United States

In Performance: p r i s m (Prototype)

p r i s m Composed by Ellen Reid Libretto by Roxie Perkins Directed by James Darrah Music Directed by Julian Wachner Prototype, La MaMa January 6-12, 2019 CW: Sexual assault, rape, PTSD p r i s m is an opera about trauma. It is an exploration of coping, of recounting – of learning how to heal, how to find language again. We begin in a white, cut out square of a room. Our two characters lie asleep in bed dressed in long white gowns that speak of an imaginary mental hospital. Two walls are cut away to allow us into the cramped and intimate world of mother and daughter, psychological abuser and abused. Lumee at first seems to be taking care of her daughter Bibi – and Lumee is the one keeping her locked in this small room – but we quickly move into a ripping vocal exchange as Lumee blames, caj...

In Performance: Claire Cunningham & Jess Curtis, The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight (American Realness)

The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight Claire Cunningham & Jess Curtis American Realness, Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center January 10-13, 2018 The Way You Look (At Me) Tonight is a collaborative, exploratory performance of a collaborative exploration into dance, disability, and sensation and the act of looking. Undertaken by San Francisco contemporary dance mainstay Jess Curtis and Scottish disabled artist Claire Cunningham, the piece unfolds as an attempt to understand each other, partly through conversation and partly through shared movement practice. Collaborative spirit runs through the work beyond the lead artists, as well. The performance is haunted by video of philosopher Dr. Alva Noë, who appears from time to time seemingly to connect the proceedings to a longer histo...

In Performance: Marissa Perel, (Do Not) Despair Solo (American Realness)

(Do Not) Despair Solo Marissa Perel American Realness, Abrons Art Center January 13-16, 2018 I wonder if it was an oversight or a stroke of curatorial brilliance. None of Abrons Art Center’s theaters are particularly accessible to people with physical disabilities, but the Underground Theater, host to Marissa Perel’s (Do Not) Despair Solo, is particularly inaccessible. When Perel (pronounced Peril, and used as a nominative) first appears in the space, they explain that they would not attend a performance in this space were they not performing it; then their collaborator Elliott Cennetoglu, in the first of many acts of service work, carries them downstairs from the theater door to the stage. (Do Not) Despair Solo introduces itself as a lecture performance, and also as an attempt to communic...

In Performance: Adrienne Truscott, THIS (American Realness)

THIS Adrienne Truscott American Realness, Abrons Arts Center January 14-16, 2018 The story of Adrienne Truscott’s solo titled THIS, as overheard in the lobby: in 2016, Truscott was commissioned by New York Live Arts to make a new comedy piece with an international group of feminist women comedians. To make a long story short, things didn’t go according to plan: by 2017, a key curator was gone, funding had been significantly reduced, and Donald Trump was president. Truscott could no longer make the piece she wanted to make, but artists need to get paid. So, instead of making that, she made… THIS. THIS is a total disaster—on purpose, and in a good way. If the show’s genesis, and maybe also the country as a whole, is “literally on fire,” then so the show is too. It is good therapy for a traum...

In Performance: Mariana Valencia, ALBUM (American Realness)

ALBUM Mariana Valencia American Realness, Abrons Arts Center Underground Theatre January 11-15 Mariana Valencia spends the majority of ALBUM staring directly at the audience. Her near affectless gaze conjures a tone of observational objectivity which deftly frames the central questions of her personal dance-music-text ethnography: who writes history, and thus decides who makes it into the records, and who is erased? What qualities make a work of art worthy of, say, a Nobel prize, and how do those standards define cultural paradigms of genius? ALBUM proposes an alternative to the norm in the form of Valencia’s own life, driven in part by her Latinx and queer identities. ALBUM asks what might happen if the marginalized rewrote the standards in their own image. While Valencia’s life is the co...

In Performance: Heather Kravas, visions of beauty (COIL)

visions of beauty Heather Kravas COIL, Performance Space New York January 10-13 Described in the program as “punk in attitude, feminist in spirit”, Heather Kravas’s visions of beauty fulfills this promise most unexpectedly, foregoing distorted guitars and raised fists for a tender choreographic minimalism. With an unflinchingly precise and deceptively gentle touch, Kravas’s movement scores use dance foundations as an entry point to expose the implicit labor of form. Upon entering the space, an ensemble of nine dancers is splayed out in a giant starfish formation, each performer touching another at either the hands or feet. While we do not learn the gender identities of any performers, what we see are one female-bodied dancer and eight male-bodied dancers. The relentless tick of a kitchen t...

In Performance: Nora Chipaumire, #PUNK (American Realness)

Punk is a noun, punk is an adjective. Punk is torn white t-shirts, distorted power cords, and angry adolescent growls into a mic. But in Nora Chipaumire’s latest piece presented as part of American Realness, punk is, first and foremost, a verb.

In Performance: Atlanta Eke, Body of Work (COIL)

  Body of Work Atlanta Eke COIL Festival, Performance Space New York January 10-11, 2018 With Body of Work, Australian choreographer Atlanta Eke has created an offbeat meditation on time and space, reifying and redefining the present moment over and over again over the course of an hour. While the piece is technically a solo, it might be more accurately described as a duet between performer Ivey Wawn and a camera which gazes at her from the threshold between audience and stage. With her image projected live onto two human-sized projection screens onstage, Wawn meets the camera’s gaze directly, moving and engaging with her own body doubles until our eyes get lost in loops of visual logic and reason. Wawn’s presence is precise and elegant as she progresses through movement scores with a...

In Performance: James and Jerome, Museum: Lecture (Exponential Festival)

It’s ten minutes past the hour, and the performance still hasn’t started. The performer/creators, James and Jerome, stand on the floor-level stage, bare except for their microphones, instruments, and samplers, and make small talk. It’s a friendly, welcoming atmosphere: they don’t seem to be concerned about the time, so I’m not particularly worried either. Suddenly a young woman walks down the aisle and takes a seat— James greets her and replies an audible “don’t worry, you’re so fine” to what I assume is her apology. They were holding the house for his partner on their opening night, keeping the casual space open until she arrived, already-forgiven.