LivingArts: The Art of Storytelling

I love a good story. I mean, who doesn't? A good story can make you laugh or make you cry. It can make your blood boil with anger or your heart flutter with sentiment. Hell, a really good one will make you do both. When it comes to a great story, it's not only what is told, but rather how it is told. What words are chosen, the tone and the structure. A good story tells you something. A great storyteller makes you feel something. 

That's why when I was approached by my friend Lisa Pijuan-Nomura about joining her "rag tag" team of storytellers, The Hamilton 7, I was unsure - the type of unsure where I've already said no in my head. She assured me I'd be fine, reminding me I tell stories through dance all the time. She was right, in that respect. I've made countless pieces collaboratively and individually that not only have a theme but also a clear narrative. I've been doing that for years, so, yeah, in theory, I'm a storyteller. But that's after I've found a song that already has a vibe with melodies to interpret and lyrics to literally translate into movement. Really, the song infers the narrative, I'm just elaborating on it. Here, we're talking about a completely different medium. The very idea of getting up on stage to use my own words to tell a story filled me with a nervousness I hadn't felt since entering my first real dance battle, maybe 14 years ago. And there it was. That's how I knew I had to do it.

The first Hamilton 7 brainstorming meeting I went to, I listened as these masters in storytelling created photographs with their words and painted canvases with their syllables. It was like hearing a film come to life.  It was inspiring - inspiring enough to will me on to the stage. Building that tale, step by step on paper was more similar to choreographing, lyric by lyric, than I had ever imagined. I felt as if stepping out of the medium, deepened my artistry of creating a narrative. 

At the shows, I love seeing how with each storyteller, the audience is moved from one end of the spectrum to the other. It makes me think of all the different ways artists unconventionally tell stories. Paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, songs, poetry, theatre, dance...The emotional power that they hold and express is incredible. The arts, like great stories, connect because they make us feel something, not just because they're beautiful, but rather, they connect us with our imaginations and our own stories -sometimes ones we didn't know we had. It's why we go to movies, listen to music, visit art galleries, read novels and watch dance shows. From the beginning of time, every culture has shared stories as a way of preserving traditions, teaching lessons and, I'm sure, just having a good laugh among friends. Stories. Art. It's in us to share. In whatever way(s) we can. What's yours?

Check out the Hamilton 7 at the Fringe Festival this summer!