It may be my favorite piece of dance: Turning Tides, created and choreographed by Randy Duncan, with music by Sam Harris, Gavin Dillard, and Bruce Roberts. It’s in two parts, beginning with “Adrift,” a solo dance, and then “The Storm,” danced by the whole company to Harris’ powerful song “Suffer the Innocents.” I first saw it on my birthday (January 14th) in 1992, performed by Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre as part of a finale dance concert capping a two-day North Central College conference called “Inside Dance: A Choreographer’s Showcase.” It was suggested by my friend Don McVicker of the anthropology department, and shepherded by him and by me, as chair of the Visiting Lecturer/Cultural Events Committee. Below is the flyer I created for the event. “We need some neat graphic,” said the head of the college’s Print Shop, so I quickly free-handed the figure you see below. It was neat enough, I guess, though all Becky said was, “Let’s do it in red.”
Below is a 5-minute VIDEO of excerpts from Turning Tides, the first two parts of it from an open rehearsal of The River North Dance Company. The third part is from a formal concert done by an all-female dance company. I’m afraid I don’t know its name, but I found it on the YouTube channel of Gina Wrolstad, who might be one of the dancers. This version, staged by Mari Jo Irbe, was presented at Artifacts of Self, Loyola Chicago’s Annual Dance Concert in 2018. Mari Jo Irbe was in the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre and danced in the ensemble the night I saw it the first time more than 25 years earlier.
Linda and I enjoy going to see dance more than going to see just about anything else. It’s total immersion: a feast for the eyes and ears and your sense of self in time and space. It’s a perfect hybrid of improvisation and strict form—spontaneous fluidity and the strict disciplines of the dancer’s art. The creativity of ideas and music and bodies in motion is dazzling. The ideas behind “Suffer the Innocents” and “Save the Children” breathe hard and live with more passion here than anywhere else l know, except maybe in the world beyond the concert hall where people actually save children and embrace—or suffer—innocents. Turning Tides can inspire and nourish this suffering, this saving.
I’m thinking, too, of Robert Greenleaf. His pamphlet The Servant as Leader started the field of Servant Leadership studies, and in it he writes, “The prudent man is he who constantly thinks of ‘now’ as the moving concept in which past, present moment, and future are one organic unity. And this requires living by a sort of rhythm that encourages a high level of intuitive insight….” In “Art, Rhythm, Intuition, and Social Change” I focus on how art can teach us and sensitize us to rhythm and patterns of rhythm that can build in leaders a deeper intuition about the directions we could be going, the opportunities we could be seizing, the places we could be taking a stand. For me, dance does this more intensely than any other art.
After watching the VIDEO below:
♦ Go to the Lead Post in a series on Greenleaf’s important Servant Leader pamphlet.
♦ Go to Cultural Events at North Central College: a Personal History, for links to articles about conferences and speakers, such as Maya Angelou, Dick Gregory, and Eyes on the Prize: Reclaiming Our Civil Rights Heritage.