Shattered Illusions

On Friday night, many filled the seats of the Vonnie Borden Theatre, myself included, to watch the Dance Performance Project’s production of “10: The Katrina Project.” For me and as I’m sure many others, that night was about more than just seeing a show. I have been looking forward to–no, longing–to see this show since last semester when I heard the first whispers of its beginning.

One of the main reasons for my excitement was because my grandparents, Mim and Poppa, had driven two hours to come see me and would be staying the night with me in Hammond. The past two weeks I spent nearly every waking moment outside of class and work, cleaning and rearranging my home. I wanted everything to be perfect on every front. 

When they arrived, the apartment was spotless, we spent a lazy afternoon together and when it was time, we left for the show. Growing up, I have gone to many productions, and I had high expectations for “10: The Katrina Project.” I feel that there are several things I could say about this performance, but the best phrase to truly capture an image of the audience that night would be this: not a single muscle moved. For 45 minutes, everyone in the audience was transfixed on what was occurring on stage. There was no shifting, muttering or even a quiet exchange between friends. We were all under the spell of the dancers, their bodies, movements and even voices when they spoke lines; they had woven a spell and we were under it.

I wish everyone could have seen that night. The choreographers had each told their stories and braided them all together. At one point, two dancers trying to survive during the storm spotted someone else and began their endeavor to save them. The two survivors were on top of the structure that had been built for the performance, the other dancer was on the floor beneath them, and across a bridge to the other side of the structure, was a musician on his cello. 

Trying to save the person across from them, a member of the pair, Joseph Matherne tried to save the girl across them. Sadly, he was not victorious and died, falling from the 5-feet tall structure as the last note carried out and the lights went dark.

Matherne’s character really stuck out to me because, like the scene, many people shared a similar fate 10 years ago during the actual storm. The entire production, in fact, was a tribute to that. Earlier on in the production, a family heard that their grandmother had died, and as they consoled each other, a picture of Christa Celment-Sevin’s, one of the choreographer’s late grandmother appeared on the screen behind them. Clement-Sevin lost her grandmother during Katrina.

As I stated earlier, not a muscle moved in the audience. However, that would also prove untrue because hearts were moved. Audience members were moved to cry, and at the end of it all, were shown how, after tragedy, hope is always possible.