UPDATE, Nov 2, 2016: For a fantastic in-depth look at how the Finale theme has evolved and taken shape since we originally wrote this post, check out Outfitting the Cycle of Life: Nadia Hagen Addresses Ritual and Spectacle in the All Souls Procession by Southwest Folklife Alliance.
Every year, the Finale Ceremony is unified by a theme that all the artists and performers work together to explore and interpret. And everyone who attends the Procession is invited to explore the theme as well through your costuming, choices about whom you honor and how, creative projects, etc. (Or not, as you prefer!)
For 2016, we are exploring the ancient relationship between the Hunter and the Hunted. The relationship between predator and prey is deeply embedded in our ancestral memories, in the most primal gods and goddesses of human culture, in our faded understanding of ourselves as part of the natural world.
The Hunter and the Hunted
Flocks stampede across the land
Blood on the grass
The Huntress aims her bow by moonlight
Between the horns of the Bull she sits
And watches the Underworld
Reflection of flying arrows
And soft hoofprints.
~Nadia Hagen, All Souls Artistic Director
Death feeds life. Our lives depend on the deaths of everything that came before us. Most immediately, the plants and animals we eat. But also the plants and animals that form our clothes and our homes. The decayed animals and vegetation that enriches the soil. The ancient bodies that sank to the sea floor and over millennia became the petroleum that powers our technology. Our ancestors whose deaths made space for our lives.
And our deaths will feed the life that comes after us.
In the selva everything is crawling with life. Nothing dead has a chance to die, really. The minute a leaf, a branch, a tree falls – it is taken over by new life. Indeed, the lichens and bromeliads and vines grow on the living trees – one must be strong to support the ecosystem growing on one’s surface – and among one’s roots and branches. Nothing is allowed to occupy space without supporting life. The strength of trees – their great thick trunks and sprawling leaves – their energy goes to fuel far more than just themselves alone. Nothing, absolutamente nada grows independent of the whole. It is a privilege to spread one’s leaves, to grow tall enough to see the sun, to take up space and grow fat and strong – and the trees know it – they know that they can’t simply grow with clean bark and nothing eating at their trunks or berries – they must give back – they must grow strong enough to nurture and support the life inside and all over and around them… for if not, they will support it through their death. The great tree that falls never stops supporting life, even if it stops living. Nothing goes to waste – the dead nor the living. The dead feed life, the living feed life. The roots grow deep down into rich, black earth – fed with shed leaves and bug shit and everything grows up from that – those layers upon layers – that rich dark mixture of life and death.
We don’t have rules or definitive answers about what this theme means or where it might lead. This is an invitation to join us in an exploration. What does the theme inspire for you? What questions? What images? What feeds you? What will you feed?