New Unknown Door
NEW UNKNOWN DOOR
By Kathryne Cassis, 1991, New Orleans, Louisiana
"Samuel taught us about the closed door - the door that the mime artist is never afraid to open regardless of how large it may loom, how tightly it may be locked, and how frightening the 'unknown' sign on it, or how it may be set ajar in the darkness."
I took the first International Summer Mime Workshop (1975) at Le Centre du Silence 17 years ago; my experience there still exist in my mind now as a set of images my first sign of Boulder (Colorado) on a summer day, crisp, crisp air, a heartbreakingly beautiful blue sky. The tremendous heights of the mountains in the distance.
My memory still holds the image of the others that took the workshop with me, all of us drawn to Boulder by Samuel's renown and the promise of knowledge. It was an amazingly diverse group: dancers, singers, students, a housewife, and a businessman all ages, all sizes.
We worked together with generosity, and all of us ended by finding something each in our own way of what we were looking for. And the strongest image of all in my mind is that of Samuel meeting him for the first time looking into the clear eyes of someone who knew, sagacious eyes that held both mirrors and infinite spaces. A moment I will never forget.
What I learned that summer were not lessons in the ordinary sense: Samuel took us far beyond the usual tricks of gravity, the mime requisites of rope pulling, stair climbing, and space manipulation. What he taught were lessons about internal motivation and external human interaction the primal psyche, the animal and the angel within.
We learned to move our bodies not only with the muscles, but also with the mind as an integrated unit. One day of silence a week, we 'fasted from words,' a paradoxical experience; one of simultaneous frustration and liberation!
Samuel taught us about the closed door the door that the mime artist is never afraid to open regardless of how large it may loom, how tightly it may be locked, and how frightening the 'unknown' sign on it, or how it may be set ajar in the darkness.
We learned the 'secret' of the 'presence' abided, about the great power of the breath. Through the years, the work that I did in Boulder continues to be an intrinsic part of everything I am and do. What I learned from Samuel has been an inspiration in everything creative I have accomplished.
Kathryne Cassis now lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has explored many types of movement including mime, modern dance, ballet, and the techniques of choreography of Isadora Duncan. She received her early Duncan training with Melinda McGee in New Orleans and later with Kathleen Quinlin and Julia Levien in New York. She performed with the Celebration Dance Company, and the New Orleans Duncan Dancers, and was director of the Isadora Duncan Repertory Company. She also staged a highly acclaimed series of solo performances and has given numerous lectures and demonstrations on the history of dance. Two years ago she retired from dance to become editor of The Arts Paper.