antithesis premiered at Dance Place in Washington, D.C., January 2017.
antithesis collides the genres, bodies, and cultures of postmodern dance and erotic dance in order to challenge how female sexuality is perceived, performed, and (re)presented. The project is an embodied attempt to explore and mine the erotic - the sometimes messy, gritty, tactile, growling, chaotic, passionate and tender edges of female sexual expression and creativity. Staging the work in multiple venues (from the concert stage, to the strip club or an alternate space) pushes the research beyond the safe container of “art” in order to train for the inevitable moment when we bump up against racist, sexist and heteronormative structures and find choice, strength and resilience in spite of them.
Works-in-progress have taken place in Denver, CO at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and 580 Gilpin St. (a home/art studio), and in Boulder, CO at the University of Colorado’s Irey Theatre, the Wesley Chapel and The Bustop (a strip club). Check out photos of the event at MCA from the Denver Westword newspaper.
The project, which builds upon poet Audre Lorde’s essay, "Uses of the Erotic", is an embodied attempt to explore and mine the erotic--the uniquely passionate, sensual, and feminine energy within oneself. Because eroticism has been co-opted by the pornographic, it is often dismissed as a source of power and denied as a wellspring of spiritual, political, and creative possibility. Thus, antithesis is a radical act to unencumber the erotic from oppressive structures that limit the individual expression of female sexuality. The intent is to craft a work that cultivates creative possibilities by embracing what Lorde refers to as “the yes within ourselves”. As an African American woman, I am particularly interested in how an embodied exploration of the erotic could allow us to access, again in Lorde’s words, “our most profoundly creative source [in a way that is] female and self-affirming in the face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society.
Site & Culturally Specific
antithesis is inherently a community and site-specific based-work, with performers culled from both the postmodern and erotic dance world--strippers, pole dancers, burlesque, etc. Through an investigative and creative process involving the combined cast, antithesis asks: Where are the spaces and opportunities to explore female eroticism that are not designed for consumption or subject to policing? If there are other “Uses of the Erotic”, where is that practiced, when and how is it cultivated? What if sexual expression, defiance, survival, joy, pleasure, creativity, subjectivity, and agency can be culled from that exploration? How can that be embodied versus theorized?
antithesis can be staged in multiple venues, from an art gallery, to the strip club, the concert stage or an alternate performance space. The research of antithesis will be found in how the cast--a mix of performers with postmodern and erotic dance experience--tests the performance of unencumbered eroticism and the audacity of female sexuality in the context of different environments. I am particularly interested in placing the work in a strip club, because it moves the practice of antithesis beyond the safe container of “art” and the dance studio. Participants--audience and cast members alike-- are asked to embody the contradictions of the cultures and the space; to witness the precarious practice of holding on to the “yes within” one’s self, amidst the gazes of the audience present--performers, art gallery attendees, postmodern dance goers, strip club patrons, academic scholars, etc.
Funding & Support
antithesis is supported by the Map Fund, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and was one of 36 finalists for New England Foundation for the Arts 2015 National Dance Project Production Grant. GMPP raised over $8,000 in donations on Hatchfund with the support of more than 160 donors.
Thank you: Kami (Carey) Anderson, Analisa Bailey, Rita Burns, Enoch Chan, Alphonso C. Coles, Colin Danville, Peter DiMuro, Sekiya Dorsett, Thoyd Ellis, Markas Henry, Deborah Hollis, Tauna Hunter, Darrell Jones, Liz Lerman, Krissie Marty, Jadele McPherson, Cassie Meador, Margo Miller, Susan Neeley, Carla Perlo, Katherine Profeta, Tamara Pullman, Ernestine Rhynes, Cheles Rhynes, Vanessa Roberts, Joanna Rotkin, Blake Sanchez, Vernon Scott, Daniel Phoenix Singh, Daniel Storch, Karen Stults, Michael Taylor, Stephanie Thibeault, Jeramy L. Zimmerman, EJ, and many more.
You can still contribute to antithesis by donating below.