The dance work "Stranger Name" was created by Elizabeth Dishman and presented during Spark+Echo Arts Live 2014 in NYC. The piece is a response to the theme of “strangers” and the passages of Matthew 16:17-19, John 1:42, and John 21:15-19.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
Contemplating the theme of Strangers, I started thinking about how we can be strangers to ourselves. I’ve always been intrigued by instances in the Bible when God re-names someone, so for this work I focused on Jesus giving Peter a new name, and predicting both glorious and horrible things for Peter’s life. “Stranger Name” ponders what it could be like to receive a new name, to wrestle with a new identity, one that only God understands and aids us in developing.
Initially this was a solo work, the dancer engaging with the props on her own initiative. But something felt missing; I wanted to be more explicit about the relational struggle inherent in taking on, accepting, or being asked to accept a new identity. I was hesitant to introduce a God or Jesus figure, but decided to see what it would be like to have another person there, at first just witnessing, then assisting, then strongly shaping the action. The outcome, for me, reflects a very true scenario in which God is present in many different ways, some more welcome than others.
Elizabeth Dishman is the Artistic Director of Dishman + Co. Choreography, a Brooklyn-based experimental dance company founded in 2001. Originally from Colorado, she studied Voice Performance at Emory University, and Choreography at The Ohio State University. In pursuit of ineffable junctures between the abstract and theatrical, the universal and deeply personal, Elizabeth and her collaborators devote themselves to scrupulous exploration and ardent play, probing the elusiveness of live performance in search of lasting things. Over 15 years and 40+ original works, Dishman + Co.’s choreography has been described by critics as “complex skeins and cerebral dreams”, “bodies in rigorous concentration”, and “playful and provocative…raw humanity seeps in”. www.DishmanAndCo.org