JoGa is the Berlin-based Free Improv/Realtime Music duo of drummer Joe Smith (US) and singer Ganna Gryniva (UA). Active on the Berlin music scene since January 2014, their unique, innovative sound emerges through their sensitivity and search for new ways to create music based on real time interaction. By applying their diverse musical backgrounds: Jazz, Blues, Folklore and Ethnic music, JoGa creates an innovative variety of sounds, grooves and musical moods. Joe uses two drum sets, constructing an elaborate cage of percussion, triangles, and bells. Ganna, who sings in Ukrainian, her mother tongue, uses effects and loops inspired by her mentor Michael Schiefel. The duo is excited to be expanding their performance concept to incorporate other artistic mediums such as dance, poetry and video animation and also incorporating social topics into their performances that they feel need to be discussed.
Nina Simone summed it up: artists have the task and the obligation to reflect and discuss the challenges of their time. With their performance piece Muladhara Rising, JoGa plans on doing just that; to dig deep into the topic of gender. To start by reflecting on and making a distinction between the sexes based on biological differences as well as the diverse possibilities of sexual desire between them. To then discuss how these two aspects influence and shape the physical, mental and emotional self-perception of an individual in an environment. Finally by taking into account the importance of external perception, to explore the possible strategies for overcoming clear dividing lines and gender assignments in society and in ourselves.
The framework of the piece is inspired by the Chakras, the seven energy portals in the human body. The performance will progress through seven short acts that will each incorporate the specific attributes of each chakra and create metaphorical parallels between them and the origins, conflicts and relationships between the genders. To aid in presenting specific story-line topics, two protagonists, Morgan and Phoenix, whose names are gender neutral, will take the audience on a journey through the evolution of the story. Using creative costume ideas, props and other distinctions, the audience will witness Morgan and Phoenix being portrayed by different dancers and musicians on stage at different times throughout the piece in order to take advantage of the expressive qualities of each artistic medium. The performers on stage who are not portraying the protagonists at any given time will be using their artistic mediums to contribute to creating the mood that surrounds the actions of the protagonists. In the construction process, specific stories and conflicts concerning gender will be developed by the performers by first determining where they fall onto the chakra framework, showing from where they came from and then finally presenting how they could naturally evolve. Just as the Chakras do in the body, each act will build upon the previous one, raising up the energy and consciousness of the topics towards a resolution.
Throughout the performance, a timeless, mysterious and unexplained presence in the form of a giant puppet will inhabit the stage and interact with the protagonists; sometimes supporting them and sometimes disrupting them. The puppet will be constructed and manipulated by Liz Kosack who will also play synthesizers. In the first act, Muladhara, the stage will be bathed in the color red and the performers will begin the story using the characteristics of the first chakra; raw, animalistic energy. This chakra corresponds to the earth element. The root. Using this raw and barbaric energy the performers will depict the source of the separation of the sexes and the pain and suffering that resulted from it. The protagonists Morgan and Phoenix are born into the conflict. Using vocal effects that drop their voices down an octave, JoGa will present a poem, barely intelligible. The next act Svadhisthana presents the color orange. The water element. Sensual. Pleasure seeking. This chakra energy will depict the protagonists as they discover their own sexuality and sense of gender and embrace the enjoyment of it. Then comes Manipura with the color yellow; the fire element, the ego emerges. Our protagonists are presented with a series of conflicts and positive events that depict how their sexual orientation and sense of gender define their own sense of self. At the climax of the act, Morgan and Phoenix present a poem constructed of dialog that originates from polar opposite perspectives. Anahata, the heart chakra and air element are perfectly in the middle of the Chakras and of the performance. The stage turns green and it’s other energies are presented; compassion, empathy. Unconditional love begins to flow to our protagonists making them begin to realize that they are connected and going through the same conflicts as everyone else. The throat chakra Visuddha presents the color blue. The ether element. Communication, sharing. The expression of one’s own truth. Through communication and understanding, the protagonists are able to begin resolving conflicts and empathizing with one another; rising above the trivial circumstances that tend to separate us all. Ajna, the third eye presents the color purple with all of the elements combined. Transcending time, this energy gives the gift of seeing outer and inner worlds alike and begins to travel up into spiritual realms. From this higher perspective, the protagonists are able to let the conflicts of gender fall away as their own sense of unity and oneness with everything begins to blossom. The last chakra and finale of the performance is Sahasrara. The stage is bathed in the color violet. The timeless, mysterious presence takes center stage feeling completely at home in this energy and leads all of the performers through the blissful, god-like energy. A final poem is presented by Morgan and Phoenix using a harmonizing vocal effect that changes their voices into those of multidimensional, futuristic beings. The end of the performance arrives in a future where human interaction, communication, art, music and simply existing are all one and the same.
The first INTERLINK Music & Dance improv session
JoGa + Liz Kosak featuring Lea Hladka (Dance) Live at Geyger Art Gallery, Berlin