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A commanding blend of poetry and dance, dancer/choreographer Evalina “Wally” Carbonell’s Fringe show Fruit of Her Lips delved deep into the divine feminine. Bringing to life various archetypes of womanhood and drawing from her own personal experiences, Carbonell took us on a conceptual journey that provided sustenance and food for thought at the outdoor venue Mt. Airy Waves.
Joined by dance artists Weiwei Ma, Sophie Malin, Steve Believe, and her daughter Lina, Carbonell focused this performance on the feminine triune (Maiden, Mother, Crone) and the universal symbolism behind the apple, a fruit that she says evokes “wisdom, destruction, sweetness, gravity, risk, indulgence, and its relationship to our humanity.” At the top of the performance, Believe recites a work of poetry by Carbonell, which begins:
You can’t eat hope,
yet it sustains you.
The fruit of her womb,
how much it pains—
HER—as she sits, she lays,
she carries, she squats, she picks,
she carries, she holds, she weeps,
she smiles, she dreams
she carries—us all, for what?
As Believe finished the reading, the doors to the small cottage that housed the stage opened to Ma, Malin, and Carbonell clad in long black dresses, backs to the audience, sitting side-by-side on a bench. Music began to swell, and their bodies did, too. Their arms intertwined, they rocked back and forth as one, they stretched their bodies to lean on one another.
One of the dancers revealed an apple and they began to pass the fruit back and forth, all yearning for it, reaching upward and forward, while the apple remained almost fleeting and out of reach. At the end of this segment, the dancers returned to sitting closely side-by-side on the bench before Lina squeezed from between them as though birthed from this struggle.
Throughout the show, the dance ensemble members each embodied a different perspective of the triune, transitioning from their opening black garb into costumes that communicated each dancer’s role. Ma became the Maiden, wearing a white silk dress; Carbonell, the Mother, clad in green to match Lina’s outfit of the same hue; and Malin, the Crone, still dressed in black.
Together, they evoked the multitudes of womanhood through Carbonell’s eyes, both collectively and in their respective solos. Ma’s velvety smooth and demure movements beautifully signified a woman in her youth. The push-and-pull of Carbonell’s yearning for and eventual feasting on the apple, a motif throughout the performance, imparted hunger for connection, community, family. And through Malin’s strong and evocative gestures, I felt the personified force of an impending end. Even Believe, whose role seemed to be part narrator and part symbol of masculine energy, brought a unique facet to this multilayered depiction of Carbonell’s life and journey, replete with pain, joys, solitude, beginnings, and ends.
What, When, Where
Fruit of Her Lips. Choreography by Evalina “Wally” Carbonell. $20. September 7-9, 2023, at Mt. Airy Waves, 118 W Phil Ellena Street, Philadelphia. (215) 413-1318 or phillyfringe.org.
Mt. Airy Waves is an outdoor venue with a shallow grassy hill to get to the seating area.
Masks and proof of vaccination are not required.
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