Imagination Fly: Dancer Garcia Morales Visits MHC
full year before the Mount Holyoke community could enjoy a performance
of Latin American indigenous contemporary dance by a company called
Nikamba ("to move"), dance students of Professor Jim
Coleman enjoyed a sneak preview.
José Isabel Garcia Morales of Tabasco, Mexico, a guest
of Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Leandro Soto,
visited Coleman's class two weeks ago. Garcia Morales was a student
of Soto's in an interdisciplinary program in Tabasco that encouraged
participants to develop their abilities in the visual arts, dance,
theater, and music. The program derived its curriculum from native
culture and contemporary international culture. "I consider
him a great result of that school," said Soto. "He uses
Native American sources, movement, and philosophy as inspiration,
then combines those native roots and contemporary dance to create
his own avant-garde work."
PHOTOS BY ANDREA BURNS
students participated in improvisational dance with José
Isabel Garcia Morales of Tabasco, Mexico. He visited Professor
Jim Colemans class two weeks ago.
Garcia Morales's style in similar terms, calling it "a unique
style, an interesting mix of contemporary modern dance, with hints
of ballet and indigenous Indian forms." Added Coleman, "I
really appreciate exposing our students to a new point of view,
a new vocabulary, and new images." Garcia Morales also exposed
the MHC students to a philosophy of physical and spiritual unity
in dance. "Dancing helps you have a better life," he
said. "It nourishes your feelings and emotions, helps you
communicate better, and instructs you in life and human development."
Of Garcia Morales's
class Terre Parker '02 said, "I really liked the way he integrated
spirit and movement. I enjoyed spending a lot of time stretching
and getting in tune with myself, and I enjoyed his open improvisation;
it wasn't structured and intellectual." One of six students
asked to improvise "Planets," Parker, a dance, spirituality,
and community major, followed Garcia Morales's instruction not
to think, but to let the body and imagination move freely.
"I asked myself,
What do planets do?' And I let my body take over,"
Two other improvisations, "Nature" and "Communication,"
were tucked between a long period of slow stretching movements
and a lesson in fast, rhythmic stomping, which Garcia Morales
called "a visual connection between earth and sky."
Aside from that difficult footwork, Krista Johnson '03 found the
moves to be similar to those she knows, only "pieced together
differently" and "very relaxing." Class ended with
a circle of conversation, an opportunity for students to talk
about the improvisations and their classmates' moves. The reflection
time is as important in dance as disciplined physical work, said
Negotiations are under
way to bring Garcia Morales to campus in October 2002 with Nikamba.
Through his company's performance, Garcia Morales depicts the
tales, myths, and legends of his indigenous Chontal community
in Tabasco, "letting imagination fly in the ancient tales
of gods and goblins in order to harmonize the past and the present."