ODC to Premiere Amara Tabor-Smith's EarthBodyHOME, 9/24-26
ODC Theater is proud to present the world premiereof EarthBodyHOME, a multimedia, ritual-based performance created by Amara Tabor-Smith.
After her 2013 site-specific tribute to the late Ed Mock, He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street, a piece which earned the San Francisco Bay Guardian's title of "Best Dance Séance," Tabor-Smith returns with a new invocation of the deceased. This time it's the late Cuban artist Ana Mendieta (d. 1985), best known for her "Earth Body" sculptures. Commissioned by ODC Theater, EarthBodyHOME weaves together a dreamlike allegory of exile, spiritual longing and a spirit's return to mother earth.
EarthBodyHOME runs for three nights, Thursday to Saturday, September 24 - 26 at 8pm. Tickets are $30 and $45 and may be purchased online at odcdance.org/tickets.
For the last five years Tabor-Smith's dance making has been deeply informed by her experience as a priest in Lukumí, a religious practice similar to Santería. Her newest project, EarthBodyHOME, draws on her spiritual and aesthetic kinship with Ana Mendieta "who was a student of indigenous cultures from around the world, with a focus on the Orishas or spirits of Santería, Taíno and Mayan mythologies," says Tabor-Smith.
Born in Cuba, Mendieta was sent by her parents to live in the U.S. following the Cuban revolution as part of "Operation Peter Pan," a program that resulted in the unaccompanied influx of more than 14,000 Cuban children into the U.S. Mendieta grew up moving between several foster families in Iowa, and her work as an artist explores themes of displacement and belonging. Other themes include race, sex, the relationship of people to the natural world and of the natural world to the spirit world.
EarthBodyHOME will incorporate two of Mendieta's filmed pieces. Together with original nature footage shot by Bay Area artist Eric Koziol, EarthBodyHOME will present a richly layered program of projected images against which performers Laura "Larry" Arrington, Zoe Klein, Xandra Ibarraas well as Tabor-Smith will dance and interact.
Together with Tabor-Smith, Dohee Lee will co-direct EarthBodyHOME. Like Tabor-Smith, Lee has studied the folk rituals and practices of traditional cultures. As a self-proclaimed shaman, Lee has for many years drawn upon ancient Korean rituals from her native Jeju Island in her own performance practice. Her understanding of ritual as itself a form of performance informs her approach to EarthBodyHOME.
Also joining the project is costume and visual designer Dana Kawano and multi-instrumentalist and composer Jackeline Rago. Rago's original score will incorporate percussion on found objects from nature. Kawano has worked with Tabor-Smith on her last four projects, but EarthBodyHOMEoffers the most ambitious visual design to date. Kawano will help create the "landscape of the set" as well as an installation in ODC Theater's lobby.
Of principal concern to Tabor-Smith and her collaborators is the "double exile" experienced in Mendieta's life and career. The last years of her short life witnessed a new period of art-making specifically for display in galleries. Where before her works began and ended in places in nature - recorded only in film or video - her later works attempted to adapt to the new parameters of enclosed, manmade spaces marked as they are by artificial lighting, air conditioning and humidity control. "The question of how to bring nature indoors without it being falsified proved especially troubling to the artist. This dislocation of nature from its place of origin is the analogue to Mendieta's own sense of exile living in the U.S.," explains Tabor-Smith. "In EarthBodyHOME the space of the theater reproduces the exile all over again. I'm interested in the ironic way in which theaters and galleries displace nature even as they occupy her at the same time."
The world premiere of EarthBodyHOME is part of ODC Theater's 2015 season offering a variety of points of view on the meaning of home and the desire to find one's place in the world."Marking the culmination of Amara's artistic residency at ODC, this presentation has special significance," says ODC Deputy Director Christy Bolingbroke. "ODC is proud to have served as her creative 'home' for the last three years."
The final presentation of this year's season is Rosy Simas' We Wait in the Darkness, October 8 - 10. This Bay Area premiere shares an historical perspective on homecoming and displacement through the artist's Native Seneca family's ejection first from upstate New York and then from the Bay Area following the occupation of Alcatraz in the early 1970s. For more information about ODC Theater's 2015 season visit odcdance.org/theater.
Amara Tabor-Smith is the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater (DWDT) and co-artistic director of Headmistress, an ongoing performing collaboration with Sherwood Chen. She has worked with choreographers Ed Mock, Joanna Haigood, Pearl Ubungen, Ronald K. Brown, Liz Lerman, Faustin Linyekula, Anne Bluethenthal, Adia Tamar Whitaker and Sara Shelton Mann, and she is the former Associate Artistic Director of and dancer in The Urban Bush Women Dance Company. She has also performed in the works of theater artists Anna Deveare Smith, Aya de Leon, Herbert Siquenza, The SF Mime Troupe and Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Tabor-Smith choreographed and appeared as a dancer in Shakti Butler's documentary film, Making Whiteness Visible. Her work with DWDT and Headmistress has been performed at Espaço Xisto in Salvador, Bahia; Rue Danse Festival in Brazzaville, Congo; Judson Church/Movement Research in NYC, and many venues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She has taught dance, Capoeira and UBW entering community workshops at Naropa University in Boulder, CO; University of Omaha, NE; SUNY Pottsdam; Columbia College in Chicago; The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM; San Francisco State University; and Mills College in Oakland. Tabor-Smith has received residencies and awards from The Headlands Center for the Arts, CHIME Mentorship Exchange, CounterPULSE, Green Choreographers Exchange as well as ODC.
ODC Theater participates in the creation of new works through commissioning, presenting, mentorship and space access; it develops informed, engaged and committed audiences; and it advocates for the performing arts as an essential component to the region's economic and cultural development. The Theater is the site of over 120 performances a year involving nearly 1,000 local, regional, national and international artists.
Since 1976, ODC Theater has been the mobilizing force behind countless San Francisco artists and the foothold for national and international touring artists seeking debut in the Bay Area. The Theater, founded by Brenda Way and currently under the direction of Christy Bolingbroke, has earned its place as a cultural incubator by dedicating itself to creative change-makers, those leaders who give the Bay Area its unmistakable definition and flare. Nationally known artists Spaulding Gray, Diamanda Galas, Molissa Fenley, Bill T. Jones, Eiko & Koma, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Ban Rarra and Karole Armitage are among those whose first San Francisco appearance occurred at ODC Theater.
For more information about ODC Theater and all its programs visit odcdance.org.
Pictured: Zoe Klein (foreground) and Amara Tabor-Smith. Photo by Robbie Sweeny.