Dayna Hanson: We Never Like Talking About The End by SJ Chiro Dec 1, 2006
I'm finally home from seeing the opening night of Dayna Hanson's "We Never Like Talking About The End" at On the Boards. There was a party after the opening night of the show. No one spoke about the end at the party, which I found telling.
Dayna Hanson is a dancer. And a choreographer. And a film producer. And film director. And a musician. And a writer. While Dayna Hanson's vision for this piece may have been singular, her expression is definitely multi-fold. Most people, I think, associate her with the dance world, but to categorize this work as "a dance piece" would be to miss out on much else the piece has to offer - starting with the live music, which Danya Hanson created (with the most excellent Maggie Brown and Dave Proscia), played and sang with such gusto and clarity that, for a minute I forgot she had anything to do with dance. Then she suddenly rose from the piano and effortlessly joined fellow dancer Marissa Rae Niederhauser who was mid step in some complicated foot work.
"We Never Like Talking About The End" is a meditation on the thin line between life and death and where that line begins and ends and how that line can intersect itself. Hanson found herself lying awake at night, worrying about what would happen when she died. After spending an afternoon with a woman she overheard in a Burlington, VT supermarket talking about having died and come back to life ("Ever since I died... life hasn't been the same"), Hanson came back to Seattle and discovered an entire community of persons who have had a near death experience.
Some of these people were interviewed and filmed (camera work by the incomparable Ben Kasulke). Their testimonies make for interesting and some times humorous listening, especially while being re-enacted by the dancers. A vision of Jesus figures prominently in one story along with a soft little lamby. These images must be seen to be fully appreciated. A dancer emerges from a tight, unexpected place, another blooms athletically, upside down. A haunting guitar duet is played, a Scotch sailor drowns and is let down easy by a disembodied voice called Robert, while his counter part rises high into the air. After an evening of compelling dance; obscure old film lip-synch; live, original pop music (Kevin Cole would play the title song on KEXP if he could); casual conversation; confessions from the beyond, popcorn popped and consumed... after all this a new cast member heretofore unseen walks calmly on stage and begins to move slowly in a tai-chi form. Wouldn't it be great if this was Danya Hanson's father? I thought to myself. But no one ever likes talking about the end, including me.