speak stories—the stories of the soul. The ones too difficult to be translated into words. The ones that are often times beyond human capacity to comprehend. There are horrors in this world that cannot be defined by the walls of the mind. Tragedy that we can never expect to understand. Nothing can truly capture the inner agony of a heart; however, through art, we can uncover and learn much.
Two movements in particular in Lucas Jervies’ Firebird demonstrate this ability movement has to interpret emotion. One is a pas de deux between Erica De La O and Ben Wetzel and the other is a pas de deux between Leigh Anne Albrechta and Brandon Ragland. These two pas emulate utter desperation; however, they contrast in their approaches to conveying this feeling. In Erica and Ben’s the movement thrashes and renders a sense of loss of control. The dancers’ struggle seems to be against an unseen force as opposed to directly between one another. Leigh Anne and Brandon’s pas, on the other hand, gives a sense of pulling and tension between dancers. There is a feeling that some internal anguish is being projected onto one another, creating the push and pull between dancers. There is an impression of absolute control in the moment, yet that feeling of utter desperation drives the pas de deux as well. This depicts the concept of trying to hold onto or command forces outside of one’s control—like trying to hold water.
From my perspective in the Firebird process, the ballet does not follow one specific story; rather, it brings to light thousands—millions—of stories of those whose voices have not or are not heard. The ballet explores the despair and hopelessness undoubtedly felt by misplaced persons. While none of us in this company could begin to truly imagine the depths of grief such people must feel, through our art form we are given the means by which we can attempt to gain a glimpse into what these souls experience and share that glimpse with others. I think—I hope—that maybe when we seek to understand the pains and horrors others have experienced we can be filled with compassion and a desire to help. Maybe when we strive to look past ourselves and the worlds we develop around ourselves—the walls we build, higher and higher to protect us from that which we would rather not see—perhaps we will learn how to better love. How to better see. Maybe that’s why children can see so much clearer. They have yet to build up the walls. Maybe that is why they can spread so much hope. So much truth. Maybe that is why a child who has had everything taken away from her—home, family, security—can still play, smile, dream. If we are to leave this world a better place than that which we were born into, then we must start looking outside ourselves. We must do what we can to understand the pains and the struggles of our fellow man. I don’t think I will ever truly know what it must feel like to be torn from my home. To lose everything. However, I don’t think that that means I shouldn’t try to understand. To see.