Surreptitious Preparations for an Impossible Total Act (2016-17))
Eight 'age-defying' long-time colleagues improvisationally navigate oxymoronic scores.
Commissioned by Roulette & supported by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant & 105 crowd-funded donors via Hatchfund; including generous support by Edward & Susan O’Connell, Daryl Kade-Schoenbach, Joelle Ballonzoli, Kristine Knutson, DJ Prowell, several anonymous donors, & one whoppingly generous anonymous angel.
Selected by Lincoln Center Library & Museum of Performing Arts Jerome Robbins Dance Division as archival video production, by videographer Peter Richards.
Shown in process at Sundays on Broadway, Manhattan, Oct 30, 2016. Performed at Roulette, Brooklyn, April 18 & 19, 2017, & Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, August 2, 2018.
This project began in 2014 when I was unable to raise funds for a complex movement-theater work. After feeling stuck for awhile, I invited a few beloved colleagues to do what we love & would do anyway, without having to raise a pile of money. In a manner befitting our nomadic, frugal choreographer lifestyles, we met in studios around the world wherever we intersected. I was adamant about one thing: working with artists I love with whom I share deep connections.
What's evolved is a performance project, directed by me, with a group of eight dream-collaborators – stellar improvisers all, representing a diversity of ages & nationalities:
Debra Wanner (NYC), Wendy Perron (NYC), Eva Karczag (Netherlands/NYC), Sally Dean (London), Paige Barnes (Seattle), Stephanie Skura (WA), Juliette Mapp (NYC) & Shelley Hirsch (NYC, vocalist). Five women in their 60’s, three in their forties. Immersed, empowered, individualistic performing is our priority. There is splendor in older performers who continue to be at it and able -- their dancing infused with nuance & inner life.
Why surreptitious? We began with no funding or institutional support, worked privately in small studios around the world, & sometimes via skype in our homes. During 2016 the entire group met in New York City & evolved durable structures.
Our improvisations are informed by specific scores & structures. Often seemingly contradictory, the scores elicit a multi-faceted movement & vocal language, fluid in narrative & emotional content. “Energetic/perfunctory”, “both wild & deliberate”, “both tentative & clear”, “flung versus placed”, “1000 curves/1000 lines”, “instability of levels”, “quiet observance”, "shattered mirror", “re-situate/deconstruct”: such are the terrains through which we navigate.
A process rather than project, each performance is different. Though structures and personnel may change, underlying values remain: diversity, individual autonomy, respectful collaboration, valuing the subconscious, deep connections amidst differences. Though our process began in what now feels like a former era, it evolved as an early response to what I’ve long perceived as a fascistic element in traditional dance methodology, so I call what we’re doing ‘anti-fascistic dance’.
“These mature sensitive movers startle you with their splendid focus & virtuosity.” Elizabeth Zimmer, Village Voice
“One of the best performances I’ve seen in years.” Mary Griffin, former Director, The Kitchen, NYC
“Powerfull and hilarious...not easy to do. One of the most creative events I've see in years and years! So much variety. A big congratulations to you and your team. Wondrous!” Antonio Petracca, Visual Artist, Former Curator of Pyramid Arts Center, Rochester, NY
“Focused, deeply embodied, beautiful structures, compelling to watch the whole way thru.” Audience member
"I love the Roulette performance on YouTube. The work is so expressive - dancers break movement into elements, then use the elements as vocabulary to construct communication with each other (dialog) and solo (soliloquy). And always with the viewer/audience - tension, release, dramatic buildup - it has a narrative flow that grabs me, holds me, & pulls me along. And it's fun. Congratulations!" Steve Hanft, Audience member
“Lovely show, thank you!” Patti Bradshaw, Artist
“Delicately responsive encounters…In Skura's words,"anti-fascistic dance...fluid narratives illuminated by nuanced presence." Elizabeth Zimmer, Village Voice
“Beautiful performance” Jane Comfort, Choreographer
“Beautiful show. This is a great piece. I loved it & would love to see it again” Noe Kidder, visual artist
“So much brilliance. A great joy to see Stephanie Skura & her jaw-droppingly brilliant collaborators.” Jamie Leo, Visaul Artist, Theater-Maker
“So glad I saw it.” John Jesurun, theater artist
"So new, so contemporary, so old, so profound. So deep, so human." Sami Salpakivi, Artist & Healer
“Lattice-work of individual to collective interface. There was so much good feeling in that room. I love being surprised by everybody.” Wendy Perron, performer, former Editor-in-Chief of Dance Magazine
“Along with all our work, the immersive scores, & organic structures we’ve found, what gives these performances their unique fabric is the depth of caring & connection, the histories, trust, & the love.” Stephanie Skura
“It was a fantastic experience, and you're a wonderful director, giving all of us unlimited freedoms within clear parameters, with great generosity. I loved our rehearsals, loved performing, and hope there are many more opportunities for us to come together. There’s much to say, but words are often inadequate. I hope my dancing says everything I want to tell you. “ Eva Karczag, performer
“This process and journey with you and the other women means so much for me -- thank you for this gift in my life! “ Sally Dean, performer
“So satisfying to move within the constraints and yet feel unleashed.” Debra Wanner, performer