Tonight I was lucky enough to join a standing-room-only audience at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw for “Sketches for Auguste,” a collaboration based on a short story by Henry Miller. It is a work in progress and it certainly deserves development support. A gorgeous blend of music, dance and performance art, it definitely accomplished what the artists set out to do: “uncover that singular moment of bliss that transpires between the artist and the audience, when the two unite as one.”
The performance flowed through the space and the audience, with the artists taking turns grasping for and holding our attention on a bittersweet, passionate note. Inventive and ecstatic, the work had a strong core and soaring grace notes. As I witnessed it I felt the political tension of the last few months dropping away from my body. It’s been a long time since I saw live art that brought me such peace and beauty, and I realized how much we need it now.
The piece was presented by Culture Mill, which is something like the avant-garde wing of the Haw River Ballroom; Culture Mill is directed by American performance artist/writer Tommy Noonan and his partner, the French dancer/choreographer Murielle Elizeon. They have been bringing truly valuable performance to Saxapahaw for several years now. For this work, they collaborated with Peruvian musician Pauchi Sasaki (a Philip Glass Rolex protege), Korean dancer Dohee Lee, and Jennifer Curtis, an incredible virtuoso violinist who has moved to our area from New York and is currently in residence with Culture Mill. They were joined by musician Pete Lewis and the amazing Dex Romweber, a rock musician (best known as one-half of the Flat Duo Jets) now living and playing here locally. The collaboration was successful in every way, including the technical aspects of sound and lighting.
The proceeds from the performance went to the ACLU, and Murielle Elizeon spoke at the curtain about how important that is to her, a biracial artist who is in the US. on a green card and frightened about the future.
I’m so grateful I got to see this piece so early in its development. And in Saxapahaw…..
Linda Frye Burnham
February 4, 2017