Talking Circle (May 2022 at CounterPulse, San Francisco; January 2023 at Oakland Theater Project, Oakland)
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?
Talking Circle imagines a turning point in the life of a small community, exploring the relationship between individual and collective. This evening-length dance features a multigenerational cast of six movement collaborators with an original score by Amy X Neuburg. Additional members of the creative team include lighting designer Allen Willner and costume designer Callie Floor.
Reviews and Press
"As the dancers swoop, sweep and gesture through intense groupings, we can see that they are working to reach some kind of collective agreement, though we do not know the origin of the tensions between them. “It’s always exciting to me when it starts,” Jaroslow said, “because the way the dancers come to the circle of chairs, you get a sense of each (one).""
"Talking Circle’s movement material was developed after the artists expressed individual opinions about risk and choice and engaged in a process Jaroslow calls “a negotiation.” The six dancers begin the work in a circle... Woven into that circle and every other structure and moment of the dance is the stunning, eclectic music composed by Neuburg."
"The two elders I brought into Talking Circle have been in the Elders Project since its beginning. They touched me and they were excited. We had to find a way to work together in this new context, since it was different from the Elders Project. We got there! The four dancers and the two elders work together beautifully. There is so much mutual admiration and respect."
"The choreography is full of subtle surprises—a head thrown back at an unexpected angle in relation to the shoulders during a spiral to the floor, a wrist oddly cocked, power poses that morph into sloth poses into pin-up poses. There was so much delicious movement and because the CounterPulse theater is an intimate space, I felt close enough to chew it, to taste it. The piece looked like a community being together through the rise and fall of everyday affects—pleasure and pain, sorrow and joy, solemnity and jocularity. I thought, “Is this a coven? A deconstructed Little Women? Herland?”"
"So many moments to savor, and most especially the way the dancers simply nailed their roles. So varied and personal, yet clearly part of the same clan, people who understand each other, who listen patiently, choose their words, know when to speak and when to stay silent so someone else can have their say. Know when to witness and when to testify. And most of all, people who hold each other in an emotional/motional circle of deep regard.”
- Diane Frank, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and San Jose State University
Dancing With What's Around (2020)
Risa Jaroslow made the four sections of this video over several months while the world was in pandemic lockdown and she was desperate to make a dance.
At Your Service (February 2019 at ODC Theater, San Francisco)
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. In this moment when greed and abuse dominate the news, Risa Jaroslow & Dancers look at ways in which we serve each other (or fail to do so) personally and professionally, with a focus on the under-appreciated among us. At Your Service is dance, music, songs and stories that delight, edify, sometimes disturb, and ultimately help us see many of our fellow humans in a different light.
Reviews and Press
"Above all, the dancing shines throughout At Your Service. Do we see the individuals who serve us? At Your Service demands that we do."
"Neuburg’s score is lush, complex, and at times humorous"
"Interwoven into the mix of sound, melody and movement are compelling and poignant monologues delivered by people from different professions”
"The interactions among the dancers… was intense and focused, a fluid pastiche of lifting, supporting, opposing and watchfully guarding that was sometimes playful, sometimes anxious, sometimes cold and impassive, sometimes grim”
"The intent, Jaroslow wrote, is to 'delight, edify, sometimes disturb and ultimately help us see many of our fellow humans in a different light.' "
Touch Bass (April 2017 at ODC Theater, San Francisco)
My mother was a professional orchestral bass player. I remember as a child watching her practice in our living room. I’ve loved the instrument from that early age and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to pay homage to my mother who was a woman ahead of her time.
I met my collaborator Lisa Mezzacappa, composer/bassist extraordinaire in the course of remounting Resist/Surrender which ran at ODC Theater in 2015. She was a member of the ensemble that played the Resist/Surrender score live. I approached Lisa and we began experimenting in the studio soon after. Touch Bass is the culmination of these experiments.
Our cast includes three glorious dancers – Scott Marlowe (Brendan Barthel replaced Scott for these SF performances), Tara McArthur and Lauren Simpson and three superb and adventurous bassists Lisa, Eric Perney and Matt Small. With the three double basses added in to the mix we have a cast of nine. Lisa created the live score.
The relationships that are created between the dancers and musicians, the music and the movement, the people and the basses are tender, awkward, funny – as wide ranging as all relationships.
Previews and Interviews
Reviews and Press
“Touch Bass” is an extraordinary showcase of Jaroslow and Mezzacappa’s creativity, and belief in the power of relationships."
"In one of the most honest and pure performance collaborations I have seen so far this season, choreographer Risa Jaroslow and composer Lisa Mezzacappa birthed a rich, living environment for dancers Brendan Barthel, Tara McArthur, Lauren Simpson, musicians Mezzacappa, Eric Perney, Matt Small and three upright basses. The nine explored this democratic container of movement and sound, engaging with lush artistry..."