Exploration is a collaborative work by dancers Jessica Martin, Patty Ames and Sam Virgilio, rooted in the choreography of Martin, who moves with the help of a decked-out wheelchair. “I believed that I had a story to tell that was unique and would bring about conversation,” explains Martin. “This is also a way for me to make physically integrated dance more well known to the general public because it is not a very well-known art form. I want people to see me as an artist and I also want to make my work be a conversation starter to make a difference in today’s world. I want to spread my message of acceptance through dance and the written word. Through my work, I hope to make this world a better place, a world filled with patience, understanding, and equal rights. This is a big deal for me because I feel that this project is bigger than myself. I also feel that by doing this work, my audience gets a firsthand look at our challenges.”
Martin’s collaborator Virgilio is particularly well-versed in tackling social issues, as with her 2013 “Trapping Butterflies,” a performance struggling with the emotions of her cousin’s spousal murder. Martin’s movement work countenances an idealism founded in a belief that compassion permits a glimpse into the connection between the exteriors of physical movement and interiors of mental experience.
Both, it turns out, are equally relevant to our sense of self, though our culture often seems to value the exteriors less. It’s a powerful disjunction to tackle, and universal despite differences in the bodies themselves. “It doesn’t matter your age, race, nationality, sexual preferences, physical challenges, mental challenges or body type. We want to look at the person inside and see how they can use their uniqueness to share their messages with the world,” Martin says. “My hope for the immediate future: my mission is to show expression and be able to create conversation in a warm, friendly, and intimate environment.” And, with any hope, that might just start to tease out a thread that brings the two sides together. (Michael Workman)
At Links Hall, 3111 North Western, (773)281-0824. March 24-26 at 7pm. $15, $12 for people with disabilities/students/seniors. Info at linkshall.org.