WE! is a collaborative, multi-media dance performance that strips away the safety net of the proscenium theater and sandwiches both dancer and viewer into a close-proximity, private performance space.

Collaborators: Jane Gotch, Mark Southerland, Miles Neidinger, Ke Sook Lee, Paul Rudy, Mica Thomas, Jason Dixon

Performers: Jane Gotch, Jason Dixon, Tuesday Faust, Kalen Compernolle, Ann Shaughnessy, Penelope Hearne, Matt Tady

“…proscenium theater is based on the idea of perspective, where you have a point to which everything relates. There is one point (view) that’s the best, and that’s the one directly in front of the royal box. That’s like colonialism…”  Merce Cunningham

Traditional dance is a one-sided transmission from dancer to audience. Protected behind the proscenium, the dancer unfolds her inner world, revealing herself to the darkness beyond. There the viewer sits silent, passive, hidden expecting to be awed and moved by the dancer’s virtuosity. The dancer bows, the audience claps, the curtain falls. All roles are clear. Everyone knows what to do.

WE! will transform this performance context, disrupting and challenging roles and relationships among audience members and performers alike. Everyone will move through a multi-part visual environment created by a 13-member team of Kansas City’s leading dance, visual, lighting and sound designers. All elements of the visual environment and dancers’ interactions with audience members will contribute to their being moved, both physically and emotionally, through time and space. Choreography becomes the metaphor for every element of environmental design and movement, each aiming to catalyze an audience-centered, empathic process of connection between and among performers, audiences and artwork.

WE! will literally take everyone out of the box, breaking the proscenium frame and removing the two-way protection of a darkened hall. Dancers and viewers will be brought face-to-face, in close proximity, creating both private and communal moments in six design environments. Each person’s experience in this multi-perspective, visual setting will be unique, and even the performance itself will vary for each.

Audience size will be limited, to create an intimate scale. In every performance, a dancer will perform one-to-one for each viewer in one of four small, private performance spaces created by collaborating designers. The dancers’ breath, sweat, body heat, direct eye contact and even touch (if only in taking their arm to lead them to their new location) will be palpable. The contrast between these private contexts and the playful, disarming, disorienting atmosphere of communal spaces will both prepare the ground and sharpen the intimacy of the one-on-one performances.

We usually fill gaps in intimate space with words, but dance leaves us with only ourselves, our bodies, and the unspoken experience between us. The architecture of this performance will give the audience an embodied presence in the show, as they are moved through the artwork and performance process. As the group reassembles at the end, no performer or viewer will remain unaffected. Our hunger for meaning and connection will have been illuminated: how do we connect, to ourselves and to each other? Can awareness of our psychic and physical bodies shift, creating openings that enable us to find meaning and connect?

About the Artists and Collaborators:

Jane Gotch (Director, Producer, Choreographer)

Originally from Omaha, NE, Jane attended UMKC’s Conservatory of Dance from 1996-1998, and graduated from University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2000 with a BFA with honors in modern dance. She danced with Scrap Performance Group (PA), Netta Yerushalmy’s Dancing People (NY), and as an apprentice with Tere O’Connor Dance (NY). Her choreography has been presented at The Fifth Stop Open Studios (Brooklyn), The Philadelphia Fringe Festival (PA), A Modern Night at the Folly (KC), Urban Culture Project’s La Esquina and Paragraph Gallery (KC), and Lawrence Arts Center’s Adjudicated Showcase. As a student she received a scholarship from the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey to study at the Alvin Ailey School in New York (1998). In 2002 she directed and choreographed a collaborative group of women for NYC: the girl projects, which was produced by The Philadelphia Fringe Festival at the Painted Bride Arts Center. For the past two seasons, she has been the production director for City in Motion’s choreographers’ showcase, A Modern Night at the Folly.

For her choreography she received the annual Excellence in Choreography Award for her senior thesis at University of the Arts (2000), an Inspiration Grant from The Metropolitan Arts Council of Kansas City (2009), and a space grant at Urban Culture Project’s City Center Rehearsal Space (2009-2010). In addition to her artistic endeavors, she is a teaching artist through Kansas City Young Audiences and at CS1. For the past nine years she has taught GYROTONIC, a movement training, rehabilitation, and conditioning system in New York, California, Israel, and India. Here in Kansas City, she has an established private practice at Plaza Wellspring wellness center.

Mark Southerland (Co-director & Producer)

Mark Southerland has used the saxophone as a medium for exploring sound and performance for 25 years. By reinterpreting the assumed stage presence of a jazz musician, Southerland!s work has run the gamut of pop culture and Rahsaan Roland Kirk tributaries, to wearable horn sculptures and nomadic tent installations. His reinvention of brass and woodwind instruments, circuit-bent electronic children!s toys, and eight track “scratching” turn his stage work into an Alexander Caulder-esque circus of visual and sound possibilities. His “bastardized” horns and costumes have been displayed as free-standing sculptures at the Dolphin Gallery and Urban Culture Projects in Kansas City, the OSP in Boston, and Bridge Art Fair at Art Basel Miami.

A Kansas City native, Mark Southerland has played locally, nationally, and throughout Europe with Malachy Papers for over ten years. His ongoing projects, Snuff Jazz and Wee Snuff involves a constantly changing cast of musicicians and performers. A natural host and collaborator of other musicians (Todd Sickafoose, Shay Estes, Mike Dillon), artists ( David Ford, Ashley Miller, Peregrine Honig), and dancers (Jen Owens, Laurel Birdsong), Southerland continuously extends his possibilities, pushing the improvisatory envelope of visual and auditory standards.

Ke-Sook Lee

Ke-Sook Lee was born in Seoul Korea in1941. She received BFA in Applied Art from Seoul National University 1963; Post Graduate study in Drawing from University of Missouri, Columbia 1966-7; Second BFA in Painting from Kansas City Art Institute,1982. She works in Berkeley, Kansas and New York.

Her work has shown in solo and numerous group shows nationally and internationally. Lee’s fourteen solo exhibitions with galleries includes George Billis Gallery in New York (2003, 2005, 2007); George Billis Gallery LA ( 2005, 2009); Dolphin Gallery in Kansas City (2001, 2009); Snyderman-Works Gallery in Philadelphia (2000, 2004); Rosemont College, PA ( 2000, 2009); Galerie Lefor Openo, Paris, France (with Agnes Bailon, 2002). Lee has recently exhibited site specific installations at The Museum of Arts and Design, NY(2007-8); The Riverside Museum of Art, CA(2007); Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Service, NY(2009); Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Project, NY(2005); National Craft Gallery, Ireland, Irish Republic (2005); Alter Post, Berlin, Germany(2008); Paragraph Gallery, MO( 2006, 2009) and Lawrence Arts Center, KS (2010)

Using thread as primary mark making device, Lee hand embroider recording non-text- based imagery that speaks concerns, dreams and fears of past generations of women in Korea and struggles of her own experience of womanhood. Her narrative memories take on universal significance as commentary on the role of women, in the domestic arena.

Mica Thomas received his BFA in Theater from Southern Oregon University. Mica attended the Masters program in Lighting Design at Penn State University where he won the 2004 Creative Achievement Award, for showing excelled artistic ability. Mica’s artistic ventures include a wide variety of types of projects such as Lighting Dance, Installation Art, Painting, Photography, Event Lighting, Theatre Lighting, Interior Lighting Design, and Concert Lighting.

Jason Dixon is a video/performance artist working in Kansas City. His work explores ideas of masculinity and gender to an absurd degree, making use of differing personas. Dixon attempts to unearth and put on display those Id/primitive aspects of his nature that he finds both intriguing and problematic. On May 8th, 2009 Jason Dixon completed a world record, “The Most Performative Piece Ever!” This 24hr web cast marathon took place at La Esquina Gallery and marked the world record for the most performances with provenance ever performed by a single person in a single day.

Miles Neidinger was born in Kansas City. He studied at the University of Central Missouri and graduated from the KCAI in 2000 with a BFA in sculpture. In 2001, he was awarded a Vermont Studio Center residency. Neidinger has worked as a Journeyman Electrician since 2006. His exhibitions include the Hook Gallery grand opening, Finch Gallery, Rare Gallery, Kemper Museum, and the Charlotte Street Fund Exhibition at the JCCC.

Neidinger has participated in Arts Through Architecture, and is a Charlotte Street Foundation Award recipient. He was featured in Art in America, The Kansas City Star, Review Magazine, and Pitch Weekly.

Paul Rudy, composer, is an Elliot Carter Rome Prize, Guggenheim, Fulbright and Wurlitzer Foundation Fellow. His music has received international awards and performances. He teaches at the Conservatory at the University of Missouri at KC. In 1994 he completed the Colorado Grand Slam after climbing all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 ft peaks. That goal done…his current goal is to enjoy surfing the unknown and catch all the things he missed getting to all those summits…Rudy’s CD Series 2012 Stories are available online at iTunes.


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