STANZAS & SCULPTURES
September 25 - 26, 2020
The Chapel and Online
The process of creating Stanzas and Sculptures has been unlike any other production I’ve worked on. This show started as a seedling idea back in October 2019, when I came across the history of a unique building I would drive past frequently, pictured here. Those of you who are familiar with St. Louis will likely recognize the structure. The National Memorial Church of God, located in The Grand Center, was struck by lightning in 2001 and burned down, leaving behind a striking open-roofed stone shell. In 2003, The Grand Center purchased the building, with plans to turn it into an urban sculpture garden. They got so far as to clear out the debris and lay down gravel, but the sculptures never arrived. The new life that had been planned for the Church fell short, its destiny had remained unfulfilled. Enter an idea.
I visited the space frequently and envisioned finally filling it with sculptures; live sculptures that moved, sculptures that would tell the stories of loss and rebirth, of memory and trauma, of shared humanity bound together by space and time. I thought about building a new and collaborative dance work, one that would require the outside help of a talented costume designer to shape these sculptures, and a poet who could capture the lost stories of this place.
Shortly after teaming up with Kayla and Maya, for costumes and poems respectively, we had to give up on the reality of performing in the abandoned Church space due to logistical difficulties in the wake of a pandemic. However, we were intent upon preserving the intention of the piece. Serendipitously, it so happened that my company had booked a date at The Chapel 18 months ago, before this show had even been dreamt up. If we couldn’t perform in the remnants of The National Memorial Church of God, we would perform in its sister space, a Chapel of similar design and purpose, and fulfill its destiny vicariously.
The performance of Stanzas and Sculptures that you will see today honors its origins by remaining a uniquely site-specific, walk-through experience. The original themes of the show are preserved, yet they take on a new meaning in today’s world. The creative team has often used the phrase “approximated experiences” to center this work. We approximate acute human experiences through movement, poetry, and design, but know that art can only capture so much.
Choreographing this production has felt like grieving in a way, channeling our manifold emotions, mental exhaustion, and need for connection into work that feels cathartic and fulfilling. We invite you to enter this space with us, to recall and relate your own experiences and history to this work, and to embrace the immersive wash of energy that comes with watching dance. We hope you enjoy Stanzas and Sculptures and go forward having satisfied some small, internal, human need.
Director of RESILIENCE Dance Company
Choreographer, Stanzas and Sculptures