One of the summer residencies presented by White Pines Productions this summer was the Dzieci Theater group, a unique and experiemental troupe of actors and spiritual movers who believe in service in art. Do check out their mission page!
During their week in residence, they offered a workshop described as
Dzieci Paratheatrical work is an essentially non-verbal and improvisational experience, with guidance gently provided by the company through sound and gesture.
Employing elements of ensemble theatre, meditation, and ritual, the Workout will flow in accordance with the nature of the participants and lead towards a heightening of consciousness and deepening of community, while guaranteeing a good, hearty sweat.
Being witness to the process was truly remarkable. There was absolutely no talking as individuals were guided from the front entrance and shown through gestures to imitate, then imitate the Dzieci member who had already begun to move in very slow, deliberate movements through the main room. Eventually there was this sort of surreal conga line of men and woman of all ages moving in a style reminiscent of Tai Chi.
As I took photos in the silence, eventually I noticed members of the troupe start to shift the energy of the whole group by interacting with others in a slow-motion warrior pose. As everyone caught on, it began to speed up and the group suddenly morphed into a battlefield as grunts and yells were added. Things changed again into a primal scene of people ripping out hearts and eating them and I couldn't help but laugh and marvel at the energy in the room!
The group became like one organism, pulsating and breathing together and continuing to twist and change with only the simplest of prompts from the Dzieci troupe (and truth be told, I could not be certain who was in Dzieci and who wasn't once things got rolling). The room was hot and everyone was sweating buckets, but there was total dedication. Eventually this 'warm-up' moved into helping and holding one another, then full laughter before quieting down and moving out into a circle.
And then I watched this incredibly beautiful and unadorned ritual of one person pouring a cup of ice-cold water from a pitcher and giving a drink to the next; then that person taking the same cup and giving a drink to the person on the other side of them, and so on (filling the pitcher when needed). After the intense, sweaty and down-right intimate experience these people had shared over the past hour, this communal sharing of replenishment almost made me cry.
You can see my full set of photos H E R E.