Judith Butler, Julie Tolentino to Headline November BRIDGE PROJECT
Hope Mohr Dance has announced its seventh annual Bridge Project, the company's signature platform that approaches curating as a form of community organizing to convene interdisciplinary cultural conversations.
This year's event, titled RADICAL MOVEMENTS: GENDER AND POLITICS IN PERFORMANCE, presented in association with CounterPulse, features more than a dozen artists, activists and scholars including Laura Arrington, boychild, Judith Butler, Jack Halberstam, Xandra Ibarra, Monique Jenkinson, Maurya Kerr, Debra Levine, Scot Nakagawa, Peacock Rebellion, Maryam Rostami, Amara T. Smith and Julie Tolentino. Radical Movement takes place at CounterPulse November 3 - 11, and at the Joe Goode Annex on November 12.
"In the beginning, the Bridge Project had a focus on women choreographers," said Artistic Director Hope Mohr. "But this year's program expands the frame to focus on gender more broadly, a category that has become increasingly contested. As in 2016, this year's Bridge Project also challenges the historically exclusionary scope of postmodernism to include artmaking and critical thinking from a range of perspectives. The participants come from multiple disciplines to respond in different ways to the prompt: What does it mean to have a radical body?"
Radical Movements opens on Friday, November 3 at 8 p.m. with the double bill of Judith Butler and Monique Jenkinson. Butler, whose 1990 book Gender Trouble introduced the notion of "gender as performance," the idea that gender isn't something we are but an activity we do, will share the stage in conversation with Jenkinson, the first and only cis-woman to win a major drag pageant. Jenkinson, who received her early training in classical ballet, promises to take the conversation to the next level - on the dance floor.
The following evening, Saturday November 4 at 8 p.m., Jack Halbertsam, author of The Queer Art of Failure and Gaga Feminism, will join boychild, a "gender queer" performance artist who has showed in nightclubs and music venues across Europe and the U.S., in the premiere of dance of darkness: a performance, a conversation, a rehearsal for the future. Together they consider the meaning of contemporary queer improvised dance in relation to larger questions about protest, identity, wildness and movement. Dance of darkness includes "violent episodes of dramatic possession" inspired by butoh in combination with contemporary dance originating in clubs, drag shows and vernacular dance practices.
The festival resumes the following Friday, November 10 at 8 p.m. with a performance by Devi, founding artistic and executive director of Peacock Rebellion, a collective of queer and trans people of color working to build a culture of social justice through spoken word and cabaret performance. Devi has performed throughout the U.S. and Canada at such events as the National Queer Arts Festival, the United States of Asian America Festival, APAture, LitCrawl, among many others. For Radical Movements, Devi will premiere Brown Light Special, weaving stories and stand-up comedy about activist burnout into "a futurescape free of gender violence."
On Saturday November 11 at 8 p.m., Maryam Rostami takes the stage in the premiere of Untitled 1396, a solo drawing on the artist's trademark blend of high-femme drag, ritual and social commentary "through the lens of the child of model minorities." Untitled 1396 takes its name from the Iranian calendar: "In the (Iranian) year 1396, the American Empire is gobbling itself up, leaving behind disgusting detritus of past hates, colonial crimes and generalized malaise. How does a Texas-born, Iranian-American Muslim femme deign to decolonize her body?" asks Rostami.
Radical Movements comes to a close on Sunday, November 12 at 5 p.m. with a showing from the Bridge Project's inaugural Community Engagement Residency. This new program offers a yearlong engagement for established performers who self-identify as working from the margins. Mohr invited celebrated performer and activist Julie Tolentino to lead this year's residency. Tolentino in turn invited artists Laura Arrington, Xandra Ibarra, Maurya Kerr and Amara T. Smith to work with her, naming the group "The Hardcorps." "This residency asks each of us as the artists to engage in a meaningfully slow process," said Tolentino. "We want to explore what happens when the processes are slowed down."
The event on November 12 comes near the halfway mark of Tolentino's residency, and will feature performances followed by a group discussion with the artists joined by AIDS activist and performance scholar Debra Levine and grassroots community organizer Scot Nakagawa. Nakagawa is a senior partner at Oakland-based ChangeLab. Levine is an assistant professor of Theater and Performance Studies at New York University and NYU Abu Dhabi. The discussion will provide a forum to address issues around art-making, sustaining artist-to-artist relationships and the role of performance in activism.
Since 2010 the Bridge Project has hosted a number of influential dance artists and thinkers from around the world including Jeanine Durning, Simone Forti, Liz Gerring, Anna Halprin, Deborah Hay, Diane Madden, Alva Noë, Chrysa Parkinson, Susan Rethorst, Michèle Steinwald, Dusan Tynek and Molissa Fenley.
Single-event tickets, $20-$45, for this year's Bridge Project will go on sale mid-September at counterpulse.org. Discounted festival passes -- $90 for all five events, $65 for three events -- will also be available. For more information visit hopemohr.org. Hope Mohr Dance's 2017 Bridge Project is presented through CounterPulse's curated Co-Production program offering independent artists and companies the opportunity to produce new work within a professionally supported environment, and to access space and resources at significantly subsidized rates. CounterPulse is building a movement of risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. For more information about CounterPulse, please visit counterpulse.org. The 2017 Bridge Project is also supported in part by the NEA, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, the Sakana Foundation, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, California Arts Council, the Joe Goode Annex and generous individual donors.
ABOUT HOPE MOHR DANCE
The mission of Hope Mohr Dance is to create, present and foster outstanding contemporary dance at the intersection of critical thinking and the body. Hope Mohr Dance has two core commitments: to engage in rigorous creative inquiry that manifests in artistic excellence, and to deepen critical discourse around dance.
In keeping with these commitments, HMD's signature curatorial platform the Bridge Project "annually recruits the prime movers of American postmodernism in a series of classes, workshops, discussions and public concerts" (San Francisco Chronicle). The Bridge Project approaches curating as a form of community organizing to facilitate cultural conversations that cross discipline, geography, and perspective. HMD's Bridge Project "fills a critical gap in the artistic and intellectual life of the Bay Area dance community by honoring the past and giving context to the present through its remarkable annual series of guest artists and events" (Stanford Professor of Theater and Performance Studies Janice Ross). The Bridge Project's track record of presenting high-caliber artists has raised HMD's profile as a company that does more than present the work of one artistic director, but rather serves as a hub for artistic exchange. Past Bridge Project artists include Jeanine Durning, Simone Forti, Liz Gerring, Anna Halprin, Deborah Hay, Diane Madden, Alva Noë, Chrysa Parkinson, Susan Rethorst, Michèle Steinwald, Dusan Tynek and Molissa Fenley. For more information about Hope Mohr Dance visit hopemohr.org.
ABOUT HOPE MOHR
Hope Mohr is a curator, choreographer and writer. She trained at S.F. Ballet School, studied theater at Yale and earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies at Stanford, where she wrote her honors thesis on the women's movement in Nicaragua. After working as an Americorps Team Leader in South Central LA, Mohr moved to NYC to train on scholarship at the Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown Studios. Her long performance career included time in the companies of dance pioneers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown. Passionate about pursuing both community organizing and dance, Mohr earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Columbia Human Rights Fellow. In 2007, Mohr returned to San Francisco to establish Hope Mohr Dance. The ongoing mission of the company is to create, present and foster outstanding contemporary dance at the intersection of critical thinking and the body. In addition to making dances that take a rigorous conceptual approach to fundamental questions about the body in space and time, Mohr curates as a form of community organizing. Her signature curatorial platform The Bridge Project recruits the prime movers of postmodernism to the Bay Area to spark conversations that cross discipline, geography, and perspective. Mohr has held residencies at Stanford Arts Institute, ODC Theater, Montalvo Arts Center, and the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance. She was a 2016 YBCA Fellow.