Annabelle Ochoa's Frida

Jeanette Kakareka

Today is our last day of shows for "She Said", a triple bill of all new works choreographed by all women. I've been performing the "Female Deer" in Annabelle Ochoa's piece "Broken Wings", which was inspired by Frida Kahlo's life and paintings. My role was based on a painting that she did, as you can see below.

  The Wounded Deer, by   Friday   Kahlo (1946)

The Wounded Deer, by Friday Kahlo (1946)

Annabelle is quoted saying: “But Frida often said she didn’t paint dreams, like the surrealists, but her own reality. Her paintings are her life, her emotions are weaved into them, so I am also using them as a way into her mind, as a way to tell the story”. This means that Broken Wings is partially reality, partially Frida's reality. One of my favourite scenes is the "Mexican restaurant" where Diego is cheating on Frida and the skeleton men form a mariachi band to serenade the adulterers.

I think all of the dancers have had a wonderful time working with Annabelle. She's extremely efficient and affectively runs a really smooth rehearsal. She also loves to get inspiration from dancers' jokes and turn it into actual choreography--I've seen her do it!

Of course, it is extra satisfying to have a role created on you, so I was very lucky. My character comes later in the piece when Frida is in much pain after surgeries and taking morphine. "The Wounded Deer" was actually painted after her spinal surgery in New York City. Nancy Meckler, who worked with her previously on A Streetcar Named Desire, was also there in a number of our studio rehearsals. She was very kind and helped explain me through my character.

The 11 male Frida's in the piece have the most fun probably--they had body paint and makeup sponsored by MAC. They also had an excuse to wear these very colourful skirts. Their first entrance is probably the most visually dramatic in the piece.

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I also got my fabulously-Frida monobrow and lipstick done by MAC. My wig was styled around antlers by our Amelia Carrington-Lee. They seemed very heavy at first, but after a couple of shows I got used to them. Still had to duck and weave around doors and curtains though!

We were all so fortunate to get to work with a lovely choreographer and team and it was even more rewarding this week to see it premiere and come to life!

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