Choreographer Shona Erskine has found a way to work through a family issue through her art. Her sister, and consequently her family, is living with MS, multiple sclerosis. Erskine is not only a dancer and a choreographer, but is also a psychologist with an interest in performance psychology, and she wanted to create this piece in order to open a dialogue with fellow dancers, an audience, as well as her family about their experience with the degenerative disease. The result of that dialogue is her contemporary dance piece, White Matter.
Often times, art born from personal experience can be confessional and cathartic for the artist, and this is of course one of the reasons artists create. A very good artist makes their personal experiences universal, leading to empathy and hopefully a finished product that has a resonance beyond a very specific context. Erskine’s White Matter is a beautiful example of this; it not only makes audiences aware of her family’s situation by identifying the work’s origin, but it also becomes meaningful and powerful in other ways.
Read the full review on Australian Stage Online here.