Rosy Simas Danse “We Wait in the Darkness” Review– Storytelling with a Multi-Media Movement Poem


Through one lens “We Wait in the Darkness” involved much prose to create a narrative.  There were extensive program notes recounting treaties between the Seneca Nation and the U.S. Government, for example, which detailed the betrayal of the Seneca Nation and its displacement from ancestral lands by the flooding that created the Alleghany reservoir.  Also, letters from Rosy Simas’ grandmother were read aloud by her mother, Laura Waterman Wittstock, as part of this very personal work.



Yet the emotional wallop from this performance—considerable—didn’t rely on this prose, written or spoken.  Rather, the orchestration of sounds, video, set design and choreography grabbed your soul in the same way a treasured poem does. 



Even before the action begins we are captured by the minimalist set design (byRosy Simas with contributions from Steven Carlino and François Richomme).  Speaking to Simas’ intent to use this piece to heal the epigenetic wounds from her grandmother’s time, a floor-to-ceiling sculpture of a double-helix DNA strand adorns one side of the stage.  On the opposite side are three paper panels, each appearing to have a different sewn pattern.  A screen that projects changing images of landscapes, a homestead, flooding waters and more throughout the performance is center-left.  A white dress glowing in the light is in center.  With exquisite simplicity, all the ingredients of a dreamscape were before us.



As the lights come on a bare Rosy Simas, back to us, moves across the stage seemingly propelled by her smoldering volcanic inner energy to stretch arms and fingers ever wider and wider, to curl as if protecting from blows, and at times to quickly repeat brushing motions of arms on back akin to a poem’s rhyming refrain.  As her muscled back is showcased by the lights (Lighting Design:  Karin Olson) we think not so much of the narrative but of the visceral nature of the story.  Yes, history has its aspect of this-happened-and-that-happened, but it is the brilliance of “We Wait in the Darkness” to tell the tale by focusing our attention on how the tale is encoded in body and spirit.



This is subtle choreography where at times you are more watching Simas’ muscles slowly claim their position in space rather than watching jumps across the stage or shapes unfolding new geometries.  From unclothed she changes into a white schoolgirl dress, and then the dance repeats many of the similar movement phrases and stances of the opener but expanded in a standing or crouching position and a facing us perspective. 



Meanwhile the video collage takes us to Seneca landscapes while the soundscape evokes crickets, thunder, raging waters and more.   The brilliance of the sound design by composer François Richomme is difficult to overstate, so intertwined with the choreography that we can never discern if the dancer is moving to the sounds or the score follows her. 



We are immersed in the story as a poem—with images, Seneca words, soundscape and Rosy Simas’ body curving to the force of the tale.  At times her dancing shadow is projected on the panels as she dances before the projected landscapes.  Capturing a dream, spirit or creature—it matters not which—she picks it up and blows it before her and repeats this, again and again, much as a poem’s rhyme refrain.



This was dance at its most visceral.  It should not surprise that Rosy Simas, in addition to being a performer and choreographer, is involved in body re-education. 



“Awaking Stories Within” are workshops she is now teaching that were inspired by “We Wait in the Darkness” and her exploration of dance as a way to heal epigenetic scars. 


For more information visit the Rosy Simas website.







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