'This healing property': En Route's new collaborative dance work 'Gentle Our Driftless Caravan'
The new dance piece Gentle our Driftless Caravan, from En Route Productions, is an exploration of water, movement, and music. It began, though, as a way for producer Lindsay Doleshal to process grief.
“A year ago my father passed away, in a rather dramatic way,” Doleshal says. “And so the grief that came along with that… ebbs and flows – [as] anyone who has experienced grief knows – much like water. And water was also the thing that was most comforting to me in that time, whether it was just being in the bath or a lake or a river or a pool, whatever. Just finding water to alleviate some of that grief. And so that was the initial idea – I just started to think about water as this healing property and did a little bit of research around that. I wanted to do something for my dad, in theater. But I felt as though, to explore that, it needed to be in movement. And I am not a choreographer, but I pride myself in finding really outstanding artists to work with.”
She approached choreographer Alexa Capareda, telling her she wanted to create “a piece about memory and water and grief,” Doleshal recalls, “and I don’t know what it is exactly, but can you find some people and let’s make this happen?”
Capareda brought in BLiPSWiTCH, a collaborative movement directed by Taryn Lavery and Alex Miller; Doleshal recruited more artists to work on the design, lighting, and music, and the project was underway.
Though Gentle our Driftless Caravan started as a way to process her grief, Doleshal says she didn’t ask any of her collaborators to explicitly create a tribute to her late father. “I didn’t put [that] on them because it’s a little personal,” she says.
What the collection of artists came up with is a mix of movement and music, informed by ideas of memory, grief, and poetry, using the imagery of water. “I hope that the majority of the things that we make are not taken so literally, and are able to transcend people on different levels,” Miller says. “Maybe a specific part of this work hits somebody right in the heart like we wanted it to, but hopefully you can interpret things in your own way. Which, I think, is why we wanted to come up with a title that was not so on-the-nose. Whereas maybe, you know, you can name something and somebody comes in as an audience member and they expect to be sad. We kind of didn’t want to open it up to Hello, we’re making a sad dance. Come and be sad. Hopefully we can spark some different emotions and pique some different interests than just creating a dance about grief, because there are so many more levels to it, I think.”