• Amenda Tate

Screaming Silence - action, reaction, and connection

This work was created during recent rehearsal with Ballet Des Moines.

I'm collaborating with Ballet Des Moines during a performance at the 2020 Greater Des Moines Partnership's Annual Dinner on Wed Jan 15. The dancers will be performing a work by renowned choreographer Ma Cong that debuted in its world premier during the Ballet Des Moines Triple Bill Connections in Fall 2019. He titled this contemporary dance "Screaming Silence."

Here's a bit about the concept behind the choreography from the Connections program:

"Haunted by the imagery of families being torn apart and loves ones being lost, 'Screaming Silence' explores the integral relationships and connections we form as humans. The music and choreography express the desperation of separation between loved ones with a haunting beauty, reminding us of the pain and joy we share through love."

There are numerous instances of push and pull within the choreography. The dancers meld together in tangled clusters, and at times, they almost seem to pass through each other. They break apart into smaller divisions before coming back together. There is a real sense of transience within the work. The fluidity of shifting shapes and groups give a sense of isolation without being physically detached from others - a type of "loneliness without being alone". There are moments when the dancers erupt with expressions of anguish and palatable emotion. A defenseless dancer moves according to the manipulation by others. Amid poignant tension, there are bursts of intense energy that portray how togetherness supports and lifts us up. It is a thoughtful reminder that, at the core, we are all connected. Being human is more than anyone does alone.

As my Manibus paint-bot responds to the movement and energy of the dance, I mindfully connect myself with the emotion, mood, and concept of the choreography, as well. I practice sensitivity in my choices relative to the work. In this instance, I consider the breaks, pauses, and shifts in dynamics throughout the number and align my color changes in time. Following several studies, I arrive at a final color scheme - one that is bold and intense while remaining comfortably familiar. The line quality is solid and sturdy at times and wispy and tenuous at others. Some paths overlap without predictable direction while others circle back upon themselves.

I determine the final structure of the painting to embody the same sense of disconnection present in the choreography. The finished piece consists of six 24" x 18" pieces, one fragment representative of each dancer. The paper pieces are held together during the painting process and taken apart upon completion. The dismantled painting represents what happens during separation. In time spent together, some traces of others stay with you and some traces of you stay with them. We all need to be mindful of the marks we make on the lives of each other. What does the bigger picture look like? Where do we fit as individuals?

Tomorrow night will be the live performance of our collaboration. I cannot wait to see the final results. One inevitable part of being human is that no moment in time ever exactly replicates itself.

More about the choroegrapher, Ma Cong:


More about the Greater Des Moines Partnership Annual Dinner event:


More about Ballet Des Moines:


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© 2020 by Amenda Tate, LLC

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