Peniel, supported in part by the Workspace for Choreographers Artists’ Retreat, premiered at the Harold Washington Library in 2008. It is inspired by the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with an angel. Faced with the task of interpreting Jacob’s struggle through dance, Leopold turned to her belief, and the Jewish belief, that God is within each of us. From there, the dance became an internal struggle within each of the dancers. Leopold chose to explore the simple line in the biblical text about Jacob returning to the opposite bank of the river Jabbok to retrieve some “small jars” or items.
“How much longer must we linger over these small jars?”
The title of the work, Peniel, is the Hebrew word for ‘the face of God.’ At the end of Jacob’s struggle, he is told that he has seen the face of God. With the belief that God is within each of us, Jacob having seen the face of God may mean he saw his true self for the first time.
Choreography: Lizzie Leopold
Dancers: Melissa Bloch, Natalia Negron, Nicole Romano Uribarri
Music: original composition, Christian Matjias