House of Names Program
Photo by Marina Eybelman
Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but when she rebuffs Apollo, he curses her: she will always tell the truth but no one will ever believe her. Here, we look at this Greek myth today: who is believed, who is heard, who has the power? She takes us through the rest of the ballet, looking at the stories of other women—
Lot’s Wife looks back. In the Old Testament, God tells Lot He is going to destroy the city where he lives; Lot can take his wife and two of his daughters and escape, but they cannot look back. Lot’s wife (we name her Mira) does look back and is turned into a pillar of salt. For us, this story is contemporary too; if you are forced to immigrate, what do you take, what do you leave? And if you knew everyone you cared for would be destroyed, would you turn your back or hold out a hand?
La Llorona is betrayed by her lover, the father of her children. In revenge she drowns their children, and spends the rest of eternity in grief, searching for them. This section looks at the story as a postpartum psychosis narrative. La Llorona is an overwhelmed young mother; she is haunted by the voices in her head: Anxiety, Paranoia and Depression. They begin to manipulate her until they become integral to her.
Miriam leads her people into hope through song and dance. Also from the Old Testament, Miriam is Moses’ sister. As children, she saves his life by making sure he is rescued by the Pharos’ daughter. As an adult, she is an unsung hero: leading her people in song and dance, keeping their spirits lifted during harrowing times. It is Miriam who leads the women of House of Names into hope for change.
At the end, Cassandra is finally believed; she is seen and heard, and at last, the other women join their voices with hers. They are all part of the same tribe: the tribe of humanity, living together in the House of Names.
Young Cassandra: Masha Gologorskaya
Narration by Lena Mullins from Cassandra by Kerry Greenwood
Narration by Sara Felder of Lot’s Wife by Kristine Batey
La Llorona (and the Voices in her head):
Alysia Chang with
Fabiana Santiago (understudy)
Narration by Chelsea Hollow of a poem by Reetika Vazirani
Camille Barlow (understudy)
Narration by Tsurah August of a Chabad midrash
All the women
Choreographer: Marika Brussel
Music: Carla Lucero
Cinematographer/editor: Peter T. Ruocco
Lighting Designer: Allen Willner
Music co-Producer/Mixer: Spencer Keene
Ballet Master: Kai Davis
Costumes: S-Curve Apparel & Design
with additional costumes by Josh Ugarte
Chelsea Hollow: Soprano
Music Recorded at Different Fur Studios
Engineer: Lien Do
Lot’s Wife Music
“Overture,” “Rough Trick,” and “The Capture,”
From the opera WUORNOS by Carla Lucero
Featuring pianist Ninowska Fernandez-Brito
ASL Interpreter: Eboni Gaytan
Painting on Miriam's phone: "Restoration," by Lauren Sarat
Thank you for watching this performance. We began rehearsals for House of Names in late 2019, expecting to perform it live, at ODC Theater, in April 2020. Over the 15 months of the pandemic, this ballet took on new artists, and shifted its shape. I am so grateful to everyone who was involved in this process (see acknowledgements below). And am so indebted to you, our audience, for keeping hope alive and for investing yourself in the arts.
There are so many people I want to thank for making this production possible. Each person made this ballet deeper and richer.
First of all, Carla Lucero, my collaborator and composer of the music. We came up with the ideas together and created this together. The dance artists who first worked on this with me at Keshet Makers Space in Albuquerque: Chris Bornet, Kiera Johnson, Kira Petersen, Kelly Ruggiero and Jaclyn Younger. The dance artists who originally worked on La Llorona in San Francisco, but were unable to perform: Alexis Borth and Coral Martin, Charlotte DeRoulhac, Maya Sprague and Kiko Tilles . The studios that gave me residencies so we had space to work, I am forever grateful: Keshet Arts, Levydance and Moving Arts, and everyone at ODC Commons, especially Monica Ascencio, Joseph Copley and Nick Wagner. Amy Foley, who worked with me and her own dancers in 2019 in preparation of this show. Special thanks to Kathryn Roszak and Women Ballet Choreographers and Composers for introducing me and Carla. And not least, my husband, Kevin Keeker, who is always in my corner.
This production wouldn’t be possible without the generous financial support of Nancy Curtiss, Cindy Grand, Nancy Marks, Larry Price, and so many of my students and friends.
Filmed at ODC Theater June 2021