Commissioned Writing by
on Wildmoon/Eventual Ashes
for Contemporaneity 2.0
The following piece was commissioned as part of Contemporaneity 2.0 by Anandam Dancetheatre for the production of “Becoming” Created & Written by Asia Clarke & Jade Lee Hoy, directed by Gein Wong, featuring the collaborations of Ruthie Titus, Dre Ngozi,
Brian Gregory, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and Virgillia Griffith
photo of Virgillia Griffith by Greg Wong
written by kumari giles
The process of BECOMING –
In rehearsal, we sit on three of four sides, leaving one for the ancestors. Spheres of spirit, fitting circles into squares. How do we relate to this land? To the water? To spirit? How do we honour our ancestors, when we don’t know where they were, where they travelled through to get here? Who are the caretakers of our spirit? In what containers do we live? How, now in the chaos of the world do we find time to nurture ritual, spirits, ancestors, our spirit, the land? In the sacredness of being together, how do we bring back language and spirit?
BECOMING, is the creation project of Asia Clarke, Jade Lee Hoy, Gein Wong, Ruthie Titus, Dre Ngozi, Brian Gregory, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and Virgilia Griffith, in Jade’s words - a collective made up of artists, dreamers, make it happen types and some kick-ass BIPOC* Queer folk. Through BECOMING we experience the journey of a women, ancestors within her – as she connects across time and space. I am honoured to have spoken to Asia, while in Ghana, Jade through e-mail and shared time in rehearsal with Gein, Ruthie and Virgilia to chat and observe the process.
The starting place of this work is the Wild Moon Theories, written by Asia, that connect ancestors, ritual and land. The theories are an ideology that informs authentic co-creativity with the ancestors. The theories ask an individual to position themselves in a lineage, holding your ancestors’ hand within you and knowing that you stand not as just one, but as ten thousand. The theories spotlight our responsibilities as diasporic peoples, and in our search for knowing where our ancestors came from we must not forget that we are settlers on this land, and need to acknowledge and respect the indigenous ancestors on the ground which we now stand. They ask us to make new ritual and cultural artifacts, because colonization has left an imprint that can only change from where we are now, using our own creativity.
Holding these questions, the artists work on being in relationship with one another - the process takes time – playing, sitting with each other, crafting, shadow play, video, proposing ideas. “It's an extraordinary thing to be able to vision something and allow it the space to transform and be reimagined over time without limitations of a predetermined process” Jade explains. They talk about dreams, ancestors and spirit, and how spirituality had been forcefully erased starting from contact. “It is a decolonial process to know, value and create access for spirituality centering indigenous ways of being and doing spirit work” Gein says. Asia has spent the last 6 months in Ghana and is still there, her spirit is deeply woven into the piece and states “It’s a profound experience to have the vision live within the process and each of the artists. It has taught us the importance of trusting one another, and trusting the universe and ancestors to guide us to where we need to be.” Their team has experienced the joy of working with people who are individually amazing and by being with each other, a deep knowing, a listening ritual and a place to start reimagining their place in the world is formed.
This interwoven, multidisciplinary work began three years ago, when Asia brought together Jade Lee Hoy and Virgilia Griffith to launch their first show called “The Wild Moon Theories”, an interactive installation for her arts-based business Wild Moon Jewelry. The jewelry show became a response to heal intergenerational traumas of the transatlantic slave trade and create an “opening for us to imagine leaving artifacts for our future.” As an artist of African-Caribbean descent, Asia names that there has been “a disruption in [her] personal history due to colonialism and the slave trade”. Similarly Jade, who is a descendant of East Indian Indentured laborers, West African slaves, a Chinese migrant, and mixed race Arawak/Venezuelan peoples on the island of Trinidad, names her herstory has “largely been misplaced or erased from history books”. BECOMING is a “shout out to the world” that intergenerational healing is possible while providing an “entry point for those of us who were birthed out of a legacy of colonization to begin to have conversations about how we reclaim ourselves, our past and reimagine our futures.”
This iteration brings together Wild Moon theories through film, embodied performance and space creation. It a space where there are no composite parts but they all lend to the performance experience. The set evokes multiple spheres of being, all in the same moment of time and space, becoming whole, connecting and connection. Live prompted projection feeds in constant response to the movement, guiding and offering multiple experiences at once. A soundscape that feels like the earth calling to you, breath, beat, bringing you into the world. And movement that guides your experience through varied sections from slow dream worlds to waking awareness.
The movement in this work is held by Virgilia, and was created through improvisation, play and eventually carving out the structure. Gein notices respectfully, then asks - what are you thinking? A back and forth dialogue ensues; teasing out questions, dreams, and discomfort, identifying where it lands emotionally/physically and moving when ready. Jade calls this process for what it is: “Revolutionary. It's like being inside the womb, feeling safe and held, it's nourished and strengthened my intuitions. We all work within our capacity. We all acknowledge self-care and each other's individuals journey and superpowers.” Thus, instead of form and shape placed on top of the dancer, Virgilia moves from the intention to “connect to her deepest self, working from the inside out”. When Virgilia and I speak about movement and choreography we talk about past traumas of formal dance experiences and now, owning our inner rhythms and being unapologetic about the movement we create and how our bodies move.
And so, the urgency of spirit is the remaining question. How do we return to our bodies and our spirit? How do we approach that with forgiveness? How does the narrative from loss and trauma shift to a narrative of creating the space for the future and present? What strikes me is the compassion and generosity of the offering. In closing, Gein shares “Everyone is on their path, and as we are on our paths, we as people and the world grow and change. With the resurgence and raised awareness of land and water protectors and Indigenous sovereignty we are heading towards a better position to support, and to reimagine our world.” Asia wants us to remember that “This is not all that there is, so if we can position ourselves in knowing there is more, we can find happiness here.” She “hopes the show inspires people to assess whether they feel trapped in the now, and how they can use ritual to help them see and feel beyond - and hold the hands of their own ancestors.” This is the process of BECOMING, honouring what our ancestors fought and paid for and a reminder that we are still alive.
*Black, Indigenous, People of Colour
kumari is a multi-disciplinary artist, dancer, storyteller, curator, logistics nerd, aerialist, food enthusiast and community cook. As a queer non-binary mixed maker of many things, they believe in art and movement as a tool for empowerment, transformation and healing. They are committed to nurturing overlooked
brilliance, working collectively and challenging systemic power in the arts.
They bring love, intention and integrity to independent and collective projects including CATALYST(2017), Sarap (2017) and their one-person play things i cannot speak(2015). They are past collective member of ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company FIRE (2015), Unapologetic Burlesque and are currently in the QSAY collective who support acolourdeep.ca an online community for queer and trans south asians.