A Fragile Strength was choreographed in 2007 while company director Beth Elliott was a graduate student at the University of Hawai‘i. The piece was the result of a composition assignment where students were asked to choreograph a dance inspired by a work of art from the University’s campus art gallery.
“Artwork from Binh Danh‘s series Immortality, the Remnants of the Vietnam and American War was on display at the gallery at the time. I felt a strong connection to the images of women and children touched by war. It brought to mind memories of a time in my own life when, as the wife of a navy pilot, I had to be strong for my kids, when I was terrified by what was going on in the outside world and feared daily that their father would never come home. It was at those times that I channeled my husband’s warrior strength, despite feeling terrified and completely incapable of anything at all resembling strength.”
“Binh Danh’s process of printing strong, haunting images on leaves connected me to a feeling of frailty, and I was led to describe my own strength as fragile. That is how the title, A Fragile Strength, came to be.”
Despite being choreographed in one rehearsal, very little editing has been done to the dance, and it has since become a signature part of Beth Elliott’s repertory. It was originally performed by the choreographer, and later by Sarah (Hartley) Renny, who took the piece to the American College Dance Festival in 2008, and Perceptions Dance Festival in 2012. Jennifer Kubilus then performed it in 2015 at the Virginia Dance Coalition Gala and at Small Plates Choreography Festival.