Dancers: Mia Felt, Bella Nicolas, Natalie Tell, Olivia Ward, Dylan Albarian, Heather Tchen, Serena Hingorani, Kaiya Hoareau, Christine Zak, Eliza Levy
Music Recomposition: Digging in Dirt Dayo Bejide Trio, Iya e Maye Rosangela Silvestre, River Ibeyi, La Diaspora Nitty Scott ft. Zap Mama Music Direction: Alysha Higgins
Music Editing: Christopher Castagne
Costumes: Alysha Higgins
Lighting Design: Alysha Higgins
Lighting Technicians: Grant Gorrell
This piece was created throughout 6 weeks, with rehearsals once a week. “Shringara” focuses on Orisha deities “Oshun,”“Yemanja,”and Hindu deity “Lakshmi,” incorporating movements from Brazilian and Trinidadian African diaspora traditions, as well as aesthetic influences from Indian dance practices. Dancers convey the many dimensions of the element water: the wisdom and beauty of rivers, oceans, and rain, the shine and glisten of water, as well as turbulent crashing seas and hurricanes. Early on in the process, I facilitated a discussion on our relationship with water and encouraged dancers to meditate on the element as well as the qualities of the deities (ie. beauty, love, wealth, attraction, honey, nurture, etc), to internalize this expression, and to eventually embody these qualities or energies outwardly: to be transformed. The performance was a ritual of process. I took an intuitive approach to the choreography, envisioning an ethereal dream. I would enter each rehearsal with a general visual idea and then expand on the ideas based on the bodies in the room. A lot of our work was about using the space, taking up space, moving feet throughout the space, and incorporating principles of water’s movement such as spirals, ebb and flow of the tide, crashing of the waves, “rowing of the boat” etc. through basic movements of the Orishas. I incorporated various improvisational exercises to support these ideas (ie. dance as if space is thick with the element water). Some movement sequences grow by improvisation, sensing where the body and movement wants to go. Other parts of choreography came from piecing together various movements to the lyrics or creating choreography to another track and then mapping it onto the song River. In the beginning of the dance (Scene 1), dancers created their own choreographic sequence given four parameters (ie. a jump, a spin, one mudra meaning water, and another hand gesture). I also asked students to look further into the dance practices of their ancestors that are centered around water. I used the topic of the African and Indian diaspora as a teaching moment- giving history and context is essential to conveying a reverence for the traditions.