The following was written by Joan as the “Director’s Notes” for the Damascus Dance Center’s performance of “No Place Like Home.”
Director’s Notes – No Place Like Home
Home. So many meanings, emotions, ideas, caught up in one little word. It’s very hard to define. I suppose for many of us, it means a place where we feel safe and where we can let our guard down, be ourselves. Sometimes my students say that they feel that my ballet studio/our house is like a second home, and Mr. Purvis and I appreciate the compliment. We want them to feel nurtured as well as challenged here, and we both enjoy and feel privileged to witness more than one aspect of their personalities and their lives.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that what makes a place Home is not the place itself, but the community of people identified with it. Home is about human relationships –the opportunity to work and play with, to move in tandem with and to struggle against, and overall and most important, to connect with, people we come through these experiences to love.
It begins with family, of course, as The Wizard of Oz and many other stories call to our attention. But we can find a home in other communities, as well; in church or other religious gatherings, in civic organizations, in the grocery store, the local restaurant, at the gas station, or just walking down our Main Street.
It is this sort of home, this sense of a larger community, that I wanted to celebrate with our ballet this year –most apparent in the first act, or “Kansas.” And the DDC community responded wonderfully, with fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers, all pitching in both onstage and off, to make No Place Like Home even more rich and rewarding than we dared expect. The audience had the pleasure of seeing the story come alive; we experienced the joy of living it.
The story, perhaps as Baum intended, plays a trick on us. We learn that Dorothy in fact has two homes, the one with her God-given family in Kansas, and the one she develops through her relationships with the characters in Oz and their striving toward a common goal. So much of her focus through the story is to reach the former, but all the while she is building a community, a sense of Home, that will be painful to give up in the end.
That’s theater, especially community theater, in a nutshell. While we work toward a goal we never expect fully to achieve, we achieve another goal as great as the first. And then we say a painful goodbye – until the next edition, when we will welcome each other home once again. I look forward to it.
Always with love,