|Nike Imoru (front) in Ode (Navid Baraty)|
West of Lenin
Through May 20, 2017
Nike Imoru has many hyphenates. She teaches and casts the TV show Z Nation and produces and directs and coaches and writes and acts. She has a PhD and has worked around the world. So, to get to know her in an autobiographical solo show is to find out a little more about how she came to be the many parts of who she is.
Her solo show, at West of Lenin, is called Ode: A Stage Song. She performs it with actor-dancer Simone Bruyere Fraser. Fraser is mostly silent, but in many ways becomes the emotional center of Imoru's narration.
Imoru doesn't present anything like a straight-forward oral history of her life. It's snatches of moments and feelings and parts of tales. She jumps forward and backward in time from being a small child with many homes and many pseudo-parents to violence - which feels inevitably present, unfortunately for her - to being an adult with a screwed up female system (leading to a hysterectomy).
Imoru is precise, descriptive, emotive, smart, and ever evolving. Her companion, Fraser, has one of the most expressive faces I have ever seen in my life! Every little emotion comes through in a counterpart to Imoru's tales that could not seem as infinitely well done without her.
Throughout the piece, composer Ryan "Nails" Leyva, has created even more emotion through sound accompaniment, not so much music as waves of mirrored notes. The entire experience cannot be teased apart.
The press release says, "Ode is a dance-theatre fusion of story telling that depicts the journey of a life filled with wit, wonder, faith, and a good dose of ruthless reality. In the depiction of numerous characters - from Mary Poppins to Lady Macbeth and turning zombie to life-saving surgery, Ode shows us how choices, actions, and consequences can inspire us to do extraordinary things in life and in art."
What I can reflect is that if Ms. Imoru takes this piece on the "Fringe Circuit," those other cities would be fools to miss it. Unfortunately, since the piece here has only one more weekend before it's complete, that means most of Seattle will miss it, too. And that is more than too bad!
For more information, go to www.westoflenin.com or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2913856 or call 800-838-3006.