Jo Kreiter's Flyaway Productions to Reveal New Aerial Dance, NEEDLES TO THREAD, 10/1-10
This fall Jo Kreiter's Flyaway Productions unveils the third and final installment in its trilogy about urban poverty that began in 2012 with the award-winning Niagara Falling. Titled Needles to Thread: Dancing Along These Lines in Continuum Alley, Kreiter's newest site-specific aerial dance takes on the issue of wage security for women through the story of San Francisco's garment workers past and present.
Presented in partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Needles to Thread includes a commissioned score by Theresa Wong, set and rigging design by Sean Riley, lighting design by Matthew Antaky and costumes by Miranda Caroligne. Needles to Thread runs for 12 performances Thursday to Saturday, October 1 - 10, in San Francisco's Continuum Alley located at the intersection of Dale Place and 255 Golden Gate Avenue. This is a free event.
"Stirred by what journalist Chris Hedges calls the 'disease of empire' -- the vastly inequitable distribution of resources in our country -- Needles to Thread aims to illuminate the vulnerability of women who work in low-paying jobs," explains Kreiter. While Niagara Falling focused on the story of urban decay and renewal in two American cities, and its successor Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane explored the growing population of older homeless women living on the streets of San Francisco, Needles to Thread expands the trilogy's focus from housing security to wage security.
Kreiter chose San Francisco's Continuum Alley as the site for Needles to Thread because of its proximity on one side to a neighborhood sweatshop on Golden Gate Avenue and on the other to Local Two which has a history of leadership in the garment industry. Moreover, "the site offers an architecture that invites innovation," says Kreiter.
The narrowness of the alley allows for the rigging of multiple (weight-bearing) clotheslines. These serve not only as a figure of female domesticity, but "as a tool for incidental communication between neighbors in a community, and as a means to advance a narrative about women, work, the clothes we make and the lives we dignify while living inside of our clothes," adds Kreiter.
As the third work in a trilogy of pieces all located in the Central Market area of the Tenderloin, Needles to Thread continues where its predecessors left off, excavating the meaningful history of the neighborhood. This area, and San Francisco as a whole, hosts a rich history of labor organizing within the garment industry. Gaining strength after the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union chartered the Chinese Ladies Garment Workers to bring Chinese worker standards up to those gained in other factories in the city. The strike and subsequent worker activism was considered to have far-reaching consequences for both the garment industry and for breaking the color barrier in other shops in the city.
Featuring an oral history by Tina Chen, a former garment worker and now a leading organizer in Local Two, Needles to Thread calls forth this rich history in the context of current efforts to reform the garment industry and pay women an equal wage, both here and abroad.
Flyaway Productions received an award from New Music USA to commission original music for Needles to Thread, and Kreiter selected cellist, vocalist and composer Theresa Wong for the project. For her score Wong will weave together Chen's oral history with the sound of garment factory machines "abstracted and reinterpreted via acoustic instruments such as the hulusi, a traditional Chinese reed pipe."
Flyaway Productions will remain in residence in Continuum Alley for nine weeks before the October 1 opening. Community partners supporting its residency for a third time are the Labor Archives & Research Center, a unit of the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University, and the North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefit District. Needles to Thread marks Flyaway's second partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Needles to Thread runs twice each evening at 8pm and 9pm, Thursday to Saturday, October 1 - 3, and Thursday to Saturday, October 8 - 10. Please note that limited seating is available for each 30-minute performance. At 7pm each Saturday, the Labor Archives & Research Center will host a walking tour focusing on the neighborhood's important sites of labor history.
Performers in Needles to Thread include Marina Fukushima, Marystarr Hope, Yayoi Kambara, Megan Lowe, Karla Quintero, Quilet Rarang and Alayna Stroud. The world premiere of Needles to Thread is made possible by a major grant from the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, as well as The National Endowment for the Arts, Grants for the Arts, the Zellerbach Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, New Music USA and Flyaway's generous individual donors.
ABOUT JO KREITER - Jo Kreiter is a choreographer with a background in political science. Through dance she engages imagination, physical innovation and the political conflicts we live within. Her lineage includes gymnastics, Chinese pole acrobatics and 14 years as a principal dancer with Joanna Haigood. Kreiter/Flyaway is the recipient of two 2014 Isadora Duncan Dance awards, of a 2013 Center for Cultural Innovation Award, an Artist Investigator Award from Cal Shakespeare, a 2012 Gerbode Award, a 2012 CHIME Across Boarders grant with Elizabeth Streb, and grants from the Creative Work Fund and the MAP Fund. Her articles have been published in Contact Quarterly, In Dance, STREET ART San Francisco and Site Dance -- the first book written on contemporary site-specific performance.
ABOUT FLYAWAY PRODUCTIONS - Flyaway Productions is an apparatus-based dance company that explores the range and power of female physicality and advances social issues in the public realm. Founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Jo Kreiter, the company uses the artistry of spinning, flying, and exquisite suspension to engage political and social issues. Flyaway creates dances on both architectural and fabricated steel objects, typically off the ground, with dancers suspended anywhere from 2 to 100 feet above ground level. The company creates a sense of spectacle to make a lasting impression with an audience, striving for the right balance of awe, provocation and daring. Flyaway has developed nationally recognized expertise in creating and presenting site-specific performance work. Since 1996, the company has presented or co-presented numerous large scale works including: Mission Wall Dances, Copra Dock Dances, How to be a Citizen, The Live Billboard Project, Singing Praises, The Ballad of Polly Ann and Niagara Falling.
Flyaway's site-specific works are often free to the public, engaging a wide audience that otherwise might never attend a professional dance performance. Recent projects include dances for The Women's Building Centennial; the Rincon Annex, commemorating its labor history; Sunnyside Elementary School, bringing attention to public school funding; and in Niagara Falling at 7th and Market Streets in San Francisco, giving a human face to urban decay and renewal. Through its KidFly and GirlFly Programs, Flyaway also provides youth dance training that stimulates awareness of the physical body and of the social framework that undervalues women and girls. Finally, the company offers a comprehensive teaching residency at Sunnyside Elementary school, teaching approximately 250 children each year.
?Pictured: Alayna Stroud. Photo by RJ Muna.