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Vanessa Anspaugh A-men (the first event)

Sunday, August 9, 2015
2:00PM—3:30PM EDT
Bay Beach behind 533 Sail Walk, Fire Island Pines, NY 11702
Merging her latest research on performances of masculinity in a site-based exploration of the shallow waters of Fire Island’s Great South Bay, dancer and choreographer Vanessa Anspaugh (along with collaborators Andrew Kachel, Clara Lopez and devynn emory) conjures queerly religious rituals of containment, holding, and resurrection. Performers and viewers alike navigate this languid, immersive, and aqueous landscape.

I am a dance artist who works through visual, somatic, and conceptual languages in an effort to facilitate emotional, political, and relational dance works. My particular process methodology hinges on a belief that what is going on inside of the room reflects also what is going on outside of the room, in the culture at large. In my processes driven work, I continue to work collaboratively with performers in order to discover how their interests and concerns can be in dialogue with my own interests exploring the complex power relations embedded in a variety of relationships. From the personal, institutional and sociopolitical, I aim to work through questions around control, collaboration, authorship, domination and surrender. At the heart of most all of my research lies investigations in to various structures of power and examines how power lives in and between bodies. From the macro to the micro, many of the questions that surround my work address the myriad relationships that exist in collections of groups and individuals. Currently, my research hopes to subvert the dynamics and/or reverse traditional structures that exist in the dancer choreographer paradigm. In my newest work The End of Men, I direct an all male cast for the first time. Often in contemporary dance, we encounter male choreographers who direct all-female and mixed gender casts, but how often do we see female choreographers directing all male casts? This arrangement implicitly unearths questions of authority and power within creative process and production. It has personal resonance in that I have never worked this way before and it has political resonance in that it aims to provide a rendering of manhood that is decentralized, complex, and new. As such, The End of Men, aims to examine the fact that so often in cultural production, maleness is not understood as a subjective experience, but rather as a universality. This patriarchal stance renders all other subject positions as “other,” and thus residing in ghettoized margins. The End of Men aims to disrupt this centralized and consolidating phenomenon and runs counter to “maleness as universal truth” in that it works to reveal masculinity as just another framework, amongst many. This work is both an exploration and a construction of masculinity from a marginal positionality, thus forcing masculinity to separate itself from its compulsion to be interpreted as Truth.