“We’re here for such a fleeting moment in time. We’re born, we live, we die.”
SeattleDances caught up with Peggy Piacenza at a coffee shop across the street from Base, in Georgetown, where Piacenza’s upcoming production, The Event, will premiere on October 19. In between hectic technical rehearsals, Piacenza opens up about her inspiration in creating this new full-length work, the talented cast of performers, and the work’s connection to her deepening artistic practice.
Nearly two years ago, images from a film by Gaelen Hanson lingered in Piacenza’s mind. The film’s motifs of entering/exiting, arriving/leaving, here/gone sparked Piacenza’s imagination and eventually lead her to questions surrounding mortality and human existence. Why are we here? Why do we humans struggle for meaning in absurdity? These questions become the seed idea for The Event, which considers “what is within the brackets of a lifespan?” The work explores the timeless spaces between birth, death and rebirth, using the media of dance, theater, text, and film. “I guess all of my work has some Existentialist overture,” Piacenza laughs and says, but this work specifically looks at life’s central questions.
Piacenza had already begun creating when she received the heartrending news that her mother was dying. While this multi-layered work is not just about death and dying, Piacenza acknowledges that The Event is certainly informed by this experience. She explains that the relationship an artist has with their personal life and lived experience is a conversation within their work. “The willingness of the artist to trust this dialogue allows the artistic practice to teach you about living and being. That is the beauty of the creative process.”
Piacenza also credits the amazing cast of dancers who will join her onstage: Ezra Dickinson, Kim Lusk, Wade Madsen, and Amelia Reeber. Piacenza has encouraged the performers to “break open the structure,” bringing their own interpretations and vast talents to the work. The dancers are exploring the performative intentions of witnessing, observing, and being seen, a layer that adds yet another dimension to this multi-faceted work.
Not to let the serious themes overpower the discussion, Piacenza divulges that even in talking about death and fear, a sense of joy reveals itself. “A jubilant, human-scale spectacle in celebration of life,” the press release exclaims. The contradictory nature of our humanness is always present, Piacenza explains, “These are absurd times!” But Piacenza finds a remedy for these griefs and anxieties in simply coming back to the body and the breath. In The Event, she hopes to “make a heartfelt connection with the audience,” one that may be liberating, if only for a minute. “I’m not going to answer life’s big questions,” Piacenza laughs. But perhaps in its poetic unravelling of imagery, this work will provide a moment of transcendence.