The One Breath is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart premiered in Zagreb is an unusual modern dance duet for a disabled dancer and an able-bodied dancer that continues to examine the relationship between physical transformation and identity. In this performance, the dancers wear 28” wooden stilts secured to their arms and legs. The stilts are constructed from familiar, every-day objects to create illusion and are a visually compelling tool of transformation. The queen-Anne style table legs enable the dancers to create a basic illusion of table and chair shape. Through the quality of their movement, the dancers are transformed through a wide range of imagery: animated furniture, magical toys, 8-legged insect, 4- legged gazelle, 2-legged birds. The effect is an eerie otherworldliness that may leave audiences with the idea that they can’t trust how things appear. Two dramatically different bodies navigate a movement and sound landscape that is both enabled and constrained by their use of wooden stilts.
The precarious nature of working on stilts equalizes the dancers’ physical abilities, thereby opening a dialogue about relationships between disabled and non-disabled people. “Movement and illusion continue to play major roles in my current work, althoughI’ve begun to discover new approaches that are exciting and terrifying. I am using my own body, both as a direct approach to animating forms, and also as a way to explore issues of physicality and deformity. Despite my own terror and discomfort in being watched (or, maybe, because of it), I am ∫nding that being in front of viewers as a performer with deformity can produce a magnetic tension that could be developed into strength. I attempt to channel this tension by exaggerating the mode of physical difference (for example, presenting myself on stilts). I am using mechanical sculpture, props and prosthetics to transform my body to discover its unique physical vocabulary.”
— Lisa Bufano
creators and choreographers: Lisa Bufano, Sonsherée Giles, Jerry Smith
performed by: Lisa Bufano, Sonsheree Giles of AXIS Dance Company
music by: Jerry Smith
The work was commissioned in part by AXIS Dance Company, in association with Alliger Arts