Personify the elements of alchemy, fold in personal experience, add heaps of stellar choreography, mix with mythological costumes and evocative set pieces, steep in ultra cool jazz licks, and you have the first in a new series of collaborative performances ("Earthling") by the Mercury Cafe's playwright-director-choreographer-designer-performer Riley Anne and her talented cohorts.
|(L to R) Jenny Hughes as The Spirit of Water and Riley Anne as Earthling|
Riley Anne, as Earthling, seeks out The Spirit of Water, Jenny Hughes, to heal herself, personally and collectively, but discovers more than she bargained for, as the goddess is none too pleased with the way she has been misused, disrespected, and defiled.
|(L to R) Riley Anne as Earthling and|
Jenny Hughes as The Spirit of Water
As with Riley Anne's previous work, The Ballet of Masculine & Feminine Divinities, ritual is woven throughout, providing ready access to a variety of metaphysical interpretations. Earthling appears with horns, wings of roses and thorns, and a sacred heart emerging from her chest, which deftly captures humankind's dialectic: the marriage of our physical lineage and our spiritual heritage.
The dance between Earthling and The Spirit of Water is infused with archetypal moments reflecting the power arising from the ritual and from the goddess' transformational energy, as she employs water on stage for baptismal, climatic, holistic, and catalystic effect.
|Jenny Hughes as The Spirit of Water|
Photo: Louis Krupp
Riley Anne's sparse use of dialogue informs the action, without distracting from the ballet.
Riley Anne and Hughes' chemistry is visceral, alternately discordant and harmonious, as the conflict is rectified, as told through fluid, furtive, and reverent choreographic language, danced to a score by Ron Hurley (congas), Enoch Jackson (bass), John Rasmussen (flute), and Gabriel Gravangno (piano).
|Riley Anne as Earthling|
Photo: Louis Krupp
While Temperance has closed, November will bring the Merc's presentation of the second in the series, Del Sol, exploring the element of fire, with earth, air, and spirit (connecting all elements) to follow. Performances are in the venue's upstairs ballroom. Partial proceeds from the productions go to Navajo Water Project and Black Girls Code.
Mercury Cafe is located at 2199 California Street in Denver. Dinner and drinks are available before the show. The Merc is a leader in sustainable and renewable operations. Visit MercuryCafe.com and Mercury Cafe Denver on Facebook; also @MercuryCafeCo.