Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Feb 14th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Two Left (Wing) Feet

ae dance1Choreography and social issues merge at Santa Cruz Dance’s ‘Looking Left’ festival

Peter Carpenter has a bone to pick with Ronald Reagan. It began, of all places, at a gay country bar in Los Angeles and eventually evolved into “My Fellow Americans,” an evening-length dance performance choreographed by Carpenter, which critiques the Reagan administration from an LGBT perspective. This weekend, Reagan’s politics, and plenty of other social issues, will be placed under the microscope at “Looking Left/Chicago,” a dance festival at Motion at the Mill, featuring pieces by Carpenter and several other talented dancers and choreographers.

The festival—presented by Cid Pearlman/Performance Projects & Santa Cruz Dance—was created with the purpose of uniting audiences with emerging and mid-career artists, whose  intellectually rigorous works fall on the left side of the political spectrum.

Carpenter will perform on Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20, alongside artists from such disparate places as Chicago, New York City, Berlin, Germany, the Bay Area, and Santa Cruz. The lineup includes excerpts of Cid Pearlman’s latest work, “Your Body is Not a Shark,” Eli Weinburg’s “This Land is My Land,” Dixie Fun Dance Theater, and much more. The festival will be followed by an evening of screen dance, featuring films by Cari Ann Shim Sham, Ally Voye, and others on Oct. 21, and complemented by workshops hosted by festival performers.

One of the central reasons for Carpenter’s involvement in “Looking Left/Chicago” is his commitment to engaging issues of social justice in his work. His first solo, “Last Cowboy Standing”—an excerpt from the full-length piece—is a representation of his findings after conducting extensive ethnographic research in that infamous gay country bar, Oil Can Harry’s.

ae dance2Choreographer Peter Carpenter explores issues of injustice through dance.“Part of my interest in studying a bunch of gay men and lesbians dancing like cowboys, was how those social dance practices emerged,” explains Carpenter. “At the same time, Ronald Reagan was being elected to the presidency on anti-gay, cowboy politics.” Using mid-century modern dance and release-based techniques, “Last Cowboy Standing” gives the rage of the queer community, AIDS survivors and special interest groups a voice for which to interrogate the rhetoric of the Reagan administration. Although this work is a conversation with the past, it serves as a reminder of the politics that preceded present day ones, especially in light of the upcoming election.

In his second solo piece, Carpenter shares the seventh installment of a cycle of dances known as “Rituals of Abundance for Lean Times.” The chapter which he will perform, entitled “Labor Dispute,” takes a broad look at economies and how the choreographic process can be understood as a division of labor.

At the root of all seven dances in the cycle is the recognition of abundance—that disparity in resources is not an issue of lack, but rather an issue of distribution. “Some people are not getting enough, and some people are keeping too much,” explains Carpenter. “Instead of trying to find blame in some other location, I am trying to look at how I as a person, I as an artist, we as audience members are complicit in a myth of scarcity, and how we could all stand to look at the world from a point of abundance.”

Influenced by Marxist views of labor and capital, Carpenter uses dance to comment on the world at large, in addition to the dancer/choreographer relationship. By performing “Labor Dispute” as a solo—functioning as the dancer, choreographer, and author of the spoken text—he neutralizes the relationship of the three, and exposes a struggle for agency that is resonant with arenas of power beyond the stage. “This will be a solo that I dance for myself,” he says. “I’m questioning how I work with dancers that are not myself; what I ask them to do that I wouldn’t ask myself to do, and what that means politically.”

That idea will be explored further during Carpenter’s Oct. 20 workshop, entitled “Talking Dances.” “I’m going to teach on intersections between movement and spoken text,” he says. “It’s really a composition workshop for people who are interested in making dances, and learning how we can break the divide between the voice and the body.”

Asked about the challenging subject matter at the heart of his performances and others which will be presented at “Looking Left/Chicago,” Carpenter said, “I think our audiences are so much smarter than a lot of choreographers give them credit for. I think they are very sophisticated, hungry for smart work, and willing to engage in some combination of intellect, effect, and empathy.” 


“Looking Left/Chicago” begins at 8 p.m. Oct. 19-20 at Motion at the Mill, 131 Front St., Santa Cruz. Workshops will be held on Saturday Oct. 20 beginning at 11 a.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://santacruzdance.com

Photo1: Beau Saunders
Photo 2: William Frederking

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster