Too weird? Not weird enough? The main character in dance professional Debi Irons’ unique dance-theater performance takes the audience on a fast-paced and humorous life journey that celebrates being an individual.

A poem and a talented son inspired Irons of Norway to create “A Wild Patience,” a two-act show she describes as a light-hearted presentation of a deeper message. Although Irons didn’t make the comparison, that message is a flowing and musical variation of Shakespeare’s longstanding advice of “to thine own self be true.”

“It’s about maintaining your integrity throughout your life,” said Irons. “To be able to look back at that little girl and say, ‘Hey, we did it!'”

When a friend read the poem “Integrity” by Adrienne Rich to Irons last summer, she knew immediately that she wanted to choreograph the verses. Irons took the title of her show from that poem, as well as an autobiographical story from the lines: “The length of daylight this far north in this forty-ninth year of my life is critical.” Irons turns 49 this year.

The idea evolved into a musical collaboration with her 16-year-old son, Pheonix McLaughlin, who composed most of the score for “A Wild Patience,” and members of Art Moves dance company, who helped choreograph the dances.

“The way my company works is that everybody is a dancer and a choreographer, and an improviser,” said Irons. “I always think of myself as directing because so much of it is the creation of all of us.”

Irons and her son reluctantly describe the music as jazz fusion and quickly insert that the dancers tap, stomp and gyrate to varied genres of hip-hop, blue grass and rock throughout the show. The musical backdrop showcases the dance throughout the show, which begins in the late ’60s. It fast-forwards through the decades finding Davi, the main character, in comical situations of noncomformance as she reaches her 40s.

Five dancers portray Davi in each stage of her life, each wearing an identifying black cord with a copper key, said Irons. They are Emily Hemmings, 9 of Hebron; Tegan Bullard, 19 of Norway; Gina Petracca, a Bates College student; Erin Hamlin, 28 of Paris; and Irons in the present as a woman in her 40s who reaches the conclusion that she’s had a good time just being herself. Other dancers in the show include dance company members Sasha Campbell, Emily Delameter and Joanna Patterson.

Irons said she has found working on “A Wild Patience” satisfying because of the enthusiasm and support the cast has given. She noted that working with her son in a professional relationship has been particularly rewarding.

“It’s so nice to have a son who can play music for me,” said Irons. “When we’re working, it’s very much a dancer-musician relationship. When it comes to standards for the music, his are even higher than mine – and when it comes to artistic differences, he’s usually right.”

McLaughlin is joined by keyboardist and vocalist Dawson Hill of Gray, who also composed some of the show’s music, and drummer Chris Montecalvo of Boston.

The show runs about 1 hour 20 minutes plus an intermission. Before showing in Lewiston, Art Moves will perform “A Wild Patience” at One Longfellow Square in Portland on Wednesday and again at Oxford Hills High School on Friday.

Go and go

WHAT: “A Wild Patience”
WHO: Art Moves Dance Project
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20; doors open at 7
WHERE: Franco-American Heritage Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston
TICKETS: $12 for advanced tickets, students and seniors; $15 at the door. Tickets available at Books N Things on Main Street, Norway
MORE INFO: call 743-5569 or go to artmovesdance.com


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