I was privileged to meet Sharon Marroquin almost two years ago, when she was receiving treatment for breast cancer. The very first day I met her, she told me about this idea she had to bring forth a performance piece chronicling her journey with cancer. She told me that she had a friend take pictures of her after her surgeries that presented the stark reality of how her body had changed. She described this piece that would combine her passion for dance – expressing what lie behind the images as she strived to make sense of her experiences.
This weekend at the Austin Long Center for the Performing Arts, Sharon’s vision is coming to fruition as she presents The Materiality of Impermanence.
A single mother, an elementary school teacher, a renowned choreographer, a friend, and a cancer survivor, Sharon moves everyone she encounters, bringing together all her experiences, her kindness, and beautiful soul to give us a unique perspective on life and death.
I cannot do justice in my writing to her concept and the power of herself and her creation. Jonelle Seitz of the Austin Chronicle wrote an extraordinary piece in this week’s edition called Here Today. And you can see a portion of the dance as well as part of the documentary of her life these past years in this film – Mijo – a finalist at the 2011 Breast Fest and shown at SXSW.
Sharon is truly inspiring and I urge you to attend the show this weekend – The Materiality of Impermanence will be performed March 23-25, Friday, 8pm, Saturday, 2 & 8pm, and Sunday, 2pm, in the Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside. The Saturday matinee is free for cancer survivors and will be followed by a panel on art and healing. For more info, call 474-5664 or visit www.longcenter.org.
I leave you with Sharon’s own words:
On January 8th, 2010, I received a call informing me that I had breast cancer. Since that moment, the eyes I see with belong to someone I do not know, and my body is a foreign puzzle with missing pieces. Every day I am newly surprised by the decimation of what my life once was. Eighteen months, four surgeries, 16 chemotherapy treatments, and 30 radiation sessions later, I want to make sense of this journey.
In order to do this, I am creating a dance: The Materiality of Impermanence.
Turn the clock back a few months, to the summer after my diagnosis. A photographer friend takes some photos of me, and for the first time, I see my body from the outside. I am astonished to find that the pain and desolation are mixed with, incredibly, an intense and sparse beauty. I am overwhelmed at the spirit which is manifest in my eyes, and at the fact that, even though my breast is gone, my body holds a magnificence that a scar cannot occlude. Alone as I inspect the photographs, tears stream down my face.
As a choreographer, I suddenly understand what I need to do. I have a vision of a performance that expresses the ravages of breast cancer, but also makes clear the be
auty and resilience of the spirit. This dance, I think, will explore the struggle with uncertainty and the breathless realization that death is a tangible and inescapable presence. The word IMPERMANENCE echoes within my head. It is so close I can touch it.
The creation of The Materiality of Impermanence becomes about embracing change. I struggle to allow my life to alter, and coax myself to release the desire for stability. Breast cancer shows me that life is as ephemeral as a shifting cloud. There are times when I am able to accept this truth. There are other times, ho
wever, when I hold on too tightly to what my life once was, refusing to pry my fingers open, lest I transition, floating, into nothingness.
One year after my diagnosis, The Materiality of Impermanence is my effort to create significance out of overwhelming despair. Dance has become, not merely something that I do, but the means to understand that although life is fundamentally impermanent, my spirit is stunningly eternal.