Performed at the International Enneagram Association (IEA) conference
San Francisco, CA, August 2000
Directed and choreographed by Andrea Isaacs
Review by Courney Behm
Many of us who study the Enneagram do so in order to identify the barriers our personality puts in the path of our ultimate success and satisfaction. Once identified, these barriers can be surmounted through deeper understanding, resulting in greater freedom of choice and a deepening sense of inner well-being. The more limiting habits and patterns of our Enneagram type are rarely the objects of our admiration, nor do we usually go out of our way to invite hundreds of people to watch us act out our less attractive characteristics.
The fearless cast of Andrea Isaacs’ EnneaMotion production, “People Being People, 9 Ways,” had no such reservations. Guided by Isaacs’ sure sense of choreography, they used improvisational movement and small scenarios based on their personal experiences to create powerful, wordless vignettes of the struggles, gifts, and ultimate resolution of their personal growth journeys, and performed them to a background of music chosen to represent the emotional content of their portrayals.
The performance began with the first of a series of “family scenes,” in which the cast formed and reformed in and out of relationships like a personality kaleidoscope. Then, beginning with Type One, Isaacs directed the cast to move in reverse order around the circle, an offbeat structural choice that, though initially disconcerting, shook us out of our habitual way of “knowing” the types into a new understanding of their underlying truth.
In a seamless flow of music and movement, the cast drew us with them into shared laughter and compassion, and we recognized ourselves and the others in our lives, our foibles and our transcendent moments.
Each type performance was punctuated by a family scene, and as one audience member said after the show, people who were at first strangers to us suddenly came fully in to focus as a living, breathing family full of laughter and tears, fun and fury.
It is difficult to single out any one element of the performance for special mention, as every scene had its own particular power: the beauty and terror of the One’s search for perfection; the mellow ease and the confused immobility of the Nine; the powerful stance of an Eight in and out of control; Seven’s optimistic joy and its counterpoint of “more, more, more;” the Six struggle between doubt and faith; Five’s delicate balance of detached knowing and isolated information hoarding; the ease of the Three’s ability to accomplish and their hunger for approval and reward; and the rage that can lie buried beneath Two’s desire to give and love freely.
Type Four was not represented by a solo turn, but instead by two powerful duets in which we saw the dynamic interaction between a Two and Four, and then between types One and Four, giving us not only an experience of a Four caught in the web of push and pull, love and disdain, friendship and competition, but also an insight into the relationship between these three types linked across the diagram by bonds of stress and security.