Refined, refurbished and remounted, "Separate Journeys" makes a deeper impression than it did when it premiered in 1990. A great deal of art, humanity and good taste has gone into this work, and all elements have come together once more. The casting even seems to be about the same, or in every respect interchangeable with what was seen on the premiere.
Indeed, clarity is the greatest gain on second viewing. It's a tall order to expect an audience to keep track of projected photos, sound, dance and narration, but the company's firmer grasp on the piece has yielded a more absorbing product.dancing - and there are parts of the stories that cannot be successfully translated to dance; without narration the dances would not stand alone. But dance functions here as commentary, and it does bind the drama and meaning of the various narrations into a cogent whole.
The piece succeeds well in pointing up the difficulties of minorities in adjusting to a very homogeneous society, and highlighting the ways in which their differences are admirable. The people who speak in the interviews are lively and fascinating representatives of their nationalities. All interviews show the strain of being different, of trying to fit in, and from the perspective of maturity, of accepting themselves for what they are.
The story of the Japanese community in internment during World War II is a powerful one, showing their dignity under injustice. And the emotional reactions of those living in that difficult time, contrasted with the traditional values of the ancestors, made a fascinating juxtaposition.
The Jewish segment shows the connection and camaraderie among the three young men, each reacting with good humor and dignity to the closed society of which he wants to become a part. The opening of this scene was especially atmospheric Friday, with its shawled worshippers represented by men of Zivio, who soon took to Hebrew line dancing.
The Greek part, with its stubborn confrontations between mother and daughter, still seems the strongest and easiest to follow, and I liked the wandering storyteller, portrayed by Linda C. Smith. The dance pointed up the double trouble that nationalities with such strong customs and mores have - while acclimating to new societal ways, they must try to resolve the conflicts between the generations. With a little love and understanding, they keep the best of what they brought with them, as the narration showed. Dionysus Dancers added some authentic group movement.
The Native American/Ute segment did not incorporate all elements entirely harmoniously, though the solo by Stephen Brown contained much native angst, and Andrew James' fancy dance and costume were spectacular. The Mexican-Hispanic dance has striking moments, and some memorable stage pictures remain in the mind, though here again making the dance reflective of the narration's drama ran into some inadequacy.
The wide variety of suitable photographs, selected from work of George Janecek and Kent Miles and historic sources, were highly creative of mood and interest. John Mitchell's score added greatly to the total picture, and at times even led out in evocation.