Rosanna Tavarez/La Dansa Dansa, came to Highways Performance Space on December 7 and 8, 2018. Tavarez is from an eclectic and varied background of formal training, Performance Art with Marina Ambramovic “Grandmother of Performance Art”, Rosanna Gamson and Heidi Deckler.  Casting a wide net, Tavarez has also worked in Commercial dance with such noted choreographers the likes of Travis Payne and Ryan Heffington and she is one of seven certified American Countertechnique teachers.    Because of her many talents, she is also a gifted teacher and faculty member of the Studio School and Cal State LA.

At the Highways she presented a moving program, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, a two-character Performance Art and dance piece created, choreographed and danced by Ms. Tavarez in collaboration with Marissa Moses.  It is based and Soundscored from conversations between Tavarez and her mother Lelia Tavarez-Lopez and her mother’s sisters Rebeca Genzale-Lopez and Nidia Lopez.  Salt and peppering this exquisite reflection with the intoxicating rhythms of Juan Bautista, Carmen Miranda, Iris Chacon and Manzanero, and the sensual tango, “Volver” with Carlos Gardel, the piece ends with Stephan Mathieu “Score for a Line.”

Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts is a poignant emotional roller coaster through the history and survival of the strong, proud Tavarez-Lopez family.  It moved us through the recorded remembrances of the generations; reflective, insightful and emotional.   The piece and its inner life were bound together by several elements; the music, the movement and lighting, the costuming and props which were all integral in the expression of the needs and desires of the characters.

It’s crescendo came in the music where morsels of the character’s feelings were expressed in a sensual Mambo, Danson, or Bolero, and was often an island in this passionate piece, expressing both lovable and unlovable moments in the hearts of these women.

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Rosanna Tavarez seated, Marissa Moses in HYBRIDS OF PLANTS AND OF GHOSTS - Photo: Vanessa Crocini

The unusually inventive movements and use of each other’s bodies examined the hardships, the suppression of desires, the machismo, love, and non-communication which set up each landscape.  Like the use of the matriarch, seated in a straight backed wooden chair, immovable; and the young girl attempting to fold herself around the stone like shape of the women she so needed love from.

The piece found several “threads” that connected the characters and the audience through the piece.  One of the most momentous was the use of yarn ropes and small sweater pieces which seemed to knit together the lives of her family.  And finally, the unraveling of a life that was bound together by tradition, disappointment and desire.

The amazingly beautiful, stoic, and internal emotional representation of Tavarez’ artistry and patient rendering of the matriarch was stunning in her soulful story telling.  Her effortless transitions from walking to rolling, recovering, and then swaying to a dance against the wall which moved out into space to the pulsating tango rhythms of Carlos Gardel.  Which then morphed into the labyrinthine use of a man’s jacket with the duo sharing the space inside.  It was a sensual and brilliant portrayal of the love, the need to crawl in and occupy the space that was only provided for one.  This left us only with the ability to hold on while we rode the waves of these lives.

Her collaborator, Marissa Moses countered Tavarez’ quiet intensity, with the percussive and often agonizing reaching for love through her oft attempts to sit on the matriarch’s lap, only to be rejected more than once.  And the violent whipping of her thick long brown hair which both concealed and revealed the pain of this character.

This well constructed and performed gift, held the audience spellbound for its full one hour and a half until we were set free from the unwinding.   The lights dimmed and found the audience silent, stunned and surprised that a whole evening was at its end.  With the hope of discussing the many questions this piece evoked with someone, we were left to meditate on it alone as we wandered off with our assignment and keen images of what had just occurred.  This is a gem and much to be proud of.  Hopefully it will come again, so those who have not seen it can experience this beautiful piece.

To learn more about Rosanna Tavarez/La Dansa Dansa , click here.

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