Environmental sound-artist Curtis Tamm and choreographer/performer Michelle Boulé collaborate on “The Monomyth,” premiering May 17-27, 2017 at The Chocolate Factory (NYC). Referencing mythologist Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, where an individual undergoes a solitary process of transformation on behalf of a larger community, “The Monomyth” insists that we question and challenge our life journeys, reminding us of the transformational power residing within the individual. From indigenous Amazonian mythologies, Moses and Buddha to present day Hollywood, the hero’s journey has for centuries aided human culture in coming to terms with the unknowable mysteries of life and consciousness.
Campbell writes that we are constantly living out personal mythologies. “The Monomyth” follows the movement trajectory of soloist Boulé, as she morphs from moment to moment encountering contemporary and ancient archetypes, with a body that holds and conveys multiple meanings. The hero is simultaneously sinner and saint, woman and man, beautiful and ugly, creating a social space of healing that is beyond dichotomies. A reexamination of individualism, “The Monomyth” is simultaneously a manifestation of isolation and a celebration of connection, where Boulé achieves her own transformation through the alchemy of movement and presence.
Tamm composes an original soundscape accentuating the timelessness of cultural mythology by playing with incongruous elements from contemporary and ancient worlds. Tamm’s original music is interwoven with field-recordings he’s taken from the biosophic world; from the volcanic landscapes of Iceland, to the jungles of southern Mexico, the sounds of melting glaciers and other worldly animals and insects. These sounds permeate an unlikely selection of Disco-soul pop music released on or near Boulé’s birth year. Together, Boulé and Tamm weave a complex tapestry of choreography and sound like a balancing act, oscillating between archaic and contemporary notions of rhythm and tone, myth and music.
The original score for “The Monomyth” develops an intense aural focus, accentuating and responding to even the most delicate physical gestures in Boule’s choreography. This unlikely musical relationship between 1970’s dance music, orchestral instrumentation and environmental field-recordings creates a world, more than simply a score or composition. This world offers hope for the individual to renew themselves through a process of spiritual transformation on behalf of their larger community. In this world, dance is not grounded by conventional physics, but is rather explored as a contemporary yet ancient practice filled with spiritual possibility, unbounded by the physical limitations of the body.
Boulé’s and Tamm’s first collaboration together, after a coincidental meeting at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, was inspired by a shared fascination for a Burmese priestess ritual. An appreciation for each other’s artistry and a mutual interest in creating aural and visual worlds drives a deep and profound exchange between these artists.
“The Monomyth” is supported by Jerome Foundation funding through the Chocolate Factory, LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development Program, NYFA Fellowship, Cloud Prize, Lighthouse Works, Boulé’s Leadership Circle, and residencies with Gibney Dance, Yaddo, MacDowell, and Bemis Center. Additional collaborators include artistic advisor Jeanine Durning, costume designer Stacey Berman, and lighting designer Natalie Robin.