LICHENIZE / BECOME WE
Choreography: Christina Catanese, in collaboration with the dancers
Dancers: Amber Casillas, Arye Shannon-Carmichael, and Cydney Sherman
Music: "Mimi" by Big Red Machine ft. Isley
Premiering on June 25, 2022, Atelier Dance Company Season 2 performance, Grand Rapids, MI
"Wherever living things emerge, they find one another, mingle and meld." -Ferris Jabr
This piece explores the boundaries between species and individuals, and how these boundaries become blurred in symbiosis. Lichens are a familiar sight in the forest, but unexpectedly, they are more than one thing at the same time. Scientists now know that a lichen is not one organism, but three that are working together: a fungus, an alga (or tiny plant), and at least one kind of bacteria. If you have your taxonomic rankings handy, you’ll note that this is a partnership between three different kingdoms. None of these beings look or act like a lichen when they are on their own. But when they come together (or “lichenize”), they support each others’ needs for food, shelter, and structure, and make the fascinating forms we see on boulders, downed logs, or gravestones. Lichens upend what it means to be an individual, reveal the possibilities of unexpected partnerships, and teach us how much we can learn by looking closely. Each dancer in this trio respectively embodies the fungus, alga, and bacteria of a lichen. The piece imagines a time before their partnership, and their discovery of how to become symbiotic.