Monday, December 29, 2008

New York Times article by Claudia La Rocco

index of locations for foi including weblinks

Alabama -- Rhea Speights
Green Cup Books, Birmingham, Alabama

Alaska- Kyli Kleven
undisclosed location

Arizona- Aileen Mapes
Art Gallery
In Phoenix, Arizona, Aileen Mapes will perform freedom of information 2008 at 1500 NW Grand Avenue, just west of the Bikini Cocktail Lounge.

Arkansas- Malinda Allen
Home of State Representative Richard Carroll - District 39
First Green Party candidate to be elected to State office in Arkansas history.
(private location)

California- Jesse Hewitt
The Garage
975 Howard St at 6th Street
San Francisco

Colorado- Lily Brown-Johnson
Dragon Fly Arts
3990 Broadway
Boulder, CO
(In the Lucky Supermarket complex, above the video store)

Connecticut- David Dorfman
Dragon’s Egg
401 Shewville Rd, Ledyard CT 06339

Georgia- Diana Crum
Several Dancers Core studios
139 Sycamore St
Decatur, GA 30030

Hawaii- Brianna Skellie
Community Hall, at the Makawao Union Church, Makawao, Maui, HI.

Illinois- Marissa Perel

4528 N. Damen Ave. Apt. 2A
Chicago, IL 60625
Ring the buzzer that says DEBOER/PEREL

Iowa- Amanda Hemp
508 W Water St
Decorah, IA 52101

Kentucky- Ben Asriel
Friend’s Apartment

Maryland- Sharon Mansur

Massachusetts- Jesse Zaritt
Private home/work space in Boston- for access please call 774 437 9821

Michigan - Marlee Cook Parrott
DAAC (the division avenue arts collective)
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Minnesota- Taja Will
3608 Park Ave. South Ap #1
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Missouri - Katherine Ferrier

Montana- Harmony Wolfe
Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture
111 S. Grand Ave.
Harmony Hall #210A
Bozeman MT 59715

New Hampshire- Greg Holt

New Jersey- Joshua Bisset
Yoga Shunya
275 Grove Street
3rd Floor
Jersey City, NJ 07302

New York- Miguel Gutierrez
The Barn
257 N. Henry St, #3, between Norman and Meserole
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

North Carolina- Janice Lancaster
The Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina 56 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801

Ohio- Lena Lauer
65 Town Sq
Lima, OH 45801

Oregon- Tahni Holt
Performance Works Northwest
8625 SE 67th
Portland, OR.97206

Pennsylvania- Jung-Eu Kim
Studio 34
4522 Baltimore Ave Philadelphia, PA 19143

Tennessee- Layard Thompson

Texas- Daniel Adame
Barnevelder Movement Arts Complex
2201 Preston, Houston, TX 77003

Vermont- Selene Colburn
Firehouse Gallery
149 Church Street
Burlington, Vermont 05401

Virginia- Zap McConnell
Studio 11
McGuffey Art Center
201 2nd St NW

Washington- Tonya Lockyer
TK Artists Lofts
115 Prefontaine Pl. South Loft, 504
Seattle WA 98104
Between 3rd and 4th Avenue on Prefontaine Place.
Bus Tunnel stop Pioneer Square.

Washington, DC- Maida Withers

and Katherine Ferrier -- information pending

Check out the amazing artists!!!

Hello to everyone who finds their way to this site.
Please scroll through this blog to see all of the artists participating in foi 2008.. It goes all the way to Washington D.C. so please dig in!
thanks m

Alabama -- Rhea Speights

Alabama – Rhea Speights
Rhea Speights (FOI 08 Alabama) dances, makes dances, and teaches dance. In attempt to fulfill her creative impulse, she composes video work and creates soundscores as well. Rhea performs with Corpus Euphonium, a collection of improvisational dancers and musicians, and choreographs for a local modern dance company that is in the middle of changing its name (any suggestions?). She received a B.A. from the University of Alabama in 2002 where she later served as adjunct faculty in the department of dance for two and a half years. Rhea has shown her dance, video, and videodance work at various venues across the southeast with the art collective SynArts which she helped found in 2005. She will be performing Freedom of Information at Greencup Books in Birmingham.

Alaska -- Kyli Kleven

Alaska – Kyli Kleven
Kyli was born in rural Alaska. She left home when she was 15 to go to the Virginia School of the Arts. Shortly after this she started going to the American Dance Festival, and has gone more times than she would like to admit. She was a DanceWEB scholar at ImPulsTanz in 2008 and is now a proud, if relatively inactive member of The Embassy of Ophelia is Not Dead. She will graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on May 17th with a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Gender Studies. She'll be tinkering with the right cortex, then the left cortex, then with the limits of empathy.

Arizona -- Aileen Mapes

Arizona – Aileen Mapes
Aileen Mapes has led an active role in the arts community for over 10 years and continues to devote her life to proliferating the arts. Aileen earned her BA in Sociology and BS in Dance from Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas. In 2002 she became a company member of Suchu Dance based in Houston, Texas. During her four-year development as a performing artist, under the direction of Jennifer Wood, Aileen performed in over 15 new works for which she received critical acclaim. While in Houston, she performed for multiple companies, as well as pursuing her own avant-garde dance. Aileen received funding for her independent work from the Creative Capital Foundation, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Downtown Alliance, and support from Houston Dance Source, and Spacetaker.
Aileen is now a resident of Tempe, Arizona while working towards her MFA in dance from Arizona State University. Already, her work is flourishing, and again involved in the community. Her work has been seen in the Galvin Theatre, ASU Art Museum, Pueblo Grande Art Museum, Mesa Arts Center, The Icehouse, Alwun House, and more recently in Guerilla Dance, a Dance “Attack” around the city. Aileen attended the Dance For Camera workshop in Victoria, B.C. under guest artist Ellen Bromberg. Dance for Camera is a passion for her, and she continues to challenge the kinesthetic relationship of viewer and lens.

Arkansas -- Malinda Allen

Arkansas – Malinda Allen
Malinda Allen creates works of body-based theater and film with collaborators ranging from HBO Def Jam artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, to poet/violinist Alicia Jo Rabins from the punk rock Klezmer band, Golem. She's been presented at Dance Theater Workshop's Fresh Track Series, Moving Men and Chez Bushwick at Dixon Place, the East Village HOWL Festival at PS 122, and the Movement Research at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, among others. Malinda Allen is a 2008 Fellow of the Urban Artist Initiative/NYC

California -- Jesse Hewit

California – Jesse Hewit
Jesse Hewit - Jesse's mom is a nurse and an activist and his dad is a teacher. He is a Brooklyn-based scholar/artist (NYU Tisch - ETW), who came to San Francisco in 2005 to study race and sex. He finished an M.A. in 2007, looking at the biopolitics of posturing our masculinites in public space. His culminating experience and thesis work came in the form of a dance septet that explored his study topics, as they were experienced by his cast of dancers. Since the academy, Jesse has danced in his own and others' work around the bay, been an editor on Sexual Research and Social Policy, the journal of the National Sexuality Resource Center, worked in various curatorial and administrative capacities for CounterPULSE ( <>), and now works with Dancers Group and CounterPULSE, as a facilitator of the 2nd Sundays series. He is, right now, interested in a red-winged monster/prophet who makes people uncomfortable and reifies certain damaging power structures. Jesse also can't refuse snacks or warmth.

Colorado -- Lily Brown-Johnson

Colorado – Lily Brown-Johnson
Lily Brown is looking for new ways to move her body and use her voice in this world. She is studying for her BFA in Performance at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, but considers the Arizona mountains to be her home. She finds Freedom to be overwhelming: beautiful because of the endless possibilities and tortuous because of the inability to realize those possibilities. She loves to dance.

Connecticut -- David Dorfman

Connecticut – David Dorfman
David Dorfman, artistic director of his vainly named company 1985 to present, is now also William Meredith Professor of Dance and Chair at Connecticut College (since 2004). He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2005 to continue his research and choreography in the topics of power and powerlessness, including activism, dissidence and underground movements. His research culminated in underground, performed by David Dorfman Dance and 25 additional dancers, which had its world premiere at the ADF in June 2006, had its NYC premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in Nov. 2006 to conclude DDD’s 20th Anniversary season and continues to tour internationally. Dorfman has received 4 fellowships from the NEA, 3 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, an American Choreographer’s Award, the first Paul Taylor Fellowship from The Yard, a 1996 “Bessie” for his community-based dance Familiar Movements/The Family Project, a 2003 Barrymore Award for best choreography for the original musical Green Violin - Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia, and in 2007 received the Mid-Career Award from the Martha Hill Fund for Dance. Disavowal, DDD’s newest creation, inspired by the legend of John Brown/radical abolitionist, premiered at The Dance Center of Columbia College in Chicago in Sep. of 2008 and will tour extensively before coming to Danspace Project for it’s NYC premiere May 21-24, 2009.
photo by Vincent A. Scarano

Georgia -- Diana Crum

Georgia – Diana Crum
Diana Crum, originally from Atlanta, GA, moved north to pursue her Bachelor's Degree. Shortly after graduating from Columbia College/Columbia University, she founded Diana Crum and Dancers. She is currently an M.F.A. candidate at Hollins University/A.D.F. Her work has been presented at DNA (Dance New Amsterdam), Dixon Place, Joe's Pub, and Barnard College, among others. She has received support from the Lower Manhattan Community Council, Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy and the Field. As a performer, she has worked with David Dorfman Dance (Underground) and Jennifer Monson/iLAND (Ridgewood Reservoir). For more information, visit

Hawaii -- Brianna Skellie

Hawaii – Brianna Skellie
Brianna Skellie is a dance artist originally from Maui, Hawaii. Brianna received her BFA in dance, with a focus on performance and choreography, from Scripps College in Claremont, CA. She believes in the transformative power of dance.

Illinois -- Marissa Perel

Illinois – Marissa Perel
Marissa Perel has been involved with downtown dance, music, poetry and healing arts communities in New York since 2001. Due to her interdisciplinary approach to artistic practice she can be called a performance artist, though often she is cited as a choreographer or poet. She has a BA in Writing and Literature from Naropa University, and is currently working toward her MFA in performance at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was a guest teacher and curator for "Somewhere Out There: Movement Research Spring Festival 2008." She has collaborated with choreographers, video artists, and composers at such venues as Dance Theater Workshop, St. Mark's Church, Judson Church, Jacob's Pillow, cakeshop, Goodbye Blue Monday, galapagos artspace, Roosevelt Island, Chez Bushwick, and her former home, Aqui the Bushwick, as well as other loftspaces, and alternative venues. In 2006, she directed Burden, a performance and installation event at the Chocolate Factory Theater. Her reviews and interviews are published in Tarpaulin Sky Press & Literary Journal, and she self-publishes her own work out of Polter Press.

Illinois (auxiliary) -- Steve May

Steve May – (Illinois back up/auxiliary dancer)
Steve May is a performance artist currently living and working in Chicago, Il. S/He pours most of his/her energy these days into getting The Dance Team, a collective of artists dedicated to friendship and fun, off the ground. S/He is currently employed at Recreational Equipment Incorporated (R.E.I.).

Iowa -- Amanda Hamp

Iowa – Amanda Hamp
Amanda Hamp lives in the lovely limestone bluffs of Decorah, Iowa, where she teaches and makes work in the Theatre/Dance department at Luther College.

Kentucky -- Ben Asriel

Kentucky – Ben Asriel
Benjamin Ford Asriel grew up in Glasgow, Kentucky where he cultivated his love of art in his mother's dance classes, on the soccer field, and with the GHS Marching Band. He holds a Music BA from Brown University and a Dance MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Benjamin has performed locally, nationally, and internationally with several NYC-based choreographers, including Kyle Abraham, Gerald Casel, Milka Djordjevich, Walter Dundervil, Douglas Dunn, Gabriel Forestieri, Pavel Zustiak, and Edisa Weeks. Additionally, Ben creates original sound for dance, choreographs for theater, teaches, figure models, and creates his own work; his current choreographic research/fundraising venture—Project Paper Trail—can be viewed at <> .

Maryland -- Sharon Mansur

Maryland – Sharon Mansur
Sharon Mansur is a multi-media dance artist and her work has been seen in theaters, galleries, parks, street corners, apartments, train stations, empty storefronts, fields, rivers and other venues throughout the East Coast, in Minnesota, California and abroad. Improvisation as a performance form is a particular focus as well as the melding of visual and visceral landscapes. Since 2002 Sharon has loosely organized the performance project mansurdance with several near and far flung movement, sound, light and visual art collaborators including Catherine Eliot, Maré Hieronimus, Marcy Schlissel, Ginger Wagg, Boris Willis and Lucas Zarwell. She has also been fortunate enough to perform in the work of Sara Rudner, David Dorfman, and David Rousseve, and collaborate with Daniel Burkholder, Clare Byrne, Cyrus Khambatta and other adventurous artistic souls. She has received support for her work from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and The Bossak-Heilbron Foundation, among others. Her training includes contemporary dance, contact improvisation, Laban Movement Analysis, somatics, visual arts, music, life. Sharon joined the dance faculty at the University of Maryland in fall 2008.

Massachusetts -- Jesse Zaritt

Massachusetts – Jesse Zaritt
Jesse Zaritt is a dance artist living in Brooklyn, NY. He is a 2008 graduate of the Hollins University/ADF MFA program and a former dancer for the Shen Wei Dance Arts company

Michigan -- Marlee Cook-Parrott

Michigan – Marlee Cook-Parrot
marlee grace cook-parrott is in her third year as a dance major at the university of michigan. she will be performing foi2008 at the Division Avenue Arts Cooperative in her hometown, Grand Rapids, MI. marlee lives at vail house cooperative in ann arbor, where she enjoys vegan treats, her pat rats, and improvising under the full moon

Minnesota -- Taja Will

Minnesota – Taja Will
Taja Will, born in Chile, raised in Iowa, currently lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Taja's artistic endeavors explore a fusion of interdisciplinary art, as she is a choreographer, dancer, teacher, composer, vocalist, and activist. The content of her work is formed by the context of society to communicate experiences, ideas, and emotions and probes questions around social consciousness to gain a better understanding of societal patterning. She aims to investigate the performative body as vehicle for social activism, through the techniques of dance, music, and theatre.

Taja has performed, shown work, and choreographed at her alma mater Luther College in Iowa, where she is known for her innovative choreography for opera and musical theatre. She has also been an artist with the Black Earth Collaborative Arts Company, Cedar Rapids Opera, with Dance Art Group's Seattle Festival for Dance Improvisation, and at 2008 Foro Performatica where she was a featured panel presenter, and had the world debut of her solo from THIS IS(yoursixo'clocknews).

Taja is active at Zenon Dance School, as a part of the contact improvisation community, and works at the Brave New Workshop, a leading company and institute of sketch comedy and improvisation.In addition to her college mentors, Taja has found the work of many established and internationally know artists inspirational in her career and has worked with Nancy Stark Smith, Roni Koresh, Melecio Estrella, Andrea Olson, John and Anna Dixon, Morgan Thorson, Kristen Van Loon, Mary Reich, Eva Karcgaz, Yoshito Ohno, Body Cartography and Miguel Gutierrez among many other established and emerging artists. Taja often creates work with the collaborative ensemble she founded, The Vehicles of Peace. In 2009 Taja and the Vehicles of Peace will be showing work at 9x22 at the BLB, KInetic Kitchen at Patricks, in Mexico at Foro Performatica, and in various site specific venues in Minneapolis.

Montana -- Harmony Wolfe

Montana – Harmony Wolfe
Harmony Wolfe studies dance and art history in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She makes dances, writes, farms, protests and recycles.

New Hampshire -- Gregory Holt

New Hampshire – Gregory Holt
gregory holt was raised in NH and now lives in philadelphia. he makes dances collaboratively. he is 26 years old.

New Jersey -- Joshua Bisset

New Jersey – Joshua Bisset
Joshua Bisset is a choreographer focused on works in public spaces, pedestrian movements and audience interactions. He directs Shua Group ( with dancer Laura Quattrocchi.

New York -- Miguel Gutierrez

New York – Miguel Gutierrez
Miguel Gutierrez is a Brooklyn based dance and music artist. He creates group work in collaboration with dancers, visual and music artists as the director of Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People, and he also makes solos. In the U.S. his work has been presented at Dance Theater Workshop and The Kitchen in New York, ODC in San Francisco, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Flynn Center in Burlington, and Diverseworks in Houston. Internationally it has toured to several venues and festivals such as Kampnagel in Hamburg, Explore Festival in Bucharest, ImPulsTanz in Vienna, Springdance in Utrecht, and London Calling in Bologna. He has received support from the NEA, Jerome Foundation, and Rockefeller MAP Fund. He is twice the winner of a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award: in 2002 for dancing with John Jasperse Company and in 2006 as a choreographer for Retrospective Exhibitionist and Difficult Bodies. He is currently touring in Alain Buffard’s (Not) a Love Song. As a singer, he has performed with My Robot Friend, Antony and the Johnsons and Speller. He teaches regularly around the world and he invented DEEP AEROBICS. He performed the original freedom of information in 2001 and he is responsible for assembling the artists for foi 2008.
photo by Alex Escalante

North Carolina -- Janice Lancaster

North Carolina – Janice Lancaster

Janice Lancaster will be participating in freedom of information 2008 at The Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina (56 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801). Janice is a Brooklyn based dance artist originally from Oxford, NC. She has had the pleasure of dancing as a guest soloist for Shen Wei Dance Arts, as well as dancing with Abby Chan, Satoshi Haga, Aynsley Vandenbroucke Movement Group, and co-founding VIA Dance Collaborative. As a choreographer, she has received commissions through the 2007 Bessie Schönberg Choreographic Residency on the Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, the Hubbard Street 2 Dance Company of Chicago, the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center, and many through VIA Dance Collaborative.

Ohio -- Lena Lauer

Ohio – Lena Lauer
Lena Lauer was born and raised in Lima, Ohio where she will be performing freedom of information 2008. In 2003 she graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, focusing on modern dance performance and choreography. Lena moved to Arizona to dance for the Tucson-based companies New Articulations Dance Theatre and O-T-O, an aerial dance company. While in Tucson she began training on the single point trapeze and silks. An international tour lead her to Quito, Ecuador where she lived for 18 months, training and performing with Arrebato and Frente de Danza Independiente. Lena’s dance interests include improvisation, contact improvisation, the aerial arts and emotionally-driven and athletic choreography. Lena is stoked to be performing with foi2008 and will be thinking of all of its participants throughout the show.

Oregon -- Tahni Holt

Oregon – Tahni Holt
From 2001-2006 Tahni Holt worked under the moniker of Monster Squad. Since 2006 Tahni’s varied collaborations and solo performances have been housed under her own name. As a soloist and with her past company she has performed throughout the Western United States. Her work has been seen at On The Boards and Bumbershoot in Seattle and PICA’s International TBA Festival. As well as far off places in Idaho and Austin, TX. Tahni’s work continues to be supported through numerous grants and private donors and is a recipient of a 2007 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. This past December she was Artist in Residence through SOWA and was a 2006 artist in residence at Caldera. Her work has been sponsored in one way or another by local Galleries, Colleges and cafes. One can experience her work in theaters, warehouses, loading docks, galleries, vacant store fronts, through ear phones and in inflatable icebergs/airplanes. In February 09 she will be in residence at PA-F in St. Elme, France with her good friend Elizabeth Ward. photo by Dan Sharp

Pennsylvania -- JE Kim

Pennsylvania – JE Kim
Jung-eun Kim aka je was born in Seoul, Korea. She is a choreographer, dancer, video artist and web designer. She holds a MFA in Dance from ADF/Hollins University. As a video artist, she has worked with Lisa Race, Sarah Skaggs, Jane Comfort& Co., Thomas F. DeFrantz/SLIPPAGE and the American Dance Festival. She was invited to be a Guest Artist in Residence at Dickinson College in the Fall 2008.

Tennessee -- Layard Thompson

Tennessee – Layard Thompson
Layard Thompson grew up throughout the west coast where he fell head over heels in love with Humbolt beaches, epic redwoods, and the Sierra Nevada mountains; his father’s influence as a landscape architect further inspired an aesthetic passion for nature. At around the age of 13 he started dancing and lip-synching alone in his bedroom with Solid Gold, Fame, and Paula Abdul as early influences. He eventually chose to study Dance, rather then Aikido in High School. Throughout, these early times of discovering dance he realized his love of endlessly spinning…He went on to graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Five Colleges with honors and degrees in Dance and Environmental Sciences. During his college years he attended the American Dance Festival and the Bates Dance Festival under full scholarship.
Moving to New York as an apprentice with the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company, he continued on to work with Edisa Weeks, Rebecca Lazier’s Terrain Dance Company, Joanna Mendl Shaw’s Equus Project, Jesse Phillips-Fein, J. Mandle Performance, French choreographer Brice Leroux. Julie Atlas Muz, Hana van der Kolk, Juliette Mapp, and performing artist Taylor Mac. He has been a subject for many photographers, most notably Michael James O’Brien, Greg Gorman, Liz Magic Laser, and Benjy Russell. Additionally, he has had the great fortune to stumble into two films with a cameo appearance as choreographer in Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation and as a sextra in John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus.
Layard’s dancing life in New York could be nothing without gogo; he is greatly indebted to the Mother Krew’s Jackie Factory, and the notorious political cabaret, Weimar New York. As a member of the cabaret’s wily gender-fuck clowns The Pixie Harlots he has worn out his first set of heels on bar tops and cabaret stages throughout New York. Notable venues include Joe’s Pub, the Speigel Tent, and San Francisco MoMA where upon arriving with in-flight drag he happened to bum a smoke from Siouxsie Sioux curbside while waiting for his ride.
As a choreographer his works typically employ elaborate costumes and sets. Early examples include a solo with a 35 foot diameter skirt and broken glass bottles, as well as a multimedia work which examined ocean wave rhythm and the coastal horizon landscape. In 2003, his architecturally responsive installation performance with collaborating choreographer Eric Kaiel, haiku d’etat, toured eleven cities along the west-coast of the U.S. and Canada in a self-produced epic. Currently, this interest in materials and environments is prompting him to realize his performances through durational installation performances that blur the fourth wall between stage and exhibition.
His life as an artist is most particularly defined by his relationship with choreographer Deborah Hay. Her work and mentorship has opened doorways to a performing body through unprecedented modes. Via her Solo Performance Commissioning Project he has adapted four solos from 2003-2007 respectively titled The Ridge, Room, News, and The Warrior. For these inspirational opportunities he is deeply grateful to Deborah for her profound influence.
His career in New York was recently and very touchingly honored with a Bessie Award for his body of work as a performer, most notably through his work with Deborah Hay and his Pixie sisters.
Currently, Layard lives part-time in Brooklyn, NY and Liberty, Tennessee — where he is developing installation performance environments to act as his exhibition stage while also founding the organizational framework for a rural residential arts community and non-profit.

Texas -- Daniel Adame

Texas – Daniel Adame
Daniel Adame is a performing and visual artist living and working in Houston, Texas. He has a BFA in sculpture from the University of Houston. His work has been seen at the Lawndale Art Center, Westheimer Street Festival, and YouTube. As a dancer and choreographer he has created solo and group works that have premiered at Diverseworks, The Hobby Center, JCC, and Barnevelder MAC. He is a 2004 recipient of the Diverseworks performing arts residency. He has also worked with Suchu dance, IBP, and Catastrophic Theater.

Vermont -- Selene Colburn

Vermont – Selene Colburn
Dance artist Selene Colburn, described by Dance Magazine’s Ann Murphy as “a compelling combination of the unstudied and the rigorous,” is a choreographer, writer, and librarian living in Vermont. Her work has appeared at venues such as the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, the Bay Area Dance Series, Movement Research at Judson Church, the Scope Art Fair, and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.

Virginia -- Zap McConnell

Virginia – Zap McConnell
Zap McConnell began investigating dance/movement performance at North Carolina School of the Arts in 1988. Upon leaving NCSA, she began traveling, splitting her time between performance/art and direct environmental activism in Northern California, New York City, Idaho, Mexico, Costa Rica and Colorado. Zap has been involved with the Zen Monkey Project since 1995 performing, teaching, organizing performance festivals and dance intensives, facilitating the New Dance Space, stage managing, producing and directing. She is also a visual artist who regularly creates and prints cartoon books, paints, and has built performance installation sets that included both lights and costumes. Zap was a full time core teacher at the Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts, an alternative high school in Charlottesville, V.A., for 9 years. Currently she has finished a semester residency in the department of dance at U.D.L.A. in Mexico and will perform and participate this spring for her second time, in the international dance festival Performatica.

Washington -- Tonya Lockyer

Washington – Tonya Lockyer
Tonya Lockyer works internationally as a dance-artist, performance maker and teacher. Beginning her career with Contemporary Dancers Canada, she performed the work of Donald Byrd, Mark Haim, Charles Moulton, Wade Madsen and others; and was principle dancer/ Rehearsal Director for Paula Josa-Jones 1993-98. In 1999, she moved to Seattle to found VIA, a performance company dedicated to intercultural exchange. VIA's critically acclaimed work toured internationally receiving awards from Arts International, The Nureyev Foundation, The Canada Council, and The Banff Center. In 2008, Tonya's evening solo "Consumed" was commissioned and presented by On The Boards, Seattle and awarded residencies by ACT Theater and American Dance Festival. Artist Residencies include Mimar Sinan University Istanbul, Brigham Young University, The University of Calgary, Banff Center and The University of Maryland Baltimore County. Tonya is currently on faculty at Cornish College of the Arts and has served on the faculties of The Bates Dance Festival, Emerson College, Sfadi and as a co-teacher in Composition with Mark Haim at ADF. 2002-07, Tonya was Curator/Program Manager for Velocity Dance Center's regional and inter/national programming where she initiated the annual NEXT Dance Cinema Festival. Tonya's writing on improvisation and experimental performance is published in CQ and the book Vu Du Corps: Lisa Nelson Mouvement et Perception.

Missouri-- Katherine Ferrier

Missouri – Katherine Ferrier

Katherine Ferrier is a dance artist/educator, poet and visual artist who has been improvising and making dances since the late ‘80s. She earned her BA in Dance and Women’s Studies from Middlebury College, and MFA in Dance and Performance from Sarah Lawrence College. A co-founder of The Architects, an improvisational quartet with a collaborative performance history spanning nearly 20 years, she is also the founder and Artistic Director of Immediate Theatre, an ensemble of movers, musicians, video and visual artists, lighting and set designers, collaborating together to create spontaneous dance theater works. Her choreography and improvised work have been performed throughout the US and abroad. After spending a year teaching and traveling throughout Russia and Finland, she moved to North Carolina in 2005, where she has been a guest artist at Meredith College, and created/directed the new dance program at Millbrook High School. Collaboration is a cornerstone of her work, and she thrives on the exciting alchemy of working with a variety of artists. Recent collaborators include: Pamela Vail, Christina Soriano, Jennifer Kayle, Lisa Gonzales, Courtney Greer, Sini Haapalinna (Finland), Cinzia Fiaschi (Italy) and Nina Gasteva/ Iguan Dance Theatre (Russia). and can tell you more about her work. Katherine is honored, humbled, terrified and grateful to be a part of FOI 2008.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Washington, D.C. -- Maida Withers

Washington, D.C. – Maida Withers
Maida Withers - dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, producer and teacher, is the founder and artistic director of Maida Withers Dance Construction Company (1974 - present) and a Professor in The George Washington University Department of Theatre and Dance (1965 to present). Maida is the founder and co-curator of the D.C. International Improvisation Festival now in its 14th successful season.
Maida, a powerful and commanding performer, has created a significant and distinctive body of work for her company, over 80 dances of breadth and vision involving a process of experimentation, innovation and collaboration. Withers movements are released, nuanced, dynamic through space, with originality and clarity in form. Her works reveal an ongoing interest in juxtaposing dance and technology such as rotating loudspeakers, laser beams, wireless cameras, video installations, and real-time interaction with cyberworlds - always with “live” music created for the performances. Withers tours extensively internationally engaging in various projects in such diverse places as Guatemala, France, Russia, Poland, The Netherlands, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Brazil, Finland, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, and others.
Maida has been honored with many awards: Cultural Diplomat, U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya (2008); Dance Place Lifetime Educator’s Achievement Award (Washington, DC 2007); MetroDC Dance Award Outstanding Overall Production, Thresholds Crossed – Large Venue, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2006); Washington DC Mayor’s Arts Award Excellence in an Artistic Discipline, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Maida received the distinguished Columbia Professorship Award from GW’s Columbian School of Arts and Sciences (1999).
Maida is very active as a filmmaker since her first 30-minute educational dance film shot in 16mm in 1967. Dance of the Auroras – Fire in the Sky, a thirty-minute documentary television program will premiere January 2009 on cable television. Often her films are presented as part of her live performances. Films/video works have been shown at the IMZ in Austria; at the American Film Institute at the Kennedy Center, DC Independent Film Festival, Wollumbin Festival in Australia; Women in Film, the DC Independent Rosebud Festival; and the DC Environment Film Festival. Many of her works have been shown on Arlington Cable, arts programming by Linda Lewett. Maida interviewed dance artists and manager for Dance, Dance, Dance, a ten-part series on dance for NBC-TV that was broadcast in five major U.S. cities, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and St. Louis.
Currently Maida teaches advanced post modern dance technique, choreography, dance and movement improvisation, and trends in performance art in the Department of Theatre and Dance at The George Washington University. Maida directed the former MFA graduate dance program in choreography and performance for over twenty years.

last minute changes, additions

Taja Will is stepping in to replace an unfortunately injured Morgan Thorson in Minneapolis, Minnesota...

and in Illinois, Steve May is serving as a back-up/auxiliary dancer with Marissa Perel...


Saturday, December 27, 2008

final preps, "una energia"

hello all
i'm gearing up to post all the participating artists' bios and pics by tomorrow night. i hope to also create an index of the ustream channels that many of the artists are doing live streams of foi through. i might not get that index up until the 30th. for the life of me i can't figure out how to insert multiple pictures within a blog post with the picture of the person next to their name. each time i try to insert a different picture they all end up at the top of the post. i may have to do individual posts per artist.

as i cut and pasted people's bios and pictures tonight i became a bit overwhelmed at the scope of the event. i think it's incredible that so many people are involved. this is such a new experience for me, creating this kind of action, where the participants don't necessarily know each other, but come together to engage in a single effort. it's doing something to me, knowing that all of these different people are getting ready to engage in foi... as my anticipation of the event grows, so too does my excitement about knowing that i will be moving with all of these other bodies. i had a great experience describing the action to my mother tonight.. i was telling her about how it's all of these folks doing it at once in the hopes of... and then she cut right in and said "una energia" -- an energy. she said this and waved her hands in the air in front of her making a circle. she got it right away that it was about reaching across space and time to engage in this group energetic creation and effort. there was something in the simplicity, force and quickness of her understanding that cut through my conceptual spaciness. yeah, it's as simple as that, mom. a group energy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

32, and wifi drama

I'm amazed at this, but we now have an Arkansas Rep: Malinda Allen!
this means we're up to 32 participating artists. I'm so blown away by this.

in other news, i just found out that the wifi at the space where i'm doing my foi isn't working! shit shit shit... i have to figure something out, because i really want to have a live stream going. more on that soon.

a lot of the participating artists have started channels on ustream. this is great. i think i wrote about this in the last post, but i am planning to set up a hyperlinked index to all of the participating channels a few hours before the event begins..


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Refections, Preparations

Hello to everyone.

Marissa asked me to write a little bit about how I prepared for foi in 2001. I’ve only just now had the time to sit down and think about this question with any amount of serious detail. I think I’ve been avoiding it a bit because I must confess to all of you, I didn’t do a whole lot to prepare last time. When I did foi in 2001, it was an impulsive, gut decision, as is often the case with certain smaller scale pieces that I make. Usually what happens in those instances is that I either agree to do a performance somewhere or I decide to do a performance of some kind, and then I let the panic of that impending deadline focus my thoughts or summon my energies to actually make or do something.

I think that such was the case with foi in 2001. I was in the middle of making my first evening length piece, and the U.S. had invaded Afghanistan in October of 2001. I wish I could remember better what my specific thoughts were at the time, but knowing the way I usually feel about art and politics, I am sure that I felt helpless to understand how I could specifically respond to what I knew was violence being perpetrated in the name of “defense.” One of the early, horrifying lessons of living in the George W. Bush regime was that the voices of U.S. citizens who were against militaristic, interventionist tactics were completely unheard. Later we would find that these voices (Cindy Sheehan comes to mind) were even vilified or ridiculed. The very tiny moment that had existed in the few days after 9/11, when, I’ll speak for myself of course, you sensed that there was the potential for some kind of paradigm shift, some kind of meaningful internal reflection about how we were living in the world, was soon eclipsed by the call for military action in Afghanistan, and eventually, Iraq. I know that writing this reveals the level of my own naiveté about how governments work, and certainly it shows that I had no real idea of the extent to which W.’s vision of the world was so viciously, insidiously about dividing the world into victors and vanquished. I had no real idea about his vision of himself as some kind of player in a biblical fait accompli, where he was going to wrest the power from the “evildoers” in the name of christian heroism.

No, I was just making art. I was trying to figure out whether the duet should go before or after the group section in the dance that I was making. I was trying to figure out the specifics of the counterpoint in a two-minute section of choreography. I was lucky to have a live/work space at the time, with a small but magical studio that I loved intensely. But, besides the fact that I was also busy performing in other people’s work still, my life was pretty small geographically. My walk from my bedroom to the studio was maybe two steps long. Aside from that first night after the World Trade Center fell, when the streets were deathly silent and the sky as well, save for the periodic whoosh of what I assumed were military jets, I had not felt terribly dislocated by the turn of events. (I think that it’s important to note here that I did not, unlike others who I did know in NY, have a direct relationship with anyone who died on 9/11.)

Somewhere in the midst of this strange time, military action began in Afghanistan and I began to think about what that meant. I am, for better or worse, a dancer, and so my reactions to things often stem from a value system that is about what happens to bodies and what they feel. I am also a sort of “fuzzy” lefty. By this I mean that my political bent is most definitely to the left, even though I don’t consider myself as informed as I would like to be. But as I think of it now, I do remember wondering what it must be like to live in a state of fear because of the threat of military violence. Just that one, timeless night of 9/11 had given me a small window into what it was to live in a state of true non-knowing. For most (though I acknowledge not all) of us, living in the U.S. affords us this terrible luxury of not having to wonder if our homes are going to be raided or bombed in the middle of the night. We get to concern ourselves with going to work, seeing our friends and family, working on “ourselves” physically, psychologically, spiritually.

I remember that at the end of September in 2001, I had to get on a plane to perform with John Jasperse Company, and when I got to the airport, I began to have a small panic attack about flying. Freaked out, I called my parents and spoke to my dad, who told me not to worry, and that sadly, a huge proportion of people in the rest of the world have to live with the fear of violence every day, and now, he said, we have to learn to as well. My parents are immigrants from Colombia, which has been contending with a civil war for over 40 years. People in my family there have been kidnapped or killed because of the conflict between the leftist guerrillas, government forces and paramilitary squads. It’s a complex, sometimes surreal reality that impacts everyone’s lives there. It made sense for my dad to say this, and it did actually comfort me.

But in the U.S., military action enacted abroad by the government goes by largely unnoticed. Again, I must clarify that I’m speaking from my own position of living as an artist in New York. I am geographically located in the mix of lower class Latin-American families and predominantly white “hipsters,” the classic tale of New York gentrification. I am not in daily contact with families whose fathers, sons or daughters have entered the army or who are serving overseas, or who have come back traumatized or facing a dearth of services set up for them. Nor am I in daily contact with Afghan or Iraqi refugees. It’s fucking weird, quite frankly, how easy it is to live in the U.S. and feel utterly untouched by the policies enforced by “our” government.

I am re-visiting a lot of these thoughts lately because I’ve been reading an incredible book that Jesse Hewit (CA rep) gave me called Shoot An Iraqi, Art Life and Resistance Under the Gun. (published by City Lights Books) It’s by Wafaa Bilal and Kari Lydersen. Bilal is an Iraqi immigrant who works as an artist in the U.S., who in May of 2007, did a month-long performance project called Domestic Tension, where he lived in Flat File Galleries in Chicago for a month and made it possible for people to shoot him live and over the internet with a robotically controlled paintball gun. It’s a devastating, humbling account of this action and it’s also a memoir of his life in Iraq under the vicious tyrannical reign of Saddam Hussein, and it’s also a reflection on his own feelings about the U.S.’s occupation of Iraq, and I highly recommend it.

But I’ve really strayed away from the original question: How did I prepare for foi in 2001? Already I’ve admitted that I didn’t do a whole lot in any direct way. I can speak a little bit more to my intentions for doing the event. At some point my frustration and confusion about the invasion of Afghanistan led me to think about what it must be like to never get to rest, to never get to feel that you can stay where you are at peace. Obviously somewhere in there I decided on the idea of moving continuously for 24 hours, and the idea of being blindfolded and ear-plugged probably came along kind of instinctually as well. It seemed appropriate to highlight both my sense of disorientation but also my feeling that people in the U.S. were being blind and deaf to the violence being committed abroad. Or for that matter, the violence that it is to take a young American and embed her or him in an unquestioned system that says it’s ok to kill people that you don’t know. (In his book, Bilal talks about the phenomenon of remote bombings, where U.S. troops electronically detonate bombs in Iraq while sitting in a military control center in say, Colorado.)

I’ve always been fascinated by endurance based work, how a body moves beyond a performativity that is about indicating that something is difficult, and actually undergoing a difficult action, so that the body becomes marked by this strain in real time. I think that in the original incarnation of foi 2001, I imagined that the strain of continuously moving for 24 hours was somehow “symbolic” of the difficulty that displaced people must feel. I now feel like this was a terribly naive assumption on my part, and instead, would like to consider that the “difficulty” that is being symbolized in foi 2008 by continuously moving for 24 hours has to do with how hard it is to remain committed to consciousness, to sensitivity and compassion, how hard it is to stay “awake” to the reality of remote war.

One of the people I did research at the time of foi 2001 was Teh-Ching Hsieh, a Chinese performance artist who did a series of year-long pieces. (The one that is most commonly known is the piece he did with Linda Montano, where they stayed connected by a rope for a year, but he did four other year long pieces). I was tremendously inspired by him and these pieces and in the course of researching his work a bit, I found out that his birthday was December 31st! I had already decided to do foi on the 31st so this seemed like a cosmic stamp of approval on the choice of date.

Other than that I think my “preparations” involved just telling people about what I was going to do. I sent out some emails about the event, though I didn’t make too much a big deal about it at the time, and I made up a simple text about what my intentions were that I put up on the door of the studio where I did the action so that people could see it when they walked in. I got a blank notebook also for people to share their thoughts if they came to visit. I set up my video-camera in the corner on a chair and put all the replacement tapes next to it. The night that I started, my roommate (Marissa Perel, IL rep) gave me a brief preparatory massage. I was freaked out because I was coming down with a little bit of a cold. I had a (loud) alarm clock that I placed on the floor in another corner in the studio. I set it for midnight right at 12:01 and I started. (I think it must have been like this, I can’t remember how I did it otherwise... so oops I did one minute less in 2001, fuck!) I put foam earplugs in and covered my eyes first with the kind of weird blindfold you get on planes which I covered again with a white bandana. I wore a plain white t-shirt and red, cotton sweatpants (which, through repeated sliding throughout the following 24 hours, would eventually “stain” the white walls in a subtle but unmistakable patina). Like I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of making my first evening length piece – enter the seen – around that time, a piece that was going to be performed in my studio in February and March of 2002. Fritz Welch, my visual art collaborator for enter the seen, eventually came to the studio in the early afternoon of the project and began making some wall drawings while I was doing foi. This had been Fritz’s idea, to start drawing while I was doing the 24 hour piece. Initially I’d been resistant but I remember that when I came into contact with him while blindfolded I was so relieved and happy to touch a body that I knew, that was engaged in another creative act in the room as well. This elation and relief happened repeatedly throughout the day, as other people, most of them familiar to me, came and went. Touching people’s hair, or shoulders, or briefly giving them the weight of my body, engaging in short little dances with them, were all incredibly powerful for me, as they were momentary steps out of the intense isolation that it is to blindfold and earplug yourself. I don’t want to say more about that, other than that I’m apprehensive of what it will be like this time around, as I imagine that it’s possible that more people that I don’t know will come to foi this time around, since we’re making it a more publicly known action this time.

In terms of pragmatics of preparation, I am trying to stay in shape over the holidays. Right now I’m in Florida visiting my parents for Christmas. I had hoped to do a dietary cleanse while I was here, but this fanciful notion soon disappeared when I got here (What the hell was I thinking? How could I deny my mom the pleasure of feeding me?). But I am definitely watching what I eat over the next few days, and trying to stay physically fit while calm and not overworked. I am doing a little bit of meditation in the mornings and at night before I go to bed. I may or may not put on a blindfold and some earplugs for about an hour just to alleviate any potential shock for the 31st. I am trying to assemble volunteers to let people in during the event. I am going to make sure I have a webcam and my computer for the ustream feed and my video camera and tapes ready. I will also get a blank notebook to have in the space for people to respond. I will get a bunch of big bottles of water to have in the space, I will also have empty milk jugs in the space to pee in (though I know everyone’s dealing with that differently this time around). I am planning to write an index of the ustream channels that everyone who can start one gets up onto the blog shortly before the action begins. I am sending out a big email about the action either tomorrow or friday. Claudia LaRocco is writing a piece about the action for the New York Times, which should come out on the 30th. I am reading the book that Jesse gave me, and reading the paper and trying to stay informed and conscious of the world outside of the immediacy of this event.

Opening up the action to include other artists has meant that I have already been in mental preparation for this event in ways that I never did in 2001. It’s been a marvelous process to invite and find other artists to engage in the action. It’s forced me to create language about the action and then to clarify that language. This is something that I don’t usually have to do with such rigor and it marks a significant change from then to now, and I appreciate that change greatly. And doing foi this time around with other artists has made me consider the value of diversity in relationship to the different needs that the participating artists have expressed. It’s made me think about where my own body is – I’m seven years older – and though I’m certainly still in pretty decent shape, I’m definitely more scared this time about what the physical implications of this action will be.

But I have to say that underlying all of these interests, both to the specific pragmatics of the event and to my own involvement, has been my consciousness that I’m still confused and frustrated about what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s somehow disappointing that this action is even “necessary” still. But I am increasingly excited about everyone’s involvement in the action, and about the “telepathic” support I will be transmitting and receiving throughout the action. It is exciting and powerful to engage in this truly nationwide event (31 artists at last count!!) with other committed people. I feel very lucky, honored, and humbled.

One more thing I’ll say – before every performance I do, be it solo or with the Powerful People – we usually say the following chant “We are strong, we are powerful, we are beautiful, we are divine.” I know I will be saying this before and during foi 2008.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


i am happy to report we have a new participant

Texas - Daniel Adame

we're up to 31..

Monday, December 15, 2008

we have 30 participants!!!

this is amazing.. i didn't even realize it until tonight when i cross-checked all the lists.
i think this is going to be very powerful. thank you so much... xo m

Alabama – Rhea Speights
Alaska – Kyli Kleven
Arizona – Aileen Mapes
California – Jesse Hewit
Colorado – Lily Brown-Johnson
Connecticut – David Dorfman
Florida – Heather Maloney
Georgia – Diana Crum
Hawaii – Brianna Skellie
Illinois – Marissa Perel
Iowa – Amanda Hamp
Kentucky – Ben Asriel
Maryland – Sharon Mansur
Massachusetts – Jesse Zaritt
Michigan – Marlee Cook-Parrott
Minnesota – Morgan Thorson
Montana – Harmony Wolfe
New Hampshire – Gregory Holt
New Jersey – Joshua Bisset
New York – Miguel Gutierrez
North Carolina – Janice Lancaster
Ohio – Lena Lauer
Oregon – Tahni Holt
Pennsylvania – Jung-Eun Kim
Tennessee – Layard Thompson
Vermont – Selene Colburn
Virginia – Zap McConnell
Washington – Tonya Lockyer
Washington, D.C. – Maida Withers
West Virginia – Katherine Ferrier

still looking for people in:

new mexico
north dakota
rhode island
south carolina
south dakota

Saturday, December 13, 2008

foi, diy

Hello Everyone!

It seems like we are all experiencing a critical time in our preparation for Freedom of Information, lots of personal, conceptual, practical questions. I want to help and address these as veteran foi witness from 2001-2002 and as a preparing foi performer for this New Year. Miguel, I really appreciated your response to Gregory's questions. They were thoughtful, honest, real and also open.

When reading the blog I finally remembered that I wrote about your performance of foi for a large part of the duration of it then. I remembered that witnessing you as a friend and artist exploring your own limits changed me profoundly, and it also changed the possibilities I saw for poetry, as my words and your body eventually unified in the shared space of your studio and my journal. I carried that experience with me for a long time, and even now when I think about it, I can feel a warmth stirring in my gut. Something big, something scary, something like a deep knowing, or wisdom.

This wisdom is not the kind generated by the transmission of information about Afghanistan or Iraq, it's not about Miguel "demonstrating" in the sense of show or protest either. It's a wisdom that grew out of permission.

Witnessing the process of Miguel coming into his own vulnerability, failure, pain, and being able to be there with him in all of it opened me up to what it meant to really be there - that in the moment of this pain, movement, the cold room right before the sun was up long enough to warm it, an entire world was also living, losing, dissociating, returning...and in that moment a thread had been woven between us.

Years were re-lived, imagined, shed. The blindfold became a more honest way of looking into the future, and Miguel became a guide in his sensory and sleep deprived journey, allowing me into a space of confronting my own unknowing, fear, anticipation of disaster.

In this sense, what was awakened was an inner-strength that I hadn't felt before, and this gave me refuge during the following 7 years of complete global disaster. At that time in my life I had a store of righteous anger I was holding onto, waiting to unleash at the Bush administration, a decentered grief over September 11th and these things mixed together into frustration without a way out.

Foi hammered out this raw emotion into a focus that was more powerful to channel, an empathy that transcended the walls of the studio. Love began taking the place of self-hate and helplessness. This is what motivates me to undertake Freedom of Information myself.

Unlike many of the participants in this event, I'm not a dancer. I believe in my body, I believe the power of permission, and above all, being alive. It's simple, but maybe important to remember - that we can use our bodies how we want, we can inhabit a place for 24 hours this way, and that's everything.

This leads into my desire to communicate to performers that have been having trouble with finding space or help. I am going to be performing in my apartment. I'm going to clear a space next to the kitchen, and be there. My partner and a couple friends will be there, but otherwise, I don't know what to expect.

I had communicated with galleries, spaces, have sent out copious e-mails including the press release, but haven't gained any significant participation through any of this. I was aggravated at first, but I have only lived in Chicago for a couple of months, so it might be an issue of visibility.

In the end, it is looking like it's just me in the space, doing "it" - of which we have run the gamut of descriptions (action, performance, meditation, ritual, dance, gesture, endurance piece). So, for those of you who are also not getting much support or haven't found a place to be, I'd suggest keeping it simple.

Whether you will be witnessed by a lot of people, or you're not sure if anyone will show up, we are all doing this with you. Also, if in the process being able to have continuous documentation might not work out, keep a journal in the space with you. Put your camera in a place where you can reach it.

Just be you, there with yourself and keep track of it for yourself so that in the future it can be shared. But, don't let the logistics detract from your own preparation for this challenge.

Miguel, I hope it's alright that I am addressing practical concerns this way, but it's really important to me that no one feels like they can't do it because of something outside of their bodies. Oh, also someone asked about how to know when to stop. I remember Miguel had set an alarm clock to go off when it was time to stop before, so that's an option to consider.

Love to you all, Marissa

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

cast changes

hey there!
we have some changes in the participants for foi 2008!
i am happy to say that the california rep is now Jesse Hewit!
and we have another new artist on board rep-ping for Alabama: Rhea Speights
and sadly, Abby Crain had to back out of repping for Texas, so that state is open again in case anyone is interested.
this means we are up to 29 participating artists!!

intentions, reactions

hey there folks...
i got this super interesting email from gregory holt, who is "rep"-ing for New Hampshire and i asked him if i could re-post it here and include my response to it. i think it gets at some of the central ideas about how to approach doing foi... i'm very curious to hear anyone else's response..

From Gregory Holt:

hi miguel!
i've been having many conversations about this project, raising a lot of intense issues, and wondered if there were a way to open a larger dialogue between all the participants of the project so we can learn from each other's thoughts. maybe a bulletin board on the blog? or some kind of forum? or just 'replying all' to your email list? i also really want to hear more about your first experience with this, and what was successful, and what was difficult, and what was communicated, and what you learned. here are some of the conversations i've been having, and i'm really interested in your experience not as an 'answer' to any of these questions, but just more about how the questions play out in the act.

when i talk about this project, i've been getting many responses from people reacting to it as a form of shock art, self-torture, and aestheticized suffering. my roommate was talking about how in her experience art/representations which generate pity through proximalization of suffering do not open space for transformative response, and somehow paralyze her responsive abilities- if she follows an intense, triggered, emotional response then she 'doesn't understand art' because she's not detaching herself and remaining in a conceptual space, but if she focuses on a conceptual or interpretive response, then she feels she's cutting herself off. how do we encourage transformative witnessing?

i've been kind of surprised by these responses because i don't think of this project as shock art, self-torture, or suffering. it seems too understated and non-sensationalized to be shock art, and too voluntary to be torture. however, prolonged sensory- and sleep- deprivation, and forced repetitive exercise are in fact torture methods employed by the US and the replication of that experience as performance, regardless of how controlled, is an aestheticization of it.

i've been approaching the project not as primarily a representation or a concept, but rather as a process engaging our physical capacities for working through and elaborating limited information and nascent ideas, and for reaching new conclusions about how-to-be in the world. as a live performance, i think this action circumvents the abstraction of written or intellectual analysis, while avoiding the sensationalism, flattening, and distancing of visual media. however, another friend was saying that she, as a non-dancer, doesn't know to approach dance performance looking for those things. trained in a visual culture, bodies in performance seem to be necessarily images and signs. how do we call for other ways of seeing?

i recently read the autobiography of chan khong, an activist from south vietnam, who writes extensively about meditation and ritualized protest as components of political action. meditation and mindfulness retreats have served her to reground her work and center herself for difficult action. ritualized protests have helped motivate her and thousands of others to re-dedicate themselves to peace. living in an america without a strong tradition of either, how do these aspects of the action communicate?

oh yeah, and in the list of participants can you list me as 'gregory holt'? i still haven't found a space, but keep approaching places...
here's crossed fingers. we just had an amazing week with deborah hay, what a fantastic person!
take care.

hi greg
thanks for this awesome email. and yes I will change your name to gregory for the press release.

I’m surprised as well by the responses you’re getting. I don’t really feel like responding to them directly because I am not interested in getting into my “rebuttal”/argumentative head. people will think what they think and that’s fine.

my interest in this action is in the contemplative/potentially “transcendent” space that engaging an endurance based action proposes. I am interested in keeping the situation simple. one body, one room. no special “lighting” or “sound” or “partner.” my experience the first time around was that the simplicity of the score and the challenge of doing it blindfolded and ear-plugged brought my body through tons of feelings, time zones, imaginary spaces. I chose to privilege my interior world for those 24 hours, and it was exhilarating, disorienting, harrowing, exciting, lonely, intensely sad, and then, when it was over, extraordinarily euphoric.

I am not interested in “representing” something directly per se with this action. of course I am not so naïve as to be ignorant of the fact that the presence of a blindfolded person evokes images on the more harrowing end of the spectrum. so be it. I am not interested in “acting” imprisoned, tortured or anything like that. keep moving for 24 hours. don’t eat, don’t sleep. drink water. pee when you have to. interact with the people who come to watch at your own discretion. like I wrote in the original statement, I am acutely aware of the fact that we are engaging this chosen action as people who have the option to walk away from it. and we will. duh. of course that’s the case. but I believe that in some very basic way, this action, and all of my performances really, are practices of consciousness. some people even call that “prayer.” that’s maybe a bit of a strong word, who knows. but I don’t mind it. do I know if doing this 7 years ago made me a “better,” more “politically sensitive” person? I don’t know. I’d like to think that that’s just my nature. but I like trying things that freak me out, that bring me to close proximity with the truths of my body, my mortality and my feelings. I like to think that by extension this gives me an opportunity to practice empathy with other people in the world who have those concerns, which is maybe everyone?? hell, you just studied with d hay for a week, right? she has a score that’s “what if you could dance with all that there is?” in a way, this action evokes the same question. it’s not perfect. it’s not nearly enough. but it’s something.

I think that engaging the simplicity of the action with an open, curious heart is what can lead to “transformative seeing.” shit I didn’t intend to respond directly to the things you said you’re friends said, but I guess I just did and so I will also say this: there’s a difference between responding to an idea of what something might “look” like and then the actual being in the room with someone who is going through an experience. if that weren’t the case, then I’d never need to go see a performance again and I’d be content with looking at pictures of shows. again, deborah has that marvelous phrase: “Invite being seen...”

of course the action is borne from the political context that inspired it. this action is A way, not THE way, of acknowledging that context and at the same time attuning myself to the work that must continue to be done to end the wars and to work towards people’s true freedom. I am also interested in practicing consciousness on the micro-level, with my daily interactions with friends, strangers.. etc. I FAIL ALL THE TIME at trying to be present and attentive to these things, but I believe in the effort of trying.

I genuinely do believe that I will be emboldened doing foi this time knowing that there are, at least, 28 other artists doing it at the (more or less) same time. I believe that there is power in that “telepathic” connection, and I like the symbolism of several bodies in various spaces working with the same struggle and from the same intentions. it makes me think of how I in general am emboldened when I remember that I am not the only person feeling frustration, or loneliness, or difficulty. of course the specifics of each participating artist’s “journey” (hate that word, but had to go there...) is not something that I can, or want to control. I can say that I hope it’s a full experience for each person who does it.

last time I did it, people came and went throughout the day. some people came multiple times. I had a notebook in the studio for people to write their impressions, or really, whatever they wanted to write. a bunch of folks drew stuff in it. I mean, it’s not like SO many people wrote in the book. most of the responses are earnest, sometimes poetic responses or acknowledgements of what they were thinking about. it was direct and small and subtle in the way that most “transformation” is.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

the reality of displacement

So today I spoke with my friend Ruthie Epstein, who works for Human Rights First, an organization that assists refugees and people who are seeking asylum. She just came back from a three week work trip to Syria, where she met with Iraqi refugees. I was shocked to hear some of the numbers she told me. I hope I remember all of this information correctly but this is what she told me: There have been 4 million Iraqis displaced by the war. She told me that most of the people were displaced not by general violence but rather by targeted violence/direct threats. She said that this year the United States accepted 14,000 refugees from Iraq, which is up from 1600 from the year before. The refugees staying in Syria are from the middle class in Iraq, and came to Syria with some savings, most of which are running out by now. They aren't able to get working papers to stay there, so they try to get relocated to third countries, preferably in Europe, she said, though she speculated that a lot of the refugees would probably be fine about being relocated to the U.S. I was not aware that in Europe, Sweden has been taking in the largest number of refugees. She said that a ton of refugees have gone into Iran (I think she said 50,000??), but that the U.S. tries to keep that quiet. 

Most recent list of participants!

I'm excited to say that more and more people are joining the action! We are up to 28 participants, which is totally incredible. Here is the latest list of folks:

Participating Artists thus far (as of 11/23/08)
Alaska – Kyli Kleven
Arizona – Aileen Mapes
California – Keith Hennessy
Colorado — Lily Brown-Johnson
Connecticut — David Dorfman
Florida – Heather Maloney
Georgia – Diana Crum
Hawaii – Brianna Skellie
Illinois – Marissa Perel
Iowa – Amanda Hamp
Kentucky – Ben Asriel
Maryland – Sharon Mansur
Massachusetts - Jesse Zaritt
Michigan – Amy Chevasse
Minnesota – Morgan Thorson
Montana – Harmony Wolfe
New Hampshire — Greg Holt
New Jersey – Joshua Bisset
New York – Miguel Gutierrez
North Carolina – Janice Lancaster
Ohio- Lena Lauer
Oregon – Tahni Holt
Pennsylvania – Jung-Eun Kim
Texas – Abby Crain
Vermont – Selene Colburn
Virginia – Zap McConnell
Washington – Tonya Lockyer
Washingon, D.C. - Maida Withers

Friday, November 21, 2008

still looking for participants

hi to all
i'm back in ny after 7 weeks away. just here for the weekend before heading to san francisco for a week.
like i've reported in previous posts, some folks have had to back out of foi2008, but others have signed on. i'll be putting up a more updated list of participants over the weekend once i have confirmations from various folks, but in the meantime, i'm going to post the list of states that we're still needing folks for. check it out cuz some of them are different than before, and different than what's on the dtw blog...

Still looking for people in:
new mexico
north dakota
rhode island
south carolina
south dakota
west virginia

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"political art"

hi folks
i've been in philadelphia all week leading a choreography workshop through the Mascher Collective and so i've been remiss in getting the most recent info up on the blog. now that the info about the action is up on the dtw blog and the emails are passing around some more interest is coming my way. this is great, although at the same time different participants are having to back out because of scheduling conflicts. ah! it's a lot to manage and i'm getting confused as to what is going on and i feel bad about the curtness of my response to folks but i'm struggling a bit to make this thing go forward. i keep hoping to get at least 30 people involved in the action. i think i need to send another mass email out about the action, and i probably need to set up a fucking facebook page about it too. i'll keep looking for participants up to the last minute, though... so if you're on the fence about whether or not to do this, you have a little more time!

so interestingly enough a big topic this week that keeps coming up over and over in the workshop that i'm leading here is the viability of (self-consciously named) "political art." it's such an age old question of course. does it work? is it good? can it hold up to our aesthetic expectations? and so on and so on. so many great questions are being brought up in the workshop, i feel like it's impossible for me to even remember all of them to put them down here. i guess it's just interesting to me how these questions often plague dance contexts, and how much they seem to be related to a larger anxiety that we hold about the relevance/utility of dance in general. it seems somewhat a product of our self-absorption to get too caught up in these questions. i'm thinking of lots of different people here. i remember reading the book Who Cares (published by Creative Time), and there's this part where artist/writer Coco Fusco talks about how it drives her crazy that her students use the looming fear of potential "exploitation" as an excuse for not making art that engages topics beyond the students' immediate world. i also think about how it's our privilege as u.s. based artists to "decide" whether or not we want our work to be "political," when there are so many other places where this isn't exactly a choice. the very desire to express has been criminalized at varying points in our own history of course. maybe people feel far away from that now?? i don't know... again, i'm reminded of the fact that at least two of the people who i talked to about participating in foi2008 were afraid to participate because of the potential for violent response. so obviously there's something going on there....

i wish i could just transcribe all of the things that came up today in the conversation that we had in the workshop, but of course, i can't. however, i do want to include here a quote from a Judith Malina article that i had the workshop students read and which i found inspiring. it's from an article titled "The Work of an Anarchist Theater":

"The role of the artist in the social structure follows the need of the changing times:
In time of social stasis: to activate
In time of germination: to invent fertile new forms
In time of revolution: to extend the possibilities of peace and liberty
In time of violence: to make peace
In time of despair: to give hope
In time of silence: to sing out"

one of the students in the workshop today commented how it's possible to think that right now we're in all of these conditions, all of these different "times." mostly, i think it was interesting to consider that our perceptions of "artist" and "politics" are often dangerously static. i like that this article considers how these entities are temporal, contextual.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

two steps forward, one step back

day ends. saw an incredible show in paris. deborah hay's "If I Sing To You" . it was totally life-changing and inspiring.

happy to say that we have two new folks on board:
Arizona - Aileen Mapes
Michigan -- Amy Chevasse

sad to say eleanor bauer can't rep for new mexico... so that is open again to whomever is interested...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


And the day ends with more good news. Tahni Holt, an artist working in oregon, is going to be participating as the rep from that state. i'm thrilled.


well i'm happy to say my spirits just picked up. David Dorfman will be the connecticut rep for foi 2008! now we're almost exactly half way there in terms of numbers of participants. incredible.

the ride

i'm starting to realize that organizing this action feels like a big ole analog to doing the event itself. there's the initial thrill of deciding to do it, as there always sort of is with deciding to organize any kind of major action or performance. there's the basic conceptual groundwork followed by the necessary pragmatic considerations. there's the assembling of all of the participating folks and the intricacy of those conversations. there's the momentum and excitement of the thing having its own momentum. then there's the continuous plodding on when the thing starts to be fall apart, or appear meaningless. i'm a little bit in this last feeling at the moment, but i know that that will pass. my metaphor driven mind can't help but make a link here between this continuous work and the reality of living with any kind of ongoing, chronic condition. obviously there is a huge difference in that foi 2008 has a clear destination and an ending point. i applaud all of the people who don't have the luxury of that endpoint.

i'm a little worried that this constant buzzing of organization is starting to distract me from the intentions of the action and also from any real mental/physical preparations that i need to seriously think about in relationship to doing foi again with my own body. i remember speaking to a class last year at the new school about getting a show together and one of the first things that came out of my mouth, unscripted and unplanned, was "i find that often the first thing that disappears in the process of making a piece is the process." i heard myself say that and was completely wigged out. those poor college kids, they didn't really know what to do with my real time verbal therapy.

anyway, it will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

i've been in contact with a friend of mine about the possibility of live video web streaming of foi 2008... i'm waiting to hear what she says but i'm open to anyone's ideas about it.