Evolving Floral


Evolving Floral
Durational, site-specific dance performance with Ryn McPherson
Curated by Kyle Pfister for the Rock County Folk Symposium
September 2011

Many flowers have close relationships with one or a few specific pollinating organisms (for instance, relying on one species of insect for successful reproduction).  This close relationship is a co-evolution, as the flower and pollinator are thought to have developed together over a long period of time to match each other’s needs.  The extinction of either member in such a relationship would mean almost certain extinction of the other member as well.

In a durational dance performance, Katrina and Ryn embody an orchid’s precarious integration into its environment.  The orchid’s first encounter with a wasp, its co-evolved pollinator, upsets the borders of the orchid’s identity, catalyzing a process of destruction and transformation.  Orchid and wasp fluctuate between attachment and separation in a cycle of desire and resistance, survival and loss.  Imagining that gender and sex fluidity could complicate the power dynamic of floral reproduction, Katrina and Ryn test the limits of evolutionary dependency between a flower and its partner.  In a struggle to reclaim a self-contained identity, the flower resists pollination by an external organism, asserting its power and desire to self-pollinate.  Yet even divided against the wasp-other, the orchid-self finds itself to be a multiple body – almost as if it had consumed the wasp – and the boundaries between the flower and the pollinator have already begun to blur.

Inspired in part by Eiko & Koma’s durational performance Naked (2011), Evolving Floral is cyclically structured: an hour-long narrative trajectory from stillness to action that repeats (with modifications) for the next hour, and then culminates in the final forty minutes.  Over the course of 160 minutes, the flower-self integrates into her environment, the wasp-other integrates into the flower-self’s environment, a conflict/power struggle ensues, followed by a break, and then the cycle repeats.  The soundtrack to the performance included Katie Stelmanis, Lykke Li, and Les Georges Leningrad.

Developed through butoh and contact improv exercises, Katrina and Ryn’s performance process emphasized experiencing vs. acting.  The focus was not on performing for an audience, but inhabiting a state that they would witness.  Most of the piece (except for the escalated segment at the end of each hour) was slooooooow – a luxurious sinking into the environment – really opening up each moment/movement, taking pleasure in total immersion in the performance, allowing the body to move organically, from spontaneous feelings and instincts.  We focused on channeling the masculine/feminine energy of the flower-wasp and embodying it in whatever way felt natural.  The first part of each hour was our space to meditate, channel energy, soak in the landscape, and feel our body communicating with it, as if being born.  The dance was also a ritual – of purging, clearing, grounding, charging, opening, protecting, creating.


Uranus Plant Qualities (Aquarius)
Destruction of old patterns, tumultuous change, revolution

Pluto Plant Qualities (Scorpio)
Bulbs that are buried in the winter, emerge in the spring, and die back
nature changed by combining with other plants
self-destruction, transformation
slowly building psychic energy