Project Artaud Theater, April 24-May 10, 2008
Presented by ODC Theater, San Francisco
A three part Festival featuring the work of Ledoh, Jo Kreiter/Flyaway Productions, Sara Shelton Mann and Miguel Gutierrez
Ledoh is an immigrant Butoh dancer, and Kreiter specializes in aerial dance. “Color Me America” will feature experimental video accompaniment while “Lies You Can Dance To” features flying dancers, whimsy and country-western songs. Neither artist has had the opportunity to see the other’s piece. The choreographers talked about their work in separate phone interviews on April 15 and 16. I have taken the liberty to combine the two interviews and pull out quotes from my notes in order to create a text that will juxtapose and introduce these two very different works.
Ledoh: I came over in ’72 from Burma. My Dad brought us to the US because he was attracted to the images of optimism in the US, the Rat Pack, Apollo Space Project, JFK, the 60’s. I remember military police coming into our house in the middle of the night. That was normal for us, this sense of oppression, an insecure state. There was a subtle effect on the body, the way we move and behave, a kinetic, energetic aspect.
Jo Kreiter: I was looking at the bending of democracy that currently surrounds the US and how that resonates kinesthetically in the bodies of its citizens.
Ledoh: My work is Butoh-based, that is my lineage, and I constantly go back to simplicity and the slow, kinetic way. For me, that is just the way to tell a story. Not actual words, a magic carpet ride, working with musicians, composers and video artists.
Jo Kreiter: When people write about my work, it’s often about the magic of flying, but there are so many other levels to it. It’s nice to be part of a festival where the lead-in is a conversation about politics. Content is leading the conversation.
Kreiter: There is an object search I go through with every piece. I was thinking about the absence of truth in the American political culture, and looking for symbols, things that can represent that. We’re working with four suspended high school history books, a whistle, newspapers on those holders they used to use in libraries, which we’ve fabricated out of steel. I found these miniature scales of justice that lawyers actually put on their dessk, and we also made an oversized version of that. There is a paper shredder hanging in the air.
Ledoh: This body is a vehicle. That idea is always present. The work is a meditation, a moment and weight to validate we’re in our bodies. The original title was: “Color Me American. Signature Required. Life During Wartime.” Usually I work on a new piece for six months, but I’ve had two years this time, and it has forced me to dig deeper, test things out, run workshops, allowed me to see. There is a value in time and reflection. I’m here to explore.
Kreiter: The musical score by Beth Custer is stunning. There is whimsy and humor in the piece, which is totally new for me. I’m working with characterization more so than ever. There is a love duet between the betrayer and betrayed which represents the government, and the citizens. There is an excerpt of a Gore Vidal speech, and ensemble of dancers that is kick-ass strong. A trio of women plays “Lady Justice”.