2015 Viola Nominee: Excellence in the Performing Arts
Human Nature Dance Theatre: Weatherwild
Human Nature Dance Theater presented Weatherwild, a contemporary dance performance, on Oct. 8, 2014 at the Coconino Center for the Arts. Weatherwild explored the following questions through dance, music and spoken word. It explored the questions of how weather affects the human condition, and poses the rhetorical question–does the human condition affect weather?
Delisa Myles, Paul Moore, Bob Webb, Jayne Lee and Francis Matineau choreographed, wrote, and performed in this performance art piece. In one of the first pieces, Myles sensuously moved hay around the stage, clutching and rubbing it against her body. We were struck by the smell of it, and became immediately engaged with the performance. Moore used technology and wires to wrap himself up physically, and to emotionally convey angst and anger. Lee used her body and facial expressions to convey a sense of loss. The intimate audience was breathless and present; in moments of silence I’m sure that love words were spoken.
And then Bob Webb came on stage, unashamed in a small black thong and a long red scarf. The surprising shock of his physical presence, the emotional intensity of his movements and the fierceness of his portrayal kept everyone rapt.
Every cell of this performance was imbued with creativity and thoughtfulness in an abstract, sophisticated work. Weatherwild exhibited the best qualities of a work of art: timeliness to our human condition, skill in creativity, and effectiveness in execution.
Human Nature Dance Theatre’s performance of Weatherwild was the most thought provoking and deeply moving performance I’ve yet to see from this group of performance artists. Through movement and spoken word the company coaxes the audience to feel and explore in their mind, the changes that are happening to our world. To contemplate how it affects our lives, to think about why the drastic changes we’re seeing in our climate and to explore if those changes are Human or just Nature. From the very beginning through the end, they guide the audience into an alternate view of the world, pulling them outside their daily normal way and opening them to an abstraction of reality so that one can sense the textures, fragility and scent of Nature’s grasses in contrast to the hectic tangled world of Human created technology. A river flows and froths. Celtic beings confront a blackness that maybe the wee sheep may survive, but will we humans ? Large flat shapeless beings roam the stage, could these represent our future ? Is a sterile dying planet our destiny, or is there hope to save Nature and Humanity.
The spoken word by Matineau and the quirky, comic bits about weather were sweet and broke up the intensity, while one of the final pieces by Webb and Myles was the clincher, as they danced in white smocks and personified the human condition of separation, togetherness, and separation. It seemed as though everyone in the room was as touched as I was. I couldn’t get over how perfectly Human Nature had epitomized the human condition. I shed a few tears and felt so much compassion for all of us humans, how we all go through cycles of nature, with bravery and humor. The success of the show was exhibited by the audience afterwards, and how they mingled with the actors, expressing their emotions and appreciation, saying how the performance had evoked so many uniquely tender and sentimental emotions towards each other and the earth.