Oma Dance Theatre
Oma Dance Theatre
& the Oma Stories Project
Throughout human history, grandmothers and elders of the family and tribe, have
preserved and passed on stories of the family and cultural group; taught traditions, food
preparation, crafts, ceremonies, and rituals; assisted in childrearing; and shared the rich
treasures of perspective, counsel, and the wisdom earned through decades of experience.
At this time the world is experiencing an unprecedented social catastrophe: the loss of
its own wisdom, culture, and history. This catastrophe is being exported around the
globe as global youth culture hardens into a movement to deny and shame the process
of aging and the aged, and to warehouse the older generation away from adult children
and grandchildren. The “old” traditions are being wiped out, replaced by global, watered-
down, imported traditions purveyed by American and increasingly other Western media.
The tragedy is manifold, in the form of lost wisdom, languages and cultures (get statistic
to put in here from Ben) as well as the erosion of family, community, and the well-being
and preparedness of youth for the challenges of adulthood.
This project seeks to help turn the tide of marginalization of the elderly and loss of
language, history, culture, and valuable mentorship and family connections, by offering
an opportunity for important stories of elders to be gathered together, told, and shared
between generations and cultures.
Through Oma Dance Theatre and the Oma Stories Project, Inventing Earth seeks to
“crowd source” stories and traditions from ordinary people that deserve to be told and
remembered, preserved and passed on.
It is hoped that Oma Dance Theatre and Oma Stories Project can contribute to the
Collective Grandmother Wisdom of Humanity; can become, in a way, a grandmother.
Like a wise elder, the Stories will be presented in innovative ways that bring the audience
into dialogue with the story and offer opportunities to interact. Using techniques of
Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed, audience members at performances will
be invited to join the dancers/performers after each performance to respond viscerally,
artistically, and as a member of community to what they have seen and experienced.
Oma means grandmother in many world languages. languages. It also refers to the sacred
word, Om, which to us, represents the mystic formula by which the Divine, Indivisible of
Spirit, represented by the circle, O, joins in divine union with the matter, mater, mother,
As Integral artists, our work is inspired and guided by contemplative practice. At the time
of the Winter Solstice in 2010 and for weeks prior to and afterwards, it became to clear to
Mary Lin that humanity and Earth would be served if the vision and imagining of Earth’s
soul as Gaia were adjusted to recognize the ancientness and slow-moving vision of the
Earth and her enduring patience.
Gaia, was represented by the ancient Greeks as a fertile woman of great energy,
creativity, and abundance. By tuning into this energetic archetype, even spiritually
sensitive humanity has accentuated and fed into the glamour of energy of industry,
busy-ness, procreation, and consumption. While these are important traits for those in
the prime of their creative work years, humanity no longer needs to grow in numbers.
Nor do those in the industrialized world need to accrete more material things in order
to achieve happiness. The time now comes for humanity to surrender its focus on this
phase of earth life, and to tune into the Ageless Wisdoms of the Ancient ones – an
energy more embodied by the archetype of an elder. Thus we envision the earth soul as
a contemplative and elder, rather than the fecund and vital visions of Gaia that were so
useful for humanity in an earlier time.
Oma Dance Theatre: How it Works
Oma refracts collected stories working with living memory and bringing the wisdom
of elders back into the broader culture.
Oma Dance Theatre begins with the process of collecting stories, which we do by
visiting elders and performing for them stories previously collected and ten inviting
people to tell their own autobiographical stories, stories of their own creation,
and stories they learned as children from their grandparents. These stories are
published in an open archive via inventingearth.org .
We also work with younger generations including children and ask them to
contribute the stories of their grandparents online and through school programs.
We will develop a school curriculum that any teacher can pick and do a one or two
week block on this with their students, followed by an optional artist in residence
and performance by Oma Dance Theatre.
Techniques from Playback Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed are employed
in workshops where audience members interact with and enact stories that are
brought to the workshop, changing the dynamic of audience and performer.
Audiences include retirement communities, nursing homes, primary and secondary
schools, community and church groups, and colleges and universities.
We also publish scripts online for creating your own Grandmother Stories events in
your own community and a forum for sharing the results online.
Public performances of the dance theatre also include puppets, from single-finger
puppets to 12-foot-tall, several-person puppets, as well as trained, professional
dancers, musicians, and storytellers.
Tell Us Your Story
Do you have a story about your grandmother that you’d like to tell, that you’d like to have preserved for humanity’s future? Do you have a story that you think current generations should have the ability to hear? Are you a grandmother? What is your story? Together we can right the balance of “his story” by contributing our voices.