Thursday, September 16, 2010

artisans weave together a tale of life's journey

Leah Ruekberg, storyteller, weaves together the tale of "The Handless Maiden."

      “Regeneration: A Show of Hands” is a multi-media performance by a sculptor, musician and storyteller exploring life’s journey, one that naturally involves both the joyful moments and the rocky periods. The program will take place at the Dansville high school auditorium on Thursday, September 23 at 7 p.m. The performance is open to the public.

      The event is based on the timeless myth, “The Handless Maiden” as written down by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her book,” Women Who Run With the Wolves.” It features Julia Stewart’s three-dimensional artwork and painting which illustrate the symbols found in the story.  Dan Fitzpatrick creates ambient music on a Chapman Stick, a stringed instrument in the guitar family, to accompany storyteller, Leah Ruekberg.

      In our modern world this tale is familiar to all mankind, both male and female, because it relates to the choices people make in life. Younger women are searching and haven’t seen some of the outcomes that older women have who are looking back on their journeys. Men traditionally have been breadwinners, but today role reversals often take place, allowing men to become more in touch with their sensitive, caring sides.

     All men and women make foolish choices and spend some time in dark, deep places during their journeys. Knowing the landmarks and looking for people along the way that seem to be placed in their lives as helpers, can aid in a transformation to more peace and contentment.

     Stewart’s initial vision was to dramatize an initiate who symbolically loses her hands – her ability to touch, to feel, to care for herself and others, and to create.  In the story, the maiden more than survives: she thrives, and grows new hands.  Julia’s tree is decorated with symbols from the story: tears, hands, pears, and veils.  In addition, her large painting shows hands growing from the seed, to a stem/praying hands, to hands blossoming into flowers.

     Pittsford storyteller Ruekberg had been telling this story in its various versions for over twenty years, and collaboration was a perfect fit.

  “Research shows that the same aspect of a storyteller’s brain lights up in an audience. You make your own connections from the words that the storyteller gives you. Your imagination takes over, and it becomes a deeply personal experience. It is the most personal theater there is,” says Ruekberg.

     There will be opportunities for questions and comments at the end of the program.

      Growing Places Women’s Center is hosting the event to kick-off its 2010-2011 year of enrichment. There will be tables with information, and sign-up sheets for activities available at the Center during the reception immediately following the performance.

     The program is partially funded by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts.