Visiting Artist | July 9 - 23, 2018
Donna Uchizono comes to MANCC to develop her evening-length work Iron Jane. She writes, “I am in awe of the courage it takes to be human and, in these charged times, remain humane.” From this perspective, the work explores the hidden emotional burdens we each carry, alluded to only in the weighted pauses between words, skin colors, and other unspoken signifiers that create distance between us. The work will feature five dancers, an original score by composer David Shively, and visual design by Janet Echelman.
Working from several choreographic images--such as expansively arched wings of iron, fiercely shaking hips with grounded weight, and a lifted sternum offered skyward--the piece will open with a challenging exertion of the body, which unfolds the dancers’ tough exteriors, exposing a new kind of intimacy over time.
In the space between words and dance, performer and spectator, Iron Jane will attempt to provide a forum to share in the weight of vulnerability, publicly and privately, and offer transcendence grounded in grit. Uchizono writes, “as we strive upward toward an ethical grace, we are simultaneously charged with the grounded weight of our humanity--our iron wings.”
As a female American artist of Asian ancestry working in the predominantly white lineage of post-modern experimental dance, Uchizono has had to carve a space for herself within the wider landscape. While questions of race have not explicitly informed Uchizono’s practice, the weight of perceptions based in identity are ever-present. In this work, Uchizono will delve more deeply into the implications of racialized bodies moving through space and time. Members of Uchizono’s racially diverse creative team will also be asked to draw upon their own personal experiences to collaboratively inform the work. In these insecure times, finding comfort in uncertainty has become a necessary aspect of Uchizono’s creative process, which relies heavily upon her ability to listen closely, as the work is revealed in dialogue with cast members, creative collaborators, and audience members.
The piece will center around carefully choreographed movement sections that slowly evolve, shifting the focus from performer to spectator when a question is posed: “If you were to dedicate a dance to someone, who would that person be?” This shift explores how dancers, in a quietly heroic way, can acknowledge and embody the immeasurable weight of a shared vulnerability created between the dancers and the audience. The piece will finish by returning to its initial choreographic format with the newfound gravity of shared experience. In this way, Iron Jane will implicate both performer and audience member, intertwining their experiences and asking them to hold the weight of another.
At MANCC, the company will continue to explore how to acknowledge and embody the immeasurable weight of human exchange with audience members by opening the doors on the rehearsal process to members of the public for a work-in-progress showing.
As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Uchizono and her collaborators will be joined by Sophia Wang, contributing writer for Open Space, SFMOMA’s online and live interdisciplinary commissioning platform. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms.
Iron Jane is set to premiere in 2019 at the Chocolate Factory Theater's new facility in Long Island City, Queens NY.