This past weekend, I attended (and participated in) another performance of Carron Little’s City Alive with Dreams at the Chicago Cultural Center as the artist in residence. I’ve been following the performances of this series for the past couple of months at the Green Mill and the Hyde Park Art Center. I was very excited to see how the series developed. It was wonderful!
This next step in the series was a mental and physical journey. It started inside the north lobby of the building where a performer, dressed in bright pink, blue and silver, asked me if I wished to get a head massage in the Temple of Dreams. When I agreed, I was led up the stairs to the GAR Rotunda, or the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda, which has an incredible stained glass roof. There were four mats and pillows laid out like a plus sign on the floor beneath it. Two were bright blue and two were bright pink. I was told to stand by a mat and wait.
I waited a few moments when a door opened from nowhere, and people dressed like priests and priestesses processed out. Some of them were wearing long robes that were both pink and blue while some wore black. They all wore amazing shaped masks in pink, blue and silver. They circled around us once and then stopped in place.
Two performers or priests stepped forward and began singing a haunting song. Their voices echoed perfectly to the room. I felt like I was transported to Ancient Greece to a temple ceremony. It felt that this room was built for this sole purpose.
When the last notes drifted away, a tribute to the dream Gods, I was asked by a performer to lie down on the mat for my head massage. I did so and had a really relaxing head massage. When it was over, I was given a crystal that was to be given to the Queen of Luxuria. When my turn came, I gave my crystal to her and we discussed my thoughts in the temple. I couldn’t help but think of how the body was an external frame to the known world. There is me, defined by the body, and then everything else. But dreams are how the body pushes beyond its limits. Queen of Luxuria wrote down a sentence of my thoughts and instructed me to go on the next stage of this journey.
I was shown outside to the South entrance of the Cultural Center. There I found a masked performer dressed in all black with white angel wings. I gave my sentence to the musician who spent several minutes improvising it into a song. It was rather splendid to hear my thoughts turned into music.
I really liked this piece. I loved how it was a journey of the mind and the body. The journey of the mind came from the haunting music and the head massage. They allowed me to relax and drift. There were three women who participated with me. One of them told me how fantastic the experience was. She told me that she works with the elderly and it could be stressful and emotional. This experience gave her the rare opportunity to relax.
In her artist statement, Carron Little talked about how “It was believed in Ancient Greece that dream interpretation was the highest form of healing.” I can see that spirit resound throughout the piece. People had the opportunity to relax, to think and Queen of Luxuria would listen and guide the participant. It was liberating.
But there was also the physical journey throughout the building. There were four stages of the piece from the north lobby to the GAR Rotunda, another room, and the south entrance of the Cultural Center. It felt like a pilgrimage that ended in enlightened and personal song. And at the end, I felt like I was part of a larger piece to the dream gods. Together, the performers and all the other participants collectively wrote a song and/or poem together, a line at a time. One aspect of the work is the interest and consideration of the cities as bodies, people as part of the larger whole. I feel that this collective song creation was a metaphor for the city at large, lots of pieces working together to make a whole.
There will be another performance in the series on Friday, August 22nd at Buttercup Park at 7pm. Check it out!
That’s all for now!