“Synchronicity and the Sacred Space” Features Weber Dance and Explorer Jon Turk ’63

Dancers dressed in the cool colors of the ocean leapt across the stage as Jon Turk ’63 presented “Synchronicity & the Sacred Space” on Wednesday, May 16, in Steinbach Theatre. Turk was recently named one of National Geographic’s Top Ten Adventurers of 2012, for circumnavigating Ellesmere Island. Through dances of the Weber Dance company and Turk’s spoken word, this performance captured and told parts of his adventure. Acting as a storyteller, Turk came on stage, dressed in a lab coat, and recounted his career as an organic chemist, which he later abandoned in favor of becoming an explorer. Turk went on to describe being trapped by icebergs and sudden storms, while dances portrayed his experience with the concept of healing, such as when he hurt himself hunting reindeer meat for the people in the Arctic. Dancers Kristy Kuhn, Shannon Humphreys and Rebecca Lay, clad in colors that suggested ocean waves, gracefully danced across the stage and mirrored the movement of the ocean. A scene with flowing dances and elegant music, complete with special effects like splashing water, added a powerful impact to the performance, while dancers employed elegant leg and arm movements to emphasize the fluid feel. Turk made references to the joy of skiing and swimming with dolphins. “To me, the greatest art and greatest beauty are within landscapes. But for me, the moments of beauty are when I think of the moments when I am overwhelmed,” Turk said. In the healing scene, the dancers donned black silky dresses to symbolize ravens in heaven, as Turk stated in his storytelling that everyday people make a choice to live life or be involved in the technical world. “Sometimes you heal, and sometimes you don’t… I believe there is magic around us all the time, and we get to choose whether we’re going to draw that magic out of the sky or let it fly naturally,” he said. Turk closed the performance with a word of wisdom, saying that although technology is used everywhere, we cannot forget heritage. He noted that art, community, dance, music and spirituality came before modern technology and that these things are what pulled humans out of the wild. During a question and answer session following the performance, Turk, the dancers and the show’s choreographer answered questions about the performance. Jody Weber, choreographer of the performance, said, “I started this piece six months before I met Jon [Turk]… My original idea was different ways of thinking and being in the world, and what happens when the Western ways of thinking and being in the world collide with non-Western ways of thinking.” “All the gesture material and opening section, which is replayed in various ways, actually comes from a whole set of instructions about how we understand the world by weighing things, tasting, smelling certain ways in the world. I hope that they [the gestures] are transformed by their contexts,” she said. A scene that stood out for the dancers was the one portraying the rush and healing of a skiing trip, which was completed with dramatic music, abrupt changes of motion and complex movements that involved a lot of work. “The section with the really exciting music, the fifth section, is my favorite section because it scared me for the first year we were doing it… and over the two years we have doing this piece,” said one of the dancers.