Stopstartswat (1987-88)

More photos
Photo by Tom Brazil

A collaboration by Skura & composer/musician Jim Pugliese.

I rediscovered this duet-with-composer Jim Pugliese because Jim wanted a document of his 'percussive cage.' Maybe because it premiered the same evening as the widely known work Cranky Destroyers, it's remained relatively unseen.

Searching for notes documenting the making of this work (I tend to write ideas & also use writing to work out structure), all I found was a chronological score naming the sections, e.g.:

Short sharp
Roll at sea
Unconnectable movements
2 stupid dances
Smooth off-center
Short minimal in silence
Gestural fast dance

Most of the movement was set from my improvisations; I found a shorthand description of some of the set material.

Says Jim: "This is the only documentation of the original percussive cage that I built for many pieces I did back then. The cage was made out of electrical conduit pipe & included aluminum stroke rods, saw blades, other found metal, cymbals, drum set & things I can't remember. It was entwined with 18 homemade Piezo Pickups in vinyl tubing wound around the cage. The pickups were effected & processed by all analog guitar effects. This was electronics back in the day. No computers, no digital, no samples. It's how I got started & still pretty much use a mostly upgraded version of in my electronics today. "

Premiered at Dance theater Workshop, New York City, 1987. Performed at Jacob's Pillow (1988) and Swarthmore College (1989).

Full-length performance video (11 min)

Short excerpt (4 min)

"Gloriously eccentric." Sally Silvers, Choreographer, NYC

"Cookin', rippin', tearing it up, on fire... LOVE the sound score Jim Pugliese" Julia Sasso, Dancer-Choreographer-Teacher, Toronto 

"To a sound like the end of the world, she takes a thousand gestures and facial expressions -- she makes like a bull with horns, she opens her mouth as if to speak, she twitches like a recently beheaded lizard -- cuts them loose from their ordinary meanings, and stews them up together into a very funny solo." Joan Acocella, Dance Magazine

"Wittily abrupt, spasmodic and non-linear by choise, repetitive chaotic til it becomes related, break break, you will not consume me I am not your daily dance spectacle, this way you taught me years ago that dance can be felt as political." Konstantin Mixos, Dancer-Teacher-Choreographer, Greece

"This is electric!!! Love the music score and the choreography: Bam! A nod to Nijinsky percussively." Margery Segal, Dancer-Healer, Texas

{Paraphrased because I can't find the original review} "Some dancers can express primary emotions like 'I feel sad,' or 'I feel happy.' Stephanie Skura can express feelings as nuanced as 'I left something on the other side of the room I don't know exactly where." Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice (I think it was VV)

"Ms Skura's intensity made one think she was portraying a woman possessed by forces of movement -- weak forces as well as strong ones -- who never could be sure what her body would do next." Jack Anderson, New York Times

"I love the angularity, especially set against the time when flowy/pulsing movement dominated." Sharon Gary, Dancer-Physical Therapist, NYC