"The Agony of the Leaf" is choreographed by Kim Robards and performed by dance artists of the Kim Robards Dance Company. The musical score is by conceptual composer Tan Dun, and audio composition is by Scott Roush.
“Agony of the leaf" is the phrase used to describe the beautiful expansion, the unfolding/unfurling of whole tea leaves as they steep, releasing their intoxicating flavors and aromas. This tea descriptor is about the simplicity and beauty of patiently watching the tea leaves unfurl to give their essence to the cup or pot of tea.
“Agony of the Leaf” explores a plethora of feeling states: joy, grief, freedom, repression, abandonment, control. The work abstractly reflects various episodes of Chinese culture as it relates to these emotions and to an external image versus an internal reality. There is a repressed feeling, or desire for freedom, underlying a sort of controlled chaos. There is an exploration of power in terms of power within, power over and powerlessness and surrender. What is about to happen that we might anticipate, but not really expect? It is that which we may either fear or embrace.
In the radio dance, I hope to convey the visceral sense of the work. I want listeners to have as close to a visceral response through hearing the piece as the dancers who are moving in the work. I hope audiences are opened to a new range of emotions that are explored throughout the work. Modern dance, in its essence, exemplifies a unique balance between abandonment and control, freedom and focus. This is much like the flavor of tea which is contained and ultimately released through steeping; or like Chinese culture, which walks a fine line between order and confinement with an underlying feeling that there is an undercurrent, a powerful wave with great force at any moment.
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