Miami-based choreographer Pioneer Winter and visual artist Jared Sharon have invited us all to a “crazy space pirate Mean Girls and an operatic cyborg-like ship mixed with film projection, contemporary dance and extreme beauty regimens.” This new project, Sirens in Space, premiers on Thursday at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium’s versatile On.Stage Blackbox Theater. And If Winter and Sharon’s past work is any indication, Sirens in Space will be one of the more creative projects of Miami’s spring performance season.
Winter made his first mark as a choreographer on the Miami dance scene with a project titled Phallusy in 2011 at the Arsht Center’s Miami Made group show. Later that year, his first collaboration with Sharon, 42: A Stonewall Prospective, was presented to great acclaim at the Bass Museum. For these two collectively and individually, the last few years have yielded much: a dance school and performance space named Miami Dance Studio/ RIFT blackbox theater, further creative genre-bending performance work, and a series of outreach efforts including the site-specific performance initiative Grass Stains. Of particular interest and impact for the Miami community, Grass Stains is an opportunity for local artists to explore the possibilities of site-specific work with the support of significant funding and the creative guidance of a mentor.
Now, back to Winter and Sharon’s current performance collaboration, Sirens in Space. While the details of the project are still largely a guarded secret, Winter and Sharon offered some hints about their ideas and creative processes. For starters, they promise, it isn’t very cerebral. “There’s no overt social message, we wanted to have some fun.” And the underlying theme, when they are asked to state it, is dating. They describe Sirens in Space as “an outsider’s view of a dynamic of contemporary women.” The main characters aren’t exactly women, they are female aliens being guided through space by a consciousness they call “the Positronic Brain.”
The storyline is meant to operate beyond gender or sexual orientation. This distinction seems important to both artists. They often layer some form of “queering” into their work as a way to sidestep binary and hetero-normative categories, or as Sharon alternately describes it, “not having strict parameters imposed on anything.” In the case of the aliens in Sirens in Space, “that needing, searching for something is a very human trait.”
The creative dynamic between Sharon and Winter seems to be animated by a gap between their separate perspectives. Sharon was raised in an environment of traditional art, and he now describes his practice alternately as transmedia, or multi-platform storytelling. The idea is to allow the audience to receive the message in multiple forms simultaneously.
In a transmedia work, he says, there is a marriage between media, so no boundaries are drawn between different types of media that make up the work. “We’ve all exhausted each individual medium.” And, he says, “there’s no real reason to stay within those boundaries… it’s just not the way I think.”
Conversely, Winter — coming primarily to the project as a dancer and choreographer — finds the boundaries of his form to be productive for creativity. “I don’t think I’ve exhausted the possibilities,” he says. “Restriction births something interesting; when there are too many options, it’s not legible anymore.”
While they certainly seem to respect each other creatively, they are not necessarily coming at Sirens in Space from the same angle. There is a syncopated rhythm between them. This is no doubt a generating force, and the blend of media produces necessities that might not be present with either artist working alone. Structurally, for example, Sirens in Space has largely been determined by the length of the musical score (48 minutes long).
“That’s the complete opposite of what a choreographer does, but storyline-wise, the music is important,” says Winter. Sharon interjects, “in some ways, a visual artist is a wrench in the system.” But, he continues, “we level each other out.”
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Together, Winter and Sharon are following a highly improvisational creative process whose product has yet to be revealed. Most likely, Sirens in Space will be in the works right up until show time.
– Catherine Annie Hollingsworth, artburstmiami.com
Sirens in Space from Pioneer Winter and Jared Sharon, Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the Miami Dade County Auditorium On.Stage Black Box Theater, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami. General admission $20, discounted tickets for students, senior and groups $15.