When dancer Maureen Fleming first experienced pains in her neck, the last thing she expected was for her doctor to discover bone spurs and fused vertebra in her spine, a condition that generally leads to life-long paralysis. Shocked that such a condition did not confine her to a wheelchair, the doctor encouraged her to discover the origins of these extraordinary physical alternations.
Fleming learned from her mother that at two years old, while living in Japan, she survived a severe car accident that sent her flying through the car’s windshield. Although she had no memory of the incident, Fleming soon connected her superhuman flexibility and unique technique of body manipulation to the accident.
In Decay of the Angel, Fleming transforms her body into structural forms that push and break any limitations inherent in a human skeleton. Often compared to that of an invertebrate sea creature, Fleming’s body retains the flexibility of an infant. After her traumatic accident, Fleming instinctively began to move with all the twists and sinews seen in her present-day performances. She felt a drive to move and what began as a form of therapy to release the physical trauma of the accident quickly evolved. Now, Fleming approaches movement as a universal vehicle for healing and regeneration.
Decay of the Angel, Fleming’s latest evening-length work, explores the feminine archetype through images of the soul. Fleming creates a multi-disciplined theatrical production that seamlessly blends elements created by celebrated dance photographer Lois Greenfield, Japanese photographer Tadayuki Naitoh, video artist Jeff Bush, light and visual artist Chris Odo, and ikebana artist and stage art designer Gaho Taniguchi. Involving solo choreography, the work sets up a stream of compositions focusing on the transformation of woman from birth to decay. Fleming’s striking choreographic creations are set in juxtaposition to film, photography, and ikebana designs to reflect on birth and death, pain and ecstasy. Highly influenced by her extensive study of butoh with Japanese master Kazuo Ohno, Fleming’s performance creates a powerful meditative experience.
Developed in both Japan and the United States, Decay of the Angel is made possible with collaboration from numerous agencies including the Japan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Maureen Fleming performs in Bowker Auditorium on Friday, February 6th at 8pm. For tickets call 413-545-2511 or 1-800-999-UMAS or go online to www.fineartscenter.com/tickets