Q&A with Rebecca Bruno: THE BEGINNING

Posted in interviews, reviews and commentary on July 27, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Rebecca Bruno, photographed by Shani Pak

Rebecca Bruno, photographed by Shani Pak

Over the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing two iterations of a dance performance by Rebecca Bruno, which both took place at Live Arts Los Angeles in front of a small group of friends and colleagues. Titled THE BEGINNING, the work seeks to engage directly with the energies generated by the people in the room, digging deep into the dancer’s sensory awareness to create a series of responses to the present moment. As Bruno writes in the announcement email: “A couple questions I am asking in this practice: What happens when the exploratory moments in a work’s nascency are performed? What, if anything, can a dancer indicate about collective energy?”

The first half of THE BEGINNING consists of a short participatory exercise led by Bruno. Audience members are asked to choose from amongst a set of essential oils provided for us. Whichever one we are most attracted to, we can apply to our bodies as needed. Properly re-tuned, we are then asked to get into pairs and walk around the studio, one after the other. The person in front leads while the person behind follows and observes the first person’s body and way of walking. After a couple of minutes, we stop and share our experience with one another. Then we switch roles and repeat.

We are then asked to sit or lie wherever we want in the studio while Bruno performs for the next half hour, which she times with a device. The performance that ensues is at times fast, and at times slow; sometimes meditative, sometimes animated. Bruno curls up on the floor and ever so slowly unfurls herself, like a budding flower; then, she leaps about the room, ducking behind curtains and playing with them. Often she will pause and draw out a movement, focusing her eyes skyward, as though remembering or grappling with something. As she moves, she is consistently spellbinding.

Continue reading

Q&A with Emily Mast

Posted in interviews on July 9, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Emily Mast directing ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again. Photo: Will Wright.

Emily Mast directing ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again.
Photo: Will Wright.

Following Saturday night’s performance of ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again at Night Gallery, Emily Mast graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions via email.

Carol Cheh: Strangely, there isn’t really any explanatory text available for ENDE (Like a New Beginning). Is this intentional? Or would you like to share some explication or back story with us?

Emily Mast: The title of the piece that’s currently at the Hammer is ENDE (Like a New Beginning), as opposed to the title of the piece at Night Gallery which is ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again. I wrote a sort of poetic press release that can be accessed on the Night Gallery website. It’s supposed to introduce visitors to a general feeling rather than a specific back story.

All of the iterations of ENDE began with poetry, or texts that I wrote to describe very specific moments in my life. Those texts were translated into gesture with my performers during a series of intensive workshops. And those gestures were named (and therefore re-translated into text) and then juxtaposed and layered to form one large, varied landscape of moments. One of my performers referred to it as a “minefield,” which I think is quite fitting.

Continue reading

Emily Mast, ENDE (Like a New Beginning) Again, Night Gallery, July 5, 2014

Posted in reviews and commentary on July 7, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Emily Mast ENDE Again 007a

A huge crowd was gathering outside the door of Night Gallery at the amber twilight hour. I spied the faces of several people who don’t really go out much these days, making a rare effort to attend this event. The large rollover gate finally opened with a dramatic bang some time after 8, and people filed in. I pressed inward with my friends and noticed two staging areas stocked with props and semi-separated by a curve around movable walls. At the far end, a band was set up. Two walls at opposite ends of the space were designated for live video projections.

There was space for the audience in the areas around and between the staging areas, which were delineated with tape, and Emily directed us to sit or stand so that the performers would have the room they needed to do their thing. There were over a hundred people squeezed into the space, and wherever you were, you could only see a portion of what was going on. Emily announced that the performance would be run through at least twice, so that everyone could see as much as possible. For the first performance, my friends and I stood at the rim of the first staging area, close to the band, and facing the large video projection wall. We were surrounded by viewers behind us and faced the viewers who sat under the video wall.

The air was thick and the anticipation was electric. Everyone was so excited for this event, described as an expansion of Emily’s commission for the Hammer Museum’s current Made in L.A. exhibition. It would include “14 performers, live sound, live lighting manipulation, live video feed and and live directing,” according to an email from the artist.

Continue reading

KISSME LO MAXIMO!, Corazon del Sol, Thea Boya, Colectivo KissMe and friends, Human Resources, July 3–6, 2014

Posted in noteworthy, photo essays, reviews and commentary, upcoming events on July 4, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Corazon del Sol and Margot Walsh welcome you to KISSME LO MAXIMO!

Corazon del Sol and Margot Walsh welcome you to KISSME LO MAXIMO!

If you’re around this Fourth of July weekend, you should stop by Human Resources and check out KISSME LO MAXIMO!, a groovalicious installation by LA artists Corazon del Sol, Thea Boya, and several very helpful friends, in collaboration with a group of Colombian artists calling themselves Colectivo KissMe. The installation is part of an ongoing project that examines and critiques the culture and politics surrounding the infamous KissMe Cali, a Colombian sex hotel. (Think amped-up Madonna Inn with rooms rentable by the hour.)

The Human Resources installation looks like a very glamorous South American rave. At the opening last night, people roamed around amidst video, sound and light installations; outrageous sculptures, wall hangings and found objects; a slide that dumps people onto a bed and a pile of giant cushions; pornos by Margie Schnibbe that you can’t see; and even a sex room (which as of 10:30 last night had not yet been utliized). There was also a live feed from the artists in Colombia. Fabulous hostesses del Sol, Boya and Margot Walsh got dolled up almost beyond recognition in what I was told was approved Colombian hostess regalia (tons of makeup, huge false eyelashes and revealing outfits) and gladly offered tours of the show.

Continue reading

an Evening of Ice Bergs

Posted in Documents on Dance, guest blog posts with tags , , on June 6, 2014 by Chloë Flores
Courtesy of Pieter

Courtesy of Pieter

In January, Governor Jerry Brown officially declared a drought emergency in California and the exhibition Facing the Sublime in Water, CA at the Armory Center for the Arts closed. The following month Silver Lake residents debated the fate of Ivanhoe Reservoir amid DWP plans to phase out open-air reservoirs, while figure skating and short track speed skating events were underway at Iceberg Skating Palace for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. The icebergs are thawing.

Simone Forti has been “working with news” since the mid-1980s, so it felt natural that these and other concurrent local, national and global newsworthy events came to mind while watching her and Rae Shao-Lan’s dance performance, an Evening of Ice Bergs, at Pieter on February 24, 2014. (Tashi Wada performed the well-accompanied score.)

I watched the performance in various states of enjoyment, even giggling at times—a response that typically makes its way into my experience of Forti’s work. Yet, when I sat down to address my notes, something about my experience troubled me. Continue reading

Allison Wyper launches La Zanja Madre Performances

Posted in noteworthy, upcoming events with tags , , on June 5, 2014 by Carol Cheh

Zanja Madre 006a

So… due to irreconcilable differences that emerged between Team CheLores and the de facto organizers of the Perform Chinatown event, Chloë and I will not be curating the event on July 26. Something will happen on that date, but it will have nothing to do with us.

Not to worry, this development is definitely a blessing, not a curse. We are currently in talks to partner with other entities to present a major performance event, on a timetable that works for us, with like-minded collaborators and with the resources we need in place. Please stay tuned for announcements on that front as things develop.

In the meantime, I want to present to you an excellent project from Allison Wyper, which we were originally going to feature in our proposed version of Perform Chinatown. La Zanja Madre Performances is emblematic of the thoughtfulness and deep intellectual and bodily engagement that we admire in performance work. Due to her own timing and collaboration needs, Allison is moving forward with the project this summer as she originally planned, and both Chloë and I are in full support. Please check it out!

Flora Wiegmann, Dyslexicon, c. nichols project, April 2–30, 2014

Posted in reviews and commentary on May 27, 2014 by Carol Cheh
Flora Wiegmann and dancers, Periodic dance movements and notational text constituting a final performance, at c. nichols project, April 30, 2014

Flora Wiegmann and dancers, Periodic dance movements
and notational text constituting a final performance—
at c. nichols project, April 30, 2014

It’s been a long time since I last wrote on this blog about Flora Wiegmann’s work, about three years in fact. Her presence, however, has been a welcome constant on the LA scene, as she consistently finds intriguing ways to connect contemporary dance with the visual arts. Her enactment of conceptually framed, site-specific movement works in galleries, museums, artist-run spaces, and private homes is part of her ongoing quest “to recontextualize dance and grant it new possibilities for communication, and to question the limitations inherent in time-based performance.” Wiegmann’s most recent project, unveiled at the newly founded c.nichols project in Mar Vista, seemed to present a logical apex of sorts for her line of inquiry.

The intriguing Dyslexicon utilized written dance notation, which has typically been used to preserve historic dances for the purpose of study, within a standard commercial gallery’s framework for exhibiting art objects. Wiegmann first composed six different “scores” for individual movement works—these were prose texts that consisted of fairly generic instructions such as “spin left, bend over, fix gaze on something blue,” etc. She then made vinyl wall panels with these texts, giving each one a different color to differentiate them, and installed them in the gallery as though they were drawings or paintings. Nine different dancers (Rebecca Bruno, Margherita Elliot, Busy Gangnes, Jil Stein, Christine Suarez, Alexa Weir, Lisa Wahlander, Wiegmann, and Allison Wyper) were engaged to execute the works, using gallery hours as rehearsal/performance time.

Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 145 other followers