Jess Curtis/Gravity Brings Mixed-Ability Dance to Inkub8

"It's like they're all making dances for a fictional body that none of them have," choreographer Jess Curtis remembers his colleague saying, describing a university dance program he'd just seen. A seed was planted for Curtis to begin Dances for Non/Fictional Bodies, a work of dance, theater, circus, and more, executed by his San Francisco- and Berlin-based mixed-ability performance company. Curtis finds certain forms of dance training -- those that aim to mold practitioners to look and move alike -- to be uninteresting or worse. "These sort of ideals about bodies can be damaging  and disempowering," he says. What does interest him? People's differences and abilities, far beyond the bounds of any dance sensibility.

Jess Curtis/Gravity is holding workshops all week and performs this Friday. Read on for more of this thoughts.

Jess Curtis/Gravity Brings Mixed-Ability Dance to Inkub8
Research for Jess Curtis/Gravity's current work began in costume and

prop warehouses during a residency at the University of California,

Davis, where Curtis is working toward his PhD. He invited his

international company of mature, talented artists to select items to

work with: anything that resonated with their bodies and imaginations.

Improvisations followed on the theme of sincere selves versus fictional

bodies. "What is something you can do that has purpose in the world?"

Curtis asked. "When is your body its least fictional?" For Claire

Cunningham, who uses crutches, it was carrying a bag of groceries to the

third floor of her building.

For Curtis, it was riding a bicycle to

generate electricity to light the stage. Jörg Müller, primarily trained

as a juggler, connected with a mannequin part; "What would you do with a

third arm?" was his premise.

Questions of authenticity permeate the

many layers of performance as action builds. Live music, singing, lip

synching, and karaoke all contribute to the sound score. Bodies

costumed, variously clothed, and in drag create an assortment of selves.

Disrobing strips them down. Curtis addresses perhaps the toughest

question for performers of any ability, as well as civilians everywhere:

"How authentic are we when someone's watching? And how does that make

theater happen immediately?"

Jess Curtis/Gravity's

improvisation-based research process will be taught, discussed, and

performed at Inkub8 (2021 NW First Place, Wynwood, Miami) through January

29. Workshops Monday through Wednesday, 6 to 7:30 p.m. (call 305-310-8080); discussion with Jess Curtis on Wednesday, 8 p.m.; concerts Friday

and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or at; cost is $25 general, $18 for students/seniors.

--Emily Hite,

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