Made to Dance in Burning Buildings is a fusion of poetry, theatre, and violent and visceral contemporary dance which poses the question: how do we heal from trauma?
It's about Ava, a young black woman, who is raped by her boyfriend's friends while he watches; she develops PTSD as a result.
Metaphorically, she fractures into five different women who each represent a different facet of her personality (Romance, Despair, Madness, Perseverance, and Missing You). Poetically, these women narrate her journey through PTSD while she, her first love, and her abusers explore through dance the trauma and the events leading up to it.
Based on a true story, and inspired by the original choreopoem, Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls, this play seeks to revolutionize the theatrical experience by combining poetry and breathtaking and gut-wrenching contemporary dance to tell an all too familiar story in a brand new way.
Reviews of Made to Dance in Burning Buildings:
“Pearson has created a love poem…Made to Dance in Burning Buildings—is certainly poetic. It is also about the toughest, fiercest kind of love of all—the love of self it takes to transcend trauma. That's why the presentation transfixes, even when it terrifies you so deeply it's tempting to turn away. ..a powerful lament, but a brave, epic and steadfast tale of rebirth.” - Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Willamette Week
“Made to Dance in Burning Buildings” shares cadences and metaphorical stylings with Shange’s “choreopoem,” which tells the stories of black women’s experiences of racist and sexist oppression. In its bleakest and most claustrophobic moments, as abusers on stilts scratch at the torn walls of Ava’s psyche, demanding to be let in, it also recalls “4.48 Psychosis,” Sarah Kane’s suffocating exploration of depression and self-harm. But where Kane was obsessed with destruction, Pearson celebrates survival and closes the performance with a defiant soliloquy, saying, “I am not your victim.” - Ben Waterhouse, The Oregonian
Audience Reaction to Made to Dance in Burning Buildings:
“This is absolutely one of the best pieces of theatre we have ever seen.This is so well done, words cannot do this justice. Do not miss a chance to see this.”
“Anya Pearson is a beautiful force in this world. On Friday, my mom and I attended the opening of Anya’s choreopoem, Made to Dance in Burning Buildings, directed by Jamie M. Rea at Shaking the Tree. Through poetry and dance, Anya transforms heart-crushing grief into a Phoenix rising from the ashes. I sobbed, exalted and felt my heart full of gratitude to be able to share the space and experience of growth, perseverance, and to be reminded of the immeasurable power that exists in the act of creating. Anya, the world is blessed to have you.”
“The most powerful expression of trauma I’ve ever seen. Courageous and intense, Made to Dance in Burning Buildings gives audiences a unique opportunity to witness precisely what it means to be a Survivor. To see this production is to see Us. Congratulations to Anya, cast, and crew, on an astonishing show."