We are sometimes reminded that history is malleable.
For her upcoming show at Miami Light Project’s Lightbox, Seattle-based performing artist Dayna Hanson looks back to an unlikely moment in American history: the Revolutionary War. In this project, titled Gloria’s Cause, Hansen offers an alternate take on the founding of the nation. In a text about the project, Hanson says, “beneath the overplayed version of the external facts we learn in school -- simultaneously so appealing and so ludicrous -- are insights on our current struggles.” The plotline of Gloria’s Cause laughs at enduring myths of America and unearths pieces of history that tend to get left out.
The cast of characters includes Deborah Sampson, the first known American woman to impersonate a man in order to join the army as a soldier. And the story diverges from the triumphant one we usually hear, to include mishaps in leadership and wrong directions.
Hanson touches on the 1754 Albany Congress, where the colonies met for the first time to discuss relations with the Native Americans, and Benjamin Franklin’s plan for uniting the colonies was rejected. We also learn about an intercepted letter from Colonel Richard Lee to Colonel Joseph Reed, criticizing George Washington’s leadership.
Gloria’s Cause is rife with social commentary.
According to Miami Light Project’s Rebekah Lengel, “some parts are provocative and thought-provoking, as they reexamine the history of our country, but it’s done in a way that has a lot of humor and intelligence.” The audience is asked to consider what seeds might have been planted then that are still feeding (or warping) us today.
While Gloria’s Cause squarely falls into the category of dance theater, dance is really an architecture over which everything else is laid. Gloria’s Cause is described as a “rock & roll retelling.” Hanson’s choreography takes cues from everyday movement as much as formal dance, and the cast of dancers doubles as the live band. Layered on top of the show’s original music and movement are video and, apparently, cherry pie.
Hanson has a long history with multidisciplinary performance. She was one of the founders of 33 Fainting Spells, a Seattle-based group formed in 1994 that made its mark on the national scene with an innovative blend of dance and theater. Since then, she has gone on to produce her own work in multiple genres including choreography and film. She also formed a live band, Today!, as a way to test out ideas for new projects which eventually led to a merge of dance and music. Gloria’s Cause, her most recent endeavor, has been well received by audiences around the country.
The show will run on Dec. 6-8 at 8:00 p.m. at the Lightbox at Goldman Warehouse, 404 N.W. 26th St., Miami. Tickets: $20 members, $25 non-members. Hanson will also be offering a master class on Saturday Dec. 8 at 12:30 p.m., at the Lightbox. The class is open to professional dancers only, though members of the community are invited to watch; www.miamilightproject.com.