The postcard for "Speechless"Tonight I chassed over to Dance Place to see alight dance theater‘s “Speechless,” a look at how parents communicate with their children when words are not an option.

I was excited to see a dance performance, but I was particularly pleased to go back to Dance Place for the first real time as an audience member! I realized after the fact that I happened to wear the same pair of leggings that I performed in at Dance Place last time – ha!

I first heard about “Speechless” last fall, when the lovely Jessica from Sustaining Movement was going to see it at the Kennedy Center, but I unfortunately missed that run, so I was particularly excited to get the chance to see it again. And what a treat for the dancers to perform this piece for the third time!

I was, well, um, speechless at the end of the performance. I found myself expressing my emotions through tears – which, I’ll admit, isn’t that uncommon for me. I was grateful to the performers for having a Q&A session as well as a reception afterwards to let us interact.

So after turning down a salsa dancing invitation and using the rest of this evening to internalize the ultimate message of love – I find myself looking at the dance through the eyes of a choreographer. What, concretely, gave me such an emotional reaction?

Overall, the storytelling was very poignant. It wasn’t “just” a dance, it introduced a tough subject to the audience and taught us a lesson. This was made more clear by having the families – the “subjects” – a clear part of the piece. They were featured prominently in video and audio. They were literally given a voice by being seen and heard by the audience.

The video wasn’t haphazardly slapped up on the back wall as it is so often in dances; instead, the video was attractively framed off-center and was a part of the set.

Angella Foster, alight’s founder and the main “Speechless” choreographer, also helped the storytelling along by sprinkling the piece with monologues. She didn’t try to create a character for herself though. She literally contributed to the story from her perspective. Since she isn’t a parent of a speechless child, but a cousin, she served as a bridge of understanding between me and the families.

The movement, of course, featured contact, partnering and themes of lifting oneself or others up off the floor. To see the dancers connect in repetitive ways let me in on the families’ daily rhythm. To see the dancers purposefully play with the “scribbles” onstage reminded me of the simple and focused joys of childhood. To see arabesques – as always – is breathtaking and a reminder of the athleticism of dancers.

I’ll be keeping alight dance theater in my mind as inspiration. Inspiration to work on my craft – perhaps I can join them for a class even!

But more importantly, I have inspiration to go through life learning, being open and accepting to all different types of people, and most importantly, to love.

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