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Hope Mohr Dance's 2016 Bridge Project, Ten Artists Respond to Locus Pushes Postmodernism

by Joanna G. Harris
October 16, 2016
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
415.978.ARTS (2787)
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
As their press materials indicate Hope Mohr Dance is committed to presenting “outstanding contemporary dance at the intersection of critical thinking and the body. HMD’s signature curatorial platform, The Bridge Project, annually recruits the prime movers of America postmodernism to the Bay Area to teach and perform.” To these ends, Mohr chose a 1975 solo by choreographer Trisha Brown, “Locus,” as the inspirational source of their 2016 Bridge Project Ten Artists Respond to Locus, October 14 and 15 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

The solo was repeated three times in the course of the evening, initially by Sarah Chenoweth, then by Mohr herself as part of Greg Dawson’s “15,” and at intermission by Jenny Stulberg. "Locus" was created, according to Mohr, as a solo for Brown in which to explore her movement vocabulary. In 1975, Brown, with her fellow Grand Union members, was breaking tradition with earlier modern dance in the areas of dance technique, ensemble group movement, narrative and/or music dominated choreography. Brown and the others, inspired in part by the work of Merce Cunningham, invented postmodern dance.

The recent YBCA program offered a variety of approaches to “Locus.” Dance was only one element of the program.

Amy Foote's “Never mind the notes you missed, you have 1,000 in front of you” used 36 squares and three dancers in a "walking meditation." Visual art was also dominant in “Color grid with talking (after "Locus"), a construct by Tracy Taylor Grubbs.

The most eclectic translation of “Locus" came with the performance of “A view from outside the cube” by Xandra Ibana and Jenny Stulberg. Their movement activity took "Locus" to the floor, their bodies intertwining. Then, with plastic bags attached to blowing fans, the two crawled into the inflated bags. It was arresting and terrifying. Ibana defined the work as: “Swelling and deflating, stuck in transit, heavy bodies traveling in pressurized space.”

For this reviewer, this work reached a zenith of postmodern dance.

Peiling Kao accomplished more comfortable and traditional dance in “per{mute}ing”. Kao was able to use her skill with the "Locus" vocabulary and move it into space with more dynamic energy and charm. Gerald Casel and Suzette Saigisi also accomplished range and variety in “Taglish,” a study bringing together Filipino and American elements. Gregory Dawson in "15" contributed his usual balletic acrobatics; ladies in pointe shoes, men writhing alongside. Mohr’s solo performance of “Locus,” set beside these, in contrast, brought quiet focus. Larry
Arrington’s “quarter” with its assorted items scattered along the space, represented that artist’s preoccupations.

The evening’s event gave audiences much to deal with in terms of the nature of postmodern activity. There were almost too many words, conceptual challenges, sound and visual experiences to process and appreciate. The 21st century dance/artists seem, to this reviewer, to be looking back to early innovators and building on them. It is a direction echoed in many aspects of today’s art movement.

Let’s get on with their own innovations of new/now dance.
Isaiah Bindel (left) and Hope Mohr perform '15,' choreographed by Gregory Dawson as part of Hope Mohr Dance's 2016 Bridge Project, 'Ten Artists Respond to Locus.'

Isaiah Bindel (left) and Hope Mohr perform "15," choreographed by Gregory Dawson as part of Hope Mohr Dance's 2016 Bridge Project, "Ten Artists Respond to Locus."

Photo © & courtesy of Margo Moritz


Trisha Brown.

Trisha Brown.

Photo © & courtesy of Lois Greenfield

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