By Byrne Harrison
Name: Leigh Evans
Play: Quiet To Departure
Relationship to play: Choreographer and performer
At the intersection of dance, visual art, meditation, and theater, Leigh Evans' performance work explores the nature of perception by re-inventing our relationship to viewing the body. Evans' dance theater illuminates the darker aspects of human nature with the beauty of the physical form in rituals of invocation. Her explorations are fed by her fascination with the performance and meditative traditions of Asia. Integral to her work are her extensive travels and studies in the meditative and performance traditions of Asia, including Indian Odissi dance, Butoh, Yoga, Bulgarian singing and North Indian singing.
You've traveled extensively and have studied a variety of performance, movement and singing styles. Where does this interest come from?
I am interested in the internal energy of the dance, the sounds between the notes, the space between objects, and the deepening of consciousness. I felt unsatisfied with the Western theater and dance forms that I studied. I was drawn to Asian forms because they awaken energy in the body, deepen awareness, and offer a gateway to states of being beyond our concrete reality. I learned through Tadashi Suzuki's theater training how to awaken energy in stillness. In Butoh, I found a means to express the shadow side and explore the space between consciousness and unconsciousness, and between life and death. In my studies of Indian Odissi dance, I experienced how intricately interwoven their dance is with spiritual practice and an offering of one's creative expression to an energy beyond one's self. The sophisticated articulation of Odissi dance requires extreme focus and complete surrender simultaneously. I aim for this in my own work and in my life.
Quiet to Departure draws on Butoh, a performance and movement style that is gaining popularity in this country, but is not necessarily well known to Western audiences. What should your audience expect?
Butoh is unique to each artist's expression. As an audience member viewing my work, I suggest that you release narrative interpretations and allow yourself to be transported into the realm of dreams and the language of images and symbols. You can allow your relationship to time and space to shift. It will be helpful to release your expectations and relax into a meditative state of awareness, inviting your mind and body to settle in the stillness and embrace the opportunity to listen to the surfacing of the unconscious.
What drives you to create your work?
Fundamentally I am interested in developing presence and awareness. Performance provides the opportunity and support to drop into a deeply attentive state in which you are listening with every aspect of your being. This state of presence invites the audience to deepen their awareness as they experience the piece.
My work emerges from a very internal process. Images, gestures, movements, sounds, or songs come forward and I follow them. I often think of my pieces as movement paintings, or as live film.
What are your hopes for this production?
I'd love to perform Quiet to Departure for long run here in New York. I plan on performing it in San Francisco, where several of my collaborators as well as myself have spent alot of time. I'd really love to take it to Europe this Spring or Summer, I have my eye on Spain!
What is next for you after undergroundzero?
First, I'm going to go to the beach!! Then it's back to work, setting up the next venue to present the piece.
Quiet To Departure
Choreographed & Performed by Leigh Evans
150 First Ave at 9th St. - Downstairs Venue
July 13, 14, 16, 17, & 18 @ 7:30pm, July 15 @ 9:30pm