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Ballaro Dance Troupe Conveys Kintsugi In Motion At Local Vineyard



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Three dancers drifted and ran among illuminated globes exhibiting emotions that ranged from serenity, anguish and intensity to collegiality, trauma and restoration as they conveyed in dance the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi — repairing broken pottery while highlighting the areas of breakage.

This was the spectacle that greeted several dozen attendees at Ballaro Dance’s emotionally-charged return to Sandy Hook on August 10.

Following a well-received performance of dance among the blooms at Appleberry Farm in September 2020, dance company founder Marisa f. Ballaro brought her latest work in progress, “Embedded Memories,” back to Appleberry Farm last August. She followed those performances with this month’s event on the western-facing hillside at Aquila’s Nest Vineyard for a sunset session of her interpretive dance.

As she explained, “Embedded Memories” is an illuminated installation rooted in honoring personal histories through the lens of scars and their images which live permanently inside the bodies of those affected. She believes people can personally benefit and even experience a measure of healing and resiliency by participating in this highly unique style of shared storytelling and movement.

“Investigating the memories and stories these imprints hold, we can learn from one another and promote community healing,” she said.

Ballaro, who professionally accentuates her name using a lower-case f, told The Newtown Bee the most recent performance incorporated her latest tweaks to a project she first developed for an academic master’s thesis to complete her MFA in Dance from Montclair State University in June 2022. While it has grown and changed since its inception, including morphing from utilizing four, down to three dancers, the combination of movement, sound effects, narration, and props was nonetheless spellbinding.

For the vineyard recital, each dancer — Nicole Daniell, Hannah Dillenbeck, and Hannah Kearney — had some degree of accent lighting as components of their costume, representing golden accents to illuminate the stories they told in silent movements and facial contortions while Ballaro read from her script.

With each passing minute after the sun sank below the western hillsides, dozens of illuminated silk lanterns and light pieces on the dancers’ costuming seemed to grow brighter, reflecting the deep meaning of the dance. As Ballaro’s narration continued, punctuated by musical stings and other sound effects, audience members sat and watched, silently entranced.

Having played several locations since August 2021 including Sandy Hook, New York City, Brockport, and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Ballaro said the scope and intimacy of “Embedded Memories” continues to grow with each performance and the contributions of Community Imprints: the audience’s personal memories and stories left behind in photo or written form during post-performance engagement with the artists.

“This project began its development in February 2021 and its continued research and creation was toward my thesis,” she said. “Now it is a continuing living project for Ballaro Dance and we hope to continue to tour it alongside the tandem project of Community Imprints.”

Inspired by Kintsugi, Ballaro said deeper connections to Japanese philosophy and the process of healing have been explored through additional research and experiences in Reiki and Butoh. Rooted in a collaboration with NYC-based artist Allison Patrick, “Embedded Memories” has grown and developed through contributions from the Community Imprints collection.

Learn more about the dance troupe and its upcoming performances by visiting ballarodance.com.

Editor John Voket can be reached at john@thebee.com.

Marisa f. Ballaro, founder of Ballaro Dance, introduces dancers Hannah Dillenbeck, Nicole Daniell, and Hannah Kearney to several dozen attendees during an August 10 performance of Ballaro’s “Embedded Memories” at Aquila’s Nest Vineyards. —Bee Photos, Voket
Marisa f. Ballaro, center, narrates her “Embedded Memories” dance piece during an outdoor recital August 10 in Sandy Hook as Ballaro Dance troupe members Hannah Kearney, far left, and Nicole Daniell perform.
Ballaro Dance troupe member Hannah Kearney takes center stage during the “Embedded Memories” recital August 10.
Ballaro Dance members Hannah Dillenbeck, Nicole Daniell, and Hannah Kearney expressed a range of emotions during the 30+ minute “Embedded Memories” performance at Aquila’s Vineyards. The dance choreography, Ballaro said, is inspired by Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery while highlighting the areas of breakage.
As the August 10 gloaming moved toward darkness, the illuminated silk lanterns and costume accents utilized for “Embedded Memories” became more apparent.
With Ballaro Dance troupe member Nicole Daniell looking on, Hannah Dillenbeck and Hannah Kearney sensitively interact.
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