Melanie Flanagan and Salomé Egas

FLANAGAN_MELANIE_1Melanie Flanagan is an Australian student in her second year of the Gallatin MA program where she is developing the concentration Creative Writing, Photography, and Media. She received a BA in Photography from Griffith University Australia in 2013. Melanie is now exploring the concept of beauty and its relationship to self-esteem.

EGAS_SALOME_3Salomé Egas is an Ecuadorian dance and theater artist who is also a second- year master’s candidate. Salomé is studying International Education and Performing Arts with a focus on the healing applications of dance and theater in international classrooms. She has performed in venues such as Nuyorican Poets Cafe, LaMama, Dixon Place, New York Theatre Workshop, and The Elektra Theater.

It is through a shared interest in identity formation and creative expression that Salomé and Melanie came to work on “Incarnation.”

“Incarnation” explores the identity of Yemonja, a Goddess of the Yoruba people of West Africa, who was syncretised into Christian Latin-American culture as a result of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Within Afro-Latin communities, Yemonja is conceptualized in multiple forms, most commonly as a mermaid. Christian colonial forces in the Americas humanized Yemonja in the form of a black Madonna. The two interpretations of the same deity exemplify the adaptation of idols across cultures and the contrasting and sometimes conflicting ideals of these cultures. In this film Yemonja is presented as a figurative character adorned with Afro-Latin symbolism, while the Madonna is illuminated in her humanized form. The choreography embodies Yemonja’s struggle to reconcile her multiple identities and is mirrored by the competing sounds and visuals.