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Wind Cave - An Expression of Movement

Last night at the Youngstown Cultural Center in West Seattle, the crowd was treated to a

very deep and emotionally moving experience. Dancers for the Aerial Butoh Dance

company - Cara Ross Bergman, Mary Cutrera and Helen Thorsen - were absolutely

fantastic in their interpretation of a story inspired by a Lakota Indian creation myth,

entitled “Wind Cave.” The performance delivered by Sheri Brown, the story’s 4th

character and heroine, is absolutely stunning, and solidifies the stellar, mysterious, and

haunting depiction of the myth.

The performance involves a very impressive audio-visual experience, with a creative and

innovative set, including aerial banners, where the dancers perform stunning acrobatics

that visually match the unique lighting design, and sonically, the impressive traditional

Lakota soundtrack, perfectly. The first two thirds of the 70-minute performance involve

two women, apparently stunned and disoriented by the powerful celestial powers

affecting and contorting them, at times overwhelming them, and at others causing them

to writhe and convulse violently on the floor in the most intriguing ways. One can easily

imagine a natural background, both from the set which includes trees and branches, and

the soundtrack, which includes authentic sounds of nature, to accompany the chants

and haunting sounds of the Lakota tribal culture. The dancers (Thorsen and Cutrera) at

times appear to be possessed by a light calling out to them, and at other times converge

in several cocoon-like positions, clearly representing, birth, re-birth, and creation. They

are watched and overseen by a loving and kind “earth mother” (Bergman) who protects,

rescues, and revitalizes them at different moving points in the story.

The costumes are very well done, highlighted by the “earth mother’s” veiled, virginesque,

matrimonial, and glittering dress, combined with Brown’s silk, flowery dress, expressing

and symbolizing the flower of youth and rebirth simultaneously. The makeup also

expertly reveals extremely vivid facial expressions that brilliantly convey the awe, horror

and joy the characters experience. Nowhere is this more clear than during the final 25

minutes, when the story’s heroine (Brown) appears with a light, swiftly flowing and joyful

dance, immediately followed by a gut-wrenching, at times robotic, and at others chaotic,

display of bodily contortion and emotion that clearly shows how the youthful character is

forced to experience the pain and anguish the other two older women had experienced

earlier, before she can ultimately reunite with them, guided by the earth mother, and form

a new, perfectly-shaped and all-encompassing human being. Brown’s performance is

unforgettable, as is the entire production.

Tickets can still be purchased for $18 at the door for tonight’s culminating show.

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