in my humble opinion

The comfort zone

Posted 8/31/22

It’s not exactly a place you can visit, but more of a region to stay within or circumnavigate, depending on one’s temperament. It’s unlike a buffer zone—a neutral area serving …

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in my humble opinion

The comfort zone


It’s not exactly a place you can visit, but more of a region to stay within or circumnavigate, depending on one’s temperament. It’s unlike a buffer zone—a neutral area serving to separate hostile nations—nor is it the twilight zone—a conceptual area that is undefined or intermediate.

And it has virtually nothing to do with a place I’m far too familiar with: the “friend zone,” which the Google describes as “a situation in which a relationship exists between two people, one of whom has an unreciprocated romantic or sexual interest in the other.”

No, the subject at hand is my personal comfort zone, defined online as “a situation in which you feel comfortable [duh] and you do not have to do anything new or difficult.”

Yep, that’s me. I’m not proud of it, and in fact sometimes challenge myself to step outside of it, often with trepidation.

Such was the case last week, when I considered going to the Tusten Theatre in Narrowsburg, NY for a one-time-only HX Theatre performance of “Night of the New Moon,” presented by the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) and described as “immersive dance-theatre celebrating female voices.”

“Oy” I moaned to the dog. “That does not sound like fun. I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.” In other words: not in my comfort zone. Dharma rolled her own great big puppy-dog eyes, indicating that I needed to be open to new experiences, so I read more about the production. “Walk along the corridors of the past, and take a glimpse into the future,” the DVAA website suggested. “Immersed in a tapestry of light and shadow, sound and silence, dance and stillness, ‘Night of the New Moon’ explores the fascinating and provocative voices of female figures from ancient history to the present.”   

With grave reservations, I made a reservation and joined a sold-out crowd last Saturday, all of whom seemed far more eager than I to “immerse” themselves in the conceptual piece.  “Concept/Direction” was credited to HX and choreographed was created by HX and Amy Piantaggini; the performance featured dancers Amanda McCormick, Ramona Kelley, Isabel Braverman, HX co-founder Mary Beth Hansohn, Piantaggini and Kristin Fayne-Mulroy. (Fayne-Mulroy’s bio in the program informed me that she is a “musician, herbalist, tarot reader and native New Yorker.” Oy.)

Clearly not in my comfort zone, I entered the theatre and looked around. Members of the company were already drifting throughout—silently, eerily, gesturing to the audience—which was immediately drawn into the experience.

Signage greeted us at the door with notes like “you may wander about,” “be conscious of feral creatures running,” and—I heaved a sigh of relief—“we will not try to make you dance.” As is often the case in situations such as this, the show had begun before the first guest had been seated.

By now you must be chomping at the bit for my humble opinion, and as always, I have one. “Interesting, confrontational, dreamy and disturbing” are all words that come to mind. Unquestionably, these people are highly trained dancers with amazing skills and pedigrees to match. Collectively, these incredibly impressive women have performed with companies such as Twyla Tharp Dance, the Metropolitan Opera, the Moscow Ballet, Dance Lab New York, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the Rockettes. Some are visiting artists and others call the Upper Delaware River region home, including McCormick, Hansohn and Braverman, who teaches contemporary dance in Sparrowbush. All are immensely talented (IMHO) and the production was both “fascinating and provocative” as promised.

As I was outside my comfort zone, there were things that both challenged and confounded me. Elements like the music of “medieval composer” Hildegard von Bingen (there’s a moniker!) were mildly disturbing, but I’m not sure why.  The meaning behind wraith-like spirits escorting audience members on and off the stage eluded me. I’m fairly sure that I did not “learn the ‘herstory’ [sic] of local legend Lucy Ann Lobdell” as the program suggested I would, and undoubtedly there were other elements that went over my simple-minded head. But I was totally engaged nonetheless, almost desperate in my attempt to understand some of the elusive, mysterious moments.

At other times I clearly grasped the message telegraphed through movement, music, projections and above else the choreography, which was executed flawlessly, exemplifying the expertise of the artists whose message was expressed so elegantly through interpretive dance.

“This performance is dedicated to all the voices that were silenced, lost, missing… all those who speak up and speak out, and those who quietly carry on,” according to the program notes. I may not have been in my comfort zone, but every great once in a while, it’s good to step outside of it and observe the world through the minds of others. This one will have me thinking for a while. And my eyes are fine. Brava!  

[Editor's note: This article was  corrected on September 1 to indicate that choreography for the show was created by HX and Amy Piantaggini.] 

comfort zone, Night of the New Moon, HX Theatre, Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, DVAA, Dance, Tusten Theatre


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