D.I.R.T. Program B
Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco
Friday, January 30, 2015
Re-compose begins with Sarah Bush silently screaming into a spot of red-brown light, bearing her teeth. A new solo work debuting at Dance Mission Theater’s D.I.R.T. Program B, Bush writes that the piece “examines the earthly forces at work in and on my body and their effect over time. Creating this piece gave me the opportunity to look at how both my body and mind respond to pressure.”
Responding to pressure and identifying its sources are questions asked by several women choreographers in this year’s D.I.R.T. festival, including Esmeralda Kundanis-Grow last week in Program A, and Jetta Martin and Alma Esperanza Cunningham in this week’s Program B. Kundanis-Grow’s Sensitive Pressures (which I reviewed last week) sought to locate sites in the female body where one absorbs micro- and macro-aggressions and sexism, and how these social and environmental pressures affect the experience of being gendered as female.
Martin’s Black Swan features Martin and two other black female ballet dancers responding to racism in the ballet world, which is often glossed over as “you’re not the right body type,” as one of the dancers says in an interview voiceover. Some of Martin’s choreography spoke directly to the effect of that racism on their bodies, such as collapse and fragmentation. Cunningham’s She Went dis-identifies with hyper-sexualized images and representations of the female body. It approaches them with dead-pan humor and utilizes awkward physicality and arrangement to disrupt and re-configure the female body and what is imagined.
Bush works with this kind of pressure by taking it into the realm of geology.
In her program notes she references this as a source, and I’m curious to know what she gleaned and incorporated as source material in this piece. When I think of pressure in terms of rock, I think of an incredibly slow condensation, erosion, and sedimentation of material over billions of years—basically everything I learned from Neil deGrasse Tyson’s recent re-boot of the television show Cosmos. Coal is old trees that were compressed into seams in an age before termites could decompose them. Oil is old dinosaurs. These fossil fuels are a compression of ancient, once living, organic material, which is of course being extracted from the earth at an alarming rate. Pressure in terms of rock can also mean sudden, drastic shifts in tectonic plates; sudden shifts that are the product of incremental, sub-atomic ones.