Dance is an art form like no other. There’s something magical about watching dancers glide around the stage exuding grace and power, telling a story with their movement.
Nobody knows this better than Regina Klenjoski, Choreographer and Art Director of the Regina Klenjoski Dance Company (RKDC). Regina has created a new dance theater performance to share a story very near-and-dear to her own heart: the story of how her parents immigrated to America from Macedonia more than 50 years ago.
But this isn’t your average dance show. The multimedia dance performance also features documentary film, poetry, and original music from Macedonian composer Toni Kitanovski. It’s a larger-than-life cinematic experience showing that we all have much more in common that we think.
“Audiences can expect really beautiful dancing. It’s a company of five performers, very athletic and expressive movement, but also really rooted in these themes that over-arch the entire evening, which is immigration and migration and home. They can expect poetry, original music, and there will be film/documentary work that’s part of the show as well. There’s many different theatrical elements that are coming together, not just contemporary dance. It’s very visual, cinematic, and it’s very visceral in its reaction. It’s very emotional content,” Regina shared during her TOCA Backstage interview with Chris Wolf.
TOCA Backstage interview with choreographer Regina Klenjoski.
A Story About Finding Your Place in the World
When Regina created Far From Home, her first evening-length show since relocating to Kansas over six years ago, she wanted to pay homage to her roots, and honor the struggle her parents went through to create a better life for themselves and their budding family.
“Over the last 5-6 years I’ve become more entrenched in my roots, and really wanting to discover how my family got here…it wasn’t until I became a parent that I understood the sacrifices my parents made. I realized what they gave up, not only Macedonia…but from Ohio to where we are now, they really had to go through a pretty intense journey that wasn’t pleasant. I came to the realization that this was really significant in their lives and I wanted to honor that. And it seemed like the right time to do something like this,” Regina said.
It’s a story that many people can relate to. The pain of leaving family and friends and familiarity behind in the hope that the unknown will be better. The struggle of trying to belong, but also hold on to the history and heritage of those who came before. The astounding courage it takes to keep moving forward despite uncertainty and fear.
“I made this dance to honor my parents journey and their story. Their migration story from Macedonia to America 50 years ago. I think what was so meaningful at the premiere was people’s ability to see themselves or family or friends in that story, and my hope is that they walk away with a feeling of hope and empathy for each other and for fellow men and women who have gone through this experience. To recognize that we’re all similar and we’re a lot less different than we think. To be a bit more understanding about where we all come from, and feel open to learning from each other,” Regina told TOCA Backstage.
Sharing a Human Experience
In addition to honoring her parents, Regina also wanted to humanize the immigration experience.
“Recently when I was developing a new work, it seemed like the right time to do something like this. It was very personal to me, but was also in response to the rhetoric in the political landscape right now. I felt really strongly that I wanted to tell the story that’s very humanistic. It’s a story of people, just like the rest of the people in this country, trying to make their way and find home, love, life, comfort, peace, a career. Everybody wants pretty much the same things. I felt I could use what I have to put a human face on the subject matter and possibly create a little bit of compassion and hope and empathy and understanding about this situation in this volatile time,” she said.
The Beauty of Dance
Far From Home was well-received when it was previewed during the 2019 South Bay Festival of the Arts, and now you can experience the full-length dance theater production. But don’t feel like you need to be a connoisseur of dance to enjoy the performance.
“You don’t have to know necessarily what those movements represent; there’s millions of movements in the dance, you don’t have to read it like a book. You can just appreciate it like a feeling or an emotion or a reaction that you have and you don’t have to be experienced to get something from that,” Regina said.
Tickets for Far From Home Available Now
Get lost in the story and beauty that is dance as RKDC celebrates 20 years of inventive choreography, fierce athleticism, and compelling storytelling. Tickets for the performance of Far From Home on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at 8:00 pm, in the Armstrong Theatre are available now.