October 2018 In Dance



economic landscape that independent artists face in San Francisco. In October, Beyond Gravity will premiere as an evening of three intersectional body- based performance works by some of the art- ists involved in Gravity’s Artist Services Pro- gram: jose e abad, Zulkar Ali Bhutto and Gabriel Christian; Abby Crain; and Rachael Dichter presenting her collaboration with Mira Kautto from Finland. I’m really excited by the work each of these artists make—Experimental, Queer, Political work asking important questions about what it is to be a body in this world. I also find it a bit inaccurate to describe them as ‘emerging.’ Each of them are mature art- ists with important voices that have been making work for years. When the editors of In Dance invited me to write about Beyond Gravity and Gravity’s Artist Services pro- gram, I thought what would make the most sense would be to invite them each to write about what they are working on for Beyond Gravity . I’m super excited to read about what they are each making and how they are thinking about it. I hope you will be too!! Rachael Dichter : From the room beside me Mira (Kautto) and I met at a dance festival in Vienna in the summer of 2015. She gave a talk on failure and we were both interested in knowing each other more after seeing each other’s work. We’ve had two residencies in Turku, Finland over the past two sum- mers and what we’ll be showing in Beyond Gravity is what we’ve found together during those meetings. Living and working primarily in San Francisco where the funding structure for contemporary performance is so extremely limited, being able to bring Mira from Hel- sinki to San Francisco is a rare, very sweet and much appreciated opportunity. The San Francisco dance scene is often quite isolated from Europe and conversations happening elsewhere, and I’m really excited that Grav- ity is offering the support to bring someone with a different perspective and aesthetic. Mira and I approach work and ways into making very differently, and most of our pro- cess has simply been about exploring those differences. I tend to approach making from ideas, or an emotional landscape that I’m interested in exploring, whereas Mira’s pro- cess has much more to do with music and physical improvisation. It’s been really inter- esting to explore each other’s approaches and really exchange ways of working. It feels like a rare gift to get to work with someone who I respect whose process and ways of working question my assumptions around what’s interesting and what the interesting questions are to ask. We’re working with the idea of a peep show. Experimenting with creating a more intimate, private space for ourselves on the proscenium by creating a “box” (out of cur- tains that flow and rustle slightly with move- ment) that stop a few feet short of the floor to reveal feet, and have sets of eye holes spaced at intervals so that a number of peo- ple can simultaneously approach the box and look in. Inside we engage - dance/perform intimately with each other in the small space, interested in how larger dance movement is compressed and intensified in this smaller container, and how the moments of closeness and quiet intimacy are pressurized. The audi- ence will be invited to sit on all sides of the square where they can hear our breath as we move, see our feet, and when they desire they can approach and engage with us through the eye holes. The holes will be positioned such that when you look in you are look- ing directly across at another set of eyes on

FOUNDED IN 000 by Jess Curtis, ‘Jess Curtis/ Gravity Inc.’ has primarily functioned as the vehicle for the production and administra- tion of Curtis’s work. In the last several years and in the context of the rapidly changing cultural landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area, Curtis and Gravity Program Director, Alley Wilde, have begun to formulate ways to make Gravity’s production, administra- tive and institutional resources available to a wider number of emerging artists. Jess Curtis: My artistic practice has always been very collaborative and involved in community. From my early days with Con- traband through the seven years of my co- directing 848 Community Space my relation- ships to many different communities have informed and fed my work. At a certain point I got a little burnt out on the service side of things though and started creating more infrastructure around producing my own work and focusing more on that, which has served me very well. I founded Jess Cur- tis/Gravity Inc. as a 501c3 non-profit corpo- ration and with various collaborators and administrators we’ve done a pretty fine job of creating an extensive body of work. In recent years I began missing a larger element of community interaction and ser- vice in my work. It occurred to me that we might be able to re-organize Gravity in ways that allowed it to support the work of other artists, and allowed them to not have to spend a bunch of time to re-invent another non-profit wheel to make their own work. While several Bay Area organizations

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto / photo by KaliMa Amilak

more of a community resource. We began offering Fiscal Sponsorship, curating a Pop- up Performance Project, Mentoring around production, fundraising and administration, Co-producing important international art- ists that we think Bay Area Artists need to see, advising Bay Area artists about getting their work seen abroad, and recently we began piloting our Access Services Program to help artists and venues make their work accessible to diverse audiences. We think this as an important kind of New Model that responds to the increasingly difficult

provide related services, we thought Grav- ity might offer a more comprehensive array of services—and more personal attention— to a smaller cohort of artists we feel directly related to both aesthetically and politically. Gravity’s new Artist Services Program is the result of that effort, and Beyond Grav- ity will be the first full evening mainstage artistic product of those programs. With the support of the Kenneth Rainin Founda- tion’s Impact program and SF Arts Commis- sion’s Cultural Equity Program, Alley Wilde and I began to re-tool Gravity to serve as

in dance OCT 2018


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