Ocean, Ogou, Ossagne
Choreographer/Dancer: Ann Mazzocca
Drummer: Rodolphe "Neg Mawon" Pierre
Originally performed with Husni Abu Bakar, at Sweeney Art Gallery, downtown Riverside, May 2009.
The opening solo from Kolaborasyon Haiti, my evening-length MFA concert performed at the University of California, Riverside; May 2010.
Inspired by the communal living and intimacy that I encountered in Haiti and my experiences in the diasporic Haitian folkloric dance community, this work approaches Haitian dance through Western contemporary dance methods. As a white American choreographer I am conscious of my deeply ambivalent position as both outsider and insider within the Haitian dance community. In this collaborative project, I mix and recombine movements to evoke my memories, conflicts, and imagination drawn from my experiences within Haitian cultural communities in New York and Miami as well as in Haiti.
In this solo, I am working primarily with three energetic/spiritual forces of the African diaspora religious pantheon: the ocean (Agwé/Yemanja/Yemayá), Ogou, and Ossagne. Through the study of Haitian and Cuban folkloric dance I have become more familiar with the forces of nature and divinities -- called Orishas from the Yoruba tradition, or called Lwa in Haitian Vodou which include ancestral spirits as well as divinities from the Yoruba and Dahomean traditions. The three Orishas Yemanja, Ogùn, and Ossain are said to rule me according to Mae Regina, the Brazilian Candomblé diviner/clairvoyant who first read my cowrie shells in 2006 in East Harlem, NY.
Yemanja/Yemayá is the Orisha of the ocean -- mother of all the other Orishas. Agwé in Vodou corresponds to the ocean and all the Lwa that it holds. Ogùn, or Ogou in Haiti, is a warrior who carries a machete to forge a path through the thick forest clearing a way for progress. His movements are strong and direct as he sets his sight on a goal and makes things happen in order to better serve his community but sometimes resulting in destruction. Ossagne is the Orisha of herbs -- wild or uncultivated plants and plants/herbs used in ceremonies. Mae Regina told me (through a translator) that he does not dance because he is deformed. He has one leg, one arm, one eye and one ear bigger than the other. It was this description that I used when creating a way to express Ossagne last spring.
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