This past weekend, I attended the CU Dance Department’s show In the Current. The second half of this show was dedicated to a piece entitled “VIofS,” which used questions inspired by Bhanu Kapil’s book Vertical Interrogation of Strangers.
For those of you who don’t know, Bhanu is an integral part of the Kerouac School. Our upcoming issue will feature pieces from her latest project, so it seemed almost too synchronistic that a performance which crosses the threshold of page to embodiment should occur the very weekend we editors completed our final proofreading.
The piece played with the line of structure and improvisation (a threshold in itself). Segments of set choreography were interlaced with moments where the audience members could approach a microphone and ask a question from a provided list (inspired by and working directly with Bhanu’s text). The performers would then break from the choreography to respond to the questions. The audience participation directed where the piece would go, and challenged the dancers to remain authentic in their improvised reactions.
During the discussion panel afterwards, the piece’s choreographer, Joan Bruemmer, noted the role bodies played in the piece — those of her dancers and of the audience. “They wrote the performance in their bodies,” she said, “And we just edited it.” There were themes of disassembly and repair in the conversation, with Joan reflecting on the challenge of “breaking the wall of performance and person.” Yet in this newly opened space, one dancer commended Joan’s ability to maintain an environment where one could “put the voice into the body (and still feel safe).”
We were so intrigued by the theme of threshold for this issue because of its multitudinous definitions. If you ask ten people to define “threshold,” you will get at least ten different answers. Seeing how Joan Bruemmer’s choreography approached the field of Bhanu’s page was yet another way threshold has appeared in my life lately. Despite what I am working on in the future, I imagine one type of threshold or another will always be pertinent in the tension of my writing, and possibly, eventually, in the translation of that writing into performance.
And what struck Bhanu most about watching her text cross the threshold into a performance space? “That little fragment that loops in the circularity of your creaturedom.”
Be sure to check out Bhanu’s blog to keep up with her performance and writing projects, including the progression of the future novel we are highlighting in our upcoming issue!