Six people ages 25 to 78 gather to make a decision that will impact each of their lives. What do they hope for as individuals at different stages of life and as a community? What risks will they take to achieve the freedoms they dream of?
At Your Service
How do we serve? How are we served? Who serves whom, and where do the lines blur? Asking these questions led Risa Jaroslow & Dancers, vocalist/composer Amy X Neuburg, and guest performers to create At Your Service.
For more information about the work, click here.
Risa Jaroslow was invited to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in northwest England to create a performance in honor of the 190th anniversary of the University. She worked with five third-year students and ten people from the city of Preston including teens, alumnae, university staff, and others. The students were co-facilitators as well as performers. Jaroslow met with them regularly to plan each full group session. Project 190 was performed in November and December at UCLan. The history of the university, the stories of the people who built it, and the stories of the cast members and their relationship to the university were rich with material to draw on to create this work.
Three dancers, three musicians and three upright basses explore what it means to be in dialogue with one another in this evening-length collaborative work.
For more information about the work, click here.
Four Dialogues: A Solo
Created and performed by Risa Jaroslow based on prompts (described below) from Laura “Larry” Arrington, Christian Burns, Katie Faulkner and Keith Hennessy.
Of this piece, and process, Risa writes:
"Laura 'Larry' Arrington, Christian Burns, Katie Faulkner, Keith Hennessy are Bay Area choreographers whose work intrigues and moves me. As a relative newcomer to the Bay Area, I didn’t know any of them personally but felt drawn to each of them because of the connection I felt to their work. I approached each with a request for an idea, a provocation, a prompt that would be a catalyst for making new dance. Their prompts could come in any form. Predictably, they each gave me something very different. Every time I worked on a section I felt I was in conversation with the person who gave me that prompt. I was never alone in the studio."
2015, 2012, 2008, 2006
In Resist/Surrender, Risa Jaroslow peels back the veneer of our culture's assumptions about maleness and masculinity, exposing an explosive physicality. The piece asks what masculinity could mean if we reconciled our attraction to and repulsion from the assumed power of maleness.
In addition to the four professional dancers, Resist/Surrender features a chorus of eleven men from diverse backgrounds, including a math teacher, a sociologist, and a security guard who writes novels. Set designer Perry Gunther has created a cedar wall that the performers move against and over. By both supporting and impeding movement, it becomes a metaphor for the many barriers we meet with either resistance or surrender.
Composer Scott Johnson has created a riveting score for Resist/Surrender, based on recorded interviews with NYC firefighters; corporate lawyers; gay teens and senior adults; and counselors to men who batter, as well as an-all male poker game. Johnson took excerpts of the interviews, analyzed the pitch and rhythm of the voices, and transformed them into instrumentation. He then layered the original spoken text back into the composition. The result is an intriguing, complex composition that joins the classical tradition with a driving rock sensibility.
2015 - San Francisco | 2012 - New York | 2008 - Dublin, Ireland | 2006 - New York
Read reviews of the 2015 San Francisco production here.
A duet that contains the history of evolution in three 5 minute sections. Sound score by Stephanie Neumann.
What's the Upshot?
A trio with a cameo role for a fourth dancer, What's The Upshot? investigates how we make decisions that bring us to a point of change.
In The Middle of Where She Is
In In The Middle of Where She Is three women grapple with the simultaneity of growth and loss and the longing for play and delight that we never lose. They rock, roll, float, throw, tip toe, balance, jump and fall into themselves and each other. Each alternately challenges and rescues one or both of the others. Unlike a three-legged stool, these three do not create a balanced equilibrium but shift from duet to duet, leaving one to generate momentum for the next interaction. The piece is alternately rough and tender, playful and passionate. The music is composed and performed by the violin/viola duo Charly & Margaux.
The Partner Project
We live much of our private lives in public. When we see two people sharing an intimate moment on the street or the subway - whether they're kissing, having an argument, or consulting a map - it affects the space and people around it. The interaction is also affected by the environment in which it is occurring. This leads to a larger set of questions: When we are part of a pair, how are we changed as individuals? What dynamics come forward when we partner intellectually, intimately, or to accomplish a larger goal? What kind of intimacy do we find in relationships with our adversaries? How does the physical environment affect how we view those partnerships? What is the role of our changing perceptions of the world and society's perceptions of us?
The Partner Project/Scene in Public is a meditation on what it means to be part of a pair. It explores how a partnership shapes the individual and how intimate moments in public places affect the pair and its audience. Based on the duet form, The Partner Project features four principal dancers, a cast of eight additional dancers, and two musicians. The Partner Project/Scene in Public is performed to an original score by acclaimed composer/musician Robert Een with video by Barbara Bickart.
For a journal of the evolution of The Partner Project, click HERE.
The Partner Project/Scene in Public was made possible by the Jerome Robbins Foundation, American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program, Music-Theatre Group, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Fund for Creative communities supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Swing Space program with project space donated by Capstone Equities.
Presented by Sitelines 2008
A project of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Part of the 2008 River to River Festival
Risa Jaroslow's 311 took place under the massive archways of the city's Municipal Building. Six dancers engaged in a range of interactions, while an interviewer queried passersby and people entering and leaving the building about their thoughts on city government. These amplified conversations provided the dance's sound score. The piece looked at what emerged when the audience was asked to engage with the movement and interviews in the larger context of the current national focus on government and civic engagement, as well as in the immediate context of a dance performance in an unusual location.
Read a review here.
As Risa Jaroslow turned 60, she was inspired to initiate an epistolary collaboration: she sent sixty letters to people who have been important to her in different ways, and asked each of them to suggest an idea for a dance. The idea could come in any form, sounds, visual images, words, etc. This collaboration was the basis for Sixty, which premiered at Danspace Project in November 2008.
Jaroslow on the inspiration for Sixty: "As I look at the relationships, ideas, stories and memories that have made up my life, I notice that, over time, their meanings have evolved and changed. I expect they will continue to do so. They are like the colored pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope: at any moment they may settle into a picture, but these vibrant slivers are in motion, constantly creating new pictures. I believe that this blending/fusing/mingling of events and memories in relationship to each other is universal, and that in describing this experience in dance, I will be able to say something about how we understand our lives and our identities." For more of Risa's thoughts on the evolution of Sixty, click HERE.
Sixty is an evening-length work. The Danspace premiere featured Elise Knudson, Luke Gutgsell, Paul Singh, Gabriel Forestieri, and Rachel Lehrer, my core company. The performance also featured several guest performers, including Vicky Shick.
What makes you feel whole? As a person? As a community? How do we find rootedness in the wake of destruction, tragedy, or the plain old everyday grind? Whole Sky threads responses to these questions through Jaroslow's captivating choreography and a dynamic multimedia landscape. Community groups, including senior adults, gay and lesbian teens, and survivors of domestic violence, along with Jaroslow's professional dancers, created a dance that the New York Times called, "exquisite, like a drop of air suspended in honey."
The cast of six professional dancers, including Jaroslow, slip effortlessly from support to flight to complex partnering. In Whole Sky, dance becomes a communal and supportive act, an expression of total contentment, a struggle to find a comfortable resting place, a search for solid ground. Again and again, the dancers turn to each other for completeness.
The company is joined by three guest performers drawn from the community groups Jaroslow worked with. Adwoa Akhu, a psychologist and survivor of domestic violence, dances and tells the story of how she claimed a new name when she emerged from her abusive relationship. Lt. John Regan of the Fire Department of New York, describes his work on the September 11th recovery effort as well as the joy he finds in ballroom dancing. Midwife Nancey Rosensweig dances with Jaroslow while describing her experience of the beginning of life.
The dance is buoyed by an original score by Steve Elson, which ranges from the soulful sax to lilting calypso to the lullaby of human breathing. Barbara Bickart's video projections, which The New York Times compared to the work of Milton Avery, evoke a world both dream-like and instantly familiar. Her images are drawn from the stories shared by participants in the community workshops. They are projected onto costumes by Clint Ramos that transform the dancers into a worn armchair or a field of wheat, or allow them to literally disappear into a handwriting-filled sky.
Whole Sky is the culmination of The Becoming Whole Project, an ongoing initiative investigating the sources of resiliency and strength in ourselves and our communities.
Whole Sky was commissioned by the Bessie Schonberg/First Light commissioning program of Dance Theater Workshop.
Strings Attached contrasts the thrill of playing music and being part of an ensemble with the struggle of women musicians hustling to make a living in a man's field. Using voice-over interviews with women of all ages in the classical, jazz, opera and folk traditions, and set to a sumptuous original score by Obie Award-Winner Diedre L. Murray, Strings Attached explores the larger issue of the human need to have a creative life.
The score is performed live onstage by a quintet of strings, and counterbalanced by a set of miked floor-to-ceiling strings that are played and danced on by the Company. Stunning intersections develop between dance and music, stillness and silence, and between the performers.