Wednesday is the first of two consecutive and intertwined nights of performance on the University of Arizona campus, utilizing poetry and dance to explore what it means to be Unbarred.
Patrick Baliani is a professor of interdisciplinary studies in the University’s Honors College. He said the inspiration came from this year’s common reading for freshman honors students, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. The non-fiction book explores themes including justice and imprisonment.
“I got to thinking that it would be nice to offer a kind of complement to that theme, of incarceration & enclosure, and I thought of how the arts liberate us, either individually or collectively,” Baliani said.
Baliani said he chose Recovery is a Floral Tattoo, a piece of reflective writing by honors college alumna Hannah Robb, as the centerpiece.
The creative challenge then became for UA undergraduate and graduate dancers to bring the words to life through movement. Choreographers Erika Colombi and Honors College undergraduate Maya Lowney led the students' work.
Robb said she wrote Recovery is a Floral Tattoo as a part of her personal struggle to overcome an eating disorder.
“I think that I’ve used writing to be in a sense liberated from, or try to heal from... So a lot of it is heavy, but there is hope in it,” she said.
Free performances of Unbarred begin at 5:30 Wednesday and Thursday at the Environmental & Natural Resources Building on campus.
The work continues across the two evenings, but Partrick Baliani stresses that the audience may join at any moment, for any length of time.