“Things Missing/Missed” sounds like a typical offering from the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group. It takes place in an unusual space – the middle of the Dallas Public Library. And it’s surreal. Yet the performance marks a departure for the company. I sat down with Danielle Georgiou for this week’s State of the Arts conversation. You can click above to hear our chat, which aired on KERA FM.
Here are some of the things I learned:
“Things Missing/Missed” is inspired by a real hermit.
Christopher Knight, the Hermit of North Pond Main, lived in the woods for 27 years. He survived, in part, by stealing from cabins – minor burglaries of food, bedding – even Cheetos.
“In the piece, he is a huge inspiration for every single character,” says Georgiou. “It’s based on the idea that all of us have a part that wants to run away. When times are tough, you really wish you could just say, ‘Forget it, I’m going to go live in the woods.
“The couple in our play is dealing with their lack of communication and trying to figure out a way to still relate to one another. And technology gets in their way. and they forget who they are. And there are hermit characters who are influencing their daily life.”
There are also puppets!
Danielle Georgiou Dance Group is transitioning into a theater group.
“So we started as a very solid dance company. As we’ve evolved we’ve incorporated more theatrical elements, more dialogue. This is the first piece we’ve done that I would say is a play.”
This isn’t because Georgiou got frustrated with telling stories with movement and wanted to use words.
“I actually enjoyed that challenge of the non-verbal communication and the narrative qualities that movement can bring out. And we’re still using those in “Things Missing/Missed.” But we’re really exploring absurdist theater.”
Georgiou says the group’s performances have been a hybrid of dance and theater for a while, and will continue to be.
Georgiou likes story telling and she wants to make accessible work, but she doesn’t really care if you can follow the plot.
“I never want to control the narrative, because you can’t control your own,. We don’t have a lot of control over what happens to us. And that’s kind of the great thing about theater is that you can enter into another world where you can leave your reality behind and exist in someone else’s.
“But if you already know what’s going to happen, that’s kind of boring. So it’s more exciting to just never know what’s going to happen to you next.”
She’s performing in the show – even though she’s injured.
“So for the last couple months, I’ve been dealing with bursitis, which is an inflammation of the knee. I have a pretty severe case of it. So I haven’t been able to access much of my mobility, which has been complicated to do while rehearsing for a show that is using a lot of clowning and circus elements. So I’ve had to modify a lot.
“It’s interesting because I basically only have one good working leg. So I’m learning how to be ambidextrous with my body. It’s painful. But it’s worth it.”
And injuries – a reality for dancers – are part of the transition process too.
“A few years ago, I severely strained my hip flexor. And I also had to relearn how to use my body. Now I’m relearning how to deal with a knee injury. And it’s very depressing. Because my whole life has just been about communicating with my body. And now I can’t. So this show is actually very personal for me, to do a show that’s moving away from dance-centric work. Because as I’m getting older, I have to come up with new creative ways to do your craft.”
Did we mention they turned the fine arts department on the fourth floor of the library into a forest?
The dance group has spent the last year as part of the library’s artist residency. They’ve been holding workshops and rehearsals, and now they are turning the Fine Arts floor of the library into a forest. “People just keep coming over and touching the trees and ivy.” Stop by for the show this weekend. It’s free.