It is all coming down to the final two weeks before we unveil the collaboration “Soul Rhythms” to the community. When they talk about how it takes a village to raise a child, they must have been stealthily observing the rehearsals and meetings that have taken place over the past five weeks. This got me thinking about what I have observed so far as Artistic Director.
I have seen an evolution of hearts, minds and spirits of the participants, embracing the glorious unpredictability of art-making. Just like in any migration, what and how you start the journey is startlingly transformed by the time you arrive at the final destination. The luggage is full, but you might have had to lighten the load to make the journey that much easier. Or you might have acquired things that you did not realize you needed to complete this journey. What I have learned is that there are a lot of people hungry to start a transformative migration. I see it in the easy smile of a young man who is learning joy of traditional folk dancing and telling me he that he is having the time of his life; in the young girl singing “Wade in the Water” and discovering the power of her own words through poetry, all sassy and proud; in the professional artists from two different dance forms creating a special combination of Irish stepdancing and African American stepping with an unbridled enthusiasm that was awe inspiring and contagious.
As I start assembling the program order, editing the video projections and building set pieces (an artistic director’s job is never done), I am struck by images and questions conjured by working on such a vast artistic project. Images of young people answering the question: what would you take with you, if you had to leave Dayton right now? Planting the seed of what truly matters to an individual is a spiritual tool and has an immeasurable impact that we may never see, but whose effects will reverberate with implications for us all. The questioning of values and traditions that are at the core of who we are as human beings, allows us to truly understand what is at stake when we make that decision to seek out a better way or place.
After the all of the hard work and seemingly never ending and unexpected surprises that can occur in the rehearsal process (which is always messy and complicated), artists stepping out on to the stage to perform feel pride, sense of community, and the joy of coming to that final resting place we can call home. We carry within us the past, present and future, and we operate with the faith that what we say and do matters in ways too great to fully comprehend.
The final performance of these residencies will always be more than just a “show,” and this is why I am involved. So hurry up! Buy your tickets!