A Prayer for the Peaceful Transition of Power.
That was the main message we wished to evoke at the Parade for the People hosted by the MCA Denver. I saw the call for art in an email newsletter from the Museum. They were going to be hosting a Human-powered Parade and were looking for artists who had lost opportunities due to the Pandemic.
After the success of the Prismic Vision event at New Years, those of us who had participated in the Opening Procession with the seven animal masks had idly discussed using the masks in future performances. The idea was kindled by a determination to keep the magick from New Years flowing throughout 2020. And then COVID-19 came and lockdowns happened and the idea of sharing the art from Prismic Vision faded into the background. This opportunity couldn’t have been a better fit!
I filled out the application and contacted the other dancers, ritualists, and organizer from Prismic Vision to see who would be available for the Parade while I waited to hear back about my proposal. By the time the Museum let me know the Proposal was accepted there as only a few days left to prepare the art. However, the magickally resourceful Rachel from the Body Earth Collective (one of the original visionaries behind the Prismic Vision event) and I were able to whip the masks into shape and drum up enough people for the procession.
Preparing the Art to Be "Human-Powered"
The masks were originally worn by the performers. You can read about all the making and symbolism of the masks and performance in previous blog posts. For the Parade for the People I had a dream of placing the masks on tall posts, so the audience could see the art from their socially distanced vantage point. I wanted them to be even more striking with an immediate impact of color. Rachel had just acquired a bundle of extra long bamboo poles for her garden next spring. Perfect!
My other hope was to slightly obscure the mask-bearer and the pole (especially when I was envisioning my original idea of poles less beautiful than bamboo) with fabric. Again Rachel had the perfect materials, rivaling my own stash of creative supplies, with extra long tulle in a rainbow of colors. We carefully tied the fabrics to the poles, then secured the masks with extra pieces, and stuffed the masks with cotton to keep them from tipping or tilting. It felt good to use no glue or tacks, and to create a truly secure marriage of mask onto post onto fabric with simple wrapping and tying. It exceeded all my expectations!
The next hurdle was to find seven individuals who could carry the masks, rehearse before the Parade, and create cohesive costumes during a Pandemic. For a couple hours on Friday I thought I would need to relinquish my dreams of having all seven animal masks at the Parade, but then in the last hours of the day two more individuals volunteered. Somehow between all of us we gathered the perfect combination of garments to create a shimmering array of costumes. We looked stunning and cohesive, each person carrying their stately totem.
THEMES for the Score: Repetition, Expand & Contract, Peaceful Transition of Power
We crafted a sophisticated and simple score, so that the power of each animal could rise again from the intentions set in January, our new prayers woven into the present. The Parade was celebrating the opening of MCA’s current exhibit “Citizenship: A Practice in Society” which took the place of a traditional opening reception. We wanted to align ourselves with the themes of the exhibit, settling on an exploration of Peace and Leadership. When the Parade moved forward each of us walked our hopes, dreams, wishes, and prayers for the Earth and our communities, following the Animal at the beginning of the Procession, beginning with the Red Root Rabbit, and traveling through the prismatic rainbow to the Violet Crown Snake.
Beginning Spiral into line behind Rabbit. Follow Rabbit with walking prayer/blessing until Parade halts. Spiral after Rabbit into a Circle. Rabbit Speaks Affirmation/ Invocation Phrase, all others frozen. Follow/Mirror/Flocking with Improvisation of the Rabbit until Parade resumes
Return to Beginning if the Parade is still going, with Rabbit. Repeat cycle until complete, deepening with every repetition. It is possible only a few animals will experience a round, and it is possible everyone will repeat many many times.
We took time before the Parade for each performer to connect with their animal, finding three or four movement phrases that invoked the intentions of that animal. When we shared I was moved at the level of consideration and beauty each performer brought to the circle.
When it came time join the Parade it was quite a blur of activity. We were the second group to perform, trailing behind a boisterous brass band, and followed by an inspiring group of young poets carrying a “No Human is Illegal” banner. It turned out each Animal was invoked many many many times, and as is always expected in a live improvisational performance, the original form evolved, expanding and contracting to meet the needs of the traveling show. We flowed through our colors; walking, skipping, running, pulsing, singing, humming, resting, dancing, stirring, shouting through to the end of the one-mile walk. I could see the smiles and shining eyes of those watching or taking video. People waved and clapped. I could feel the impact of the bright colors in an otherwise stressful and dreary time. Being surrounded by other creatives nourished my spirit on all levels. I went home tired and happy.
I am truly grateful to the group who came out to perform, and to the museum for selecting us to participate in the event.
Red Rabbit Raye Fusting - Energetic of Great Leaps of Consciousness Energy of Conquering Fear, Fertility
Orange Skunk Damian Leuthold- Self Respect and Reputation
Attraction&Repulsion => Connection&Yielding
Yellow Swan Rachel Prairie Wiebeck- Surrendering to the Flow of the Spiral
Trusting What I am Shown
Beautiful Warrior of Light & Grace
Green Antelope Maria Flegas- Decisive Action, Clear & Direct
The Apocalyptic Queen, Ancestor Wisdom
The Imagination of the Heart
Blue Bat Jocelyn Ketsdever- Sonic Powers, Skilled Communication
Death & Rebirth of the Voice
Indigo Hawk Ray Harper- Medicine of the Messenger
Far Seeing, Seeing the Whole Picture
Knowing Somatically & Intuitively
Violet Snake Khiri Samantha Lee- Clarity of the Soul
Shedding Memories & Past Life to Awaken
Sexuality, Psychic Energy, Alchemy, Ascension
What's Next for the Prismic Vision Masks?
I am always filled with hopes, and aspire to use the masks in more events and rituals before retiring them from use. Already the excitement of the Parade caused some damage to their forms, which are only made of papier-mâché and paint. Until another event can be found the Masks will be on display, when weather permits, during Boulder's Open Studios tour. I am a participating artist in the tour. Anyone can schedule a Free Visit to my studio and see the Animal Masks in person and in all their glory. I hope they infuse my neighborhood with their magick, and then my city, my country, and the whole world.