TBA 2011: First news

Curator Cathy Edwards says “cults, demigods, proselytizing, and fracturing” are the themes for this year’s dynamic September festival of dance, music and, and uncategorizable performance and visual art.

By Randy Gragg March 3, 2011


The first trickle of news about this year’s TBA festival arrived last week during conversations with curators Cathy Edwards, gearing up for her third and final year as guest curator, and Kristan Kennedy, visual arts curator. Both are still making the hard choices, but here’s a sneak peak at few things they have decided on:

One of the rising talents of the New York dance world, Kyle Abraham will present both his ensemble choreography and one of his celebrated solo works. Writing about his solo, "Brick,” at the Dance Theatre Workshop, New York Times critic Claudia La Rocco described his compelling mix of images from Kara Walker’s dynamic cutouts and 17th-century Japanese prints as offering “a swagger that paradoxically denied and laid bare a core of throbbing hurt.”

Edwards is also cuing French Algerian choreographer Rachid Ouramdane’s “Ordinary Witness,” which PICA will bring on an American tour with the Wexner Center. “Rashid’s work is political—but not in the American sense,” says Edwards. “He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. The work is deep and meditative and amazingly beautiful.”

Finally, Edwards plans to bring back a performer Portland has particularly embraced, Mike Daisey , to present his epic “All the Hours in the Day,” as the name suggests, 24 hours of straight performance. Daisey’s Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs wowed many audiences last year (though, it should be noted, some found it inspiring in moments, but also grating, self-indulgent, and long). Edwards is still figuring out exactly how PICA will present this round-the-clock endurance work. “It’s really a series of monologues specific to each hour of the day and linked globally,” says Edwards. “He follows an idea as it ricochets around the world.”

Since TBA’s visual arts exhibits are often installations developed specifically for the festival, Kennedy may know some of the artists, but what they’ll make is still vague. New Yorker Kate Gilmore, she says, will create something “about building and conquering something—endurance—strange logic and color.” Jesse Sugarmann , of the Springfield-based collective Ditch Projects will reportedly mount a piece “in which he uses air mattresses to topple cars—each one slowly blowing up and creating an anti-climatic crash.” And Patrick Rock, ringleader of the North Portland gallery Rocksbox has proposed “a new giant jump room—part carnival, part sculpture.”

Kennedy adds that she’s taking a chunk of inspiration from the idea of “a brick”—as both foundation and weapon—“the cobblestones pulled from the Paris streets in May of ’68.” Edwards says no theme has yet emerged for her, but “I’ve been thinking about cults, demigods, proselytizing, and fractioning—words like that.” Asked if TBA Central will still be the incredibly well-fitting Washington High School, Edwards and TBA communications director Patrick Leonard both held up crossed fingers. The full festival line-up will be announced at the Tada Ball, April 23.

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