NEWS ALERT: We’ll be having a special GUEST POST from the granddaughter of Livia Bitton-Jackson, Laura Faiwiszewski* this Friday! And don’t forget to tune in for Stretch Dance Co.’s important announcement on Thursday!
During our last rehearsal, each dancer had to describe the show in one word as part of a promotional video that will be coming out this week.
You would think that finding one word would be easy after writing out several thousand of them for this blog, but I found that I was tongue-tied…and I wasn’t alone. I wish we had an outtake reel of all of us oohing when someone said a good word or stuttering out three in a row in the hopes that we could create a mega word that would somehow capture everything (supercalifragicourageousinspirationalmovingdocious?).
How can I say everything in one word, I thought, when this is so far beyond words?
Which, when you think about it, is really what this production is about.
In theater, they say that you only sing when your emotions cannot be contained in words, and you dance when your emotions cannot be contained in song.
The emotions run so high in I Have Lived a Thousand Years that words only convey a fraction of the story, but dance can connect those phrases with living poetry that transcends language and cultural barriers.
Whereas written and spoken words have a feeling of finality and definition to them, dance engages the audience’s imagination; they must imagine the words that could have been. In imagining themselves in the positions of these people, they can form a stronger connection to the material.
I Have Lived a Thousand Years stands out from many other Holocaust pieces because it is not simply a memorial for what has passed, but an investment for the future. We want audiences to connect with the material so that the next time they face adversity or cruelty, they can perhaps take strength from those who have come before us.
It’s easy to paint the Holocaust in the bleak grays of history gone by, but there was more to these people than just sadness. Livia Bitton-Jackson’s memoir does an amazing job of highlighting the humanity of each person in the book, of their personal moments of brilliance and strength in a dark time.
With dance, we hope to capture some of that complexity and add a new facet to Livia Bitton-Jackson’s compelling story, taking her knowledge beyond words and into our hearts.
*I think we should make it a rule that all posts be written by people named Laura 🙂