Winter 2023 In Dance

More About dark/lessons/rupture Into The Dark is a new ensemble work instigated by Jess Curtis in collaboration with a diverse ensemble of Blind, Low Vision and Sighted performers, addressing the physical, subconscious, and literal effects of western culture’s binary mythologiz- ing of darkness and light (Artists: Jess Curtis, Sherwood Chen, Gabriele Christian, Rachael Dichter, Gerald Pirner, Tiffany Taylor). Lessons in Anatomy , a new solo(ish) piece from Silk Worm, aims to cre- ate a repository for all the negative thoughts, fears, doubts, and second guesses that come with bodily trans- formation, namely with changing sex. Navigating a medicalized transition, it turns out, produces a landfill’s worth of psychic garbage, and Lessons in Anatomy hopes to take out the trash. &theruptureisnow , an excerpt of a large prismatic performance work by the RUPTURE collective (jose e. abad, Styles Alexander, Gabriele Christian, Clarissa Dyas, and Stephanie Hewett) premiering in late 2023, shares some of the group’s research on Afro-Diasporic – primarily African- American – folk games and functions as sites of chance, vernacular, and transformation. Working through Fred Moten’s understanding of “study” as all that you “do with other people... talking, walking...under the name of speculative practice,” RUPTURE sources recreation, rest, and revelry as the anchors between community care and stage composition. JAMES FLEMING writes about performance, queer futures, and new natures. His recent writing can be seen in SFMOMA’s Open Space and Art Practical.

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Dancers collect around a table. Hands move swiftly beneath an iridescent coterie of laughter. They are playing spades, which is also to say they are studying 7 how to make the future. The movement set expands onto the dance floor, Gabriele Christian, Clarissa Dyas, and Stephanie Hewett develop a score, working each sequence toward organic unity. With each pass, improvisational variations are loosely woven together, we cry out in joy as they alight in unison. Gabriele grins, improvises an alternate advance, and the frame- work expands again. I speak to RUPTURE collaborator jose e. abad over the phone. They describe to me a rich tapestry of the collective’s multi-year collaboration exploring Black Life, drawing from deep research and engagements with Ishmael Houston-Jones, Joanna Hai- good, and Fred Moten, among others. jose says: The rupture in these artistic spaces is when we get together and be in a place of free- dom and exploration and study together. It ruptures the choke- hold on queer Black arts and cul- ture, we’re imagining our coming together is a rupture within these places, spaces that we adore but also rely on. The ensemble rests together on the floor, limbs intertwining into a state of decadent relaxation. Above, a film of Styles Alexander whispers stunning mnemonic poems, toward a deep future through the ages, across ‘a sea of sunflowers’ at their back, through nights of ‘delicate fervor’, the vision- ary promise:

Either way we will arrive To renege, rebel, recall, rename, We will continue to remember We will continue to rupture. Vessels dissolve in a yawn-scree of cicadas, in the undulating weave of Moktar’s Arabic instrumentation 8 , culminating in the transcendent bell beat of Madre Guía’s Solar Plexus Defense 9 . Clarissa calls out and the audience floods the stage in reverie to join the dance. Edges and borders burst forth, bloom- ing into the provisional space for buds to grow, as the beat sheds the theater’s semblance, becoming now something of a field of wildflowers. Above us, ontological exhalations of crew alight as the ensemble pose together. Liminal affection plays through referential glimpses and strokes. They are figuring it out 10 , a commitment to rendering a future beyond the temporal containment of a vessel; a dance; a performance; on a stage; for an audience; inside an institution. Turns out, there is no vessel. No container exists to render toward utopia, only artists at the fore, tracing improvisational desire lines 11 toward a more caring and revelrous future. 8 Moktar. “PEAR.” HeForShe x femme culture Vol. 4 , femme culture. Bandcamp. Track 8. 2022. https://femmeculture. 9 Guía, Madre. “Solar Plexus Defense.” Ancestral Frequencies EP. Bandcamp. Track 3. 2021. https://madreguia.bandcamp. com/track/solar-plexus-defense 10 Moten, Fred. “Stefano Harney & Fred Moten.” The Poetry Project. April 24, 2015. ect-audio/stefano-harney-fred-moten-april-24th-2015. In conversation with jose, they reference an excerpt from this recording. Moten describes how “this kind of weird inkling or transformation might begin to occur in which you realize that what we’ve been trying to figure out how to get to is how we are when we get together to try to figure it out.” 11 Mitchel, Rashaun; Reiner, Silas. Desire Lines . 2017-2018.

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7 From &theruptureisnow performance description, the collective is “working through Fred Moten’s understanding of ‘study’ as all that you ‘do with other people...talking, walk- ing...under the name of speculative practice.’”


in dance WINTER 2023 62

WINTER 2023 in dance 63

In Dance | May 2014 |

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