Funsch Dance’s extended-length work, EPOCH, subverts conventional performance models by pushing the limits of duration. In cheeky defiance of modern dance pioneer Doris Humphrey’s warning “All dances are too long,” EPOCH unfolds over 12 hours, with 12 performers, in a gratuitous surplus of movement, interrupted by moments of nothingness. Challenging the glorification of acquisition and excess, EPOCH argues instead for “unproductivity” and the transformative potential of time. The performance features an original score by San Francisco-based composer Cheryl E. Leonard, who will create an installation of found-object musical instruments that is played and dismantled over the duration of the performance. EPOCH premieres from 12 PM March 7, 2020 to 12 AM March 8, 2020 at ODC Theater in San Francisco.
EPOCH is organized into three sections: Before, During, and After. Both Before and After are five hours in length. In these two sections, a 2.5 hour composition that forms the core of EPOCH is performed twice with different casts of dancers. EPOCH starts with the full 12 dancers, then fractures into smaller groupings. The movement vocabulary of the larger ensembles is marked by linear formalism performed in tight unison; this cracks apart into softer, somatic-driven vocabularies in smaller groupings and culminating solos. Leonard’s score tracks the breakdown of movement vocabulary through changes in instrumentation and musical structure. Lining the perimeter of the stage, at once containing and revealing the choreography, Leonard’s instruments are initially comprised of motorcycle sprockets, circular saw blades, and coins. These metallic, fabricated objects are systematically deconstructed over the course of the 12-hour performance and replaced with natural materials including driftwood, eucalyptus bark, stones, and water. This transformation from manmade to natural parallels the compositional metamorphosis from dense and mechanized to spacious and organic expressed in both movement and sound.
The central During section highlights the subversive potential of “nothingness.” The audience is invited to sit or lie with the performers for 30 minutes in silent stillness. During also includes a panel discussion on durational performance as a means to subvert capitalist tenets. Panelists will include feminist dance scholars Janice Ross, Peggy Phelan, and Norma Paz Garcia, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA).
EPOCH will have two free in-progress performances: at Live Worms Gallery (June 2019), and EXIT Theatre (October 2019). Funsch will host a “playshop” the day before EPOCH’s premiere, in which participants can create their own sounds with Leonard’s instruments and run compositional experiments on EPOCH repertory. The “playshop” will target dance professionals of all ages, plus MEDA clients.
Funsch continues to enact her politics with multigenerational casting; EPOCH deepens her commitment to collaborating with other women artists. For Leonard, after years of working primarily with natural sounds and materials, this is an invitation to widen her palette to include more man-made sound sources. Leonard’s recent work has focused on environmental issues; EPOCH marks her return to addressing social/political issues more broadly. Both artists appreciate the opportunity EPOCH offers to explore and manipulate perceptions of time.
Please view from 31 minutes
Premiered: April 5-7, 2018, ODC Theater, SF
Choreography by Christy Funsch
Performances by Funsch; Chris Black, Laura Elaine Ellis, Aura Fischbeck, Nina Haft, Chinchin Hsu, Courtney Moreno
Music composed by Gretchen Jude, performed by Jude, Kevin Corcoran, Amy Reed
MSDM marked FD’s 15th Anniversary. The full-length works pays homage to the “CA Dancing Girls,” one of the first all-women dance companies in the Bay Area (1913-20). This excerpt shows how I direct ensemble performance supported by original, live music.
View from 1:42 for an excerpt
Instrument, composition, and performance by Cheryl E. Leonard
Commissioned by Hope Mohr Dance for Bridge Project 2016: Ten Artists Respond to Locus
Asterisms (2016) is an example of how I develop work inspired by dance. My instrument, method of composing, musical motives, and overall structure were all created in response to Trisha Brown’s iconic dance Locus. Drawing on Locus’s spatially-motivated aleatoric structure, I mapped words to compass points and diagrams. These became scores for navigating music.
Start and End Dates
03/05/2020 — 03/07/2020
San Francisco, California