Isn’t it lovely?

Isn’t it lovely?
April 7, 2016 W. Celeste Davis Stragand

 

Photo by Annie Martens. Image courtesy of Gwendolyn & Guests.

Photo by Annie Martens. Image courtesy of Gwendolyn & Guests.

Profoundly tender, the moment of a touch grazing upon skin for the first time. Do you remember that initial gaze caught and returned? The taping of a daydream to your front cornea? It writhes, suffocates, smoothes and gushes forth from your body in waves. The Fleming Mansion experienced the torment, patter and reluctance of bodies moving about this past weekend during the world premiere of Nourishment. A one-weekend exploration of, what does it feel like to fall in love?  

More than a performance piece with live music, visual projection and audience participation, Denverite turned New Yorker, Gwendolyn Gussman and crew also tantalized the senses with cocktails (created and provided by Rising Sun Distillery) and chocolates (Nova Chocolates).   

Upon entering the living area armed with a gin and grapefruit concoction, our group of no more than 40 begin our journey into the fall.  Trying on clothes and re-trying on clothes, our dancers look to audience members for approval.  Does it look OK? Are we putting on the right image?  All the while, live musicians, lead by Hallie Spoor, fill our ears with undulating waves like a swim in bliss.

Photo by Ross Wick. Image courtesy of Gwendolyn & Guests.

Photo by Ross Wick. Image courtesy of Gwendolyn & Guests.

We then transition and physically walk into a different room, and grab a piece of chocolate. Throughout the seven episodes, we walk in and out of rooms, sometimes split as an audience. The spilt gives us only one intimate perspective of love. The other (happening simultaneously) is only heard in slivers. Similar to any relationship where you only have your perspective. There is always something internal and away.

Throughout the journey, we progress from game playing to falling to distortion. We view the inner conversations, movements and vulnerability of interspersed poetry as language passes from the lips of our dancers who move in constrained improvisation mixed with defined choreography.  The aching, internal havoc of holding on so tight and collapse moves through each of the dancers and ripples among the audience. We are losing.

Photo by Ross Wick. Image courtesy of Gwendolyn & Guests.

Photo by Ross Wick. Image courtesy of Gwendolyn & Guests.

Moving in and out of the rooms with each episode, our initial sense of comfort is removed. Our chairs have been moved in the room. We now sit in a new location; we have been displaced.

The lovers, our love has moved.  If I lose you where do you go?

To close, the dancers each begin a circle story recount of their love with voices overlapping. The vulnerability and authenticity of language, sound, body and taste ripple through the room as Wild Horses is sung in a throaty mezzo-soprano followed by a final cocktail.  

The whirl-wind, the ache, the excitement, that ability to take such a banal subject as love and to transcend the normative ideation. The partnership among Gwendolyn Gussman, Nico Gonzales, Mariah Martens, Hallie Spoor, Breana Meyers, Angela Lamb, Fletcher Graham, Aja Jackson and Jack Koloskus tugged on the heartstrings and brought about fulfillment.

In the words of Gussman, This Art Is: To Fall, To Love, / To Collaborate, To Nourish.


 

W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and Denver transplant, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience.  A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program and sits on the American Institute of Architects Colorado board.  Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!

X