Some people love to teach dance, some are thrilled to dance a choreographer's dream into life, but my heart and soul lie in creating the dance. I love doing the research, daydreaming about what costuming would work, choreographing movement, and rehearsing until it becomes what I saw in my head when I first heard the music....

Singing for Your Supper (2011)

This piece is the result of the choreographer's whimsical musings on the similarities between the mythological Greek Sirens and lounge singers/chanteuses of the 1940's. Both types of female creatures use beauty and song as a lure and/or distraction, often convincing hapless men to dismiss any thoughts of undercurrents. The lines between literal sense and figurative sense are blurred, because, in effect, both female creatures are singing for their supper.

Papaver somniferum (2011)

A depiction of the lush, sensory-rich, alternate reality that is intoxication. A waking dream - opium's sinuous warmth - and the comfortable python-slow grip of escaping a drab turn of the century factory worker existence by indulging in a fantasy world of orientalism and feminine allure - another time, another place - all in the convenience of one's own mind.

A Brief History.

Zenko/ Yako? (2011)

Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore, depicted as intelligent beings possessing magical abilities. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. Some of these folktales speak of foxes employing this ability to trick others-as foxes in folklore often do-with motives that vary from mischief to malevolence. These foxes are referred to as the yako. Other stories portray foxes as faithful guardians, protecting humans. These are called the zenko. The difficulty is in distinguishing which is which.

Bordello Politics (2010)

At its heart, this piece is about the ever-shifting phenomenon of social power and the group alliances that form around it. It could have been set in a boardroom, or backstage, or a playground, or even in the wild kingdom, as it is not behavior exclusive to humans. That being said, this tale is set on an otherwise uneventful day in a Spanish bordello.

Unsettled, Unsettling (2010)

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

--"Fog" by Carl Sandburg

A piece that portrays the physical manifestation of a woman's depression, creeping in insidiously on little cat feet, changing her from passively Unsettled to actively Unsettling.

The Little Match Girl (2010)

Carolyn Krueger planted the seed of inspiration into my head to (re)tell this classic Hans Christian Anderson story from 1845:

On a cold New Year's Eve, a poor girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is freezing badly, but is afraid to go home because her father will beat her for not selling all the matches. She takes shelter in a nook and dares to light a match to warm herself. In that matchglow, she sees lovely visions of warmth, food and shelter. As she continues to light match after match, the visions become more and more lovely, culminating in a vision of her deceased grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She continues to strike matches to keep the vision of her grandmother nearby for as long as she can, either not noticing or not caring that she is slowly freezing to death and running out of matches. The next morning, passers-by find her in the nook, frozen to death, with rosy red cheeks and a smile on her face.

Heart's Frosty Discipline: Persephone's Decision (2010)

"Now this particular girl
During a ceremonious april walk
With her latest suitor
Found herself, of a sudden, intolerably struck
By the birds' irregular babel
And the leaves' litter.

By this tumult afflicted, she
Observed her lover's gestures unbalance the air,
His gait stray uneven
Through a rank wilderness of fern and flower;
She judged petals in disarray,
The whole season, sloven.

How she longed for winter then!--
Scrupulously austere in its order
Of white and black
Ice and rock; each sentiment within border,
And heart's frosty discipline
Exact as a snowflake.

But here -- a burgeoning
Unruly enough to pitch her five queenly wits
Into vulgar motley --
A treason not to be borne; let idiots
Reel giddy in bedlam spring:
She withdrew neatly.

And round her house she set
Such a barricade of barb and check
Against mutinous weather
As no mere insurgent man could hope to break
With curse, fist, threat
Or love, either."

--"Spinster" by Sylvia Plath

This Sylvia Plath poem has been floating around in my head and my heart for quite some time. The concept of rejection of emotions as unruly and undesirable intrigued me. I wondered - what would lead a woman to willingly disengage from the realm of emotion? I quickly dismissed the explanation of madness as too easy, too tidily convenient, too much society's catchall scapegoat.

I left that question to simmer in my subconscious and turned my focus to other stories. One of those stories was the Persephone myth. The explanation of the very first winter (and all subsequent winters) brought about by Persephone's abduction by Hades (traditionally referred to as "The Rape of Persephone") was another story of strong emotion. The story then goes that she is tricked into eating 6 pomegranate seeds, thus imprisoning her in the Underworld for 6 months of each year. Persephone was so beloved that the earth itself (personified by her mother Demeter) mourned her temporary loss each year through wintering.

An interesting exchange to note is that whereas the character in the Spinster poem yearns for winter's austerity, finding emotions messy, the earth/ Demeter undergoes the powerful emotional state of grief, and is ultimately left frozen.

Further research into the character of Persephone yielded that in the epic poem The Odyssey, she is portrayed as "the dread queen of the Underworld, whose very name it was forbidden to speak". Odysseus instead names her as the Iron Queen. Clearly there is a conflict between Persephone as the victim who was "tricked" into eating pomegranate seeds vs. Persephone the dreaded Iron Queen.

One might speculate that spending significant time each year in the Underworld could easily result in Persephone's becoming the Iron Queen, but in this dance solo, I speculate differently. Perhaps she never was a wilting lily of a woman who was tricked, but perhaps she *welcomed* and embraced the chill, starkness of this emotional winter, as a means of coping with the tumultuous emotional state brought about by her rape/ abduction. Instead of the naive girl being fooled into eating transformative fruit (the stories of Eve and Snow White come to mind), we have the formative image of a woman with the indomitable strength to cauterize her own heart in her will to survive. Perhaps the pomegranate was the Iron Queen's decision.

Ursa, Fallen (2009)

This is the story of Ursa Minor, the constellation of stars also known as "Little Bear". It takes place in an undetermined time - it could be any time - starting with a boy of indeterminable ethnic origin - who could be any boy. This particular little anyboy let fly a rock with his slingshot so hard that it actually - accidentally - knocked the Polaris star out of the nighttime sky. Polaris - the North Star - the brightest star in Ursa Minor that crowns the North Pole. When Polaris plummeted away from Ursa Minor, she herself began to tumble towards Earth. Falling, falling, forgetting, falling....forgetting her celestial nature, forgetting her mythical role in the universe. Her sister constellation, Ursa Major ("Great Bear") must collect Ursa Minor. Must remind Ursa Minor who and what she is....with the help of a wise little anyboy. Stars, bears, & boy must help eachother to put things right again.

The Secret Dreams of a Pythia (2009)
(a solo from "Spinster's Ball")

In Ancient Greece, there existed oracles at Dodona , Trophonios, Claros, and Didyma, but the most renowned oracle was the one at Delphi . Petitioners would consult the oracle through a priest and the oracle, who was always a single older woman of blameless life, from the peasant class, was reputed to channel the voice of Apollo. Each woman chosen would take on the name Pythia, in reference to the legend of Apollo slaying the monstrous beast Python. It was believed when Apollo did so, Python’s body fell into the fissure over which the oracle sat, and the legendary fumes that she breathed were said to emanate from the decomposing body. Chewing laurel leaves, the Pythia gave ambiguous answers to petitioners on everything from important matters of public policy (war, founding of colonies, affairs of state) to everyday personal affairs (love, marriages, rivalries). For around 12 centuries, she was consulted by citizens, philosophers, and rulers. Much weight was given to her (theorized) trance-borne words.

Research has given us conflicting theories about this part of the equation: was the oracle really in an ecstatic trance when she doled out her prophecies? Until this past decade, scientists have refuted this, based on an 1892 excavation of the ruins by a team of French archeologists. The archeologists found no evidence of volcanism that would have produced intoxicating fumes; nor did they find a cleft or large fissure at the site. In 2002, after further excavation, 2 small intersecting faults were discovered, and a theory was put forth citing the petrochemical (non volcanic) ethylene as what the oracle was probably under the influence of. This theory was so popular, it was widely reported in the NY Times,, Scientific American, and National Geographic. Most recently, in 2007, yet another study was done, systematically refuting the ethylene intoxication theory by citing that there were negligible concentrations of this highly flammable gas (reference the following: 0.3nM/L at the site, whereas a driver in urban traffic is reported to be exposed to 0.32nM/L ethylene concentrations).

Amidst all of this back-and-forth theorizing, we are really only certain of one thing. Intoxicated or sober, the Pythia was most definitely a renowned Performer.

Self-Imposed Spinster (2009)
(a solo from "Spinster's Ball")

This is a piece about loneliness at its core. How choosing to lead a liberated, archetypal strong female lifestyle does not mean that one does not yearn for a partner. How an indomitable nature can sometimes result in being alone. Though the streak dejection may run pervasively and deep, that same strength pulls you through yet another day.

Original concept dreamed up by Kashmir Isis, who graciously allowed me to run with her idea and flesh out the storyline and create choreography to bring this piece to life...

Coming Home (2009)
(a duet from "Spinster's Ball")

Dust Bowl era photography inspired this piece. The bone-deep strength of everyday people living on farmlands and homesteads in middle America . Their sun-weathered skin, windblown hair, and lined, course hands spoke of a lifetime that knew hard work and resilience. Their clothing was more function than fashion - giving the subjects of the camera’s eye a timeless quality, unlike photos of those who dwelled in the cities during that time. I started to think about the contrast of that: how a sister who stayed behind in rural America might have this ‘suspended in time’ existence and mentality, whereas the other sister who escaped to the city would have lived a diverse and changeable life. Grieving the recent loss of her husband, our city-dwelling sister yearns for the comfort of returning to the known, routine existence of her former life at Home with her spinster sister….

An Afternoon's Diversion (2009)

Spiritualism (attempting to communicate with the dead) had widespread appeal in the upper and middle classes of late Victorian society during the mid-1800's. The use of mediums, seances, and talking or spirit boards soon developed into a social pastime for many, as commonplace as afternoon tea to while away the time. One writer of the era criticized the frivolous nature of these partakers: "...having pretty well exhausted the pleasures of this world" and seeking "any new amusement they can get out of any other world." {Source: C. Gregory & "Spirits and Spirit Rapping," The Westminster Review 69 (January, 1858)}

This choreography follows the story of an (unexpectedly) extremely successful bout of afternoon spiritualism.

Emotional Winter (2009)

This choreography explores the emotional landscapes of the brides of Dracula: 3 women taken in the prime of their lives and deprived of warmth, light, and life....transported into an inhuman existence, looking out over the chasm of unremitting immortality, yet retaining some fragments of the memory of their humanity.

Claustrophobic (2008)

This piece explores the concept of fear, and the archetypes that are created specifically to induce fear. A thin thread of fear marries the concept of scarecrow, human, and crow in that one creates another to induce fear in the third. Fear does not have to be divisive though. In this piece, fear becomes tangible, taking on an almost material form in suppressing yet giving common plight to scarecrow, human, and crow in the smothering grip of the 4th character of this piece: claustrophobia.

Puss in Boots (2008)

This piece was created for the 2008 Labyrinth of Jareth. It is a light-hearted foray into love, jealousy, courtship, rivalry, and the comedy that interlaces all of the above. Sina was inspired by her childhood readings, and the imagery of Gustave Dore's "Le Chat Botte". With an all-classical music score, airbrushed makeup (based on Sina's cat Zea), latex prosthetics, tails, and real (though not sharpened) swords, this choreography is a real crowd-pleaser. It is also the very first Malice Dreaming and Desert Sin co-production!

Wiitches (2007)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre III")

"What are these,
So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
That look not like th' inhabitants o' th' earth,
And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
That man may question? . . ."
-Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 3

"...women which be commonly old, lame . . . poor, sullen, superstitious . . . They are leane and deformed, shewing melancholie in their faces, to the horror of all that see them."
-The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, 1584

Immortality or perpetual crone-like longevity of a supernatural being such as a witch (or a Wiitch, note the pun on the double "i" spelling) comes at a cost, and some body parts, especially the tender tissue that makes up the eyes, wear out and must be replaced...

Beda & Boudihillia (2007)
(a duet from "Dance Macabre III")

Together, Beda & Boudihillia are the pair of Celtic goddesses known as the Alaisiagae. Their German counterparts are Frigabis and Fimmilena. Acting in concert, these two who were known as the "Dispatching Terrors" were worshipped fearfully by Roman soldiers at Hadrian's Wall, where votive inscriptions to them have been found carved into altarstones. One is never seen without the other, for these bloodthirsty goddesses presided over the battlefield in unison, according to the inscriptions in the Temple of Mars at Housesteads Fort. Beda (here portrayed by Ariellah) represented death and burial, while Boudhillia (portrayed by Sina) represented the righteousness of battle and the fullness of victory.

This entirely improvised dance was created by Ariellah and Sina on the spot, and was different each night it was performed. Projection slides of war imagery throughout many different time periods accompanied the piece, symbolizing the ever-present, unchanging, timelessness of death: the Alaisiagae.

Ticks & Leeches (2007)
(a solo from "Dance Macabre III")

.....a piece exploring the various emotions wrapped around the idea of how utterly confining labels can be.....

(featuring an 8'x8' cube and about 120' steel chain)

Lemurs (2007)

This piece, a vignette in Unmata's yearly Blood Moon Regale show, was a collaboration choreography between April Rose and Sina. The show was zoo-themed, in order to bring awareness to the dilemma of caged wild animals.

The piece opens with the lemurs in their peaceful repose, basking in the afternoon sun and foraging for food. Shortly thereafter, a group of zoo-going kids, bored by the animals "not doing anything" begin to shout and throw wadded up paper and popcorn at the lemurs, prompting the terrified lemurs to "perform".

Jugun Ianfu (2007)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre III")

The Japanese euphemism "jugun ianfu" (military comfort women), refers to women of various ethnic and national backgrounds and social circumstances who became sexual slaves for the Japanese troops before and during the Pacific War.

Some were minors sold into this slavery. Others were deceptively recruited by middlemen, told that they were being hired as factory workers and kept captive. Still more were forcibly abducted, from both Japan and the countries that Japan invaded and conquered as part of their wartime efforts, and shipped to the "comfort stations".

The Japanese government's rationale for needing sexual slaves for its troops can be traced back to 1932. It begins with documentation of Japanese Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji's proposal for a "shipment" of Comfort Women to be sent to Shanghai, China as a solution for 223 reported rapes by his troops. However, the proliferation of state-mandated sexual slavery began with the Nanjin Massacre in 1937. After the merciless slaughter of thousands of Chinese, and the pillaging and arson that followed, they set upon raping an insurmountable number of women. As a result of the Nanjin Massacre, "comfort houses" were set up at a fast rate in order to 'settle down' disorderly Japanese troops.

The Japanese Army used comfort stations extensively until the war ended in the Pacific in 1945. Most Comfort Women died without being returned to their homelands. They were simply discarded when they got too sick to be of any use. Overwhelming despair drove the imprisoned women to suicide and suicide attempts with alarming frequency. During the last months of WWII, most Comfort Women were murdered or left to die by retreating Japanese troops. Even the survivors were "ruined" women, as no man would willingly take a former Comfort Woman as his bride. The Japanese government denied that women had been forced to work at comfort stations and maintained that it was never involved in operating comfort stations until, in 1992, Professor Yoshimi Yoshiaki of Chuo University found wartime documents in the Library of the National Institute for Defense Studies that confirmed that the Japanese Forces had operated comfort stations. On the same day that excerpts from the documents were published in Japanese newspapers, the government finally admitted its involvement, although it has never issued an apology or compensation to the women.

Between and Beyond (2007)

(a collaboration between Malice Dreaming Productions and Rhythminmind)

In Irish lore, the term "daoine maite" refers to the race of fairies, directly translating from Gaelic as the "good people".

They were very human like in their appearance, and of all the sidhe, the Irish fairy was generally not diminutive, often being described as tall, handsome, richly dressed beings who had an opalescence or shine about them.

It is easy to see how their significant beauty, coupled with their supernatural powers and marked intelligence, could make them a haughty, arrogant race. A race prejudiced against human society.

This is a story of forbidden love, Between mortal and faery realms. A love that defies convention and custom, as one of the sidhe crosses the veil between worlds, called by the music of a human drummer and chooses to stay Beyond.

Stuffed Nightmare (2006)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre II")

This dance vignette deals with childhood fear...nothing seemed more down-to-your-bones terrifying as a small child like your nightmares did. Enough so that they had the power of sending you running through the darkened house in the middle of the night to your parents' room to beg to sleep in their bed...Here we witness the autobiographical childhood nightmare of the choreographer...

Janus Timeline (2006)
(a duet from "Dance Macabre II")

A heavily cerebral, modern dance influenced piece combining elements of Roman mythology, prophecy, fate, geometry, time, superposition, the Heisenberg indeterminacy principle of a collection of probabilities, and quantum indeterminacy: the apparent necessary incompleteness in the description of a physical system.....

Selkie-Breed (2006)
(a duet from "Dance Macabre II")

Orkney has many folk stories concerning the magical race of creatures called the selkies. Most depictions show them as gentle shape shifters with the ability to transform from seals into beautiful human women.

The common element in all these selkie-folk tales, and perhaps the most important element is the fact that

when selkies assume human form, they cast off their sealskins. Within these magical skins lay the power to return to seal form, and therefore return to the sea.

If one of the selkies lost their sealskin, they were doomed to remain in human form until the skin was recovered. Because of this, if disturbed during one of their midnight shore dances, the selkie-folk would hastily snatch up their skins and rush back to the safety of the sea.

This dance piece explores the concept of a selkie-like creature who is not the gentle, doe-like creature depicted in the folk tales of Orkney, although the lonely fisherman who finds her deceives himself into thinking that she is....

Artificial Intelligence (2006)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre II")

This piece features cybernetic organisms, dancers as bionic humanity where the lines are blurred. The mainstay rule that the animal kingdom lives by is: "survival of the fittest". Apply this survival instinct to artificial intelligence/ technology.....and we find the instinct to survive is present in every sentient being....

Tremor (2006)
(a solo from "Dance Macabre II")

A dance monologue that explores the inner landscapes of a drug addict...their coping with sobriety and spiraling back down into addiction, indeed, perhaps never truly escaping addiction but creating their own fantasies about escaping the addiction....

Hive (2006)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre II")

This contact improv piece centers around the concepts of conformity and societal/ peer pressure. There is a catalyst dancer, a leader, who enmeshes the rest of the dancers as they mimic her, a horde of drone-like dancers, and two dancers who periodically try to "escape", expressing some small degree of individuality, only to be absorbed back into the horde. Whether it be that the dancers who yearn for individuality succumb to others applying force to reabsorb them, or that they actually want to be reabsorbed due to an unwillingness to stand out, or a fear of lost identity if one strays too far from the is obvious that there is a highly repressive hive mentality and social organizational structure in place.

Lilith (2006)

Lilith...the name calls to mind several images. Adam's reputed first wife, screech owls, a long-haired Judaic demonness, a significant character in the feminist movement, a nocturnal devourer of babies. Most research agrees that she is a female night demon found in Mesopotamian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian mythology. Persian incantation bowls have been found with exorcisms against Lilith scribed into them. There is a Jewish tradition of hanging four amulets, one on each wall, in the room of a newborn babe, with the inscription "Lilith - abi!" ("Lilith - begone!") on each amulet. There is a reference to her in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q184, fragment 1), and she is known as a lamia or "witch" in ancient Greek literature.

But even a demonness could have another, softer, side to her story. This piece focuses only on the King James version Bible association between Lilith and screech owls, shapeshifting from owl to woman, and we witness her private revels in her newfound womanly form.

Bethsheba (2006)
(a solo from "Original Sin")

In the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, King David sent Joab, his battle commander, and all of Israel's soldiers to war against the sons of Ammon. But David stayed at Jerusalem.

One afternoon, it is written that King David arose from his couch and was walking upon the roof of the king's house, where he spied Bethsheba bathing and he found her very desirable.

Bethsheba's husband was Uriah, a loyal soldier of the king, but this was not to deter David, who decided to make her a widow so that he could take her as his own wife. Incredibly, David wrote a letter to Joab, and summoned Uriah to take it to Joab. The letter read: "Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die." Joab obeyed, and Uriah was slain.

But was Bethsheba the innocent victim of a king's desire in this bloodshed, as the Bible tells us?

Michal and the Wives of King David (2006)
(a vignette from "Original Sin")

Michal was a daughter of King Saul who was given to King David as a means of forging a political alliance between the two kings. She apparently truly loved David, at least at first, while David seems to have viewed her merely with passing infatuation, as a prize, and then later as just one of his multiple wives. In the end, her love for him grew cold as a result of his indifference, and although they remained married, their alienation was total; they lived the remainder of their lives apart.

In this piece, we see a tentative, heartbroken Michal be relegated to the harem among King David's other wives, and how she comes to terms with the other wives, eventually asserting her dominance.

(Wives choreographed by Sina.)

Delilah (2006)
(a duet from "Original Sin")

In the Bible, Delilah is painted as a treacherous woman, who continually seeks ways to sap Samson of his strength. Samson toys with her, lying several times about the secret to his strength and each time Delilah tests it, he tolerates her failed attempt with bemusement. Here we meet a Delilah who intrigues Samson precisely because he may have just met his arrogant, confident match.

Eve (2006)
(a duet from "Original Sin")

The story of the first man and first woman is one that is easily one of the most familiar stories of the Judeo-Christian faith. There is the woman, the Serpent, and the fruit of the forbidden tree. The Serpent is most often depicted as the eloquent wordsmith, tricking Eve into disobeying God, or convincing her to disobey God. This piece explores the concept that perhaps the Serpent never had to say one word to stoke the already-present fires of Eve's temptation. Was Eve a hapless victim or a woman who knew exactly what she wanted?

HREX (2005)
(a duet from "Dance Macabre")

The term "HREX" is the scientific acronym for "human radiation experiment". Human experimentation has been practiced for centuries. There are cases of vivisection (live dissection) of gladiators and slaves that date back from the Roman era. Throughout history, the population of those used for medical experimentation have always been the outcast: the orphans, prisoners, mentally retarded, veterans, wounded soldiers, and asylum residents.

When former President Clinton ordered the declassification of the government-sponsored human radiation experiments, publishing them on the internet in 1996, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was forced to disclose notes from 425 experiments conducted by the DOE and the Atomic Energy Commission from the 1940's to the 1970's. The majority of these experiments documented no informed consent from the subjects.

T.S. Chapman of Manhattan District Experiments at the University of California during the 1940's said on record that it was commonplace to use patients in plutonium, uranium, polonium, lead, or radium injection and ingestion experiments without their knowledge and without asking them to sign release or consent waivers. It was protocol to schedule false-pretense surgeries to obtain samples of bone tissue, spleen tissue, liver tissue, and extraction of whole teeth to measure retained radioactive concentrations.

If you wish to regard HREX's as things of the past to help you sleep better at night, know this: a doctor at Yale University in February 2005 said that "Children in orphanages, children in homes of the mentally retarded, these are all good populations from the sense of medical research, because you have an easily accessible group of people living in controlled circumstances, and you can monitor them....It would even be an advantage in applying for grant money, because you don't have to go to the problem of recruiting subjects."

Sometimes you don't have to seek out fantastic tales of gruesome monsters for a good scare. You need only look to your left or right.

This piece purposely places the dancers in some extremly taxing physical positions, and forces them to work with some senses partially hindered, to really give a sense of fear and helplessness. They start the piece in hampered breathing conditions, they peel out of hosiptal gowns, their vision is obscured with wet chiffon, their bodies are covered in a sticky paste like substance, and they have pre-wet gauze and plastic insects in their mouths.

Cuckoo (2005)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre")

The cuckoo bird is widely known in nature to be a brood parasite, laying its single egg in the next of another, typically smaller but somewhat similar in appearance, breed of bird. The unfortunate young of the nest parents often starve, because they are ill-equipped to compete with the nest intruder, and many times are even physically ousted from the nest by the intruder to fall to their deaths. What is not widely known is that this brood parasitic behavior can also happen in the insect world.

When nature's laws become twisted and blurred, producing a creature that is not-quite bird and not-quite insect, to what extent might a cuckoo's deception go?

This piece explores the life cycle of this twisted cuckoo creature, and culminates in the nestling allowing the parents to nurture and care for it, even affecting love towards the parents, but eventually turning on both its parents as soon as it becomes strong enough to do so.

Piety (2005)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre")

The pitfall of pious, unquestioning faith and devotion is that one can be blindsided by unexpected, even previously trusted sources. This piece explores the ever-present power struggles between even the most benign-seeming institutions, and how humanity is inherently flawed, even when we aspire to the most sacred callings.

Tension (a collaboration choreography with Kim Wistos-Laudermilk) (2005)

This piece explored the dynamics of a tango-influenced, torch-singer style dance between a sadist and a masochist. The masochist's desire for her own suffering, the sadist's desire to inflict that suffering, and the resultant dance that is born of it.

Nixies (2005)
(a vignette from "Dance Macabre")

In German folklore there is a breed of Fae who are barely distinguishable from humans. No wings, no pointed ears, no dresses made of flower petals. The Nixies were lake and river-dwelling faeries. They were particularly associated with the Saal River, and could be recognized by their large, dreadful eyes and by the hems of their skirts that were always dripping wet. As the changeling mythos goes, they had an inclination for kidnapping human children, but what did they do with these human children? Why did they kidnap them?

This piece involved dancers who were soaking wet, fingertip prosthetics, and green-hued body makeup.

A Doll's Love (2005)
(a duet from "Dance Macabre")

A girl rapidly approaching her teen years is given a mysterious gift -- a doll. Deeming the doll an unworthy and childish gift, the girl largely ignores the doll. But love can come in bizarre forms, and as they say, love cannot be denied....

This piece explores the concept of how unrequited love can become destructive, using a dancer whose movement was largely sexy and coming-of-age, and a contortionist who mimicked her with earnesty but doll-like inadequacy.

Ice Witch (2005)

This dance piece was inspired by my early-age reading of The Chronicles of Narnia. Being the sort of child who always cheered for the villains and was disappointed when they lost, Jadis, the White Witch might've been my first hero as a child. In this piece, a dancer is embedded in a symbolic snow bank of fabric from the waist down. As the music itself changes from lyrical and smooth to percussive and sharp, the Ice Witch herself responsively changes her movement style with the music. She herself is not so much of an individual person anymore, her face is perpetually in a wide-eyed wonder, as she has become one with the concepts of winter, rolling snowdrifts, jagged ice, and a lack of emotional or physical warmth.

Pestilence (a segment from a larger collaborative dance piece titled "Pandora's Box) (2005)

In this dance piece, 5 dancers represented all forms of pestilence personified in psuedo-animal form. Two rat-like creatures embodied rodent earthbound pestilence, two reptilian characters embodied a pestilence that harked to swamps and watery locales, and one bat-like creature on stilts represented an airborne pestilence. The rat-like creatures focused on mimicking rodent mannerisms, stayed low to the ground, and adopted a very hunched over posture. The reptilian creatures moved with hard edges and calculation, rapid neck movements much like lizards, and a tall, lean but angular form. The bat-like creature largely utilized his wings and upper body work to affect a looming overhead, swooping down presence.

Grief (also a segment from the collaborative dance piece "Pandora's Box") (2005)

In this dance piece, an "a cappella" song was chosen, primarily for its evocative loneliness and emptiness. The Pandora character was given a respite from witnessing all the evils that she had released upon the world, and was experiencing grief at what horrible consequences her curiosity had resulted in. The dancer portraying grief used athletic and stylized dance movements in a dark veil and tattered burial dress to perform a duet with Pandora to personify the concepts of loss, hopelessness, desolation, and resignation.

Noh Ghost Story (2004)

Noh is a classical Japanese performance form which combines elements of dance, drama, music and poetry into one highly aesthetic stage art. Indeed, it is the oldest surviving form of Japanese theater. These plays are very austere performances, in which wooden masks play an important role. The tone of the performances is grave, in keeping with the tragic character of the represented situations. A central principle of the Noh drama is "yugen" ("mystery", "depth", "darkness", "beauty", "elegance"), the intimation of a concealed truth, what Zeami Motokiyo defines as "the art of the flower of mystery". It is telling that Noh plays often involve ghosts or ghostly characters and emphasize, through symbolism and stylized gestures, the formal, abstract, and spiritual aspects of human action and emotion and their consequences. It is not uncommon for one character to play multiple roles.

In this instance, a dancer plays the roles of a samurai, his young wife, and a treacherous old man. The young couple court and marry, and live in bliss, until the libelous old man character comes to whisper untrue rumors of his wife's faithlessness into the samurai's ear. The samurai, brokenhearted at this dishonor to their marraige, still loves his wife enough to allow her to commit jigai. (Both the practices of jigai - the ritual suicide of women by the cutting of the jugular vein with a short sword or dagger - and seppuku - the ritual stomach-cutting suicide practiced by Japanese men - were committed to preserve one's honor, even after death. Those who did not belong to the samurai caste were never ordered or expected to commit seppuku and samurai women could only commit the act with permission.) The samurai's wife is trapped in a sort of limbo, reliving her recollection of the events that led to her untimely and unjust death over and over....

Zombified  (2004)

As a part of the voudou rite of zombification, a bokor (also called a caplata, of the "left-handed" Vodun) takes possession of her/his victim's soul, replacing it with a loa (refers to a spirit, but directly translates to "mystery" in the Yoruba language) that she/he controls. The trapped soul is placed within a small jar, wrapped in a piece of the victim's clothing or jewelry, and hidden away.

In this instance, our bokor proves to not be fully capable of controlling the loa she has invoked with her veve's and chanting, and the zombie turns on its maker....

Chris Laudermilk Photography | Michael Baxter Photography | Pixie Vision Productions
Taboo Media | Richard Lowe | Catherine Yavorsky Photography | Gary Stevens | Justin Winokur
Eric Beam | Manuel Rotenburg | Elazar Harel


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