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Helen Dominguez – Agbedidi: Beginnings


    We live in a society that builds and fights based on science. “Follow the science…” “Science tells us…” “Innovations in science…” It is everywhere. Science is useful and valuable but where does that leave history, story, or myth? In the time of Covid-19 science was king. It told us to isolate and hide, contradicting our instinct to be in community. Out of love and fear many of us complied but the need for connection was still there. In an effort to connect we turned to our own personal histories and ancestry. The deep beliefs, emotions, and needs that science did not have a satisfactory answer to in this challenging time. Beginnings started before Covid but found its power in the heart of dark loneliness and the community of our ancestors.

    The concept began with choreographer, Dumbutshena answering the question, what does my Zimbabwe ancestry teach about creation? What grew was a poem and a traditional dance that took us on a journey following characters, creatures, and creations according to Chivanhu myth. As the costume designer I took inspiration from images of the trees, waterfalls, and unique night sky of Zimbabwe. Weaving textures, colors, and traditional fabrics into the dancers’ costumes. I listened to the music that accompanied the dance and read the poem repeatedly, contemplating how to show the body and enhance their movements. The climax of the myth and the subsequent conflict is the creation of people, who are worshippers, builders, creators, and predators. The costumes for these characters were inspired by the beautiful huts of the Matobo women and traditional African costume. The result was a base costume to which we could add or subtract elements that took us on this creation journey. It honored a people and belief that is beautiful and valuable despite its seeming obscurity and lack of scientific evidence. It honored the journey of connectivity, mirrored by many in the time of Covid-19, into myth and the past. It is stories like these, performed in places far from their origin, that connect us to each other, our past, and our planet.

    Production Credits

    Director – Rujeko Dumbutshena
    Director – Trent D. Williams – Jr.
    Choreographer – Rujeko Dumbutshena

    Scene Design – Grace Korsmo
    Scene Design – Laura Swarner
    Costume Design – Helen Dominguez
    Lighting Design
    – Mason Schmidt
    Projection Design – Michael Clark
    Projection Design – Amy Trylor
    Sound Design – Jing Zhao

    Production Stage Manager – Jordan Lindquist
    Tech Director – Even Alguire
    Props Artisan – Tony Berry

    Actors featured in Photos

    Wyatt Brown
    Aboubacar Camara
    Lisbeth Dominguez
    Jasmine Lopez
    Nicole Machado
    Kenneth Metzker
    Tamya Ruff
    Lexie Sealy
    Aboubacar Soumah
    Danny Stuart
    Essence Thomas
    Shea Willet

    Studio Manager – Megan Szloboda