Long-envisioned, multidimensional show makes debut this weekend at Civic Center

'The Spirit Coalescent' focuses on healing power of land

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • "The Spirit Coalescent" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 8 at the Farmington Civic Center.
  • Tickets are $14 and $18.
  • Visit fmtn.org/shows or call 505-599-1148.

FARMINGTON — A project that has been seven years in the making for the members of a Farmington jazz band will make its official premiere this weekend, but that doesn't mean it is anywhere near being a finished product.

That's according to Delbert Anderson, the leader of the Delbert Anderson Trio, which has been the driving force behind "The Spirit Coalescent," a multidimensional show featuring visual art, music, dance and spoken word that focuses on the healing power of the land.

Anderson and his bandmates have been working on the show since 2015, enlisting the help of other performers and artists along the way to develop it from a concept into a reality. They provided a sneak preview of the show in Farmington last summer, but this weekend's show will be the first time it has been performed in a polished, fully realized format as the company prepares to take it on the road in 2023.

Even so, Anderson said "The Spirit Coalescent" remains very much a work in progress.

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The multidimensional show "The Spirit Coalescent" will be performed this weekend at the Farmington Civic Center.

"It's not over yet," he said of the constantly evolving nature of the project. "There's still a lot of development to go through and a lot more meaningful changes."

To call "The Spirit Coalescent" an experimental show would be a bit of an understatement. The Delbert Anderson Trio's original music accompanies the spoken word text of James Pakootas and the dance of Maura Garcia, all of which is set against a backdrop of dazzling artwork that combines the paintings of Karen Ellsbury and the photography of Patrick Hazen.

The show is designed to evoke a strong emotional response among audience members, and Anderson discovered to his satisfaction that the show hit that mark during last summer's sneak preview.

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Painter Karen Ellsbury and photographer Patrick Hazen display one of the large-format works they created for the multidimensional show "The Spirit Coalescent" that will be performed this weekend at the Farmington Civic Center.

"There were a few people who were crying, and a few others who were very deeply connected to the story," he said. " … Overall, it was a great reception."

The feedback Anderson and the other performers received from that performance helped them make key adjustments to the show's production values, he said. The most notable change involves how the artwork of Ellsbury and Hazen is used.

Choreographer Maura Garcia rehearses one of the dances used in "The Spirit Coalescent" during an Aug. 5, 2021, rehearsal at the Farmington Civic Center.

The large-format works — in which Hazen's photos of striking Western landscapes are augmented by Ellsbury's impressionistic paintings — no longer will be directly featured on stage, Anderson said. Instead, the photographs/paintings will be displayed in the lobby of each performance venue so that audience members can view them up close.

The artwork is still part of the show, however. Anderson said massive images of the works — which now have been animated — will be projected on a screen behind the performers, giving them a greater prominence than they had in the sneak preview.

"It's a pretty cool concept of utilizing technology," Anderson said.

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Anderson said Civic Center supervisor Randy West was particularly helpful in helping him and the other performers organize this new version of the show, which also features changes to the lighting and sets.

The show originally was scheduled to be performed at the Civic Center in January, but that show was delayed by illness among some of the performers. After this weekend's show in Farmington, Anderson said he and the others will travel to Cortez, Colorado, from April 20 through May 4, to continue sharpening it during a two-week residency there.

Other such residencies are likely to follow this fall, he said, before "The Spirit Coalescent" begins a series of performances across the country next year on the West Coast.

Drummer Nicholas Lucero of the Delbert Anderson Trio rehearses a tune during an Aug. 5, 2021, rehearsal for "The Spirit Coalescent" at the Farmington Civic Center.

That means more changes probably are in store for the project. That seems fine with Anderson, who noted that shows of this nature often require years of development before they finally find their true footing. But he said he already has seen enough positive reaction to "The Spirit Coalescent" to feel like it resonates with people the way he has envisioned.

"It meant that people were really listening," he said of those emotional responses to the sneak preview in Farmington last summer. "It doesn't matter who you are, this show is for you."

"The Spirit Coalescent" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 8 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. Tickets are $14 and $18. Visit fmtn.org/shows or call 505-599-1148.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.