December 7, 2017
Hey-Hey, Ho-Ho…Patriarchy’s got to go.
Aside from the occasional pussy hat, our culture, in my opinion, still offers an inadequate template for being female, and I realize I have to dig deeper. Thank goodness, then, for LAVA, the Brooklyn-based feminist acrobatic dance company with a mission to unearth the lost and pre-patriarchal.
Whenever I see LAVA perform, I always selfishly think of myself. But I’m not thinking of the automatic, not-yet-fully-emancipated self I present to my daily surroundings. No, my mind pokes around at an uncowed, primeval self, something I know climbs the branches of my consciousness like an ape in the wild, or lurks under the surface like a flickering candle in a cave. LAVA always stokes that flame for me, and I always want to know: Who is that woman?
LAVA’s latest, A Goddessey, subverts the traditional “hero’s journey,” telling a “feminist survival story” where LAVA’s earthy acrobatics–combined with aerial work, spoken-word, comedy and contact improvisation–undertake a quest via “landscapes emotional and geologic” for a fleshed-out femaleness as the basis for a communal paradise of equality and balance.
A Goddessey begins by orienting us here-and-now, establishing exactly where we are in this universe relative to the sun, rocks, mountains and ages past. Then, reverting to the jungle primeval, LAVA’s founder Sarah East Johnson balances an axe on her chin as her cohorts climb and hang in a lofty canopy of nets, ropes and silks. The journey descends to the limiting, oppressive world we know, then on to the cave, the forest, the sea, space, and the starry desert in an enjoyable dance performance that includes trapeze-hangs, hand-stands and hoop-diving, to finally arrive at an explosively colorful utopia (with audience participation!).
But back to me: A Goddessey confirms the following for me as it proceeds: women don’t all look alike, and need to dress for movement. They don’t like walking in line, abrupt crashes or adhering to traditional ballet. They can cartwheel when the going gets oppressive and they work well in groups. A woman can test the air and feel what’s coming. She can jump through hoops where hoops present themselves, or get over and around those hoops via leaps and flips, passing through subsequent skinny circles into alternate dimensions to awaken mysteries. She knows that rocks are ALIVE and metamorphosing, both solid and flowing. She’s funny: “What do Brooklyn and pantyhose have in common? Flatbush.” She can dance the Conga, stand barefoot atop a naked head, offer her own hard head for you to balance upon if you dare, climb ladders and balance 10-foot ladders on her chin. She can breathe.
What is a woman? She is lava. She moves the earth.
For founder and director Sarah East Johnson, A Goddessey is “the synthesis, culmination, and explosion” of 15 years of LAVA doing what it does. Thanks LAVA! They’ve been extended: See them at The Flea Theater through December 17.
Created and performed by Efe Alibo, Hilary Melcher Chapman, Molly Chanoff, Lex Garnett, Sarah Dey Hirshan, Sarah East Johnson, Lollo Romanski with special guest Ana Carolina
Conceived and Directed by Sarah East Johnson Music by DJ Tikka Masala Costumes by Claudia Brown Lighting Design by Alison May Additional music by Lee Free and Toshi Reagon Dramaturgy by Mimi McGurl
November 30 - December 17 Tickets $15