I grab my plain white sheet of printer paper, my Dollar Tree scissors, and my barely-sharpened pencil, plug in my MacBook, and click the link to join Zoom. I feel the butterflies and my mind wondering what is going to happen next. I am about to embark on an empathetic, therapeutic, and most importantly, freeing, experience that is Hearts of Cranes.
The immersive presentation of Hearts of Cranes was unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. During this 45-minute Zoom immersive experience, one guest per performance is greeted by Saki, who uses the pronouns they/them, a spiritual guide and arts and craft teacher who helps each participant create their very own Origami paper crane. The presentation begins with a few simple questions to allow Saki to decide where to guide the experience and what stories to tell. Following that, Saki asks each guest to provide a wish to write in their crane, right in the center, before continuing the folding process. Throughout this experience, Saki provides information about the art of Origami, the Japanese traditions, and provides in-depth explanations of how to fold each piece of paper into its corresponding shape of the crane. Whether a wing, a beak, or part of the body, the descriptions are clear – and the experience is catered to each person’s ability for creating their own, unique, personalized Origami crane.
Hearts of Cranes relies on heavy interaction from the attendee, but it also dives much deeper than the source material that is presented. The entire experience requires the participant to actively engage with Saki while passively creating their own thoughts, beliefs, and goals internally – though, as specified before, some of these goals may be included in the construction of the paper crane itself. Not only are one’s own beliefs and goals identified and celebrated, but the beliefs, thoughts, and goals of previous participants are also celebrated. This is a nice, eye-opening element to this project as it allows a community to come together, albeit via Zoom and without fully interacting with one another – all of us interacting through our guide, Saki.
I discovered throughout my entire time with Saki the beauty of being selfless, rather than self-centered, for the greater good as a whole. While my specific goals are valid, important, and right, I learned that other people have goals that are valid, important, right, and often geared toward humanity in general and not-so-specific to one person but many. What I feel is that this is to invoke a specific desire, a want, a need to reach out and help others, encourage each other in this wild and unprecedented in which we currently live.
While the entire experience is a simple one, there is much more complexity behind the surface. Saki speaks casually and sincere, propelling the experience to a comfortable and natural one quickly. For me, surprisingly an introvert, having someone initiate the conversation and guide me to feeling comfortable to open up my heart and soul as quickly or as gradually as I needed enhanced my experience.
While this experience provides a setting that easily creates the comfortability of an immersive experience, the entire experience is carried with poise, grace, and ease by the actor portraying Saki. Saki is an incredible, wonderful performer with a love for the craft of Origami but with an even greater love for the individual who is joining to create their very own, and in my case, first Origami crane. Saki is kind, gracious, and has the gift of patience – in my case, I’m terrible at arts and crafts, designing, drawing – and Saki never once judged my ability (or lack thereof) to create my own, not-exactly-perfect crane. In fact, they embraced my lack of expertise in crafting and found a way, entirely in the moment, to make me feel special, and that my crane, even if it was not the intended crane, was the right way to do the crane because of my personality and my spirit.
I felt safe, comfortable, and that I could be myself around Saki – and that experience, combined with Saki’s knowledge of Japanese history and love of the art of Origami, was more than I could have asked for.
Then I realized that for me, the whole project, building thousands of cranes, is not about being perfect. It’s about the intention behind each paper crane, each hope, wish, or goal. The idea is to spread positive energy throughout the world because, no matter where someone experiences Hearts of Cranes, anyone can create their own crane, invent their own goals, and share their personal, positive energy with anyone, at any time, and anywhere. That’s what makes this experience so intricate, and most importantly, so joyous.
For more information about Hearts of Cranes or other You&I experiences check out their website and their Instagram page or purchase tickets to upcoming Hearts of Cranes experiences here. For more events to enjoy from the safety of your own home, follow our Remote Immersive Experiences Guide.