“Fire Rooster”: LFAE’s Performance Exploring Labels, Names & Identity by Joan Forest Mage

by | August 30, 2019 | Articles

Fire Rooster (c) Lisa Nomikos

Life Force Arts Ensemble (LFAE) creates transformation through the arts based in the Life Force Arts Method (LFAM), a modern version of universal wisdom teachings that value true self and creative community. Fire Rooster is the first in LFAE’s series of four performances for Fall 2019 to be presented based on our art exhibit The Waning Year.

As a Shamanic Practitioner, I lead the talented LFAE musicians, vocalists, dancers, writers, storytellers and visual artists in creating extraordinary healing ritual art performances through communion with Spirit. Uniting World Music, contemporary dance and performance art with the ancient healing practices of many cultures, we channel powerful, alchemical energy to activate profound transformation for our audiences.

Starla Nova (c) Sally Cooper

In looking for a theme for our performances, we often start with an artwork from the exhibit that is currently on display at Life Force Arts Foundation. The Exhibit Catalog has the backstories on the art, and we use those images and thoughts to inspire the performance.

For this performance to honor Harvest (Lughnassadh) we chose Lisa Nomikos’ painting Fire Rooster and her story that goes with it. Lisa had always thought she was born in the Chinese zodiac’s Year of the Rooster. As a child, she read the description on the placemat at the Chinese restaurant, and tried to adapt her behavior to that description. But later, she found out that she was actually born in the Year of the Monkey, which suited her personality much better. As she says in her poem about her painting

I don’t feel very roostery.   
Little Lisa, the “Monkey”
my father always called me 
Free and happy when
Drawing, Reading,
Always in trees,
jungle gyms,
jumping, jumping, jumping
flying and sliding,
resting upside down

Instead, living life named Rooster,
Worker, serious
adult in child’s body
goodie two shoes
8th grade
That was
me in my mask of

You think you are one thing
then bam, you learn you
are another,
Or just different
than what was expected?…

Wearing an
Earth Rooster mask
until it became free
and fell off from
the heat.
Fire Rooster

Lammas (c) Corinne Viner

When the Ensemble performers (Natalja Aicardi, Aura Chapa, Kristen Wray and myself) met to discuss translating Lisa’s story and painting into a performance, we decided that Fire Rooster is about labels. Labels are often thought of as negative, giving a false impression or identity to a person. Questions to ask of ourselves, our audience and especially the participants in the Healing Arts Intensive (see below) would be: Have you ever been labeled in your life, and have you accepted that label or not? Did you identify with the label? Did you reject it? Was the label true? Have you ever had someone reflect to you an authentic identity that you have that you didn’t realize, that seemed like a confirmation of what you already felt about yourself? How would you define the differences and/or relationships between a label, a name, and an identity?

One of the programs LFAE offers is called the Healing Arts Intensive. This is a group expressive arts therapeutic process: five sessions of powerful transformation through the arts based in the Life Force Arts Method, built around the LFAE performances. Each participant focuses on a personal Transformational Goal (Intention) that is related to the theme of the performance that they want to see fulfilled by the end of the Intensive.  We engage in creating interdisciplinary arts – visual art, writing, dance, theater, music, storytelling and other forms of artistic expression.  Art is the activity that creates the shift for each participant to actualize their Transformation Goal. Participants attend the LFAE performance that their Intensive is built around. The Ensemble creates a healing ritual through the arts based in the artwork of the current exhibit that includes an opportunity for the audience to meditate on their Transformational Goals

In addition, we incorporate the writing and stories of the Healing Arts Intensive participants into the performance. In asking the questions for the Fire Rooster performance, the three participants in the Healing Arts Intensive told very moving and powerful stories of being labeled and mislabeled; or vice versa, coming into their own through receiving a new name.

Harvest Sunflowers Dancing in the Day (c) Jessica Kronika

The setting of this performance is the art exhibit The Waning Year. In this exhibit the viewer is surrounded by images of nature from Summer into Fall and Midwinter, covering the Wheel of the Year Festivals Harvest (Lughnassadh), Fall Equinox, Samhain and Midwinter.

In the healing ritual performance Fire Rooster, we discover the transformative power of attuning to nature’s seasons at the time of the seasonal festival of Harvest (around August 1), which aligns us with the harvest of the first grains; a time of abundance, but also a time when we must keep what nourishes us and cut away what no longer serves us. Invoking the Phoenix/Fire Rooster who burns away the old self, this healing ritual through the arts invites us to release any past labels we may have been given and discover our True Self.

Fire Rooster premieres Saturday, August 31, 2019 at Life Force Arts Foundation, 1609 W. Belmont, Chicago Il

Joan Forest Mage is proud to serve as a shamanic artist, teacher and healer in her hometown of Chicago. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Life Force Arts Foundation.

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