And with that, Thanksgiving break has ended. The glorious holiday madness begins. Each musician in Dallas finished this holiday weekend knowing that Sunday evening marked the beginning of an unrelenting onslaught of rehearsals and performances that will continue through midnight of Christmas eve. See what this time last year looked like for Verdigris.
Yesterday I picked up our Christmas tree, and this morning my first work-from-home-Monday task was to decorate the eight-foot pine while listening to C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian and sipping coffee. Yes, a deeply strenuous start to the week.
We are two weeks out from our performances of David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion with Avant Chamber Ballet, and we are feeling a particular connection to this piece as we progress through our rehearsal process. As we began our all-day Saturday rehearsal last weekend, Katrina led us in some heart-opening yoga exercises to prepare us for the work ahead of us. We’ve experienced a particular emotional labor in working on this music. Here’s why.
Although it centers on a children’s story published in 1846, the work is incredibly relevant to our world. The dual themes of the death of an innocent and the culpability of the bystander twine together from movement to movement. Both the musician and audience member are left to reflect on the times they have walked by without a second glance. In this work, there is no looking away. Pairing choral music and dance - two intensely human, living art forms - brings both participant and audience member alike to a place of reflection and empathy.
This time of year we are hounded by a pressure to consume and feel incessant, holly jolly joy, and I cannot think of a better time to inhabit this story that so deeply contrasts with all the holiday twinkle. There is a depth of intention and gratitude awakened in our holiday merriment when we remain connected to stories like Little Match Girl that awaken kindness through empathy. Get your tickets to see this profoundly affecting work here.
Last week, I wrote about how giving to the arts helps care for your city’s soul. Verdigris has already received so much support and is experiencing a second season beyond anything we could have imagined. We are continuing to take audiences into stories that awaken empathy, inspire creativity, and engender compassion. We need your enthusiastic support to continue serving our community.
From “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye
“Before you know kindness as the deepest things inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.”