We’re happy to post our program notes for the upcoming performances of Stephen Petronio Company. Read at your leisure, at least this way you won’t need to use your mobile phone as a flashlight.
NOTE FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
MAKE A LITTLE HISTORY WITH US — These performances at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago mark the first full incarnation of Bloodlines, a new project of Stephen Petronio Company to honor and curate a lineage of American postmodern dance masters who have inspired so many through their work. These artists have also had a profound impact on my own artistic path. Over the next five years, the Company plans to bring works by Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and others into our repertory. These artists are distinguished for creating original languages that embody the highest level of artistic excellence displayed through extreme physical and conceptual rigor.
I find myself in a unique position as a living and working artist with a company of over 30 years, born from the inquiry of this generational movement, as well as being a participant in it through my early dancing with Trisha Brown. This moment is one of expansion and inclusion for Stephen Petronio Company. We bring these works to you with a possibility of renewed life, while there is still access to dancers and collaborators that were personally connected to and deeply invested in these unique artists.
We have launched Bloodlines with Merce Cunningham’s iconic RainForest (1968) and Trisha Brown’s proscenium masterpiece, Glacial Decoy (1979). I chose to begin with Merce, not really because I consider him a postmodernist, but because I believe it all began with his quiet, revolutionary contribution to contemporary movement thought. Through his succinct and uncompromising art making, stripped down to the purest of forms, a generation was set loose and changed irrevocably.
Trisha Brown, a postmodern giant, is also my esteemed mentor. I entered her company as a young dancer just as she was completing Glacial Decoy. Since it was her last all female work, and I was the first male in the company, I spent many hours watching it rehearsed and performed in those early formative days of my career, wishing I could embody it. The work left a profound impact on my young mind, and it is my great honor to include this work on this program tonight
Inherent in Bloodlines is the desire to continue and deepen my own art-making in reflection of my predecessors. What teachers these two continue to be. My new Non Locomotor is a meditation on the contrast between hurling energy through space and transiting energy on pathways torquing deep within the confines of the body.
The team of Michael Volpe, aka Clams Casino (music), Ken Tabachnick (light), and Narciso Rodriguez (costumes) has been a particular joy, as much due to their giant contributions to this work as to the effortless grace that each of these creative men possess. And how better to complete the cycle of 30 years than with music made by one of my own family members, my cousin Michael, who has been watching my work his whole life? Bloodlines indeed.
— Stephen Petronio