This Saturday and Sunday, choreographer Judith Howard -- along with Krista Langberg, Kristin Van Loon, and Naomi Joy -- will perform "Gold Press," a dance work responding to visual artist Ash Marlene Hane's "Conditions" exhibition at Gamut Gallery. Accompanied by Chester Yourczek's live score, the performers use gold foil, fabric, a glass box, and other items, taking inspiration from Hane's feminist prints to create a piece about control, vulnerability, and disappearing.
Howard first encountered Hane's work online. "I knew there was something behind it," she says. The most immediate reaction she had came from a piece, not in the show, of a young person in plaid shorts reaching one arm out, with the other arm holding a garbage bag shoulder height. The gesture immediately inspired Howard to come up with movements that are now a part of the performance.
Howard found more inspiration when she sat down to talk to Hane. "I got one on one with her and we talked about the printmaking process," Howard says. The choreographer has incorporated movements related to the printmaking process into the piece, and has also played with the ideas "Conditions" evoke of a personal prison, containment, control, and vulnerability.
In the exhibit, Hane has a series of repeated portraits that change slightly. At one point the woman's mouth is completely covered. This relates to something that Howard is interested in exploring in her own work -- that of disappearing.
Howard has never been asked to respond specifically to a visual-arts exhibit before, but in her work she often reacts to visual art on her own, and enjoys working in alternative spaces.
The space has been challenging for Howard. It's small, but such obstacles have become a part of building the piece. The dance happens in several places, sometimes as the audience watches the dancers through a window, other times the dancers perform outside on the street. The performers at times use a rope to move the audience to different locations within the gallery. The spaces become small stages, or frames, with the audience going through a "process of reductivity, being slowly moved into place," Howard says.
"Gold Press" also makes use of gold and sheer fabric. Howard loves using textiles and costumes. "For some reason, fabric ignites my imagination," she says. She simply touches the fabric and it begins to transform and turn into movement. Dancers change costume several times throughout the piece, and include rehearsal shorts with white ruffly blouses, gold-foil dresses, sheer dresses, and gold boots.
Originally, Howard wasn't planning on performing in the piece (she struggles with a 4½-year-old hip injury), but when she began to rehearse -- especially collaborating with Naomi Joy -- she realized that she was going to be part of the performance. "I just decided, 'I'm going to die soon; I'm going to perform,'" she says. "I didn't think twice about it."
7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
1006 Marquette Ave. S., Minneapolis
$5-10 suggested donation