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DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANCE: 651 Arts Presents Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks “3 RITES: LIFE” (Work in Progress)

DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANCE: 651 Arts Presents Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks  “3 RITES: LIFE” (Work in Progress)
Toussaint Jeanlouis/ Follow Toussaint on Instagram:@creatous

By Toussaint Jeanlouis/ Follow Toussaint on Instagram:@creatous
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Published on October 9, 2023
Cover photo by nikki lee

Choreography & Direction: Edisa Weeks in Collaboration with the Performers
Performers: Mars Garcia, Uilalani Marx, Devin Oshiro, Ashley Pierre-Louis, J’nae Simmons
Lighting Design: Tim Cryan
Scenic Design: You-Shin Chen
Sound Environment: La Fraie Sci
When: September 14 - 17, 2023
Where: ChaShaMa, 675 3rd Ave 32nd Fl, New York, NY

More About The 3 RITES: LIFE, LIBERTY, and HAPPINESS Trilogy: 
651 Arts presented 3 RITES: Liberty (work-in-progress) in 2020 and the 3 RITES: Liberty - 'Roots Party Zine Release' in April 2023. The organization will present 3 RITES: LIBERTY (world premiere) at the Mark O’Donnell Theatre, Brooklyn from October 12 - 15, 2023 (click for tickets), and 3 RITES: HAPPINESS at the Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn from November 16 - 18, 2023 (click for tickets).


3 RITES: LIFE is a world constructed of recycled materials that invites the audience to engage in a multi-layered visual and immersive experience. Through craft-making, visual art, theater, and dance, the audience is taken on an interactive journey to witness a land that can be sculpted, destroyed, and rebuilt again… with more plastic.

3 RITES: LIFE by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks at ChaShaMa. Photo by Tony Turner

Choreographed and directed by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks, 3 RITES: LIFE was presented by 651 Arts as a work in progress at ChaShaMa NYC from September 14 - 17, 2023 in preparation for its world premiere in 2025. Through its multiple layers meanings, the work evokes nostalgia, beauty, and provocation while also serving as a stark reminder of what is inevitable and the urgent need to create a collective call for a sustainable future. 

3 RITES: LIFE is the first in the trilogy *3 RITES: LIFE, LIBERTY, and HAPPINESS, which began taking shape in 2015 during a creative residency at Materials for the Arts. The trilogy explores the purpose of “life, liberty, and happiness” in the United States Declaration of Independence, what it means today, and who has access to these unalienable rights.

3 RITES: LIFE by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks at ChaShaMa. Photos by Alex Bershaw

The performance begins in an open room where audience members craft musical instruments out of cardboard tubes, plastic straws, clay, and string. This initiation allows us to physically participate in the creation of the world we are about to enter.

Before we proceed to the next installation space, two dancers dressed like Voudou Priestesses cleanse us by shaking pill bottles filled with googly-eyes over our bodies. Ritual envelops us as we transition from one remarkable curated scene to the next. 

3 RITES: LIFE by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks at ChaShaMa. Photos by Alex Bershaw

Behind a heavy curtain, we find ourselves in a dark spiritual realm made of black plastic bags. Suspended by strings from the ceiling are what appear to be black chicken hearts dangling from tiles made of black to-go boxes. As the two dancers sway back and forth, they remind us, “We must delve into the past in order to forge ahead into the future.” The ancestral figures repeatedly point and pull back like archers to guide and enlighten us about the future.

3 RITES: LIFE by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks at ChaShaMa. Photo by Tony Turner

The dancers take us by the hand, leading us into a liminal white space where we encounter a seven-foot-tall African ceremonial entity, constructed of black plastic bags. The being gifts us with our very own bottle to play with. We are then released into a space called “Wastelandia,” where the floor is covered in a landfill of recycled objects. As I scan the floor I see a doll head, rubber dog toys, empty orange juice containers, Astroglide lube bottles, and a hypnotic indigo ball. In the background, there is an igloo made of plastic, and beside it, a toddler’s red slide.

3 RITES: LIFE by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks at ChaShaMa. Photos by Alex Bershaw

Filling our shaker bottles with googly-eyes or buttons, a dancer invites us to assist in dressing the stage by emptying several bags of recycled plastics to build sculptures with. The dancers draw us into the world of play when they speak and look directly at us. They sift and swim through the ocean of plastics like children and toss a ball back and forth with the audience. Dragging their bodies across the floor, objects are pushed off the stage and fall at our feet. This play awakens my inner-child and yet I too am thinking, “Where did all this plastic come from? And, who is going to clean up this mess?”

3 RITES: LIFE by Delirious Dances/Edisa Weeks at ChaShaMa. Photos by Alex Bershaw

A woman passes by each audience member while making eye contact, and extending an open palm with a shaker in her other hand. Child, Daughter, Mother, Sister, Seeker, Innocence are characteristics she possesses, as I see her search through and clear away the objects. Two men are heard in a voiceover discussing, “The Future is Plastic,” as we watch her struggle to push through a wall, collapse, and try again. I feel her exhaustion and a sense of hopelessness.

With ease we are captivated, alternating from interacting with the play to observing. 3 RITES: LIFE provides moments of self-reflection, education, community, and a call to action. I was enamored with the experience because I was given room to be present, play, and participate in world building. Weeks crafts access points that allow anyone to be a participant in the conversation, feel represented, and be empowered to take accountability to make momentous change. The intelligence, detail, and heart that Edisa Weeks puts into her work is marvelous.

The Dance Enthusiast’s DAY IN THE LIFE covers the stories behind dance/performance and creates conversation. For more behind-the-scenes stories from NYC and beyond, click here.

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