Dayna Hanson: Gloria’s Cause
Posted by Seth Needler
Exuberant, enigmatic, energetic, effervescent, enthralling, enticing, and at times eye-rollingly silly – all this and much, much more was Dayna Hanson’s “work-in-progress” Gloria’s Cause, a music/dance/theater performance piece nominally about the unique moment in history of the American Revolution, with thought-provoking references to the meaning of that historical moment in today’s violent, Puritanical, hypocritical, still-trying-to-define-itself America.
The superbly talented troupe effortlessly played instruments, danced, and acted out scenes, all of which were beautifully choreographed and timed, in a multi-faceted projection of the fervent foment with which the founding fathers and their wealthy colleagues may have collaborated to produce the founding documents of the union’s young democracy, tottering on the foundation of slavery while simultaneously declaring freedom for all its constituents.
One of the dancers, costumed in an eagle’s head mask, seemed to be the spokesperson for the theme of America’s uncertain leadership, as she questioned, aloud, the meaning of her role as its ambiguous mascot.
The music and dance numbers were compelling, fun to watch and performed with such precision and poise that I never questioned the troupe’s direction, even as the message became increasingly difficult to extract. Only toward the end of the piece did the mooring seem to fray. To a cacophonic, discordant tidal wave of electric guitar music, the dancers moved about the stage directionlessly, their faces painted, aggressively posturing as if wanting to obliterate all their energy in one final, cathartic exorcism. It was unclear whether the implied violence was a predicted consequence of the American project itself, or simply the inevitable result of so much energy on stage.
At the end, Dayna Hanson identified herself and told the audience: “This is a work in progress.” Would I come back, to see the finished version? Hell, yes.