A leading Irish contemporary choreographer and her dance company will make its D.C. premiere next month with Yes and Yes, a reconceptualization of James Joyce’s classic, Ulysses.
D.C.’s contemporary Irish arts organization Solas Nua commissioned the Liz Roche Company to create the work, developed in a partnership with Cork Opera House, to mark the 100-year anniversary of Joyce’s novel.
What is now considered a towering work of modern literature wasn’t held in esteem at the time of its publication in 1922.
The experimental novel was branded as obscene by American moral crusaders who successfully won a court case banning the book from the U.S. for a decade, during which time the U.S. Post Office Department actually seized and burned contraband copies of it.
The chief offending passage is an allusive and metaphorical reference to masturbation that would have likely escaped the notice of average readers at the time.
The sensual classic famously concludes with the stream-of-consciousness musings of character Molly Bloom as she lies in bed next to her husband.
Bloom’s thoughts veer from those about past admirers, events of the day, her curtailed singing career — and a childhood friend characterized in such a way as to hint at a youthful lesbian fling. She ends by reciting her response to her husband’s marriage proposal: “Yes, I said yes, I will yes.”
Although its title derives from Bloom’s final exclamation, Roche’s Yes and Yes follows all 18 chapters of the evocative novel by exploring its wide-ranging, heady mix of ideas, including curiosity, sensuality, release, resignation, and surrender. The piece, reads an official release, “connects us into the minutiae of a moment while opening us up to the fleeting nature of experience.”
The city of Dublin and its people serve as the heart and backdrop of the piece, told through striking contemporary movement by a company “known for its finely wrought and beautifully crafted choreographic style.”
Yes and Yes will feature four of the company’s dancers — Sarah Cerneaux, Mufutau Yusuf, Grace Cuny, and Diarmuid Armstrong — who will perform to an original score by Ray Harman.
Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m. at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $45. Visit www.solasnua.org or call 765-276-8201.