Theater Review: "Umusuna: Memories Before History" by Argenis Ovalles ('17)

On October 29th, the ACES Family engaged in a cultural outing to witness Umusuna: Memories Before History. But first, let’s trace back our steps. Besides the odyssey that Professor Murtha endured trying to give back the deposits when all she had were twenty dollar bills, the first stop was from the ACES Center to Graziella’s. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? And yet somehow we lost a few people. When we arrive to Graziella’s to eat, the inevitable happened: Some people couldn’t finish their plates. You would think foods like cannolis and chicken salads would be easy to eat, but apparently it’s not. Sahar, if you are reading this, I understand your pain.

After mingling, chatting, and meeting new people, the voyage began. This one in particular was special, for Sahar asked me to take pictures of her and everybody through Snapchat all the time. Nevertheless, it was better than taking the train; got to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. Plus, with all of the Italian food, we needed the exercise.

When we got to the theater, we found Klara! It turned out she got to BAM way before us, so she thought it was the wrong place and panicked. A little bit. After going in and talking about how our majors are slowly murdering us, the moment came. The solemn moment where the lights dim. When the nuisances known as smartphones go to sleep, while some die altogether. And the only lighting found in the theater was its life, the show itself.

Choreographed by Ushio Amagatsu, the Japanese group Sankai Juku came back after a decade of being at BAM. The dance was meant to remind us of our original bond with the four elements. Thanks to this, I have decided to renamed it “The Rainbow.” Why? Because each element was represented by a color. 

My personal favorite was Red. By the time, the first dance number ended, things took a turn: the peace went away, then passion. This passion was red, and red is fire. Fire represents passion in the sense that passion is war, aggressive, alive, motivated, and vivid, which would explain why the moves were a bit brutal and rough. What was so wonderful about this red/fire is that the music that came along with it made you feel as if something terrible was about to happen. Everybody was at the edge of their seats, and by the time water came, nothing happened. Water was represented by blue. The choreography was made such that the dance moves would mimic the movement of the waves. They were peaceful with sudden wild movements, like the sea; this was constant. This would make sense considering that blue represents stability, the same stability the dance had while being both peaceful wild back and forth. After a while, earth came. It was represented by Green. Green represents nature, harmony, and growth. The harmony in their movements represented the growth in the aesthetic aspect of it. Air, on the other hand, was represented by yellow. It represented joy and happiness, which would explain the “free” movements of the dancer. What I like was that the scene looked as if he (or she) was dancing atthe beach; it was beautiful.

After the show ended, we still couldn’t tell the difference. Under our eyes, they had no gender. I’d say we learn our lesson: We are the elements. We are the Avatar! Ok, let’s not get too carried away. We are wild, stable, peaceful, and free all at once. I think that’s the reason the theme was “memories before history” is because they needed to remind us that nature is us, and us nature. In a period of time that is very industrialized, it is important to remember that we were one with the world.