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The Immured Woman and Other Adventures

After a whirlwind 2 years, I am so grateful for my amazing learning experience while pursuing my MFA in Dance at California State University, Long Beach! I am so especially grateful for the opportunity to create The Immured Woman, a work that helped me explore some of my most personal issues regarding creation and procreation.

The CSULB College of the Arts and Department of Dance presented Beyond the Pale, a concert of MFA graduate thesis choreography by Nate Hodges, Francesca Jandasek, and Courtney Ozovek, on March 15 - 17, 2018 at the Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater at California State University, Long Beach. The Immured Woman, a forty-minute long episodic interdisciplinary performance work for ten dancers, was presented first in the program.

Inspired by the Romanian legend of the Argeș Monastery in which a pregnant woman is immured to make the walls of the monastery stand, The Immured Woman investigated the themes of woman, immortality, creation, and procreation through merging dance, physical theater, visual art, film, text, and sound. The final product included live dance performance, original text and music, an architectural set, film projections of sexualized fruit, and a time-stop animation of an original illuminated musical manuscript to unveil art creation as a metaphor for procreation and procreation as a metaphor for art creation.


How should we remember this legend? The Legend of Master Manole and the Argeș Monastery, or should I say, the Legend of the Immured Woman?

Once upon a time in Wallachia, Prince Negru Voda wanted to build the most beautiful monastery. He hired the best stone mason, Master Manole, and his nine men. For seven years, everything Manole and his men built during the day, at night would crumble to the ground as if it were cursed. Prince Negru Voda finally threatened, “If you cannot make the walls of the monastery stand, I will put you and your men to death.”

That night, Manole had a dream that in order to make the walls of the monastery stand, the first woman who comes to the site in the morning should be immured. He told his men that this was what they had to do, and together they made a pact build in the first woman to come to the site into the walls of the monastery.

The next day, Manole looked into the distance, and to his dismay, saw his pregnant wife Ana coming to bring him lunch. He prayed to God for rain, he prayed for wind, but her love was strong and nothing stopped her. He tried to convince his men not to immure his wife, but they held him to his pact. When she arrived, Manole and his men told her they wanted to play a game of building walls around her body. Happily, she accepted, until she realized it was no game. She implored to Manole and his men to let her go, but they turned a deaf ear to her cries, kept their pact, and continued building. That night the walls of the monastery remained standing.

When the Argeș Monastery was completed, Prince Negru Voda asked Manole and his men, “Can you ever build another building as beautiful as this one?” Manole and his men assured him that they could. Prince Negru Voda, afraid that they would build a monastery more beautiful and grand for someone else, destroyed the scaffolding, stranding Manole. Manole built himself wooden wings and tried to escape but flew to his death. Where Manole fell, a spring of water rushed from the ground, symbolizing his tears.

Thank you to the amazing dancers Nao Aizawa, Sheena Castillo, Teresa Declines, Chiara Delfino, Ashley Krost, Anika Ljung, Jocelyn Magana, Nathan Moreno, Antonella Redekosky, and Keilan Stafford!!!

Photography by Gregory R. R. Crosby

The biggest, most valuable, and most surprising lesson I learned came from trying to make sense out of creation, procreation, and immortality as I was attempting to redefine my purpose as a woman and as an artist. I realized creation is a paradox. We have to destroy in order to create. At every moment that we are creating, we are destroying what has come before it. In the act of making something, we are creating a new reality and destroying the old one at the same time. We are simultaneously the creator and the destroyer. Whether we create or procreate, neither leads to immortality. Any marks we make on this world will eventually fade and therefore are in vain. Maybe immortality, making a mark, is not the point after all. Maybe, in the end, it is the act of doing, which is the point of existence. This realization, that the point of creation is the act of creation, has provided an amazing freedom and inspiration as I venture out into my lifetime of further creation.


by Francesca Jandasek

We exist as creator and destroyer

We make new tomorrows

We destroy old yesterdays

This is a miracle of creation

Art or child

Lifeline or Bloodline

A life within a life becomes

A life of its own

This is a miracle of creation

Does this make us immortal?

walls crumble, memories fade

We disintegrate from existence


But in the act of creation

Time Stops.

From Dance Film SHADOW

So what's next on the artistic front?

DANCE: I was recently in Shirin Majd's Stolen Identity Music Video! (Thank you Shirin Majd!!!)

FILM: I am in postproduction with a short dance film inspired by The Immured Woman called SHADOW. (Thank you Gregory R. R. Crosby!!!)

MUSIC: The soundtrack I created for The Immured Woman will be coming out on CDBABY soon!!!

(Thank you Don Nichols!!!)


From Stolen Identity rehearsal with Shirin Majd

Visual Artwork pictured above: by Francesca Jandasek. Copyright March 2018.

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