Memorial Day weekend, a time to remember and honour those who have served, those who have given and sacrificed that others may enjoy freedom and democracy. Tonight’s show was a tribute to Memorial Day, themed to honour the USA, the military, and freedom. Everyone was well-organized and prepared for this very special show. Paul and Jilley greeted arriving guests, DJ Gunner was spinning tunes and welcoming arrivals, Wiz was busy checking on performers and helping to get the audience settled into their seats with instructions on how to have the best possible viewing experience. I think everyone backstage took a knee before this show, as there was an air of reverence present above and beyond the usual atmosphere. Our performers were focused on the theme of this special presentation. The Black Eyed Peas’ much-loved song “I Gotta Feeling” hit the airwaves, announcing the start of the show, and the first act was up.
The curtain opened to reveal a burnt-out crash site, wrecked military helicopters and debris in a river. The straw hats floating on the water were especially poignant. Smoke in the air, an eerie yellow sky… a battle zone. Aly danced as a soldier to “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits in an exquisitely choreographed ballet. Light on the water changed colours as the song progressed which was incredible to see, going from moonlit white to the golden yellow of explosions to red like blood running. It was a powerful dance that evoked RL tears and strong emotion.
Ame brought us the “cute and heart-warming” with her dance to Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried”. A gorgeous set with the most beautiful sky in shades of pink and the best fireworks I have ever seen in SL, the scene was a family picnic with old trucks and simple country goodness. Families danced while enjoying a barbeque and life in general, featuring the CUTEST Nadi dancing around from one person to another… and dancing with such delightful choreography! It was an uplifting look at value systems and enjoying the simple things in life, which are usually the best things. A wonderful reminder to consider our blessings. With Zach, Nevar, Renee, and Nadi.
Next, that devil girl Jilley flew a chopper onto the stage and crashed it into the jungle as she and Paul danced on a natural rock bridge. Smoke rose as explosions ignited, lighting up the dancers in yellow flames. Wild and Aly made their way through the jungle and joined the dance melee up on the wall, and there was smoke in the jungle, dancing to a reworked version of “War” by Edwin Starr. The choreography was BADASS and was as explosive as the grenades going off all around the dancers. It was our Jilley, kicking ass on the stage with the kind of energy that makes it hard for you to stay in your seat in RL. With Paul, Aly, and Wild.
This time when the curtain parted, Kyshra took us to Arlington Cemetery, dancing as an angel in respect for those who gave all. Tombstones strewn with roses, roses in the grass, and a backdrop featuring one of the most powerful pictures I have ever seen, showing soldiers who lost their lives reaching out in reflection to those left behind to grieve… hands meeting… at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, The Wall. Kyshra wore an ethereal white gown with wispy wings and danced in honour of those who died in the line of duty. The song was “We Were Men” by Theory of a Deadman. She sparkled with love as delicate, colourful particles lit up all around her, which felt like comfort being offered to those in mourning.
Our Wiz stepped up next, our resident shapeshifter, transforming into an old retired military man, in uniform and dancing at a flea market as though he is part of what has been discarded. Many items representing moments in a soldier’s life, everything is a dollar. The song was “Soldier’s Things” by Tom Waits. There was something sorrowful in Wiz’s dance that quietly reminded us to not take for granted or discount… derogate… depreciate… the service given to all by those who serve in the military. It was beautifully danced, poetic and eloquent, and the kind of dance that lingers in the thoughts long after the curtain closes.
We finally came to the last dance of the evening, which was by me. I chose to perform to “The Star Spangled Banner” by Madison Rising. This is my favourite version of this song. It is sung with such passion and majesty. I wore a costume that resembled George Washington, starting on an ocean enveloped by rays of sunlight. I rose and danced from one side of the stage to the other, and as I moved through the air, terrain and plant life appeared that eventually revealed itself to be a map of sorts of the United States, with the terrain and plant life being region specific across the country. Even Alaska and Hawaii were included. I then danced in the center of the country, the Statue of Liberty and iconic Bald Eagle appearing, and finally the U.S. flag itself. Yes, that star spangled banner does yet wave o’r the land of the free and the home of the brave.
This brought us to our popular crowd dances, choreographed by Jilley and presented on a stage patriotically decorated for Memorial Day, including a texture-changing background that showed scenes paying respect to the military. The choreography was tight and everyone looked amazing dancing to “God Bless America by Madison Rising, “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and “Living in America” by James Brown. We really enjoy getting to dance with our audience, and they enjoy it too. It is time for bonding, getting to know each other better, and having fun with music and movement. We thank everyone who comes out to our shows, as our audience are as much a part of our shows as the dancers themselves. Part of why we dance is for the fun and friendship of it, and Elysium has an audience that is so friendly and such fun, they give us the energy and inspiration to keep making more shows!
I would also like to thank Elysium Management Paul Woodrunner, Jilley, and Wiz Nirvana for all the behind the scenes work that they do; DJ Gunner von Phoenix for the music without which dance would not be very nice; and all of Elysium’s choreographers, dancers, and cherished guest performers for bringing their talent and creative vision to Elysium’s stage each week. Pics by Fuki with thanks!