To Begin The World Over Again
Right in the shadow of the mega-cultural hub The Brooklyn Academy of Music is the tiny Irondale Theater, now in its fifth season, and it is here that "To Begin the World Over Again" is being performed by an incredibly talented and eclectic group of companies and individuals.
The work is the brainchild of choreographer Edisa Weeks and her company Delirious Dances. It takes as its premise the Thomas Paine work by the same title and massages the Colonial text to find a modern essence. The sublime music of composer Joseph C. Phillips and his small orchestra Numinous and a group of local vocalists augment this transformation.
Delirious Dances, helmed by Weeks, often makes works that utilize text, spoken word and new music. Her work really is at the confluence of what I consider to be 21st Century theater. It is work that provokes and prods and asks you not to spend time on whether this is really dance, or really a play or is it a concert. Rather it asks the audience, who in this case is seated on all three sides of the performance space in an old church, to envision a new world.
In order to do this there is an opening salvo of company dance, which is then segmented by an "American Idol"-type contest among all the dancers. This contest is to mimic the impending elections and on our night, the winner was a slip of a girl named Sharifa Linton, who had wild plated hair and energy to match.
Also dancing with gusto and bravado are Angel Chinn, Victor Gonzalez, Devin Oshiro, Ricardo Valentine and a week's favorite the wonderful Jennie Hong. Michael Henry plays the narrator and rabble-rouser. The company is the best of multiculti, rainbow grace and they provide the perfect seedlings to, in fact, begin the world again.
Audience members are gently dragged or cajoled onto the stage to circle or move geometrically and at the end many sang and signed the finale, "we have the power to begin the world over again." Yes, perhaps a tad cheesy, but as we all stood on stage or sat in the audience and cheered and applauded the feeling of positivism that hung heavy in the Indian Summer air.
I would run, skip or subway it out to the sweet Irondale Theater and experience this work. Joe Phillips will be at BAM in a few weeks, but you won't be up close and personal. So come now and see the waves before they break where audiences and artists matter.
"To Begin the World" runs through October 6 at the Irondale Theater, 85 South Oxford Street in Brooklyn. For info or tickets, call 718-488-9233 or visit http://irondale.org/buy-tickets.html