Original Source

CMA‘s VIVA! & Gala Around Town


Internationally Acclaimed Maureen Fleming Dance

“Transcends the material world and enters a realm of pure spirit…
wondrous choreographic metamorphoses”
—The New York Times

Cleveland (January 13, 2009) - The Cleveland Museum of Artís (CMA) acclaimed VIVA! & Gala Around Town presents Waters of Immortality and Other Works by Maureen Fleming on Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at PlayhouseSquare. Ms. Fleming will be accompanied by Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute) master Akikazu Nakamura and pianist Peter Phillips. Fleming's multi-disciplinary performance juxtaposes her singular movement with three-dimensional video projections, still photography by acclaimed dance photographer Lois Greenfield and lighting by Christopher Odo.

Please note: This performance contains partial nudity.

Waters of Immortality and Other Works is a sensuous multimedia celebration of the feminine archetype, inspired by the lush symbolism of Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Maureen Fleming invents exquisite movement poetry, sculpting her body into nearly unbelievable, shatteringly beautiful shapes. She pushes the boundaries of the body's expressive potential and challenges the definition of what is physically possible. Part dance, part dream, part sculpture, Fleming explores our never-ending search for what is universal about the journey of the soul.

Admission to the show is $41 and $39 for CMA members. Students pay what you can rate is available at the door subject to availability. To purchase tickets visit the CMA Online Box Office at www.clevelandart.org/tickets or call 1-888-CMA-0033. Maureen Fleming will perform at PlayhouseSquare located at 1519 Euclid Avenue. Parking is available at the PlayhouseSquare Parking Garage at E. 15th Street and Chester Avenue, at the Hanna Parking Garage on E. 14th at Prospect, and at various nearby surface parking lots. The 2008-09 VIVA! & Gala season is sponsored by Cleveland.com, WNWV The Wave and WCPN 90.3.

Traumatic Childhood Accident and Influence on Dance Vocabulary
Born in Japan to American parents, Fleming was involved in a violent car accident at age two, which ironically initiated her into dance. While driving her child, Fleming's mother is confronted by a cyclist who suddenly darts in front of her. She slams on the brakes and the child flies through the windshield causing her to lose a disc between her fourth and fifth vertebrae—a condition that would normally confine a person to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Fleming recalls that in an intuitive sense of survival as a little girl she began to create little dances with slow, twisting movements. The twisting and untwisting of joints increases blood flow, which perhaps became a gradual method of regeneration, and also made her body extremely flexible.

Collaboration with Philip Glass and David Henry Hwang
To grapple with the trauma of this accident, the incident became the subject of two works by Fleming, Eros and After Eros, bringing together the composer Philip Glass, the playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), and the dancer in two artistic collaborations. Hwang states that wedding Fleming's story to the myth of Eros and Psyche touched him as an intriguing way to explore themes of human transcendence. Fleming does not demonstrate transcendence. She accomplishes transcendence. Like a master sculptor, she uses her extremely supple body to mold images that reach beyond the mind's eye and into the subconscious. Pleasure, pain, ecstasy, and love are presented not as feelings or emotions; they are the states of a body, alive, vibrant, and pulsating. This is in part due to the legacy of her extensive training with two butoh masters, Min Tanaka and the 100-year-old dance legend Kazuo Ohno.

Butoh Training and Influence

Butoh, a dance developed in post-war Japan on the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, departs from the existing Japanese and European dance forms by exploring the darkest side of human nature. It emphasizes the recurring themes of birth-death-rebirth. As a pure dance form, Butoh explores the transmutation of the human body into other forms (such as animals) or abstract ideas (such as the plague) and deals with taboo subjects expressed in grotesque but profoundly moving images.

Fleming acknowledges the influence of butoh training on her dance performance, but her departure from Butoh's dance of the dark soul is to permeate it with light. Her subjects have more to do with the unbearable lightness of being than the dark corners of the soul. This, together with a superb sense of theatricality, makes her art unique. In her multi-media performances, needle-sharp lighting, video and projected images, live music and designed sound, as well as extraordinary body techniques are meshed to create surreal movement poetry that calls for suspension of rationality. It is like seeing magic, except that it is not about trickery but sublime imagery.

In The Stairs, set to Philip Glass's ”Metamorphosis II,” the body is falling down—indeed, floating in mid-air—from a very steep staircase. The exquisitely shocking image is executed with such flawless precision that it forces the mind into disbelief, as if dreaming. In a piece called Mother and Child Fleming becomes both, and in such a masterful way that she conveys the imagery of two dancing figures.

Ballet Training and International Renown
Fleming continued her training in the United States as a scholarship student under the Cecchetti master Margaret Craske, which influenced her choreographic technique. Since1994, she has conducted annual workshops at N.Y.U.'s Tisch School of the Arts and was recently a guest artist at The Juilliard School. She has gained international recognition and won critical acclaim from major European, American, South American, and Asian press for her singular form of multimedia performance at such venues as Italy's Spoleto Festival, Japan's Butoh Festival, Mexico's Jose Limon Dance Festival, Iceland's Reykjavik Arts Festival, Columbia's International Danza Contemporanea, France's International Mime Festival and Korea's Seoul Performing Arts Festival, among others. For more information visit www.MaureenFleming.com.