MANUFACTURED is an 18-minute dancework combining contemporary/post-modern dance with text and objects. The piece features fifty small cardboard boxes, ‘derelict’ costumes that can be donned and transformed onstage, spoken and projected text, and a soundscore by collaborator Don Nichols. This multimedia performance experience investigates the relationship between privilege and empathy. Our society is full of imagery, hyperbole, and metaphors that describe and delineate the differences between those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’; this work aims to explore the ways in which these images and metaphors limit our perception of other human beings. Onstage situations placing privilege/affluence up against need/misfortune are configured and re-configured with the audience’s preferences in mind; a ‘producer’ mentality is transparently used to tailor the dancing and scenery for maximum audience impact. This work is constructed as a series of vignettes, shown out of any logical order, pushing against the idea of a linear or singular narrative. MANUFACTURED seeks to create a complex and layered world that both reveals and confuses the mechanisms by which we empathize with each other.
Martha B. Knoebel Dance Theater; Long Beach, CA (USA)
Rebecca Bryant’s danceworks combine contemporary and postmodern dance with sound, text, video, and objects. Originally trained as a visual artist, Bryant’s approach to dancemaking includes an emphasis on improvisational methods and performative states, as well as non-hierarchical collaboration within and across disciplines. Known for her “wonderful insistence on making art about complex ideas” (Janice Steinberg, SanDiego.com), Bryant tackles current societal phenomena using motifs that are both visceral and ironic. She creates performative situations where underlying cultural assumptions are brought forth to be questioned; her works aim to foster a critical examination of the cultural norms that we reinforce in our daily lives as a way of stimulating positive social change. Bryant has performed her work in 22 states across the U.S. and in Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Her projects have received support from the Puffin Foundation, residencies at Djerassi Resident Artist Program (California), Camac International Artist Residency (France), and Guapamacátaro Art and Ecology Residency (Mexico), as well as multiple university travel, research, and equipment grants. Bryant is an active collaborator; she is co-founder of PMPD (dance/percussion) and worked extensively with the Lower Left Performance Collective for 13 years. Bryant is an Assistant Professor of Dance at California State University Long Beach, and often teaches workshops in conjunction with performances of her work.
Photo by: Gregory RR Crosby
This post is part of a series of profiles on performance and performance makers from this year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2016, an overview of contemporary performance presented during the 2014/2015 season available for touring now. If you would like to be apart of next year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2017, you can join the project here.