Memoirs of the Sistahood: Chapter Three: Ave Maria

Growing up in a Catholic family in Louisiana has provided the Beaullieu sisters — choreographer Becky Beaullieu Valls and sculptor Babette Beaullieu — with plenty of material for their Memoirs of the Sistahood, a humorous multimedia performance series. The sisters worked with filmmaker Deborah Schildt for the newest installment in the series, Memoirs of the Sistahood: Chapter Three: Ave Maria.

“All of the chapters are based on my large, Catholic family in Louisiana,” says Valls. “My sister and I pull aspects from the family as a springboard to create a nonlinear narrative. We use stories from the family — loosely — that we then turn into images for the stage, with choreography, sculpture and film.” Valls is careful to stress the term loosely. “There are some specifics about our family, but we are more interested in making universal statements than in telling our specific story.” Valls insists that while Chapter Three has a definite point of view, she and her sister have no agenda. “We are trying to be provocative, but we’re not trying to elicit any particular response. We always hope with everything that we do that people can personalize what they’re seeing onstage to their own life.”

There are several common threads woven together for Chapter Three, including the mother-child relationship, Catholicism and the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Valls calls “the ultimate mother.” The cast is made up of six dancers, including Valls, and one singer. Although there are no defined characters, Valls is in what most people see as the mother role, with the other dancers sometimes acting as sisters or daughters. Also onstage is artist Babette Beaullieu. She’s assembling a wire-and-plastic sheeting sculpture while the dancers and the singer move around her. (She creates a new piece each performance.)

Asked about her family’s reaction to the series, Valls laughs. “The majority of them love the work, but we have had some instances where my sisters have been offended, which is so interesting because Babette and my work is very abstract. In no way are we ever pointing a finger at any sister. Still, one sister was very angry because she felt that something was about her and how could we do this to her. We congratulated ourselves for being able to get this to be so real to her. That’s what art is; you bring your own experience to it and interpret it through your own ideas.” 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713‑223‑8346 or visit $10 to $20.
Nov. 17-19, 2011


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