Just Ahead is Darkness is an evening of episodic performance inspired by how time transforms the relationships between fact, story, and truth.
An interactive theatrical experience, Just Ahead is Darkness uses dance, live music, spoken text, and audience participation to explore how family histories become ingrained in our imaginations and bodies through storytelling and over time. Our current artistic investigations are inspired by the tradition of bon dances in Hawaii.
Bon dances are part of a traditional Japanese celebration of the spirit of family ancestors and a ubiquitous aspect of summer culture in Hawaii. As Japanese American sisters whose family has lived in Hawaii for generations, we attended bon dances almost every summer while growing up.
In 2016, we attended a bon dance for the first time in about a decade at an assisted living facility in Maui for seniors with memory loss. Watching seniors do gestures from the dances with their hands, despite having lost so much of themselves and their history, ignited an interest in exploring how stories get passed on through families and how history persists in the body.
We are purposefully excavating this cultural and familial material with collaborators from different backgrounds to see what themes and details cross cultures and personal histories.
The CounterPulse performance will be the first iteration of material being developed as an evening-length piece premiering in February 2020. The narrative and text will be devised with the cast and include elements of folklore, ghost stories, and personal anecdote. The piece will also incorporate audience participation. Hawaiian bon dances are a joyful shared experience with an expansive sense of community and we want to echo that by making the audience an active collaborator.
Guest curators: Megan and Shannon Kurashige
Artists/composers/dancers: Sonja Dale, Sarah Woods-LaDue, Cory Wright, Ben Loory
Photo of Sharp & Fine by Benjamin Hersh