Haiti earthquake continues to influence Gaspard & Dancers

Oct. 17, 2013 @ 03:43 PM

The plight of Haitians three years after the devastating, Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake continues to haunt native son Gaspard Louis. For proof, look no further than his new dance, “Annatations,” included in the Gaspard & Dancers program at 8 p.m. today (Oct. 18) – Saturday (Oct. 19) in Reynolds Industries Theater.
In it, he imagines a purgatory in which some of the estimated 300,000 quake victims remain in limbo. “We are stripped of what we thought was our most valuable possession – our body. Once in purgatory, we realize how foolish we have been as humans. … Our interaction with each other will decide our final resting place,” Louis writes.
“There’s no room for hatred. We find our way towards the light,” Louis added in a recent phone interview.
He said he was thinking about man’s inhumanity to man in general and Haiti’s tumultuous history in particular. Oppression, in one form or another, has plagued his country even after slaves revolted against their French rulers and gained independence in 1804.
“If it’s not man-made, it’s nature-made,” Louis said of his country’s struggles.
These days, unemployment is 70 percent, and some 350,000 Haitians still live in squalid tent camps, according to a Time World report.
“As a native son, it is heart-breaking for me to see. … One family member is not doing well, others are still struggling,” he said of his large family in Haiti.  “The sad thing is – I have to make a conscious effort not to think about it. … It’s too painful – the fact that I can’t help as much as I’d like to.”
This new dance is a companion piece to Louis’ 2012 “Souke” (“To Shake”) inspired by Haitians’ courage during and after the quake. This dance is also in the new program that includes Durham native Gregory Hinton’s performance of Talley Beatty’s  “Mourner’s Bench.” (See related story.) 
This program also features another new work, “Rubics Cube,” featuring Louis, Kate Currin and Sebastian Alexis. This work revolves around how they move in relation to each other and compliment each other’s unique movement style and personality, Louis added.
When asked about whether they form puzzles with their bodies, such as in some Pilobolus dances (Louis is a former Pilobolus dancer), he said, “It’s more ‘dancey’ than ‘shapey.’” Although influenced by his time with Pilobolus, he seeks to forge his own style, he added.