There’s dance, and then there’s movement art, and then there’s narrative-to-be-told in both media. Valley folk have an opportunity on Saturday, August 19, to participate in international artist Gillian Rhodes presentation of fresh creativity combining these elements in her Searching for Pierrot.
Two of the Valley’s anchor institutions are collaborating in bringing Rhodes’ work to the stage of the historic Jones Theater. The West Custer County Library and the Westcliffe Center for the Performing Arts together are sponsoring a two performance production of her one-person play at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., a week from Saturday. Admission is free, with donations for the Library accepted at the performances.
This is only the second staging of her piece, the first having been earlier this year in Lahore, Pakistan.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The US and world citizen Gillian Rhodes has taken a “rest” break from her international life and career every year of her last eleven years by returning to the States. A resident of Lahore for over five years, Rhodes is now unwinding in her stateside break with her family, most of whom happily happen to be living in Westcliffe. Tribune readers will recognize Rhodes’ mother, Janet, as the Library’s Administrative Co-Director, and her sister Darcy, as a nutrition educator on the staff of the Altitude Community Fitness Center.
In a movement from casual family conversations to actual planning and implementation, Rhodes’ “rest” time this year includes her live performances at the historic Jones. “I am so excited about this,” Rhodes says; “I haven’t performed in the US since university days. This is quite meaningful, to be learning what works, what doesn’t, in a new work in front of a new audience, with the experience here in Westcliffe.”
Rhodes’ artistic career trajectory has a unique flair, while at the same time presenting the straight-forwardness of childhood-instilled creativity continuing to express expansion and discovery. Globally.
As noted, Pakistan is her current residence; previously, Rhodes has lived and created and performed in France, Cambodia, and Korea. She has followed her post-university engagement with dance and characterization narrative within a network of artists that she entered in those earlier years; international friends, colleagues, and housemates, with deep parental support and encouragement, inspired her to follow where her creativity and capacities led. After Pakistan, Rhodes plans to move to Dubai, within the expanding network of artists who gravitate to the United Arab Emirate’s expansion of the arts in cross- and inter-cultural expression.
Family support came early on. “My parents were always focused on ‘What do you want to do!,’ so it was I who chose ballet, and moved on from there, always with their encouragement and support,” Rhodes points out. Her creative process blooms from within this familial environment; Rhodes has both crafted, and been led to, the expansion of her art—“Sometimes from necessity!”—to related fields adjacent to her dance experience and art. “Dance is visceral,” she claims, “and life doesn’t make sense unless I’m doing it…But without story, dance itself could be boring, so I have always tried on new expressions and experience to bring this to life.”
Her very rich and revealing website reveals the variety and scope of her art: gillianrhodes.com. While not as intimate as a personal conversation or a live performance, it’s the next best thing. If you can’t drop in the historic Jones, please at least drop in on her user-friendly and finely crafted website.
Last Tuesday, Rhodes was familiarizing herself with the technical production range of the Jones Theater, and is now in daily rehearsal for the upcoming production. Afterwards however, during her remaining “rest” time in the Valley, she would very much like to be engaged with yet another aspect of her creativity—not only sharing via performance but as well by way of one-on-one conversations exploring “what is possible” in creative life and living, the nuances of following a hint of interest to a passionate life in the arts. Please contact Rhodes at email@example.com to set up some personal time with her; she welcomes personal exchange. Better yet, hang out after one of her performances to set up some meet times.
By the way, that pleasurable dynamic is also reflected in her immersion in other nations and cultures. After familiarizing herself with local artists and how they’re creating and performing, she immediately seeks out a language class or teacher to bring her into conversational ability within the community. The languages that live on her tongue are as diverse as the cultures from within which she has nurtured and grown her art. The Valley is privileged to have the opportunity to experience and engage in what Rhodes actually regards as her privilege: to simultaneously shape and share her work with us.
One last note that simply aches to be recorded in the mesh of our unique community with Rhodes’ unique career: she is an astrophysics nut, again from an early age. When she and her sisters were home schooled, one of their sibling projects was a newspaper—she wrote the astronomy column, having been enthralled with the cosmic environment since she was five, cradling a guide to the starry nights and the universe ever so preciously. She was thrilled when her parents moved to an International Dark Sky Community, and recalls her first gasps of awe viewing the Valley’s nightscape: “Andromeda with the naked eye!”
Kind of makes sense: an attraction to the boundless universe, while moving with celestial grace into and through her creative, artful life.
– W.A. Ewing