NEEDLES TO THREAD
The Latest Update
Excerpt from Theresa Wong’s Soundscore
Theresa worked with the oral history interview of Tina Chen, former garment worker and presently a union organizer, to create this score.
Photo of FInale
photo of Austin Forbord
pictured: Karla Quintero, Marystarr Hope and Alayna Stroud
PHOTO OF VERTICAL ASSEMBLY LINE
photo by Austin Forbord
pictured from top: Yayoi Kambara, Quilet Rarang, Marina Fukushima
photos from Needles to Thread: Dancing Along These Lines
photos by Austin Forbord
pictured: Marystarr Hope and Karla Quintero
Director’s Note in the Program
Statement from the Director:
“The Alleys are tough.” This is the consensus here in the Tenderloin, among the Community Benefit District staff, the SF Clean City folks, the needle exchange workers, the Department of Public Health, and the businesses that surround the alleys. Our first day in this alley brought us feces splattered on the walls, blood on the ground, a litter of needles, the stench of urine seeping up, and a woman using the curb as a couch, collecting old needles off the ground and tucking them into her bag.
Still, I have invited you here this evening to enhance the dialogue about who lives among us, and who has and does not have. Continuum Alley is bordered by a labor hall, a tech company, and neighborhood housing. It runs near an active sweatshop, just down the block and across the street on Golden Gate.
This performance is about shifting the lens in the Tenderloin, away from syringes and piss to excavating the meaningful history that resides here. That history resonates in the present, as San Francisco faces a growing crisis of class divisions, weighted all the more against women.
Gaining strength after the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union chartered the Chinese Ladies Garment Workers to bring Chinese workers standards up to those gained in other factories in the city. In 1937, their focus was the National Dollar Store. The strike and subsequent activism had far reaching consequences for the garment industry and for breaking the color barrier in other businesses in the city. NEEDLES TO THREAD stitches together this rich history and ties it to a need to attend to wage insecurity for women in the U.S. and internationally.
As reported by the Nation Magazine this September 11th, 2015: “Although we periodically hear about “sweatshops” in some dilapidated compound in Bangladesh, some factories on US soil still operate in the same mold as the famously doomed Triangle Shirtwaist factory, which helped spark the industrial union movement a century ago. Today, everywhere, clothes are still sewn by women stuffed into hazard-prone buildings, chronically overstressed and underpaid…”
Clothes Lines. Class Lines. Color Lines. Gender Lines.
This performance completes a trilogy I started in 2012, with a shifting focus from coastal poverty to housing security for older women to the economic heart of income distribution. My hope tonight is to illuminate the vulnerability of women who have lived with chronic wage insecurity because of their work in the garment industry, and to affirm ways out of that vulnerability.
ALONG THESE LINES
We have expanded the title and sent out our first press release…
This fall Jo Kreiter’s Flyaway Productions unveils the third and final installment in its trilogy about urban poverty that began in 2012 with the award-winning Niagara Falling. Titled Needles to Thread: Dancing Along These Lines in Continuum Alley, Kreiter’s newest site-specific aerial dance takes on the issue of wage security for women through the story of San Francisco’s garment workers past and present. Presented in partnership with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Needles to Thread includes a commissioned score by Theresa Wong, set and rigging design by Sean Riley, lighting design by Matthew Antaky and costumes by Miranda Caroligne. Needles to Thread runs for 12 performances Thursday to Saturday, October 1 – 10, in San Francisco’s Continuum Alley located at the intersection of Dale Place and 255 Golden Gate Avenue. This is a free event.
NEEDLES TO THREAD is a site-specific dance in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, featuring the off the ground artistry of Flyaway Productions. The project focuses on wage security for women and will illuminate the issue via an exposition of garment workers, as SF hosts a rich history of organizing to better support the women who make our clothes. The project takes place in and above Continuum Alley, bordered by a labor hall, a tech company, and an active sweat shop. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will present 10 free performances of “Along These Lines” in Fall 2015. Key collaborators are composer Theresa Wong and visual designer Sean Riley. This is our first collaboration with Ms Wong. Community partners are the Labor Archives and Research Center of SF State and the North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefit District. With the alley as performance site, we will rig clotheslines that can be load bearing and support an expressive, spectacular set of actions by dancers. The choreography will hone in on effort and endurance. With innovative sets, sound and movement invention we will activate the roofs, walls and fire escapes of the alley, bringing the act of clothes making to new artistic depth. We will feature the clothesline as a female domestic icon, a tool for incidental communication between neighbors, and as a means to advance a narrative about women, work, the clothes they make and the lives we dignify while living inside of our clothes. Ms. Wong will use cello, electroinc sampling and oral history interviews to create the soundscore. She will also perform live.
Kreiter is stirred, personally and politically, by what journalist Chris Hedges calls the disease of empire; the vastly inequitable distribution of resources in our country and the subsequent creation of a serious rift in our social and economic fabric. She has envisioned a trilogy of public art pieces that speaks to this issue. In 2012, She created “Niagara Falling,” a site-specific dance integrating human flight and documentary film on the West Wall of the Renoir Hotel in Central Market. Winning several significant awards, the piece exposed urban decay and renewal in two cities on two different American coasts. This September, She premiered “Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane” on an 80 foot wall in the Tenderloin, donated by UC Hastings College of the Law. The project ramped up the feminist lens on this issue and focused on the experience of older homeless women in San Francisco, whose population has grown dramatically in the last 20 years. “Along These Lines” completes the trilogy, with a shift to the economic heart of income distribution. The project will illuminate for a broad and diverse audience the vulnerability of women who live or have lived with chronic wage insecurity. Focusing on garment workers, she will illuminate the struggles of a historically female, immigrant and exploited work force and honor their efforts for labor justice. Because SF has a rich history of labor organizing, she welcomes the opportunity to make visible the often hidden women who make our clothes.
Artists: Jo Kreiter/ director & choreographer, David and HiJin Hodge/film makers, Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi/composers, Flyaway Dancers
Site specific work in the Central Market Neighborhood of SF. Like the proposed project, this dance focuses on aspects of urban poverty, though here we have worked with documentary film and have looked through a national lens, exposing the stories of 6th Street/SF & Old Falls St/Niagara Falls. The project features apparatus-based dance on a 100 foot wall and an original commission of the soundscore.
Artists: Jo Kreiter (director and choreographer), Flyaway Productions’ artistic team, Pamela Z (composer), Tradeswomen Inc (community partner).
Focuses on contemporary women who are not typically heard from (in this case women who built the Bay Area’s bridges), using the tools of aerial and site specific dance. Highlights our relationship to labor history in the creation of context, an original soundscore and choreography.
Recent Review in the Huffington Post, of Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane. This is the second in our trilogy about urban poverty, exposing the rise of older women among our nation’s homeless population. It premiered September 2014. This was also a site specific piece of public art on an outdoor wall in the Tenderloin, SF.
Artists: Jo Kreiter (director and choreographer), Flyaway Productions’ artistic team, Pamela Z (composer), Rose Aguilar/journalist, UC Hastings and Episcopal Community Services/community partners
Start and End Dates
10/02/2015 — 11/02/2015
San Francisco, California