Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Maya Lila

Friday saw me at the Dancehall in Talbot Street for the launch of Joan Davis's two books, CD, and DVD of "Maya Lila" (loosely translated from Sanskrit as "illusion" and "play"). Together they document and celebrate her research, art, and work "bringing authentic movement into performance." Joan Davis holds iconic status here as the woman who single-handedly brought contemporary dance to Ireland. Now she is pioneering this incredible new work which involves breaking down the barriers between dancer/performer and audience/witness. I've been fortunate - and honoured - to take part in this work as a member of the witnessing audience of many "offerings" at Joan's beautiful centre on the side of Bray Head, also as someone who participated in workshops on authentic movement for my own delight and experience, and finally as a writer who gave input into the practice of adding words to movement. (Over the years Joan slowly added objects, sound, music, and words). At the launch, slide images of the performances were projected onto walls and ceiling, while sounds and music reverberated throughout the gallery. There was also an installation of a tree with animal skulls and various objects used in the performances. True to Joan's form, we were not passive observers in attendance. Tiny flashlights were left throughout the room to allow us to peruse the books despite the dim light. Eventually we were drawn into circles around hosts who were dressed in white ponchos, and we were invited to discuss the work and to write comments on the cloth. Finally, after short speeches and long drawn-out applause for Joan - she deserved it! - we were given carrot soup with fresh coriander and cream along with pastries stuffed with goat's cheese and roasted vegetables. This, too, was typical of Joan as delicious food is always served at her offerings. She is goddess, earth mother, artiste, shaman, and Isadora Duncan all wrapped up into one!

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