THREE RITES: Happiness
The US Declaration of Independence states that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the unalienable rights which have been given to all human beings by their creator and for which governments are created to protect. THREE RITES: Life, Liberty, Happiness is a six-hour interdisciplinary experience by DELIRIOUS Dances/ Edisa Weeks, that involves three performance rituals (rites) that integrate live music, dance, text, video, two visual installations, community conversations and shared meals to interrogate what these rights mean, for whom these rights are protected, and how they manifest in the body. The work premieres in Brooklyn, NY at Restoration ART on June 11-22, 2020.
THREE RITES: Happiness explores how laughter, pleasure and contentment reside in the body, and invites the audience to come together for a collective celebration of catharsis, uplift and joy. It features commissioned music by Nathaniel Braddock, played live by the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, whose sound is a combination of soukous, highlife, and dry guitar. Edisa chose highlife for the happiness rite, as the music is inherently joyous; as a child she grew-up listening to highlife; and highlife, like America, is an amalgamation of cultures and genres, from British/Caribbean military brass bands, American jazz music, and the rhythms of West African, specifically Ghanaian music.
THREE RITES: Life and Liberty present complex and painful issues regarding social constructs in American. THREE RITES: Happiness is about emerging from anger and grief, and begins with the Happiness Fête were the audience is invited to pamper their senses and spirits by engaging in a series of interactive events: portrait sketches, massages, delirious hair designs, sharing a meal family style, and more. On arrival the audience is welcomed by the “Sunbeams” who write what makes a person happy on a balloon. The balloon is attached to the person and floats above them like a thought bubble. The Happiness Fête is followed by laughtercises, and a performance by DELIRIOUS and Occidental, that culminates in a dance party with the audience.
The performance unfolds through five sections:
* The intimacy of early African dry guitar accompanies a dance which uses game structures to deconstruct a traditional Baganda dance that Edisa learned as a child from her mother.
* Rhythmic hand percussion and strummed guitar, where each dancer is paired with a musician, to physically and sonically explore giggles and pleasure.
* A rhythmic pulse accompanies an improvised song based on what the audience wrote on their balloons about what makes them happy.
* A high energy dance to mid-century Ghanaian guitar-band highlife rhythm with percussion.
* A dance party featuring a suite of Congolese dance music referencing 1980’s soukous and contemporary ndombolo that concatenates through climbing keys and rhythmic structures to announce the dancers’ and audience’s arrival at a point of communal jubilation.
THREE RITES: Happiness is about self-care, and making time to relax, laugh and recharge for the labor to undo systemic structures of racism, create real equity, and uphold the values of life, liberty and happiness in America.
Nathaniel Braddock and Edisa Weeks had an opportunity to work on “THREE RITES: Happiness” during a residency at Mount Tremper Arts in October 2018.
The video is a rough document of a work-in-progress showing, and is a 30 minute excerpt from the three hour rite. In the video the audience has experienced the Happiness Fete, shared a meal and laughtercises, and just transitioned into the performance aspect of the rite.
“To Begin The World Over Again” was inspired by the writings of Thomas Paine and his spirited advocacy for freedom and democracy. It was a collaboration between composer Joseph C. Phillips Jr. and choreographer Edisa Weeks. The work featured one actor, 6 dancers, and 13 musicians, and unfolded through four sections inspired by Paine’s words, as well as three musical interludes that were loosely based on Contra music forms.
The work was performed at Irondale Theater, Brooklyn, NY October 2012
Please watch starting at: 12:45 min.
Start and End Dates
06/11/2020 — 06/22/2020
Brooklyn, New York