zoe | juniper Performance Residency

By Robert Tyree // Photo: Patrick Leonard

Word on the mean streets is that the visual arts world is batting its eyes at dance and considering a more committed kind of a relationship (whatever that means these days). Artists working in contemporary dance are likely already aware of this dynamic, but might not have encountered many models that speak forcefully to the wild potential inherent to the prospect of making dance that operates in gallery contexts and formats.

If you care at all about those first two sentences, TBA:11 is premiering an installation very worth your while.

zoe | juniper’s A Crack in Everything: Installed can be situated on a compelling forefront of dance production methods. In all likelihood, it will feel quite foreign to you, yet it works with material that ought to be familiar from other performances here in Portland: bodies by Julia Calabrese, Jacob Coleman, Carlos Gonzales, David Krom, Christina Marks, Danielle Ross and Amber Whitehall. To see your own community inhabit a vibrant edge – that’s a special occurrence no matter where you live.

Not only do Portland audiences have an opportunity to engage an unfolding interface with dance, but the Portland dancers performing the work take away the experience of constructing a piece, under zoe | juniper’s direction, that will be an asset to their future artistic endeavors and, by extension, our local arts ecology.

Bravo for that, TBA:11. That’s some exemplary festival operation in my book.

Seattle called to say they’re jealous.
(zoe | juniper come from Seattle, initially collaborating in 2005 at On the Board‘s really awesome Northwest New Works Festival)

Dance is sometimes broken down in terms of space, time and dynamics. If you are sitting in an ever-so-comfortable theater seat, most of these elements are taken care of for you. In an installation setting, however, you are free to move about, navigating your experience of the dance as a relatively (radically?) free agent.  You are an integral factor in how any given performance operates in the perception of its audience.

Installations allow you to choose your own adventure. This brings up a slew of fascinating issues when the object you observe is not inanimate material but a potentially reactive body very close to your own.

With what license can I approach this person? Will they react to me? How do I feel exploring their face, costume, skin with my gaze? What is permitted in this context and what is inappropriate? Can I talk here?

Does this live performance have an ideal composition?

Usually, performance descriptions in festival or season catalogs make me want to puke, but I love how this is worded in that fancy little TBA:11 book:

Both the installation and proscenium performance offer different and necessary opportunities to explore detail, relationship, time, breath, and textures, equally as their own entities and in relationship to each other.

// How exciting is that!?

Don’t make the same mistake I made. I showed up 30 minutes a little late for the  live performance of the installation. When I go back, I’ll try and spend a few minutes inside the installation before the live performance even begins. I hope you have the chance to do the same.

PS// For the sake of context, here’s a video I shot of Xavier le Roy’s informal, end-of-workshop showing at ImPulzTanz last month. The workshop essentially asked participants to create a dance installation. You can read its proper description here.