"A couple awakens in another environment. Perhaps it's a new planet, or perhaps it's another state of mind. Either way, transformation is in-evitable." This quote is from Nicole Mitchell's sci-fi narrative Mandorla Awakening," which has developed into a multi-arts collaboration of new electro-acoustic music by creative flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell, choroegraphy by Lisa Naugle and video by Ulysses Jenkins, to premiere as a work-in-progress on November 22 and 23rd at 8pm at University of California Irvine's Experimental Theater (XMPL). The work features almost twenty performers who are a mixture of students and faculty at UC Irvine, and professional artists from LA, Chicago and the Bay Area.
For Mitchell, this is a dream come true. I have been working on some of these concepts for over a decade," she states, with excitement of the opportunity to bring it to fruition. At this time in my artistic life I'm sharing more of my inner thoughts, and instrumental music can't always express that clearly. As people we are so overwhelmed with dystopic ideas that it becomes hard for us to have hope. I want to help stimulate our knowledge that through vision we make new realities." Although Mandorla Awakening has no usage of words, it is based on Mitchell's fictional story and she is excited to see how it translates through sound, color, movement and video imagery to the audience.
The seed idea of the piece is Dorla discovers new consciousness in an inner- stellar world." The piece expresses an amplification of how our actions and even attitudes have a deep effect on the world around us, while hopefully inspiring our ideas of creative possibilities/alternative realities and raising new questions about difference. The audience can expect to experience the unexpected.
Mitchell's collaborators, Lisa Naugle and Ulysses Jenkins, are also professors at UC Irvine at Claire Trevor School of Arts. Jenkins is an award-winning visual artist and videographer renown for his afro-futurist and socially provocative work. Lisa Naugle is an international artist celebrated for her work in exploring telematics, motion-capture and modern improvisation through dance. Together they have worked to create a unified vision of an alternative world. Mandorla also includes the light design of Karyn Lawrence and costume design of Jeni Presnall.
The Mandorla Ensemble includes Chicago cellist and long time Mitchell collaborator Tomeka Reid, Bay area bassist Lisa Mezzacappa, LA stalwart star trumpeter Bobby Rodriguez, LA emerging jazz violinist Anna Okunev, and SoCali jazz/rock phenom the Mattson2," with Jonathan Mattson on drum set and Jared Mattson on electric guitar, and Nicole Mitchell on flute and electronics, among others.
LA Actor/musicians Najite Agindotan and Maia serve a special role as Sky Mandorlians" in the piece. Communicating wordlessly through video to the dancers on stage, they represent beings from another more-advanced dimension, while a team of dancers (all students in UCI's dance program with the exception of wild card actor Calvin Gantt) express the reality on the physical plane of Mandorla, a land with double suns.
This is just the beginning of a whole new process of exploration," states Mitchell, who also wanted to answer the question of What would a futuristic society that was in tune with nature be like?" That might be answered for the next stage of the piece, but this event proves to knock on the door to our imagination, which is Mitchell's primary goal.