For Selma

I want to cry but I have no ambition… bedrock… 

A solo for voice, movement, microphone, memory and textile; in conversation with my paternal grandmother, Selma.

April 29, 2022; presented by Issue Project Room at the 14 St. Y tickets

photo by Peter Raper

Supported by Issue Project Room 2022 Artist-In-Residence and School for Contemporary Dance & Thought AXIS/ACESS Residency

Notes on For Selma:

For the past 10 years I have been creating ensemble works that each, in their own way, are abstract renderings of American musical theater. Musicals help us process our feelings and arrive somewhere transformed. A cultural life line for my Jewish family, musicals have historically been a way for us to find pathos and collective catharsis where it was otherwise unavailable. Through my own ensemble works I have slowly etched away at an attachment to sentimentality and constructed nostalgia that masks a larger grief. I want to cry, but I have no ambition. If our vibrations are truly a transformative portal, where am I going?

For Selma is my first evening-length solo performance. It brings together songs from a self-recorded album Ache Higher (2020) with fragments of an interview with my paternal grandmother Selma in 1991. The interview is an archive of her memory, navigating becoming American as a first generation child of Russian Jewish immigrants. It is also an archive of my desire to know, to understand the distance between us. The terrain we explore includes the sprawling bedrock of Mannahatta, the tenement buildings of 1910, and my own reckoning with manifest destiny.

Concurrent with my outward facing artistic practice, I have also been working as a video documentarian for Baryshnikov Arts Center, and am in the process of editing my first documentary film about the dance work of a close friend. I see the convergence of these practices, supporting other artists in archiving their work, as a catalyst for this solo. I am now quite literally turning the focus toward my own history and story.

This solo weaves audio archive with sound and movement practices that I have been developing for years. It features original music, text and movement. Soundscapes are generated live through looping and sampling interviews, broadway musicals, my own breath, voice and pulsing sine waves. These elements are sometimes presented minimally, drawing attention to their elegant banality. Other times, textures weave together to forge moments of transcendent beauty and meaning.