Saturday, January 16, 2016

Got to be real: "Star Crap Method" at American Realness '16

Star Crap Method is Larissa Velez-Jackson’s compositional methodology that complicates and redefines the skill set of the contemporary dancer and functions as an absurd exposé of the inner workings of the dancer in process. Performers Tyler Ashley, Talya Epstein and Larissa Velez-Jackson collectively compose the entire work in real time, including the sound score of live vocals and digital sound. Bessie-award-winning lighting designer Kathy Kaufmann improvises illumination throughout. The work is founded on Velez-Jackson’s improvisational practice that embraces technical brilliance and failure in equal measure, ushering in a form of interdisciplinary creative limitlessness with opportunities for great humor, and vulnerability.
I wanted to start off with that helpful promotional statement for Star Crap Method because if there's anything I'm sure of, it's that dancemaker Larissa Velez-Jackson is precise as heck about how she wants us to understand the power in any given mess. Sharing space with her and Epstein and Ashley yesterday at Abrons Arts Center was a workout, a vicarious exercise in trust and a parallel to the primordial dance of crap from which stars and planets arose.

Introducing Star Crap Method yesterday, Velez-Jackson called it "the complete encapsulation of my artistic identity" and, even more cheekily, "an emerging artist retrospective." It is definitely all about emerging. And what I take away from several hints sprinkled into live, improvised narration is just how much emerging has to do with breaking down.

Doing the thingness of my body. Thingness. One more time: thingness.

There are many people in me. Sometimes I am surprised who comes out front and who is left behind.

 I disintegrate for you....

I like the way Velez-Jackson encourages--no, requires--audiences to contribute to the crap without her being overbearing about it. She makes it fun. I like the way sincerity dances with satire, both partners quite nimble, ultimately inseparable. I like how the rigorous readiness of each of the three performers--their skills and charisma undeniable--supports and activates the rough materials of chaos. Abrons's space looked like what it is for Velez-Jackson and her collaborators: an ongoing workspace, with all manner of mystery debris--including a fourth person, hooded, masked, possibly sleeping--carelessly thrown against walls and into corners. I like that it's okay for us to see that, to give up any attempt to make things make sense and to give ourselves over to the electric flash of the moment, visual and verbal.

American Realness 2016 ends tomorrow, and you can try to get into the last performance of Star Crap Method tomorrow at 5:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Star Crap Method is presented in association with New York Live Arts.

Abrons Arts Center (Experimental Theater)
466 Grand Street (between Pitt and Willett Streets), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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