US | Francesca Harper in “The Calling”

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Francesa Harper in “The Calling.” Photo by Bill Hebert.

By Grace Aneiza Ali

She emerged on stage rooted at the center of an ocean of white waves. Draped in an endless white gown, Francesa Harper’s solo performance in “The Calling” is immediately haunting and the most compelling piece in the Francesca Harper Project’s fifth anniversary presentation held at Joyce Soho in June. Choreographed by Jessica Lang and set to the music of Gustav Mahler, “The Calling” is a beautiful melange of contradictions.

Harper is grounded in an unmovable stance. Her feet never step out of the center.  Instead her body twists, turns and reaches to make a connection with the dark empty spaces around her. Wrapped, almost entrapped in seemingly never ending white, is she a virgin bride? An angel? A sinner taken to the river for baptism? Is this the battle between the light and the dark? Whatever it is, there’s an unshakeable sense that the spiritual is being reinvented here.

Even with the piece’s censored movements, there is so much joy in Harper’s body language. She moves gracefully and freely from one central point, as if to say: I am grounded here, I am centered  here, and yet I am still free to move about, to reach for the unknown.

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