Jill: So we were talking a little on the way over about
the evolution of Future Species 2... how did that start? Was
there one kernel that it grew from?
Jodi: Future Species is a culmination of two years
of our experimentation and production. We got fed up with doing showcases,
and doing a piece here and a piece there, and not having control over
the whole evening's experience. We really didn't want our work to be
compromised by what came before and after it... we just felt like we
wanted to create a full experience. It was the next step for our group,
to take on the challenge of a longer piece.
We created an arrangement based on the piece that we'd
worked with Jeremy on, BreathTank, which was a 20-minute work,
and it was really the seminal piece. It set the aesthetic for Capacitor.
And it was Zack's idea (Zack Bernstein, one of Capacitor's founding
members), actually, to take BreathTank and to cut it in half
to make it bookends for the whole evening, to have it start there with
the breath, travel through all the other phases, and to end in the breath,
which is this sort of the sleep/dream state... to have it return.
That was a cross-country collaborative issue, because
Jeremy's over there in New York saying "What? You want to do what
to my score? You want to cut my piece in half, and you actually want
me to do the cutting and to send you the CD?" (she laughs). After
lots of back-and-forth, Jeremy gave in and let us do it. So that was
Future Species 1.
After that piece, I heard everybody's feedback, and the
main criticism was that it didn't feel cohesive enough. My sister is
a modern dancer, and her feeling was that starting with BreathTank
was asking the audience to do a lot. It was asking the audience to drop
down to a really deep place really fast, and the audience wasn't doing
that... wasn't able to do that.
Afterwards, I would ask people, "What was your favorite
piece? What stood out to you? What really worked, what do you remember?"
And they weren't saying BreathTank. And I thought, in the past,
BreathTank has been everyone's favorite. What are we doing wrong?
So it made sense to me that when you're coming off the street, you've
got to take people down in stages. Start with something that's high-powered
and on street level, and then take them places they wouldn't otherwise
go. And I feel and the performers feel it too like we're
taking a journey with the audience each night, and that's pretty interesting.
It keeps changing.
One of the things that I found really interesting about
the whole show is this integration of biology, this sort of physicality
obviously, dance is physical, but there's something medical,
almost clinical about certain parts of it. It's a little creepy... you're
thinking of blood, and spit, and bodily fluids, and hearing this sort
of wheezing sound... I'm not sure did I hear that, or was I just
feeling that? How does that fit in with your exploration of technology?
Jodi: What's really exciting to me right now, is how do
humans assimilate all of this technology into their experience and still
be animals? And that, yeah, we have all of these cool DSL lines and
all these great graphics and web sites, and fast connections, and neon
Jeremy: We operate more and more on the level of the mind,
and never deal with the body.
Jodi: Yeah. So what happens to the body? How does the
body cope with that technology? And where do they meet? I think that
because I also do graphic design, from my personal experience, that's
where a lot of that is coming from... the forgotten digestive tract,
or the diaphragmatic breathing that we can totally bypass by being so
visual and so cranial.
Jill: I would also say that one of the things I really
liked about the show was the fact that I could go home and think about
it later... think about it analytically. So, is the intellectual aspect
of your work conscious? Is that...
Jeremy: That's Jodi that's the way she is. (Jodi
Jodi: I think there's truth in that. I think that people
end up creating work that they can't help but create, so if you're a
and I think I'm a cranial person... I like to analyze
things and break things down, and at the same time, I really need to
be a physical person to balance myself out. I'll go a little crazy if
I don't work out enough I'll go nuts because without that balance,
I'm top-heavy or something. I think more than I actually should, for
my health (she laughs).
Jill: (to Jeremy) And are you the same way?
Jodi: He's pretty cranial.
Jeremy: I'm always oscillating back and forth between
trying to analyze everything and feeling... feeling everything in the
Jodi: His most recent vigorous yoga practice...
Jeremy: Yeah, right, it's made me extremely conscious
of my body; it's made me aware of the fact that my mental processes
are directly influenced by my body, that my emotions are somehow contained
in my muscles... like doing a really deep stretch, and having emotions
come out of it, like laughing, or starting to cry. It's a really interesting
experience. I've heard dancers talk about that before, but it wasn't
in my direct experience until recently.
Jill: I was also thinking of the introduction to Future
Species 2 where that woman in the white dress leads the audience
through breathing and a sort of visualization exercise...
Jodi: That's actually something I've always done in my
company classes with the dancers, and I've had other teachers do the
same kind of thing deep relaxation exercises before a class starts.
I've often gone to see shows and wished somebody would do that. Just
say "OK, you've parked your car. You've gotten your ticket, now
you're here." So when the show starts, I'm ready for it. Usually,
half the show's over and then I go "Oh yeah. OK. Hello. Where am
I?" And then I start to pay attention. So I think that grows out
of a desire to really craft the audience experience, rather than just
say "Look at us! Look at us! Look at us!"
Jill: What are the other ways you do that in the piece?
Jodi: A lot of choices as far as order and pacing. I mainly
focus on what would excite me at this moment, or what would really surprise
me... it's really intuitive. At the end of BreathTank, when the
UC Men's Choral comes up and starts singing... that feeling of putting
the audience through something that intense, and that chaotic, and that
stressful, then to give them something so soft and pure and simple as
a sigh of relief. Things like that, choices like that thinking
about what the through-line of the entire evening feels like. And of
course, always ending with a fun piece at the end for dessert, you know?
Something that makes everyone feel good that they made it through the
journey... they should get something nice.
Jeremy: I think... that a beautiful form and beautiful
is kind of a tricky word but a form that is meaningful, and can
be integrated into one's own experience, is... I think that if you look
at dance, at music and movies and film, that if you look through all
the arts, or books even, you find universals... universal aspects to
the things that make them great. And I think that the talent in it
I've talked about this a little with Jodi the talent is that
you recognize what those universal aspects are, when you're the artist
trying to create.
But your ego is the problem, it's all these filters you
have in your mind that get in the way of it and destroy it. I think
what I'm saying is that creating a great form is not necessarily the
magic. Certainly there are all sorts of new innovations and tricks that
you can use to go about delivering that form and fleshing it out, but
the important thing is being able to carry through with the form so
that it really comes out.
Jodi and I are talking about doing another collaboration
on a dance piece. With "BreathTank", Jodi ended up giving
me finished choreography, and I worked with that.
Jill: And was that easier?
Jeremy: In some ways it's easier because a lot of choices
have been made already. It's more like being a graphic designer, in
that someone comes to you with a template, and your creative task is
in developing it, fleshing it out. They give you a skeleton and you
model it. So in that way, it was easier, because the form was set. The
form was the duration of the piece, and there were obvious textural
changes going on.
Jodi: I even sent you a spreadsheet, right? Saying "30
seconds of this... transition..."
Jeremy: Well, I asked you to do that, I said "Give
me exact times."
Jodi: I sat there with a stopwatch, "OK, Zack's solo..."
It was very linear, very "Tick, tick, tick."
Jeremy: So, in that way, the form was done, and I didn't
have to take responsibility for it. That's where it gets tricky, as
soon as I have to take responsibility for the form, then I'll think
well, what if this section were a minute longer? And how does the choreographer
know that having an aerialist going off at this point is really the
best thing to do? It's making all of those little decisions, feeling
like you're responsible for the outcome, and if you think of it in terms
of the possibility for failure, and judge yourself harshly, then you
tend to slow the creative process down.
Jill: One of the things that you talk about in the
program for Future Species 2 is using technology as a way to
create a less racially divided society. And of course, here in the Bay
Area, with all of these new IPOs and stock prices going through the
roof, the idea of a society divided by economic class comes to my mind.
So how does that work?
Jodi: Art is a reflection of culture; that's what I think.
Sometimes it can guide culture in a certain direction, but most of the
time, artists create portraits of the culture that's around them. I
think the most pertinent issues facing culture right now are becoming
technological issues, if they aren't already.
As technology becomes more and more of a force and a presence
in human experience, people are going to make up... people already are
creating their own histories and ethnicities. In the US, even if you're
full breed of anything at this time, you're being affected by the cultures
that are right next door, so there are all of these hybrids, as I see
it, cultural hybrids. I think that's very interesting, just on an ethnic
level and a cultural level, there are all these crossovers, but I think
what is becoming the more serious challenge for human culture is the
presence of technology.
And as that takes the forefront, Filipino this, Asian-American
that... that stuff is looking less and less significant to me these
days than say, 10 years ago. Not that it's not significant I
mean, everyone will always have their cultural associations and issues
in the background, but it's getting watered down, just because everyone's
being affected by one another. And I think that technology issues are
ever more present in our lives, they're getting closer to us.
Jill: And does that invasion of technology change the
Jodi: Humans relate? It changes the way humans relate
to their bodies, to each other, and aesthetically... I like playing
around with that. I like images of crawling into it. It's not going
to go anywhere, there's a lot of modern dancers that say, "Oh,
computers are very bad, you're alienating your bodies, where's the human
soul and the human form in today's society? Technology is very bad."
Give it up, you know? It's here. Crawl inside that monitor. Wear the
shit. Put the pixels around your head, you know? Cause it's not going
anywhere. I mean, it's going somewhere... it's becoming more and more
present. It's just not going away. I think that's my reaction to anything
that is that present.
Jeremy: I think you do have a closer mental proximity
to someone in Germany, or someone in Hawaii, or someone in India, with
the presence of technology. Because you can fly there in 16 hours if
you want to go to India, or if you want to exchange a few lines, you
can get on the Internet. Certainly you can get in touch with more people
Jill: Do you think you would have been able to do your
collaboration on BreathTank without technology?
Jeremy: Good point (he laughs). That's the only reason
we were able to make any sort of reasonable schedule across the country
is that we were able to send the information... well, some of it was
Jodi: But most of it was email.
Jeremy: And I ended up sending a file that Jodi got the
next day. It was useful in that regard.
Jill: It mentions on the Capacitor web site that you've
done a lot of performances in clubs, you did a show at Burning Man.
What's that like, compared to doing a piece on a stage?
Jodi: When I first came out here, it was with the intention
of starting a performance group. I started training when I was really
little, you know, 3 years old, and I've always been in the theater.
I came out here, and I was very bored with the theater. Only old people
go to the theater... you know, where's my generation? They're not going
to the theater. The theater is dead... so, if the audience isn't going
to the theater, then I have to go to the audience.
The whole first year, we only performed at clubs and special
events. Our first show was at 1015 Folsom, and then this warehouse space
in Oakland. We just performed in tons of random spaces, we really were
not in the theater loop at all. But then, we got a little frustrated
with that, because people who were organizing the events didn't have
any history in the theater and they didn't have any real desire to accommodate
us technically. It was OK if we weren't going to make a lot of money,
but we at least wanted to have a nice surface, and a few lights, and
that wasn't happening. We were producing good work, and we wanted it
to be seen.
We started with a full evening in our own studio, an intimate
warehouse space. We started with BreathTank, then with Connectivity
and Voltage, going into the theaters in showcases. We got sick
of showcases there were the same people in the audience at each
one. So we thought, let's do our own show, and see if we can reach out
to the audience and have control over the performance, and not have
to depend on club owners and event planners to accommodate us. That's
been interesting. People from the dance world show up and say, "Wow,
I don't see the same people I saw at that other performance." So
I don't know exactly who our audience is, but we're somehow able to
reach a new audience, and we're very pleased with that. It's fairly
diverse, and interesting, and it's been a great experience connecting
with the audience each night. I feel like the performers and the audience
have been sharing an experience, rather than us having an experience
and the audience being the voyeurs, watching us.
Capacitor regularly posts their performance
dates and other information about the company on their web site at http://www.capacitor.org.
You can also sign up for their mailing list at http://www.capacitor.org/contact.htm,
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
Join Jodi and others in the following related
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Edited by Azlan