“Resilience gives the illusion of coping…”
“The Resilience Project” was created from a series of interviews with combat veterans and their families. Excerpts from those interviews–a short story, a single phrase, or a word broken down into sounds–are both the text and texture of this heartfelt dance/theater. Those quotes, and the insurmountable questions that the interviewees ask, are woven with original music by Goode and company, Ben Juodvalkis; Jay Cloidt, Evelyn Glennie, and Jesse Oldsen Bay. Each scenario is danced and spoken, either by the dancers on stage or by dancers taking turns from one of the four standing microphones that frame the boxing ring-like set. At times the performers harmonize like an Appalachian spiritual to tell their tale, singing one of the original songs. Patricia West is particularly notable, for her soulful vocal skill and tonality that powerfully resonates through both talking and singing. Goode also handsomely sings in one segment when performers are asking, “What changed?” Meaning, what changed, when did they change? Was it in Iraq, when they felt the threat of children suicide bombers that left them incapable of feeling comfortable around children back at home? Or, was it when a mother in the reserves was deployed to Bosnia, returning to her family 10 months later only to feel like a stranger in her own house? When did posttraumatic stress disorder become their norm?
Through these deep terrains of the human experience the performers undulate and soar, over their fellow comrades they step or climb, accepting or rejecting support. Military jargon like, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off” follows them like shadows. They dance to heal that which cannot be truly healed. “What does it mean to heal? Can you ever heal completely?” James Graham’s compact precision and assertive timing is spot on throughout.
In one segment he dances with Felipe Barrueto-Cabello against the upstage wall, as if rappelling in slow motion side to side, which is a creative use of limited space and his bass tone vocals. There are moments that feel like the piece is complete, like that mini ending could be the perfect place for the performance to end but instead, the choreography skillfully unfolds into one more concise scenario. And, just when there comes a hint of ‘Ok, I got it!’ “The Resilience Project” ends with a vocally uplifting chorus.
David E. Moreno