On Anna Halprin’s The Courtesan and The Crone:
Anna Halprin, one of the most innovative, experimental and influential of dance artists, performed a mime piece; a five minute dance-theater work wearing a Venetian mask that was a gift from her daughter and a floor-length gold cloak that she previously wore to the White House. 94 years old. Fragile. Eager to make contact. To move. To move us. To touch. I felt lucky to share this moment that vastly transcended the actual choreography and yet of course was deeply implicated in its embodied narrative and mimicry, desire and nostalgia, power and loss. Halprin’s courtesan was articulate and unabashed. She presented the mask of a younger woman and the body that still remembers her, at least in gestural fragments. Her crone fluctuated between grief – what have I become? – and a calm resolve or affirmation. We applauded. Anna smiled and bowed and exited carefully, each step significant.
On Simone Forti’s Logomotion:
Forti emerges from a similar era of feminism and an art scene whose political critique of art and society led them to share creative process as “product” (Prioritizing “practice” as Arrington and Hewit might assert). For News Animation, Forti reads a newspaper and takes notes in the form of poetic journaling. In tonight’s performance the notes were read live, an exposure of process but also a deepening of the material, revisiting it but from the past, rewinding time to reconsider the now. “Colonialism. I can never remember so I reach for my colon.” Her body grounds and recontextualizes language, perhaps patriarchy and its logic as well. Reading from a notebook, head bowed to the page, white hair vibrating with her shakes, she recounts a dream of power men and their penises and closed sexual circuits that exclude everyone else.
A dance with a white sweater and scarf shifts unexpectedly into a story of fish that know how to organize in solidarity and resistance. Forti is a gentle master. Using the tactics of innocent (or is it subversive) children’s theater, she transforms the clothing into a snowy Montana horizon along her body (mountain), and then admits to failing to represent the milky way… Perfect and imperfect, her imagination always in process of both refinement and wilding, an ethical feminist artist researcher child whose failures are gateways to magic.
On Lucinda Childs’ Carnation:
White chair. Black table. Red leotard. Blue jeans. Her right foot in a blue plastic bag. A kitchen sieve treated as an iconic or holy object. Carefully she constructs sandwiches from green sponges and pre-cut carrots that fit the width of the sponge. Color and form redux: Fluxus tasks, Dada disruptions, Judson deconstructions. Carrots ceremoniously inserted into sieve create an altar of orange radiance, then a crown when place delicately on her head. Many sponges are stacked vertically and one end inserted into her mouth. The mask is further manipulated by cramming the fanned gaps of the sponges with the carrots from her crown. The game ends by spitting everything into the blue bag removed from her foot.
At the back wall she does a headstand. In precarious balancing she performs a circus act with socks and a white sheet and she disappears. Ta da! It recalls certain actions/images in Xavier LeRoy’s Self Unfinished, created 34 years later.
She captures air in the plastic bag and it stands unsupported. Another circus act with magic fully exposed and yet it’s still magical, that is, whimsical, unexpected, and previously unimagined. She looks at it. Stomps it. Smiles. Proudly. The smile turns on and off. Then she cries. Steps away. She performs tasks with arbitrary rules that must be obeyed. If this isn’t the essence of art, it’s one of them.
I propose this work for an Izzy: best reconstruction of 2014!
On Hope Mohr’s s(oft is)hard:
We hear the sound of writing, by hand. A mix of knocking and scratching. Peiling faces away from the audience but her face, in close up, is projected, large, as if staring back at us. She is wearing black tights and a blue crocheted top….There is a more complicated relationship between text and movement, or language and embodiment, than in the previous works tonight’s program. More dates. More sounds of writing. More silences. More shapes and gazes and self-touching gestures and other dancing movement. Minimal piano accompanies the continued chronological progression of dates…we’re in the 90s…then 2000s. Video is intermittent. We switch from face cam to feet. Peiling’s breath becomes the dominant text as her movement increases in vigor. Today’s date. Tomorrow’s date. She rolls and jumps repeatedly. A virtuosity that impresses, viscerally. On her back, the lights fade, slowly.
Read the complete review at zeroperformance.blogspot.com
“[A] phenomenal celebration of West Coast post-modern dance, bringing together four powerhouse choreographers in a single program.”
the rise of curatorial activity goes hand in hand with the rise of collaboration as the dominant mode of making
“The democratization of curating is emblematic of our culture of networking and networks. More than ever, people are conscious of their position in a web of artistic relationships. Contemporary influence is not only linear. People are not only influenced by historical icons; they are also deeply influenced by their colleagues. The rise of curatorial activity also goes hand in hand with the rise of collaboration as the dominant mode of making.”
-Hope Mohr, in conversation with Marie Tollon, Four Postmodern Solos in Conversation, tripledogdare, Sept. 22, 2014
HMD’s Bridge Project featured in the S.F. Chronicle’s Fall Arts Preview.
[T]ransparent [dances] because of the clarity and intensity that these fabulous dancers brought to their tasks. Their presence burnt itself into your retina and your soul…..[ridetherhythm] approached pure music in the way fractured language rose into a chorus to retreat again into individual voices… It’s rare that dancers become truly expert at delivering words and movement; Mohr’s troupe was first-rate in both.
-Rita Felciano, “Think Again: Three Provocative Premieres,” S.F. Bay Guardian, April 16, 2014
Mohr continues to subtract the layers of inherited models in order to articulate her artistic voice. In her many roles as a writer, performer and choreographer, she questions the process of art making and the essence of an artwork with a rigorous dedication to the choreographic craft. Her dances offer spare but meticulous compositions where both body and space become a laboratory for research and inquiry about what it means to make art and how it relates to our lives.
-Marie Tollon, “Dance as a Vehicle for Questioning,” tripledogdare, April 3, 2014
Expect a blend of shrewd concepts and innovative, improvised movement in the metrics of intimacy, a collaboration between choreographers Christian Burns and Hope Mohr. If this sounds like some stuffy, high-art performance piece, think again. Burns’ work is intelligent, accessible, and often surprisingly funny. His unique combination of impulsive performance quality and calm confidence make him and his company, burnsWORK, one of the most original dance voices in the Bay Area. He choreographs and performs the metrics of intimacy alongside Hope Mohr, artistic director of Hope Mohr Dance, whose focus on the creative process is highly experimental and consistently refreshing. Both Burns and Mohr have backgrounds in classical ballet (Burns trained at The School of American Ballet in New York City and Mohr, a San Francisco native, trained at The San Francisco Ballet School) which gives their work a certain clarity that can often be undervalued in contemporary dance. The results are choreography that’s both poignant and viewer-friendly. The work is performed at The Garage, an underground venue so cozy you might end up practically sitting on someone’s lap — the perfect place to observe the capabilities of the human body.
— Laura Jaye Cramer, S.F. Weekly, December 3, 2013
“In plenty of dance theater, it’s common for performers to move and speak. It’s hard to do well and it’s a complicated relationship. I’m interested in the nuance of it, the details of it, what makes it work or not work. There’s a moment of individuation that happens when we learn to speak. It’s a pivotal moment in the development of us all.”
-Wallace Baine, “San Francisco Dance Troupe Explores Language and Movement,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, Sept. 25, 2013
Full article here.