Following last year’s celebrated work “moat,” Staibdance’s latest evening-length work turns a sharp lens to the aging process: how do the forces of free will and fate co-mingle with satisfaction and regret? Looking back on 50 years of life choices, Staib creates a fantasy world of alternate paths.
Set designer Leslie Taylor and lighting designer Gregory Catellier transformed the Schwartz Center Dance Studio into a desolate space shadowed by a massive abstract tree. Dancers and musicians move through a landscape peppered with hanging pomegranates, Armenian symbols of prosperity. For Staib, they are also perfect internal worlds, housing sweet possibilities and unattainable goals. “wishdust” was a major collaborative undertaking for the company. The celebrated Vega String Quartet performed selected classics as well as an original composition by Emory music faculty member Richard Prior. Pianist Kendall Simpson also performed live and Atlanta-based electronic musician and composer Ben Coleman created and mixed soundscapes in real time.
In an environment where sound, movement, light, and scenery create shifting dreamlike states, Staib finds parallels to his experience as an Iranian-born Armenian transplanted to rural Pennsylvania. “My American understanding of life was that we are charged to fulfill a destiny,” Staib explains. “My Armenian understanding was that ‘destiny’ had to fit into the scope of honorable occupations and traditions.” From this dichotomy, “wishdust” ponders willingness, determination, giving up, and wondering what could have been if things had been different.