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Dianne Eno
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Written by Dianne Eno, Photos on this page by Larry Davis   


    The body of my work focuses on the direct relationship of humans with nature through the making of dances that encapsulate metaphorical expressions of the wild landscape and encourage a sense of true belonging to the realm of the natural world.  For me, there is a stark separateness, a delineation between the two realms in which I exist—a true dichotomy between the “natural world” and the “functional world” and I am always “dancing” between those two worlds.  The trick is to infuse the “functional world” with the timeless infinite wisdom of nature and intelligently apply her models in order to attain an order of true harmony and balance in our lives.  My work is purposefully aimed toward this goal and my dances are intended to become the vicarious pathways that my audience may use to rekindle a basic bond with nature, a bond that has more often than not been broken and forgotten— and, one that I believe is vital to our physical, mental, spiritual and planetary health.


    I am convinced that all of nature is a reservoir of universal knowledge and wisdom and from this great source I purposely seek out nature’s own archetypes and models with which to inspire (and inform) my work.  I share a philosophical affinity with the Transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, who, coincidentally loved to explore, observe and write about a multi-faceted Mt. Monadnock.  Their writings and points of view have greatly influenced me as an artist and have inspired me to “continue the tradition of artists on the mountain”, as my dance company’s motto so states.


    This shared philosophy is best illustrated by the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote:  “Standing on the bare ground, --my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,--all mean egotism vanishes.  I become a transparent eyeball.  I am nothing. I see all. I am part or parcel of God.” (Nature, 1836).  Speaking to my passion of drawing on the inspiration of nature’s archetypes as models to help form and shape the thematic content and design issues in my creative process of making dances, Emerson also wrote that“…nature is a sea of forms radically alike…”, “Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.  Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world.” (Nature, 1836).


    My work reflects a lifelong love of nature and a way of creating and presenting dance that aims to “speak” to the audience on many levels.  With an unusual style of contemporary dance often combined with Native American Sign Language, my goal is to connect viewers with the archetypal images of nature. These images translate a deep primal knowledge that dwells within each of us (the instinctive feelings of our basic connection to nature, often very repressed and out of consciousness) into physical, emotional and spiritual sensations and responses that bring us back into the nature-conscious realm.


    My experiences of performing on Mt. Monadnock have become the body of knowledge that I have drawn on, in order to create a teaching framework that allows me to share my discoveries and insights with both children and adults.  I teach about the aspects of dancing in the out-of-doors in a way that encourages my students to express their own personal connection to Mother Earth and nature. I believe that this can play a critical role in the quest to connect the collective human spirit with nature-consciousness.  My teaching philosophy reflects and illuminates traditional Native American values—my own Native American ancestry defines a personal spiritual orientation that honors the Earth and all of nature as the sacred creation of the Great Spirit.  By creating new ceremonies and rituals through contemporary dance fused with Native American Sign Language, subtle nature patterns and universal themes are joined together to become the material expressing historical, physical, emotional and spiritual connections of humans to a sacred landscape that honors all of creation.


    Native American Sign Language (NASL) is a relic from the days when the Indian nations of the Plains developed a simple system of hand gestures in order to communicate from tribe to tribe (spoken dialects and languages varied so greatly that verbal communication between tribes was virtually impossible).  This sign language system evolved as a way in which European traders and settlers were also able to communicate with Plains Indians—eventually this system of non-verbal communication spread. Although an obscure facet of Native Americana, it remains historically documented.  Several years ago, I discovered NASL while researching my family history and I began to incorporate this form of sign language into my dances.  I developed a process of researching a substantial vocabulary of signs. I interpret various texts, often in the form of poetry, into a gestured “translation” which eventually become part of the choreography.  The combination of larger dance movements with these simple gestures of hand and arm movements seems to resonate with the subject matter of my work..  Native American Sign Language is an intriguing system of nonverbal communication, which speaks through the human form with lyrical gestures that, I believe, mirror the archetypal shapes and patterns from nature.  The hands, arms, neck, head and torso move in lines, pathways, circles and spirals that are simple, clear and in harmony and balance with the body’s natural alignment, physical movement patterns and rhythms. Native American Sign Language is beautiful in its simplicity and clearly speaks with a “native” voice, adding a unique quality to my dances.


    My passion to create and perform dances in nature is driven in large part by a strong intuitive and instinctive desire to find the most essential, authentic source of creativity.  This source I believe to be nature herself, and in nature I am continually inspired by her bountiful treasures—the more tangible of these are to be experienced by the senses. Visions of natural beauty often become aesthetic models for my work, whether it is the expansive vistas available to me at a mountain summit or a tiny flower emerging from a crack in a rock.  These experiences and moments of inspiration evolve into dance form as tactile expressions of a deep relationship to nature. As these dances unfold in performance, there is the definite indisputable presence of the sublime.  And, as a performer, I can recount indescribable moments of magic from dancing barefoot on granite.  The less tangible gifts from nature to an artist include the overwhelming sense of belonging (to nature) and perhaps even the ultimate revelation that we are (like the tiny flower) microcosms of our Creator’s greatest macrocosmic work—the universe.  Intuitively, I can feel the pulse of a truly sacred landscape (and stage for my dances!) beating in my own chest.  All of nature’s archetypes contain great wisdom and are readily available to anyone who wishes to learn.  Nature provides us with the remarkable blueprints and models for living and creating and these are the things we instinctively celebrate in dance.


    Many of my dances are in fact, “rituals” in form and most share a common goal of connecting the artist, the dance and dancers, and ultimately the audience profoundly with some element of nature or to the greater aspects of the natural environment.  The purpose for this approach is based on my belief that ritual/dance can be the catalyst of recreating a lost relationship with the natural world, a necessary link to our true place in the cosmic ordering of all Creation.  Dance has the power to connect our own personal perspective and life experiences to the universal themes and ideals of the dance, which is created and expressed with its own unique “voice” of symbols and metaphors, manifested in physical form through the moving human body compelled to speak its truth.  When these facets manifest in the living form of dance, then both dancer and observer are able to tap into the flow of the universe and of universal knowledge.  This is reflected back to us in expression of timeless archetypes (found physically represented time and time, again, in nature!), whether they be etched in ancient rocks or painted in the sky.  We, as dance performers, experience this “flow” as profoundly powerful moments that are emotionally and spiritually charged, magically revealing the sacredness of nature and the path toward our harmonious place within that great plan.  My work is dedicated to connecting people deeply with this fleeting moment—by honestly revealing my own personal relationship with Mt. Monadnock, my students, workshop participant, dancers and audiences hopefully become acutely aware of their own needs to establish relationship with nature and to experience its deep magic, mystery and essence of the sacred.


Creative Process         Unique Demands         More on Sign Language