Health and wellness
What is your Patient History?
By. Megan Curet
What is your Patient History?
This piece of performance art recounts what we avoid discussing around dance…your health and wellbeing.
On September 8th and 9th at Mr. Rogers, artist Natalie Deryn Johnson brought us a two-hour long solo performance of raw, tender and organic movement, voice and sound. Retelling her lifelong journey of unwarranted health conditions through various mediums. Original music by Reed Kackley met Johnson’s poetic vibrancy in an unorthodox setting, a gallery/art space in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Two full evenings meant two things, guest were venturing out to the far parts of Brooklyn to see art but most importantly, guest were ready to discuss what we so seldom. These two evenings of performance meeting art existed to recount what we already know about mental and physical health in dance but almost never discuss.
Through an opening monologue the audience gathered a brief sense for what was yet to come, Johnson repeatedly informs her audience that they are at liberty to leave at any given point and time. Following this tumultuous intro, the audience is left with a sense that this might be yet another episode of white privilege on display. Another solo act about what a hard life it is to be an artist. Facing the audience for one hour, it isn’t until almost intermission that the pace begins to pick up. Plugging in quirky one-liners and complete utter raw behavior and information.
Johnson eventually sways her audience to join her on this journey into the depths of what is clearly a very intimate performance. Through her sharp and agile movement vocabulary, the audience is moved by a tender and vulnerable artist. Leaving very little to the imagination and even less with a place to hide. Eventually the audience understands what it is they came here for. From a display of what might be misconstrued for white privilege, you are then introduced to a human and her struggle, her struggle to dance, her struggle to live and her struggle to survive.
Recounting failed love affairs; physical and mental health then offered dancers in the audience a sense of worth. In contrast a vivid flaw was then introduced to audience members who might only witness the fine lines of perfection when a dancer comes on stage. Critical moments of joy occurred timely, as Johnson ran back and forth on stage to her makeshift dressing room. Going in and out of clothing, the event felt as though you were at home together on a Friday night trying on your favorite outfits before deciding you might just stay home, finish that bottle of wine and cry over how hard life is.
A show both personal and relatable, brings us to an eye level with social concerns. Might dance artist know real internal struggle too? Combining all the mediums that performance offers, one might have spent the last hour fighting back the tears. You wonder, do we ever really know a person's story? Johnson reminds us, be vulnerable, be open, and allow yourself the time and space not only to make art…but to heal.