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Flyaway Productions' Grace and Delia are Gone an Extraordinary Experience

by Joanna G. Harris
September 23, 2016
Fort Mason Center for the Arts
38 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 441-3400
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Jo Kreiter makes wonderful aerial dances for Flyaway Productions. She not only imbues those dances and her dancers with extraordinary movement and startling risks, but she brings her deep commitment to social context. The combination makes Grace and Delia are Gone a most moving event.

Kreiter researched stories about women who were raped and/or murdered, incidents were once publicized, but are usually forgotten. To memorialize these women, she had Carla Kihistedt and Mattias Bossi, Shazadismally, write songs and music to accompany the events. One song, “Beautiful Tomorrow” was written by Bess Smith and Mahalia Jackson. Inside on the white sets and on the outside wall of the Firehouse at Fort Mason, the songs and music underline the melancholy and pathos of the stories.

The audience moved from space to space. I first saw “Grace’s Last Night” in the north room performed by Alayna Stroud. Sitting at a table, she brushed her hair in preparation for a meeting, which turned into a disaster.
Stroud, rigged between the table, chair and nearby walls, turned with elongated twists, then folded and unfolded around the set. “Beautiful Tomorrow” accompanies this dance which resounds as a lamentation.

Sonsherée Giles and Laura Elaine Ellis danced the next event in the East Room. “Drowning and the Death Wife” was intensely dramatic. Giles swung and rotated wildly against a white wall; Ellis appeared at the window, echoing the moves as a ghostly figure. The music provided the narrative. Giles extraordinary skill and her shocking red hair alongside Ellis’ quiet presence made for great drama.

“Two Sisters” was performed on the outside wall by MaryStarr Hope and Kara Quintero to a newly composed ballad that sounded as if it were from the early days of the Appalachian Mountain settlers. The song, “Two Sisters” was sung by Kihlstedt from a Tom Waits album she recorded with him in 2006. Hope and Quintero swung along with each other, sometimes embracing, sometimes competing, and always very responsive to the tale of these women who were drowned by lovers. It was remarkable to see them hanging upside-down and not feel the pain.

The finale, set inside, with an admirable set of platforms and ladders, by Sean Riley with lighting by Matthew Antake, brought all the dancers together is a piece called “Now.” Yayoi Kambara and Megan Lowe began by using a staircase to swing, fall, run, crouch and climb as only they can. Then, using household objects (a mixer, a rolling pin, a frying pan, a pot), the company, in two shifts, swung the objects over the audience in constant repetition…as household work is. It added up to a telling statement about both the astonishing skill and dreadful women’s circumstances. All member of the company were superb.

Kreiter is to be complimented and applauded for this accomplishment as well as her generosity to the community.

The excellent costumes were executed by Miranda Carolgne and Sonsherée Giles.
Laura Elaine Ellis (left) and Sonsheree Giles in 'Grace and Delia are Gone.'

Laura Elaine Ellis (left) and Sonsheree Giles in "Grace and Delia are Gone."

Photo © & courtesy of Austin Forbord

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