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Manoa 15.1 (2003) 78-92
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A portfolio of photographs by Sergio Goes

Gavan Daws

Cheryl Flaharty, Artistic Director
Contemporary Dance Theatre

Angels in America: on Hallmark cards, on network TV, on Broadway. And in Hawai'i: angels (harder to believe, but believe it) on the streets, at the mall, in hospices and prisons.

In Iona's The Mythology of Angels, celestial beings are the spiritual manifestations of cultures all over the world. The Iona dancers are an ethnic mix, fleshly, intensely physical, moving always in awareness of the dancing body as part of the energy of the universe. Preparation for performance takes them through motionless meditation to boundless improvisation to endless repetitions that burn choreography into muscle memory. On top of the day job, hour upon week of rehearsal in starving-artist studios. Mottled mirrors. Props piled in discard. A shopping bag of knee pads for the unforgiving floor. Sweat. Cramps. Bruises. Pulled muscles. Shared wisdom from the East, specifics for pain: Tiger Balm, Kwan Loong. And shared laying-on of knowledgeable healing hands. They fall with each other, they lift each other up. A company of dancers. On stage in The Mythology of Angels they take wing, they are silver and they soar.

Dance is their liberation. Around them they see people condemned, forbidden to soar, behind prison bars, or caged in an ageing body, or trapped in a fearful mind, or just caught in the heavy traffic of a workaday world grinding slowly and clashingly through the gears of life. If angels appear, what might follow? [End Page 78]

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Seeing and seen through the eyes of Iona; silvered flesh rising to spirit

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Seeking and finding; an Iona angel enters

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Reaching and touching, giving and receiving, offering and accepting

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There is a world beyond the concrete; Iona's angel looks to the light

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Grace translated; an unpredicted angel appears and attends

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pp. 78-92
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