Friday, October 23 at 1:30 pm
in LMCC’s Studios in the Arts Center at Governors Island
The Monomyth (TM) is an evening-length dance choreographed by Michelle Boulé premiering in New York in the Spring 2017. TM explores cultural narratives of loneliness and solitude through the trajectory of a solo figure. “Monomyth” references the narrative trope of the hero’s journey as identified by Joseph Campbell, where an individual undergoes a solitary process of transformation, achieving great deeds on behalf of a group or civilization.
TM asks how the solo performer can represent the wholeness of ourselves, that which we reject and embrace. Underneath our myth of “American individualism” exists a dangerous cultural repression of individual expression that creates loneliness and separation. We strive to be singular while not wanting to be singled out, living on guard of an uninhibited self. Instead of accepting and integrating our own multiplicity, our culture punishes through isolation and rejection, manifest in bullying, imprisonment, racism, sexism, and other social ills. At the same time, isolation can provide the solitude that allows for the deepest moments of spiritual transcendence and connection, only experienced alone and often essential for an artistic practice.
Religion and disco provide the context for TM. Religions have stories of solo spiritual journeys (e.g. Jesus, Buddha), alongside a culture of moral repression and heightened energy of worship or reverence towards the individual. Disco opens up another heightened, yet contrasting space for release, celebration, ecstasis, and play. Lastly, TM dialogues with Boulé’s history as a performer, where she has often felt aligned with the solitary archetypal figure and the heightened energy projected onto solo figures. The soloist is hero, outcast, fool, alchemist, savior—a place for projection and observation, like our celebrities, gurus, politicians, criminals.
At Governors Island, Boulé will begin creating a solo material to explore these ideas. The piece eventually evolves into two solos for Boulé and another dancer in the later part of the dance. Audience chairs will be purposefully scattered throughout performance venue, with small designated areas for the dancing, creating an intimate audience-performer proximity. As everyone is seated alone together, the piece becomes a subtly powerful celebration of connection, which at its deepest level is a connection to self.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Ted Roeder
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The Monomyth is developed as part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Dance Development Program made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The creation of The Monomyth is also made possible through support from collective address in Brooklyn and through individual donations, including those from her Leadership Circle.