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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

can you can you: Jerron Herman and Molly Joyce at Danspace Project

Jerron Herman and Molly Joyce
in Breaking and Entering at Danspace Project
In deep background below: ASL Interpreter Kathleen D.Taylor
(photos: Ian Douglas)


Breaking and Entering
by Jerron Herman and Molly Joyce
at Danspace Project
November 12, 15-16

Breaking and Entering, a collaboration between two well-regarded disabled artists--Jerron Herman and Molly Joyce--creates an intriguing relationship among its players and with its audience. Early on, we're introduced to American Sign Language Interpreter Kathleen D. Taylor whose signing rings with a robust, dancer-ly flow.

Uh-oh, I thought at first sight of her hands in motion, knowing all too well my tendency to gaze long at ASL interpreters whose particular style draws me in. What if I look at Taylor and miss important things that Herman might be doing?

No chance of that, really, since Herman is not exactly someone you can miss. Moreover--and curiously--Taylor soon gets relegated to deep backdrop, removed to the upper reaches of St. Mark's Church's altar steps for the rest of the piece. Thinking back on that now, I realize that distancing, blurring any initial, vivid connection to Taylor, might be by complicating design.

The words accompanying the work's three movements--entitled "Compliance," "Defiance" and "Emergence"--suggest a negotiated relationship with others, perhaps with viewers, perhaps with parts of the performers' own bodies.

Herman, who bills himself as "an interdisciplinary artist, primarily working in dance," is a snazzy performer with hemiplegic cerebral palsy which has caused him to devise ways to work balance and propulsion differently. His energy in the space is wrenching, surprising and always thrilling. Composer/musician Joyce, disabled in an accident, often moves with Herman, sings high and sweet, and plays a vintage toy piano set up in the middle distance between far-off Taylor and the audience. Their textures are so different, they make me think of their performance space as a painting canvas generous enough to make room, at once, for the roughest impasto and a silky brush.

The evening ends in an invitation to the audience to join the artists on the floor and dance to a DJ's fifteen-minute set. Disability activist and scholar Kevin Gotkin dj'ed last evening; Michael Hammond and JIJI will do the honors on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Text: Marco Grosse, Molly Joyce, Jerron Herman
Sound: Michael Hammon
Costumes: Gerald and Cynthia Herman

Breaking and Entering continues with performances this Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 16, at 8pm. Besides ASL interpretation, audio description is also provide for each performance. Each concludes with a fifteen-minute dance party for the artists and audience. For information and tickets, click here.

Danspace Project
131 East 10th Street (and Second Avenue), Manhattan

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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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