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CounterPULSE is building a movement of risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. We provide space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture.

Keith Hennessy/CIRCO ZERO

“Turbulence” at CounterPULSE, DEC 2011

 

Turbulence (a dance about the economy)

 

A collaborative failure choreographed by Keith Hennessy and produced by Circo Zero.

Performer/collaborators: Julie Phelps, Emily Leap, Laura Arrington, Jesse Hewit, Jorge Rodolfo De Hoyos, Hana Erdman, Gabriel Todd, Ruairí O’Donovan, Empress Jupiter, Jassem Hindi, Keith Hennessy.

Guest artists: 
Portland: Roya Amirsoleymani, Keyon Gaskin, Takahiro Yamamoto
Seattle: Markeith Wiley, Joan Hanna
San Francisco: Ray Chung, Anna Martine Whitehead, Brontez Purnell
New York: Ishmael Houston-Jones, Dana Michel (Montréal), AK Burns.

Co-production: CounterPULSE, Regards et Mouvements

Unstable structures supported by unsustainable systems, this dance cannot stand up on its own.

Turbulence (a dance about the economy) plays with normative disruptions and calculated disregard for generally accepted rules of engagement. A collaborative creation, the work is an experimental hybrid of contemporary dance, improvised happening, and political theater; it is a bodily response to economic crisis. Instigated before Occupy and engaging questions of debt, value, and exchange, Turbulence is intended as both provocation and affirmation of global movement for economic justice.

More frictions that drive the work: economic crisis, disaster capitalism, debt, precarity, propaganda, torture, union busting, magic, collaboration, war, and physical performance.

Responding both to economic and ecological crises, Turbulence is an experiment not only in performance, but also in developing alternative modes of producing performance. Integrating new cast members as generative collaborators for each performance, the work resists fixed or predetermined outcomes. Improvisation is both survival strategy and political tactic. The economies of making dances and being an artist also impacts our research.

Accumulating dances, images, texts, songs and tactics with each cast, the process was tested at venues in San Francisco, Stolzenhagen/Germany, Vienna, Portland, and Pontempeyrat/France from 2010-12.

The US premier of Turbulence will be at PICA’s TBA Festival September 11-14, 2012, followed by performances in Seattle at Velocity Dance Center Sep 20-21, in SF at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sep 27-29, and at New York Live Arts Oct 4-6, 2012.

2011 residencies include Ponderosa (Stolzenhagen, Jul 18-23), Impulstanz (Vienna, Aug 1-5), and CounterPULSE (San Francisco, Dec 10-18).

Summer 2012 residencies include Regards et Mouvements (Pontempeyrat, France), PICA (Portland), CounterPULSE (SF) and Ponderosa (Stolzenhagen).

Turbulence was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Projet, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the MetLife Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional funding includes Zellerbach Family Foundation, the New Stages in Dance grant, and the SF Arts Commission OPG.


CIRCO ZERO

Instigated by Keith Hennessy in 2001, Zero Performance and Circo Zero make live performance sparked by current and historic social realities.

The work is interdisciplinary and experimental, operating within the tensions between intimacy and spectacle, rhetoric and ritual, personal and social. Rooted in contemporary dance and performance we also engage circus, theatre, music, visual and conceptual art. Under the influence of queer ideas, aesthetics and histories, Zero Performance evolves performance language and builds community through collaboration, crossing lines of artistic discipline, personal and cultural identity, and social expectations. Zero Performance participates in local and global struggles for justice, functioning as a collective space and public laboratory.

 

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Turbulence Artist Blogs

Documentary of Turbulence in France
By
Sep 26th, 2012

Turbulence was developed in part during a residency at Regards et Mouvements in Pontempeyrat, France.

Circo Zero – Turbulence from celavie on Vimeo.

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“Love, despite its toxicity and violence…”
By
Aug 30th, 2012

Keith’s director’s notes for Turbulence…..for now:
Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine revealed how many of us have prioritized
human rights issues (and identity politics) at the expense of economic
injustice and more lasting structural change. I set out, over two years ago,
to challenge my own ignorance about financialization, about the roots of
economic turbulence, and to sharpen my understanding of extreme wealth
disparity. The mythological association of capitalism to democracy to
freedom must be troubled, contested, and ultimately destroyed. Ok that’s a
manifesto. How can a manifesto inspire a dance?

Foolishly, I decided to make a BIG BIG project during a time of economic
contraction and precarity for most artists. Of course precarity and violence
for the vast majority is directly linked to an overwhelming concentration in
the offshore tax free accounts of the very few. My rage is always close to
the surface but the bank bailouts really pissed me off. And somehow I¹ve
received much more money to make this work than I’ve ever received before.
So I¹m paying as many artists as I can to play with me, to ask questions and
share their bodies, and to collaborate in making a poetic response to the
economy. In the studio and on stage, Halberstam¹s Queer Art of Failure
dialogues with academic texts on neoliberal financialization and activist
tracts from Occupy blogs. I propose movement scores about unsustainable
structures and others respond with personal stories that reveal gender and
racial class hierarchies. We work on everything at once, producing almost
nothing coherent or clear.

We joke that Turbulence is a failed political theater collective. We
recognize the critique that contemporary dancers embody the ultimate
neoliberal subject: dedicated to individual freedoms we are always working
and rarely payed, prioritizing career over community we are internationally
mobile, serving corporations who acknowledge us only as free content
providers on facebook and youtube. And still we play, theorize, dream and
struggle in a queer utopia of our own collective imagining and embodiment.
Without delivering a coherent critique nor a totalizing vision of resistance
and reconstruction, we hope to inspire broader public engagement, discussion
and action with regards to the economy, particularly its violence,
corruption, and injustice.

A couple of quotes that I carry into the studio with me:
1. All clarity is ideological (Trinh T. Minh-ha)
2. Love, despite its toxicity and violence, can bring us closer to the
possibility of expressing human tenderness. If one is ambitious enough to
want to create a shared history, then one must be willing to risk an
impossible dance, one that pivots on a desire to outmuscle exhaustion, a
desire alive to our wavering capacities to bestow and receive responses, and
an apparently insatiable desire to question these capacities and what
motivates and blocks them, repeatedly. (Peggy Phelan)

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whoa. everything changes. has everything changed?
By
Aug 24th, 2012

way way way back in APRIL (!!!!!!!!), Emily Leap and I sat down and wrote a letter to the three people who would later be our Portland guest artists for the June Residency and the TBA premiere that’s happening in 2 weeks. We wanted to give them some kind of something that would let them start to understand us and get let in on some of the things this project has been doing and thinking about.

It’s now last August, and reading this letter is INSANE because everything happened and collided and crashed and blossomed and got blown up, while we were working in Europe…but somehow some of this stuff is totally still at the core of what we’re doing, so…lalala scenario scenario….here’s the letter:

Dear Portland Guests Roya, Keyon, and Taka:

We are two (Emily and Jesse) of the core-ish group of artists working on Keith Hennessy’s work, Turbulence (a dance about the ecnomy), and we wanted to reach out and say hi, maybe shed a teeny bit of context on where the project has been, and what some of our thoughts and feelings and experiences have been, making dance and performance about “the economy.” This letter is in no way meant to prescribe anything about your up coming expereince, or ours for that matter, but more a way to just say “welcome” and give a little background.

So, hello! We are particularly glad that you all are joining us because the dynamic of a rotating crew of guests has become, for us, a really interesting/challenging/contested/fruitful part of engaging with this work. There have been questions on the table as to what kind of investment and familiarity we core folks are supposed to have with the project, and it seems that, at this point, we do kind of keep leaning toward destabilizing whatever static answers we might come up with in regards to this. So, thank you for being  inherent catalysts, game-changers, and just new collaborators. It will be rare, in this letter, for us to speak on behalf of the group, as this is not a group defined by its coherence and we two are certainly not here to give you “the answer” to what this is all about, but we think we can honestly say that every person who has collaborated with us so far has left a solid mark of presence on what the piece now is, what it was, and what it’ll inevitably become. The long and short: we’re glad you’re going to join us.

But, so, what is it exactly that you’re joining?  And how is it possible, really, to join, as equal collaborators, a project that’s been in creation, with a core group, for a year and a half?  Well, we’re writing this email so that you can begin to find your answers to these questions, but also to let you know how much we’re all still looking for those answers ourselves.
  
Still, there are some things that we know that you don’t, and for sure we have that to share with you.  We’ll start with a kind of an introduction of what is maybe a core with a bit of scoliosis.  We are Emily, Jesse, Larry, Jassem, Jorge, Julie, Gabriel, Jupiter and, of course, Keith.  Some of the words we use to describe ourselves, in no particular order, are maker, dancer, trapeze artist, yogini, singer, waiter, writer, administrator, cook, shaman, faerie, go-go dancer, sex worker, gardener, empress, student.  We’ll let you figure out which words belong to which people when we get to you.  The point is that we come from lots of differnt places and hold lots of different identities and we’re complicated…so, this piece is complicated.  Discussions are complicated.  How does this group feel about its role in the global economy?  How does this group feel about capitalism?  How does this group feel about leadership, respond to authority?  Well.  We’re still trying to figure it out.   

Also, there are alot of elements of design around this piece that change everytime we work and perform, but one notable element is Jassem. He makes sound with lots of machines and toys and works with big beautiful bouts of distortion and volume, amongst many things.  These sounds will never not be in the space with us. This is something to know.

Another thing that feels like a thing to know is just a brief history of the project, from our points of view. Turbulence came into each of our lives at different times. As long ago as December of 2010, certain folks were joining a study group at Keith’s house and then doing a workshop that lead to a performance experiment, also that week. For the first half of 2011, the work laid mostly with Keith, as he developed ideas and strategies around moving ahead with it, and a number of us were asked to travel to Europe during July/August of 2011 to work further. We worked for a week at Ponderosa in Stolzenhagen, Germany and for a week at Impulstanz in Vienna. Both places, we workshopped and created and lived with anywhere from 8-18 other folks from about 15 different countries. Then, in December of 2011, we regrouped, added a few more locals and a few folks we had met in Europe, and worked intensively for another week and did a showing in San Francisco. As for the future, we will be going back to Europe in July, after we work for another week in SF following our time with you, and we’ll be working in France (Pontempyrat) and Germany (Stolzenhagen and Berlin) with various permutations of this core group and of course, new and old friends from our travels thus far. Then, in September, we’ll be back with you at TBA, we’ll be in Seattle, at YBCA in SF, and at New York Live Arts (DTW) in NYC.

Next, and perhaps the most straightforward element of the work so far, a list of source materials.  Not all of us have read, listened to, or watched all of this, but these are some things that have been in circulation throughout the last year and a half.

  • Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.  There’s also a film documentary by the same name, more complimentary than parallel.
  • The Inside Job.  a film documentary.  Easy to find.  Pretty solid foundational piece of the work.
  • We Dont Torture - a song by 80s brit punk girl band, The Au Pairs
  • I’ve attached three essays that Keith sent to those of us who went to Europe last summer just before we left.  Demystification of economics, the economics of community.
  • There are quite a few episodes in the archives of This American Life that explain the economic collapse that have been useful for some of us in trying to understand things like derivatives and sub-prime mortgages.
  • We’ve all now made a pretty good attempt at memorizing this text from the movie The Network:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINDtlPXmmE&feature=related
  • A poem, written by Keith, set to music by Gabriel:
            You lied
            You made a fucking killing
            You got away with it
            And then you got promoted


And now for a fuzzier list.  This is an attempt by Emily and Jesse to name the parts of this work.  These are some structures and objects and scores that have been in the room(s) with us in the past and that may, or may not, come with us into the future.  In no particular order:

  • Asking the audience to read each other’s clothing labels, to find out where all of our clothes are made
  • Having the audience research the conflict metals in their smart phones with their smart phones.
  • Very large gold sequined fabric
  • Ending with a pop dance party, Rhianna being a particular favorite
  • Passing champagne to the audience
  • Pissing on stage, in containers or not, on the gold fabric, though we’ve mostly been to hesitant to go quite there…
  • Joining hands and spinning in duets is called the “Turbo folk dance”
  • We play games with building unsustainable structures, going for height, though collapse is inevitable
  • 5 people holding one down, the one who’s down wanting to kill his or her captors
  • Aerial space.  A bar that can hold a few people.  A high strap that isolates one person in the air.
  • Cardboard.
  • A sculpture of lights, made by whoever the tech crew is, however they want.
  • Mic check, Occupy style.
  • Fake healing – you maybe experienced a bit of this already, no?
  • Financial appraisal of our skill sets.  e.g. It took Marcio x number of days to learn this move and he was paying x number of dollars for the classes he was taking to learn it, therefore the value of this move is ___.
  • Listing the ways we make, and have made, our money.
  • Stepping out and watching.
  • Getting up as high in the room as possible.
  • Smaller triangles of the gold fabric that are skirts, hoods, shawls, etc.
  • A three level pyramid with gold hoods draped Abu Graib style.
  • Traditional black torture hoods
  • An assortment of plastic weapons
This is a lot of information we’ve just given you.  Please don’t feel overwhelmed.  We’re all delightfully confused and curious too, trying to revel in the many dynamics of destabilization and questioning, and also in the privilege of getting to make a work like this.  There are no rules for how this should work and your role is yours to invent, just as we’re all trying to invent our own.

We hope this was somewhat helpful! Or at least interesting or peaking of your curiosity. We’re very much looking forward to meeting you, throwing your body and ideas clear across the room, and interrogating and healing and tearing down and building things with you.

Love,
Emily and Jesse and the Turbo team
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“Turbulent Thoughts” and”The Odd Sensation of Luxury”
By
Aug 24th, 2012

So, in Portland this past June, alot happened. One of our Portland guest artists, Roya Amirsoleymani, who also coordinated the symposium “Bodies, Identities and Alternative Economies” reflects here:

Turbulent Thoughts

and also, I (Jesse) wrote some…err…colorful reflections about the experiences of being there:

The Odd Sensation of Luxury

 

 

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We LOVE Portland…and Angela
By
Aug 24th, 2012

So SF misses Angela Mattox, yes. But she’s doing kick-ass work making PICA (and by extension, the Portland arts community) richer and better. She also has been  in dialogue with us about Turbulence almost since the beginning of it really picking up steam. Here’s a little ditty that was an interview in Portland Mothly, about Keith/the project/working with Angela:

Can you give me the brief summary of
Turbulence? What will it be like from the
experience of the audience? And what are
you trying to accomplish through the work/
what’re the questions you’re hoping to
explore and provoke?

We joke that Turbulence is a failed political theater
collective. Reading about the queer art of failure
(Halberstam 2011) we justify queer anarchic
improvisation as a suitable response to our economic
research.

Part of our project is to disregard the generally
accepted rules of engagement – and we’re talking
about both live performance and activism. Our
turbulent dance about the turbulent economy is
simultaneously critical and utopian. Audiences can
expect “something different” with various points
of entry, engagement, meaning, disruption, and
participation. The cast is super talented and BIG (with
the 3 Portland guest artists, there will be 14 people
on stage). I should also add charming, engaging, and
mutually supportive to the extreme.

I set out, over two years ago, to challenge my own
ignorance about financialization, about the roots of
economic turbulence, and to sharpen my understanding
of extreme wealth disparity. Our collaborative research
and play continually shifts the focus from abstract
issues of profit and debt to the hierarchies of value that
are embodied in our personal relationships. And how
these relations are implicated or con/fused by gender,
race, class and other factors.

Without delivering a coherent critique nor a totalizing
vision of resistance and reconstruction, we hope to
inspire broader public engagement, discussion and
action with regards to the economy, particularly its
violence, corruption, and injustice.

Angela says more than any piece she’s presented,
Turbulence has been about the process. Can you
talk a little about the creative process behind it?

Working in short term intensives for over two years, a
core team of collaborators has emerged. This group is
continually destabilized and enhanced by guest artists
at the various sites in the US and Europe where the
project has been in residence. The Turbulence process
is embodied in the ongoing social relations (friendships!
) within the core team of 11 artists, and with the many
many guest artists who have participated in labs,
salons, rehearsals and performances.

The process is not limited to studio practice. Wide
ranging studies – both individual and collective –
include reading books and articles, participating in
public discussions and salons, watching documentaries
(from Hollywood to youtube), and either participating
in or following the Occupy movement. Additionally most
of my dance/performance teaching during the past few
years has engaged questions of ‘economy’ and ‘power’
made more critical since the economic collapse of 2008
and the subsequent revealing of structural fraud, theft,
and violence that neoliberal capitalism depends on.

Was there anything particular to the portland
rehearsals that was unique or different from
previous rehearsals? Or did this city have
something unique to add to that process?

We joke that our biggest experience in Portland was
the ecstacy of the naked bike ride, a truly queer and
utopian cultural healing and act of resistance.

Portland is dear to our heart. We’re in the middle of
France now, being treated super well, but we miss the
level of dialogue and exchange that happened during

our Portland residency in June. Our guest artists were
more quickly integrated into the group (so much for
being outsiders) and the piece gained a momentum in
Portland that surprised us. The whole project advanced
faster and deeper than we could have predicted.
PICA’s programming of a symposium around the key
questions of bodies and alternative economies was
super generative and inspiring.

Similarly with Crotch, was there anything unique
to the portland audience? I was really struck
by the engaged intimacy and appetite of the
audience that turned into the lingering crowd that
didn’t seem to want to leave the space. Is that all
in a day’s work for Crotch, or did it stand out for
you?

Portland people in general have been super warm
and engaged – from our generous home stay hosts to
the audiences for Crotch and our various Turbulence
activities.

How long have you known Angela, and how
would your characterize your relationship,
particularly when it comes to the creative process
of developing new works?

I met Angela at some point in the mid 2000s. I can’t
remember. We resonated pretty quickly with regards
to contemporary dance and performance. I was a big
fan of her attention to new dance/performance from
Africa as well as her big support for a number of local
Bay Area artists, myself included. Angela has invited
me to curate emerging artists and she commissioned
my 2008 performance Delinquent, which worked with
young artists aged 16-24 in a poetic confrontation with

juvenile justice, crime and punishment.

With Turbulence our relationship has matured. Angela
has supported the process from very early on, being
the first presenter to commit to the project, and being
very supportive in pushing me into national funding
streams.

Does her style as a curator differ from other
curators, both from the point of view of the artist
and of the audience?

I think all curators, or at least the good ones, and I
count Angela among them, are different from everyone
else. Curating is rooted in both personal taste and
institutional strategy. For sure, Angela positively
shifted both the taste and the strategy at Yerba Buena
Center for the Arts (San Francisco). She took chances
that others wouldn’t. She has a sharp eye, quick to
critique but she’s also super curious, looking beyond
the obvious and easy, for what will truly engage the
audiences she serves.

Angela said one of the reasons she so respects
your work is that has an urgency and vitality
that truly provokes her and often can make her
uncomfortable. She recounted a story to me
during Auf Dem Tisch, I believe, in which you
produced a 2×4 from seemingly nowhere and
proceeded to have the audience hold it while you
walked across it, and that there was an elderly
women holding it who Angel. Do you remember
that moment? Can you describe what happened?
What were you trying to accomplish?

I have a background in both street theater and
circus. For fun and as political tactics I enjoy direct

engagement with the audience and calculated danger.
I like to implicate the audience, daring them to
participate in my risky behavior. At Auf dem Tisch
(at YBCA) I can’t even remember where I found that
piece of wood. I knew that I could never walk all the
way from the table (stage) to the woman who was
supporting the other end of the wood, but I like to flirt
with danger. I can give the audience the impression
that I don’t have limits, or that I’m crazy, when
actually I am being super calculating about what’s
possible. OK, I’m also a little crazy, especially when I’m
improvising…

But seriously folks, risk and danger are both popular
theater techniques (important to circus, to horror
films…) and political metaphors. Middle class society
is obsessed with safety and comfort in a way that
justifies everything from rip-off insurance rates to the
wars on drugs and terror. Security makes us stupid,
weak and racist. So, my response as a political artist,
is to challenge the limits of our social and bodily
imaginations by having fun with danger.

In turn, do you feel she ever provokes you or
somehow makes you question something or make
you uncomfortable?

I think with Turbulence, Angela dares me to take my
work more seriously, to consider its influence on local,
national and international art ecologies. Despite my
long-term working relationships in Europe and New
York, my base is hyper local and politically engaged.
The PICA symposium around Turbulence challenged
me (and us) to more deeply consider the political and
theoretical resonance of the work. We tried new ways
to engage audience, inviting folks into the process in

ways that we hadn’t previously tried or even imagined.
I mean the performance is called Turbulence, so I
shouldn’t be surprised that it destabilizes relationships
within the group, with presenters, and with our
audiences. I’m just glad that Angela (and the amazing,
lovely PICA staff) is willing to hang in there with our
queer failure…

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Liz and Keith get some work done…
By
Aug 24th, 2012

So…Turbulence has become – among things –  the accumulation of conversations, dreams, arguments, and ideas of not just Keith and the core collaborators, but also those of our friends and colleagues. When folks come to look at what we’re making, discourse explodes. We wanted to share some of that with ya’ll.

Here’s a conversation between SF dancer and friend-to-many-of-us, Liz Tenuto, and Keith, right after the December 2011 showings at CounterPULSE:

LIZ

My biggest question about the piece was whether
the performers believed in the world you all were
creating on stage. Did they belong to that world
or were they outsiders commenting on it or both
or neither?
As an audience member, we walk into your world–
you guys are already on the stage doing the
healing stuff…at the beginning, the set up is clear
and once it begins, the performers’ clarity was
lost.

I spoke with some of the performers about this
already and they justified it by the title of the
piece. “It was supposed to be unclear.” “It was
supposed to be a failure.”
But then my question is why fly in international
performers? Why pick an all star cast?

KEITH
I don’t understand your first question. I have
banned the phrase ‘believe in’ from my
vocabulary. I don’t ‘believe in’ anything so I’d
never ask anyone else to do so.

Worlds. Were we creating a world? Ok, yes. And
therefore I think we were all in it, and I mean the
performers when I say we. I think we created a
world that included some of the audience some of
the time, or at least it gave them more than one
doorway or window into our world. I think that all
the performers were of the world created on stage
but some were there in protest or
disidentification, and I mean they were there but
also critically observing there participation or
presence, and sometimes disagreeing or needing
distance from others or from the actual world. But
they were on stage so they were in it, even if
trying to observe it or distance themselves from it
or even not feeling a part of it.

I liked that performer clarity was lost, especially
during the fake healings and when the cast moves
on to other images or scores and some audience
stay on stage to mess up the division between
artists and audience, I like that too. And I want
that to be an ongoing feature of this particular
work.

There is some work happening around performing
failure in reference to Sarah Jane Bailes’ book
Performance Theatre and the Poetics of Failure,
and Judith Halberstam’s book The Queer Art of
Failure.

It is a way to reframe success, to celebrate failure
as a political or artistic tactic, in that to perform
well, or to perform successfully is to affirm
hegemonic or mainstream and oppressive values,
aesthetics, structures, ideas…

So a failure in theater would mean that the piece
should or could fall apart, not be coherent, not
hold together, not maintain a clear relationship
with the audience, fail to unite the public, or
move the audience, or even inspire… I don’t
know how far to push this idea of failure and still
stay on stage, but it’s what I’m interested in
trying with this work.

And when I say this work, I mean Turbulence, but
I think that I am permanently fucking with my
future work through the work/play on Turbulence.
I mean, this won’t be my last messy incoherent
piece that fails to meet my previous standards or
ambitions or intentions…

So why the all star cast? Because each of these
people turn me on and I want to work with them
AND the Turbulence project is about mass
movement, about group activity and process,
about organizing in groups. I also had visions of
big structures of bodies making and unmaking so
I knew that there had to be many players. These
are the best players I could find AND/OR they
were the ones right in front of me AND/OR they
were the ones that somehow sparked my muse. If
I had more money, and more consistent staff
support, I would have hired more people including
more from Europe and other countries. Our
experience last summer in Europe was so rich.
Just hearing stories of economies and money and
communities from Israel and Europe and Korea
was really generative to the project.

LIZ
This is why the title is smart–but I feel like you

could justify almost anything with it. I felt like

their responses were easy and unconsidered…

I do realize that this as a scenario could all be
justified as a metaphor for the economy–lots of
funding, elite cast, a show that implodes on itself,
the notion of a show, etc.

KEITH
The title is also the name of a collective of
dissident academics and activists who published a
zine in response to some of the big economic and
ecological summits. They look at the systems in
crisis (climate, economic) and suggest that
turbulent systems are easier to move or influence
than solid, grounded systems. They suggest that
smaller movements (they mean social
movements, but I read everything they wrote
additionally as a dance metaphor) can influence
larger movements – it’s all a matter of shifting
speed, pattern, rhythm, orbit, momentum…

Clearly there are a lot of metaphoric poems going
on and the dance is always already about the
economy of making a dance about the economy.
Fundraising and paying artists and international
travel and signing contracts and negotiating
performances and renting spaces are all ‘part of
the work’ and therefore ‘part of the show’. And to
make it all the more complicated, hosting salons
and conversations and fake healings and even the
(more underground, nondocumented) oil actions
are all part of the world we’re creating, as both
metaphor and as a reality. It’s not a model, it is
an actuality. A group of people working together,

generating value and money, and spending it too,
while inventing or revealing various ways to
relate, to connect, to produce, to protest, to
learn, to steal, to dominate, to cooperate…

And yes the show is intended to collapse, to be
unsustainable, but not only that…
(And I really don’t know what comes after those 3
dots.)

LIZ
Are you guys exemplifying the economy or
critiquing it?

KEITH
I consider there to be 3 intentions of the work.
Formal dance metaphors of the economy,
propaganda against capitalism and economic
injustice, dreamworlds/unknowing/mystery. My
idea for the latter was to be triggered by the large
gold fabric and a much slower pace, or more
elastic relationship to time.

Initially I thought that these 3 sections/intentions
would be differentiated but in the working process
I saw them merging and I didn’t try to stop this
merging or overlapping. So yes we’re embodying
the economy, and creating new economies, and
critiquing the economy. Sometimes that economy
is capitalism, or this current phase of
neoliberalism + war on terror + end of
communism + deregulated corporate control +
colonial/neocolonial occupation and slavery. At
other times, economy is more personal, more
about social relations, and the makings of

friendship or community. Economies of touch and
intimacy, of queer and nonqueer, of sociality as
gift and market.

LIZ
This definitely got me thinking. I know that the
stage doesn’t have to be a sacred place, I know
about casual performance, all of this…and I like
to see things that work outside of my paradigm
and belief systems. But honestly, I was
disappointed with the delivery of the performers
in a big way.

ok…and I’m spent. Thanks for reading and
fielding my questions. I want to be honest and I
sincerely hope that this helps in some way and
isn’t a big wa-waaa.

hug,
liz

KEITH
Liz, thanks so much for critiquing your friends!!!!!
There isn’t enough of that.

I think the stage is sacred and not-sacred. Casual
on stage is still a representation, still a spectacle,
at least from some perspectives.

I don’t know what to say about ‘performance
delivery’. The 2 performances at CounterPULSE in
December were so different, despite using the
same overall score each night. In general the
opening night audience found the work much
more hostile, incoherent, messy, unsatisfying (but
not only). I told the cast that it was our last time

that we could completely fail, fall apart. We were
still 8 or 9 months from premiering the work (I
know that’s a problematic marketing frame) and I
purposely called it a failure-in-progress with
tickets costing $9.99.

I was more satisfied with the experiment than
anticipated. I was super impressed with the
performer’s choices to engage, disengage,
initiate, follow, ignore, invent, copy. But like you,
I also wanted more. More from every performer.
More engagement. I wanted intense full bodied
dancing from both Gabriel and Laura during the
last song. I wanted everyone more intense in the
pushing/pulling/structure making & collapsing. I
want something from the song (you lied) and the
text (I can’t take it anymore) but I still don’t
know what. Music too, wonderful but not fully
realized, not by a long shot…

Thanks for pushing me to respond to your letter.
I’ll now share this dialogue with the cast.

hug,
keith

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