The Message in the Bottle Was For All of Us

By Juanita Dilia Olivo

It’s clichéd, yes, but there really is something magical that happens when like-minded humans connect for a purpose. When a group of strangers is brought together by one commonality that they all celebrate in their own way. I personally have been reveling in this magic since my introduction and “initiation” into R.Evolución Latina. I deliberately use the word “initiation” because that is exactly what it was; I was challenged, pushed to my limits and boldly dared to go beyond. And so was everyone else. We came together to create art and within that forged a magical bond of community whose reaches go far beyond just us.

I was adrift in that sea of uncertainty all artists swim through when we’re in between projects, feeling unfulfilled by the current road we’re taking. After working with this R.Evolución Latina community I have been empowered to create and to love life again.  Not only do I get to make magic with amazing people, but I am also witnessing magic. I have seen more performances and theatrical productions with RevLatina in these last few months than in my two years living in the tri-state area.

We were able to get tickets to Message in a Bottle through the Harriet Tubman Effect, and when I say I was unprepared for the emotional journey we went through I am absolutely understating it. This is a modern ballet using music written by Sting including some popular songs from The Police. I laughed, I cried, and I am not alone in saying we were all inspired in some way by the story and the sheer brilliance of the dancer’s performances. They told the story of a family who became refugees and it follows the three children in their journeys after the fact.

Not only were the performances exceptional, but the choreography itself was poetry in motion. The shapes that were formed enhanced the storytelling and the formations and blocking were steady pulses playing out in service to this moving tale. I was also a huge fan of the lighting and stage design; one of my favorite moments involved clever use of projection mapping and staging to make it seem like the performer was in a bed having a nightmare. It was vivid and visceral, which can be said for the whole show, in my opinion.
Message in a Bottle at the New York City Center is one of those shows that moves the spirit. The story does not fail to tug at your heartstrings and it did an exceptional job of bringing to light the stories of thousands of people who become refugees through no fault of their own. It shows that underneath the statistics, sensationalized stories and outright lies told by some in the media, these refugees are just as human and you and I. People who live, breathe, laugh, cry and are just trying to make a better existence for their loved ones. The theater has always been a place for social commentary and a platform to fight for social justice, and Message in a Bottle is a great example of this. 

Every shade of humanity was present onstage, and this also helped empower us to push forward in this hectic and sometimes difficult artistic journey. We saw ourselves represented on that stage, which is a priceless gift. Through various dance styles (including some amazing breakdancing) we got to see the whole spectrum of human emotion executed so well, that the main thing we talked about was how inspired we all were to take dance classes ourselves if only to achieve a small percentage of their physical eloquence onstage.

This is definitely part of the magic: when this community comes together and witnesses art like we did that Friday we talk and discuss how our own horizons have expanded, and how ceilings have been shattered. We share with each other our dreams and strengthen the support network we are now all a part of. We help each other dream bigger, and come up with plans to achieve them. That is part of the reason why all of us as artists go to the theater, to be inspired by others’ art, and to bask in the magic of the artistic community. And when the show is done we empower each other and continue the momentum from that stage into our lives.

RevLatina gives us the opportunity to continue that movement  with one project, one class or one show at a time. I am grateful every day for the community I am now a part of. Gracias!

Juanita is a BWS 2024 Alum. This RL theater trip experience was possible thanks to our partnership with The Harriet Tubman Effect Institute. 

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