At the very beginning of an exciting new project, this workshop featuring Marina Warner (CBA ’15) with Joanna MacGregor and Kim Brandstrup (CBA ’19) explored metaphors of water in stories of enchantment (mermaids, swan maidens, the earthly paradise) on the one hand, and in the history of deserts and drought on the other, with special attention to the feminine gender of the Italian (Sor’Acqua, Sister Water in St Francis’s poem).
The question of including sung or spoken text in contemporary dance was discussed, as the idea was to juxtapose and intertwine narratives from the Arabic/Islamic and Judaeo-Christian traditions. The chief sources were the story of Salome from medieval literature, and The Consorts of the Caliphs, about ladies of the Abbasid court, whose historic engagement with managing the Euphrates adds an interesting, practical twist to the symbolic femininity of water.
Two forms of female expression in the medieval world, east and west, were reflected in the musical and dance language of the piece.
After the presentations, participants were invited to comment.