Karen Bernard’s “Femmes” & the Birth
I had a prescient dream about the death of the 10th rabbit. Ten is the number for endings and completion and the dead rabbit.
Karen Bernard, the downtown performer and New Dance Alliance impresario, has delivered her development of a performance, Ouette, engaging the feminine shadow into a new dialectic surrounding dark energy dark/kundalini with her unveiling of “Femmes” at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
A highly focused development of the grounded femme evolved in program with three other choreographers: Dana Michel from Montreal and Jill Guyon from New York City performing their own diametrically opposed styles, unified by Johanna S. Meyers‘ Stroll 2.
The culmination of the evening was Dana Michel arising out of a black chair with a black chord snaking out to the audience…
She was wearing a rabbit coat pulled over her head and gold stockings!!
The symbolism so deep and profound, the body movements so integrated with the music. performance knocked me off my feet — literally. I had a hard time making back home, so unsettled I was by what I experienced. I was incapable of writing about it — until now…
Under the effects of the Solar Eclipse in Cancer, the sign of the Great Mother, I now understand what I was witnessing that night: the birth of a new feminine archetype which integrates the gender polarities. Since 1992, I have been pursuing, interpreting and disseminating the newly emerging icon of the hieros gamos, the sacred marriage of Heaven & Earth born from the womb of the dark mother, the Black Hole at the Galactic Center aligned with the Winter Solstice on December 21, 2012.
This is truly what is fresh, the very thing that is being overlooked by mainstream press, is this new relationship to the dark feminine & Uncertainty projected by the Mayans into the black hole at the Galactic Center where the Winter Solstice aligns on 2012.
I confronted it, repeatedly, in the Native American Church 19 years ago, before leaving California, where I was told it has to do with the transformation in the human DNA. I now understand this connection of internal evolution, the kundalini and the Cosmic Serpent, the subject of my father’s pioneering research.
My dialogue with Bernard has been taking place for a decade now. In 2001, I first experienced the annual Performance Mix Festival, which she single-handedly produces through her organization, New Dance Alliance. I don’t know anyone in New York City more grounded and connected by an umbilical chord to the authentic birth than Bernard. I have been to her loft to see the boxes of videos from performers striving to enter her annual Performance Mix Festival and she goes through them personally. There has always been a strong presence of the cutting edge scene in Montreal, which is how she discovered the extraordinary phenomenon of Dana Michel.
Here is how the evening progressed in the form of the self-devouring Ouroboros:
Mining the female consciousness of self-sufficiency as independence from the patriarchy…
Jill Guyon’s Widow’s Veil is a stark, minimalist, solo movement-based performance that explores broken relationships and the struggle for transcendence. Set to the eerie, brooding soundtracks of David Lynch, a woman’s journey through grief is documented through movements ranging from suspenseful stillness to sharp gestures and emotional extremes. Subtlety layered costumes evoke a surreal Kabuki-like visual intensity — merging image, gesture, text and sound into a foreboding landscape that maps the sublimation of the physical by the mysterious realm of the search for the mystical beloved.
…to a personal & artistic investigation of the universal ever-present origin of desire in the feminine shadow…
Karen Bernard:Ouette (excerpt)
In Ouette (excerpt), Karen Bernard Uses a laptop and projector, evoking imagined and real experiences created in different spaces. With video footage of floor tiles, patterned fabrics and human silhouettes, Bernard creates a heightened film noir that is quickly fractured by the non-performative technical tasks of manipulating the laptop and projector. is loosely based on the François Ozon movie Swimming Pool. Bernard’s character parallels the film’s protagonist, an elderly English novelist who becomes involved in a dangerous sexual fantasy that is part her fiction and part her desire. “… an exquisitely crafted solo piece, visually gorgeous and thoroughly intriguing, emotionally captivating, a shot in the arm of audience imagination”. Robert Tyree, Ultra, Portland, OR.
Culminating in the birth of a liberated female archetype integrating the gender opposites.
*Dana Michel (Montreal) :1976 (excerpt”It has always felt like a huge struggle – and I’m not even sure that I want these things – to be heard, to be adored, to be accepted, to be loved, and to be feared. And mostly, to understand what is going on beneath my skin.” 1976 (excerpt) is a character-shifting solo that traces a glimpse of Michel’s personal evolution thus far. Heading heart and muscle first into a hyper-personal performance state, Michel peels away the layers of her desired femininity and perceived masculinity to reveal her human truths. 1976, comprised of two 20-minute solos, is the choreographic anthem of the adventurous International Musical Chairs project. The project, which was conceived as an ode to the musicians and the dance artists she has yet to meet, will tour nationally and internationally. Following its Montreal debut, 1976 strives to morph as it travels. While Michel will continue to perform the same solo from city to city, the original musical soundtrack will welcome the new interpretation of a locally-based musician. In the same spirit of metamorphosis, a local choreographer will also be invited to create a new solo based on the research used to create the original choreographic content. 1976 will be remixed in sound and in movement along the way, culminating in a second and mutated round of presentations in Montreal post- travel. “Michel… is a killer soloist who takles the warped, fierce and frenetic rhythms of her fiery piece with precision and authority”, Eva Yaa Asentewaa, Infinite Body, 2007.