SIREN ON THE SABINE
Siren on the Sabine at the Menil Collection April 29, 2016
An introspective engagement with Homer’s Odyssey— one singer’s journey to Houston: a Siren alone in the vast and glassy bayou city, far from her wine dark sea.
Misha Penton, soprano, concept text, artistic direction
Thomas Helton, double bass
Music devised by Misha Penton and Thomas Helton
Toni Valle and Lindsey McGill, dancers and choreographers (McGill appeared courtesy of Northwest Dance Project).
For more than a decade I've made Houston my home, or perhaps it’s the city that has adopted me. Texas is like that, isn’t it?— but a Siren’s lament calls to other worlds I might have inhabited. Deep in my flesh, in my bones, my belly, my breath and voice, I desire the sea: high dunes, tumultuous waters, and an unknown future in waves before me. Our city’s land is poured over with concrete and spiked steel. Summer approaches in a sun-heat creep, its oppressive tendrils caress and strangle porch posts and highway stanchions. A new god emerges here, his body all cut glass and interstate flyovers, crouched with bulked concrete muscles and drunk on commerce. Across the rural Gulf Plains, a Siren walks the drying prairies, her hands brush the last wild grasses, her song begins as a quiet, almost whispered hum, climbing to a roar as it reaches the distant ocean’s ears and its passing sailors. Her feet step between the dust and bones of those who’ve lost their way to the sea. — Misha