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Wedding, a collaborative theatre dance work with visual artist Julie Keller, choreographer Gilberte Meunier, and composer Miroslav Tadic was performed in May 1988 at the now defunct Wallenboyd Theatre in the industrial section of downtown Los Angeles. For this work I received a Dramalogue Award for best set design in a small theatre and was nominated by the art critics of the L.A. Weekly for the same.
In part, Wedding drew upon my early childhood memories of summertime in Kansas, finding dried, translucent cicada skins on the trunks of trees, absolute treasures for a child. I later learned that this particular type of cicada lives underground for 17 years. At their moment in a grand design of nature, they come to the surface "en masse", climb trees and molt their skin. They are vulnerable at that moment to whatever prey as they wait to dry and spread their wings. The males make an unforgettable deafening chorus. They eventually fly off and mate only to live a few hours after depositing their eggs. The young cicada nymphs hatch and dig themselves into the ground to suckle on the liquid in plant roots, essentially disappearing until the cycle reoccurs. For me, they are a perfect metaphor for our human experience. In the scheme of geologic time, our lives are equally compacted, equally fragile, our physicality equally rhythmic beginning to end.
In an exquisite "pas de deux" the dancer sheds her skin and dances with the empty casing of her former self, lovingly attempting to become one with it, carrying it around like a monkey might carry around a dead baby for days, eventually walking on it, stomping it, trying to pull it apart, slowly resigning herself to the loss and then distancing herself.
Wedding is an allegory for death and metamorphosis. It may be the many small deaths that are the inevitable aspect of becoming who we are, leaving behind ways of thinking as our universe expands. It may be as gentle as discovering Joseph Campbell's work on primitive mythology or as tragic as losing a love one. We are changed.