This performance is about circularity: counterclockwise rotation of letters and words around a central axis on screen, dancers enacting different kinds of spins and gyrating movements focused around a globe. Each concentric line rotates at different speeds, aligning the letters from different lines to generate intriguing combinations. As the performance progresses, the word rotation gradually speeds up until the words become a rapid stream, suggesting an acceleration of time. The dancer’s movements speed up as well, as their playful interactions with the globe become increasingly frantic yet gentle, much like the music by The Kronos Quartet.
“Bindings” by David Jhave Johnston, et. al.
This powerfully expressive nonverbal poem builds on the title, with the dancers’ actions and movements in front of a video produced by Jhave. The first meaning of bindings is clear as the dancers come on stage boung by strips of fabric or are bound by other dancers. This act is portrayed in different ways— forcefully, gently, voluntarily, but never cruelly— yet the soft materials seem very effective in handicapping the dancers, who continue to dance oddly, as if exploring their new bodily conditions. As the piece progresses they are all freed, yet this seems to bring no solace to their bodies, which continue moving awkwardly. Why?
“Rhythmus 21” by Hans Richter, et. al.
This nonverbal piece juxtaposes a single dancer with Hans Richter’s 1921 Dada film. In this film white, black, and grey rectangles move in and out of the screen, shrinking, growing, and changing shapes. The dancer’s movement cast shadows upon this surface as she spins, poses, reaches out with her arms and legs in ways that make me wonder whether she is interpreting letters upon this stage and screen. Is she writing on these spaces? If so, her letters are not the static things we’re used to inscribing on a page or word processor. These are letters that feel at home on a time-based medium, such as the stage and this film by Richter. And in good Dada tradition, they are freed from meaning.
Choreography: Shelley Hain
Film: Hans Richter (1921)
Music: Sue Harshe
Dancer: Danielle Delong
“Signal Box” by Ian Hatcher, et. al.
This piece is performed to the beat of a metronome playing at 100 BPM (beats per minute), the fast end of the andante tempo. That allows for Hatcher to read his poem “Control Relay Logic” one word at a time, adjusting the duration of each word to fit the space between beats, as is customary in rap music. This externalized rhythm for the poem makes the spoken word strange, but also musical, allowing Hatcher to repeat words beyond what he might pull off with a traditional reading. The dancers’ movements are also timed to that beat, making their synchronized movements somewhat mechanical. Their repetitive motions are also appropriate in this context, making them seem like logic gates, electronic switches, parts of a machine that is processing information in an orderly fashion.
Choreography: Hayley Sunshine
Poetry: Ian Hatcher (“Control Relay Logic”)
Dancers: Kara Hodges, Brianna Jahn, Ashlee Lodico, Marika Matsuzak, Megan Starnes
“Trickle” by Joerg Piringer, et. al.
This performance of Piringer’s video poem “Broe Sell” extends the Lettrist dynamics occurring on screen onto the stage and the dancers. There are two significant props: a white sheet on the ground that may represent a page or screen surface, and a constant trickle of little crumpled pieces of paper falling on a spotlit space in the front of the stage. The dancers act like letters— or better said, letters placed in Piringer’s hand, which leads them to behave much differently from what we’re used to seeing on page or screen. In synch with the music and displayed video poem, the letter-dancers cluster and disperse, articulate their joints, collapse, rise again, and gaze time and again at the paper trickle.
Are they concerned about the contents of that cascade, evocative of strips of ticker tape used to distribute information in the stock market? Are they afraid of being treated like ordinary texts in print: lined up, fixed, read, and disposed of? Think about these questions as you see their final action in this performance.
Choreography: Kristina Merrill
Poetry: Joerg Piringer (“Broe Sell”)
Dancers: Jenny Alperin, Andrea Fitzpatrick, Kara Hodges, Stephanie Ohman, Lexi Julian
“Disposable Language” by Talan Memmott, et. al.
This performance is based on Memmott’s video poem “NONCE.EXECUTOR” a poem that juxtaposes words with phrases and images that somehow define or describe them. The dancers are positioned between the screen and a disheveled blonde doll sitting on the front of the stage with a spotlight shining on it. The dancers’ movements are very doll-like, making stiff movements that emphasize their joints and how they bend and rotate on dolls. Are the dancers an explanation or description of the doll?
The title and the performance are reminiscent of Memmott’s Taroko Gorge remix, “Toy Garbage,” a poem that shares his darkly satirical vision.
Choreography: Ashley Peters
Poetry: Talan Memmott (“NONCE.EXECUTOR”)
Dancers: Samantha Crosby, Danielle Delong, Julie Marazzo, Kristina Merrill, Shannon Moore,
Megan Rutkowski, Holli Simme, Julia Tomanovich, Emily Wilhelm
“Expansive Mayhem” by Loss P. Glazier, et. al.
Io Sono At Swoons is a poem/program that refreshes every forty seconds with a new iteration of text on the screen. It is virtually impossible that the reader will ever see the same poem twice. Drawing from the experience of a concussion, Io Sono presents collages of lexical fragments from various languages, including medical terminology related to the brain, which come together in compound formations rich with multilingual inflection.
“Language to Cover a Wall: Introduction” by Loss P. Glazier, et. al.
The opening performance in “Language to Cover a Wall” is about the word made flesh: Glazier reads his poem “Etymon / Encarnación” while a young woman dances to the rhythms of his voice. The words juxtaposed in the title both gesture towards primeval origins of language: etymon refers to the origins of words, while encarnación is about the immaterial gaining a body. And we can’t help but notice the bodies on stage: Glazier sitting in a chair, reading his poem engrossed in the words on the page, gently swaying like José Feliciano. The contrast of a young female dancer in a white dress, interpreting lines of sounded breath with her body, bending her articulations with an agility matched only by the poet’s vocal articulation of the poem.
This introduction sets the tone for the whole show. This is language that will cover a wall, resound through a vocal tract, and move two bodies so they will dance together, each in their own way.
Poetry: Loss Pequeño Glazier (“Etymon / Encarnación”)*
Dancer: Sarah Burns