Intercontinental Collaborations 3—The Symmetry Project

Intercontinental Collaborations 3—The Symmetry Project

Jess Curtis/Gravity with Maria Scaroni and Croi Glan Integrated Dance Company

Thurs.–Sun. Mar. 27-30, Apr. 3-6, 8pm $18 Thurs. & Sun, $20 Fri. & Sat.

Two naked bodies interact through a highly structured improvisational score. Manipulating our perception, they reveal the body’s awkwardness, its potential failure and finiteness, creating space for the unknown, the wondrous, the infinite. Plus the premiere of a new work for Croi Glan Integrated Dance Company from Cork, Ireland. More Info:

Jess Curtis and Maria


conversation with Jess Curtis
Joe Goode Performance Group Blog, Joe Goode, January 4th, 2008


JOE: That is the most cogent answer I have received on that topic- thank you!
And are you now finding that you can “engage” a choreographer by challenging him/her on what they did in a given performance? I ask this because it seems like such a deep cultural difference, here in the US we just don’t go up to someone after a program and say- “ I didn’t like this part of what you did.” I think it is a great loss really that we are so well trained to be polite- the opportunity for dialogue, really challenging dialogue about ideas, can get passed over…

Intercontinental Collaborations 3 — The Symmetry Project: Examining connection and separation on the most fundamental levels

San Francisco Bay Guardian, Rita Felciano, March 26, 2008


Curtis’s latest endeavor, Symmetry Study #7, premiered in Berlin last September. In it, he partners with Maria Francesca Scaroni in a series of improvisational encounters performed in the nude. The idea behind these couplings is to examine connection and separation on the most fundamental level and what they do to our perception of self … It sounds a bit like the Greek concept of the original human who was cut in two and forever tries to reunite with the other half.


Maximum Exposure in Familiar Territory
Voice of Dance, Allan Ulrich, March 28, 2008


He [Curtis] and Scaroni flow from one sculptural entanglement to another. At one moment, with limbs clasped, they’re rolling across the space like a wagon wheel. At another, she’s hoisting him on to her back. They split apart and slowly recombine. Her legs encircle his neck, and then, they’re hopping around like frogs chasing a fly. The piece, in three sections, does not lack for variety. In the middle part, the tempo slightly quickens, while the twosome seems to interact with the kaleidoscopically processed images of themselves on video.

Clothing would be a distraction. The nudity is not particularly shocking; the work may be deemed erotic by some observers, but the dancers certainly do little to encourage that response. They’re inclined, instead, to image making: surely, the curved arms and torso alignments that seemed to replicate those statues of the god Shiva are not coincidental. At one moment, with Curtis standing behind Scaroni, she seems to possess both his genitals and her own.

Study In Symmetry
SF Weekly, Bonner Odell, March 26, 2008


Many have wondered, since the days of the revolutionary postmodern Judson Church movement in 1970s New York, if there is any truly new ground to be broken in the realm of dance and performance. If there is, San Francisco’s Jess Curtis/Gravity may be holding the pickax.


  • jez

    “Two naked bodies interact through a highly structured improvisational score. Manipulating our perception, they reveal the body’s awkwardness; it’s potential failure and finiteness, creating space for the unknown, the wondrous, the infinite.”

    This was the description at the core of Intercontinental Collaborations 3 – The Symmetry Project by Jess Curtis/Gravity with Maria Scaroni.

    The dancers, seemingly flawless in proportion and execution, began clothed in fur coats; eventually shedding them through a series of isolated twists, jarred undulations, and contorted turns of the limbs and torsos, as if skin off a snake.

    Though my friend hissed that it was real fur, I appreciated the coats. I couldn’t help but smile at the clever leap from caveman wearing animal fur to 21st century fashion. It goes along with this idea I have of the company’s work sometimes reminding me of a Blade Runner-esque quality of time and culture.

    She and I used to dance naked with Dandelion Dancetheater. Through The Undressed Project, we collaborated to choreograph to shakes of cellulite, angles of bone… we even integrated Annie Sprinkle’s Bosom Ballet across a multi-gendered cast of performers. Though I had always appreciated nudity, it wasn’t until I danced naked for an audience that I fully accepted my body. But this was a different kind of naked.

    Nudity is such an odd thing. It’s strange that we’re not more familiar with the naked body, especially our own. The reasons why we cover up, and when we choose to study nudes as art has always amused me. I think of culture when I see a naked body. In the case of the pale and lean Curtis and Scaroni, I thought them reminiscent of old European era art, such as Greco-Roman culture. A study of symmetry like da Vinci. There was another cultural reference to the nudity which quickly came to mind of course, which was 90’s pornography. (Not a hard jump to make, with a male and female performer positioning their bare torsos into various 69 and reverse cowgirl positions. The people at have Sex Position of the Day cards depicting similar, often symmetrical, configurations.)

    While the thought of sex was there, I didn’t get a since of any sexual energy from the duo. What I got was a mechanic, geometric study. A question and answer display (with obviously many hours of movement invention) showing how their bodies fit. How a person can be mathematically symmetric. It didn’t look easy; it didn’t look difficult. It looked clean and focused, formal and very very controlled. Still, even. Until in unsuspecting increment, the individual movements sped up and Scaroni lay jittery on her back on the marley, and Curtis like a wine opener sprang in wide stretched second position casting “X” shadows on the back wall… it was kinetically very exciting. (I wanted to witness more locomotion, but how does one MOVE in symmetry?)

    Tonight I chatted with another Mailing Party volunteer about the show; he reminded of the right and left brain, and how moving in symmetric motion causes the two brains to do the same thing at the same time. He said that Scaroni had told him about how she felt she went into a trance after forcing her body to move in symmetry for extended periods of time. My brother was diagnosed with ADHD and he was encouraged to play lots of sports – the coordination of which I’m sure helped him to neurologically gain mental control.

    If this post is a little scattered, it’s not because of a lack of asymmetry, it’s due to a late hour and a desire to get this blog going. Why not start with a musing on neurological and kinesthetic connections? Did you see the piece? What did YOU think?

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