“The Children of Ararat”
Produced and Directed by Anahid Sofian
Sublime! Powerful! Evocative!
Anahid Sofian’s latest creative offering is Passage Through Light and Shadow: Children of Ararat dance-documentary masterwork, running through October 31st, 2010, is an opportunity to see a master choreographer, dancer, and now producer and director at the height of her creative genius. This little gem, nestled in St. Clement’s Theatre, will run through October 31st, 2010, with shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, as well as a final matinee on the 31st. This is a “must-see” performance for not only those specializing in Oriental and upper Near East dance, but also historians, cultural anthropologists, and students of the complex Near East region. Not only does this thoughtful and richly layered production have much to say in a historical and cultural context, it provides an excellent study piece for anyone who is interested in producing and/or performing in a complex, richly layered multimedia work. As is always the case with Mdm. Sofian’s works, her current offering must be seen from and appreciated at many perspectives.
“Passage Through Light and Shadow” is deeply moving, tapping into our innate sense of pathos as we respond to a heroic people’s experiences over many millennia. We are drawn into a “stream of consciousness” approach with well-worked vignettes. As an artistic experience, this is excellent. As a “study piece” – to provide insight and food for thought for other creative souls – this should be a “must-see”!
Mdm. Sofian’s deep knowledge of both dance vocabulary and movement enrich the show with not only beautiful folkloric-based dances, but several acts in which the dancers walk in a processional manner. For such a seemingly simple thing, this is actually very subtle and complex. All of us who work in any form of stage presentation – or public processionals – can benefit by observing how Anahid has coached her dancers.
To develop the folkloric aspects, Mdm. Sofian brought in the renowned Gagik Kaapetian as Guest Choreographer and Jeffrey Lewonczyk as Associate Director. The dances combined authentic Armenian folkloric elements with Mdm. Sofian’s elegant use of space.
For those of us who are interested in multimedia performances, the technical virtuosity of this show make it well worth attending. Multimedia is a complex art, and can succeed dramatically – or fail just as dramatically as well. Mdm. Sofian’s expression is a technical tour de force, well worth being studied and emulated by other dancers and small-venue producers who want to take their art to the creative limits. This show includes over 100 cues for the complex light/sound/imagery. It is something that should be seen first as a performance, and then seen a second time to study how all the complex and delicately nuanced “layers” are brought together. The timing for such a work is crucial. In this case, it is extraordinarily well-done.
The logistics of reaching the performance are surprisingly straightforward. It is being held in the Theatre at St. Clement’s, a perfectly appropriate and well-situated off-Broadway venue, on 46th Street between 9th & 10th Avenues, and within easy walking distance of Penn Station. It seats about 150 persons comfortably, and all seats provide an excellent view of the stage. Tickets are available online through Theatermania. I bought mine by calling them; they can be reached at 212-352-310 or 866-811-4111.
The running time for the show is an easy 1 hour and 45 min. Ticket prices are $35.00 for regular admission, and $25.00 for Student/Senior discounted seating.
The programs that go with the show are beautiful and informatiive in their own right. However, in addition to the basic programs, Mdm Sofian has produced an additional (limited run) of exquisite, full-color Special Programs that capture the imagery, poetry, and narrative excerpts from the show, together with essays and commentaries. These Special Programs themselves are an excellent resource for anyone doing research on current or historical Armenia, or who wishes to communicate a family heritage. This limited run will sell out fast, so the wise person would pick up several (at $20.00 each) to use as Christmas gifts for the family! (Ask Mdm. Sofian to autograph them at the end of the show! These should have collector’s value as word of this dance-documentary permeates the community.)