At Links Hall on June 2, Laryssa Husiak from Minneapolis and Mitsu Salmon and Christine Shallenberg from Chicago presented three solo works as a part of their first performance together, “Triple Heartbeat.” Each work combined projections, voice, text, song and movement to share each artist’s histories, intimate presence and personal rituals with an engaged and supportive audience.
Salmon’s work “Trance in Botany,” which started the evening, established this communal and participatory relationship among the audience members and the other performers. She began sitting in the dark, with trees projected behind her, whispering a soft breeze into a microphone and continuing on to sing a serene, live-looped song that transported the audience into the natural world and set the tone for the works to come.
Smoothly transitioning into a mock lecture on the life and work of her great-grandfather Ryozo Kanehira, Salmon relied on entwined movement and subtle wit to explore her great-grandfather’s relationship with the natural world and her own relationship with her ancestors. She even paused half-way through the work to answer our questions as if we were a lecture hall of viewers.
In part two of the lecture, following the Q&A, Salmon transformed formal discourse into a raw showcase of personal reflections on the significance of her and her great-grandfather’s histories and the history of imperialism in Taiwan, poetically repeating the words “bloodlines, bloodshed, boundaries, borders.” Salmon’s moves grew into wild shaking and jabbing, culminating in a moment where she poured the contents of her water bottle all over herself, a mystery liquid staining her white shirt red.
As the evening continued through Husiak’s and Shallenberg’s works, throughlines from the first work rang clear—in both how the interdisciplinary mediums were used and how self reflection was held in the body. The ethereal looped vocals of Salmon’s piece became the cleansing looped singing of Shallenberg’s “Re-Wind Cycle.” Salmon’s lecture became Shallenberg’s demonstration of wind patterns in the United States.
The mystery liquid lingering on the floor echoed splashes of water as Husiak threw peeled potatoes into a pot, and the captivating expressions of Salmon’s face as she spoke foreshadowed the strong and raw emotions in Husiak’s face as she belted Ukrainian folk songs in “Songs of Private, Everyday Life.” Potato peels gathering on floor in front of Husiak mirrored the helicopter leaves that Shallenberg scattered across the floor in carefully mapped lines.
The three works, though showcasing different forms of movement and style, and telling different stories, all brought the artists and audience members through journeys that transcended Links’s whitebox to evoke nature, the elements, scientific research and introspective reflection. They blended past and present and challenged everyone to engage multiple senses in understanding the artists’ relationships with family and the communities they call home—as well as our own.
Choreographed dance moves were far and few between (with Husiak’s work consisting of nothing more than sitting, walking, peeling potatoes and singing ferociously), with bodies instead rooting the artists in the research they presented and grounding them in the sensory explorations they shared on stage.
“Triple Heartbeat” brought both natural and unearthly worlds to an indoor theater space, while diving into three different, yet interconnected stories. Husiak, Salmon and Shallenberg transported the audience into contemplative spaces that at once challenged us to think about the changing world around us, and at once provided personal catharsis and calming serenity in a two-hour pause from the fast-paced society in which we live.
“Triple Heartbeat” premiered one night only June 2 at Links Hall as a part of Links Hall’s 40th anniversary season.