MORE OR LESS AN ISLAND
A contemporary modern dance work for 16 dancers
Duration: 7:17 minutes
Choreography: Christina Catanese
Music: “Antrozous” by Andrew Bird
Premiered in April 2016 at the Iron Gate Theater at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, with student dancers from the Penn Dance Company
More or Less An Island was an exploration of imagination and place. It was the opening piece of an evening-length performance event, Neverland, that explored themes from the story of Peter Pan through modern dance. More or Less an Island responded to descriptions of the island of Neverland in the original novel Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, which suggest the idea of Neverland as both location and state of mind, and that the island might possess its own consciousness. This largely abstract dance work responds to these ideas, celebrating the place itself along with its place in imagination. The large cast conveys the vibrance, diversity, and lushness of Neverland.
“I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child's mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island, for the Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose. It would be an easy map if that were all, but there is also first day at school, religion, fathers, the round pond, needle-work, murders, hangings, verbs that take the dative, chocolate pudding day, getting into braces, say ninety-nine, three-pence for pulling out your tooth yourself, and so on, and either these are part of the island or they are another map showing through, and it is all rather confusing, especially as nothing will stand still.
Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingoes flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents, but on the whole the Neverlands have a family resemblance, and if they stood still in a row you could say of them that they have each other’s nose, and so forth. On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles [simple boat]. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”
- J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan