Unfinished

At one point or another in an artist’s career there is a nagging feeling of incomplete. It haunts you. The nagging may be as simple as changing the costume in a piece you created 10 years ago. You swear if you could just change that costume you would feel that the piece would finally be finished the way you always imagined. I am very familiar with this nagging. In the past few years it has constantly been with me and I am thrilled to get a chance to finally feel that feeling of COMPLETE…I hope.

When I heard that Motus was going to be offering the Cultivate experience again this year I knew what piece I was going to propose. I will be revisiting a piece I began creating while in college, one that has stayed with me not only because of the story and the way an audience can relate but also because I have a feeling that this piece could be more. I created a first product; one that I shared with an audience and tested it but that I know has more potential. So now it is time to guide this piece to the potential that I see. I reviewed the taping of the piece over and over trying to remember what my goals were for this piece.

At first, I had an anxious feeling. I am not in the same place in my life that I was three years ago, would I still be able to convey the same types of feelings now that I was able to project on my dancers then? Do I even remember what I was feeling when I created it? As a choreographer I tend to evaluate my own emotions and choreograph based on where I am emotionally in my life. So I decided to go back to the source of this piece. It all started with a poem. And as I read this poem I remembered how universal it was and the emotions I had arose again because of it. So it begins, the process of analyzing what I have, taking it apart, and putting it back together in hopes to finally have a piece that I feel is finished. I have decided to share the poem here to have the readers take the first step with me. Rekindling the inspiration behind “…the caged bird sings of freedom.”

-Rachel

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

 

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

 

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

 

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou.

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