ARA is the goddess of tears. Her name has various meanings including “ocean” and “eye.” Her tears flow down and become rivers and oceans. They drift up and become stars shining in the Milky Way. Each one memorializes a story evoking sadness, love, desperation and hope. ARA Ritual I: Waterways is a ritual theatrical performance featuring Korean music and dance, contemporary dance, and electronic sound design. The piece has developed through workshops with two organizations: CoRazOn, an Oakland collective of immigrants, refugees and artists, and Bay Area Bhutanese Youth.
The piece explores how home connects to the body (physical, emotional, imaginary) and the world (land, ocean, universe). To reveal these connections, we follow waterways through our ancestral lineage to research what has happened to the people and the land there. How did we arrive in America? What is the history of the land we inhabit? Who lived here before? What stories, myths, and rituals have been created? How do we carry ancestral trauma and current traumas of immigration, migration and refugee?
ARA is an investigation of how we as artists can engage and support people to empower themselves through their stories. Stories are the medicine.
Created with Dohee Lee Puri Arts collaborators: Adria Otte, Donald Swearingen, Ian Winters, & Amy Lam
The commissioning and production of this world premiere is made possible by the Gerbode and Hewlett Foundation’s 2014 Choreographer Commissioning Award, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and CounterPulse.
[Photos by Pak Han]