SEPTEMBER 2021 | Volume 207


Production image

 Melanie Orr Photography - Starr Muranko.

Chapter 21
Raven Spirit Dance
Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova St.
Sept 29-Oct 3
From $15 or 604-689-0926

The Firehall opens its ambitious 2021/22 season with powerful dance theatre from Raven Spirit Dance, a moving journey from darkness into light. Choreographed and performed by Starr Muranko, and directed by Yvette Nolan, the autobiographical piece tells the story of Muranko’s breast cancer—her diagnosis, treatment and recovery—and the birth of her son, Sami. Its title refers to the twenty-one days between her chemotherapy treatments as well as the chromosome that will shape her baby’s life.

Muranko dances barefoot in a nightgown on an empty stage with only a female mannikin upstage right. She sometimes stops dancing to tell parts of her story to the audience. We also hear her recorded voice matter-of-factly recounting the troubling news she gets from her doctors, advice from her friends and family, her fears and hopes.

The dancing at first is frantic: a nightmarish struggle against the betrayals of her body, against fate, against the world. Edgardo Moreno’s music turns harsh with electronic distortion as Jonathan Kim’s lighting flickers and strobes. At one point Muranko takes a purse off the mannikin and pulls out stacks of what might be bills, scattering them across the stage as if all the money in the world were useless to her.

But with the help of religious conviction and her own strength, after surgery and the birth of her son she grows calmer, the dancing more fluid, the music less dissonant. The performance turns luminous as she develops a new mantra: “I knew it was gonna be okay.” There’s even some lovely comedy involving a wig and lipstick. She embraces the challenges and adores her son. This chapter won’t be over but she can turn the page. Yeah, it’ll be okay.



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