Visible Structures is a trilogy of dance works examining the age-old story of the hero’s journey as a historical construction and pop-culture phenomenon. Drawing from research into heroic and emergent leader narrative films (like “Ender’s Game” and “The Matrix”), personal experiences, and Joseph Campbell’s book “Hero with a Thousand Faces”, the work presents the status quo of the story and deconstructs the conceptual frameworks within it.
Dynamic momentum-based phrasing propels dancers through narrative structures, power struggles, and oppressive systems. Shifting between choreographically predetermined outcomes and actual free-for-all competition, dancers struggle with each other and vie for attention from the audience.
Katherine Kiefer Stark's choreography is complemented with unique lighting and environmental design along with a sound score of movie soundtracks and original music composed by Andy Thierauf.
Featuring eight dancers and three unique Episodes, Visible Structures takes the audience on a journey and begs the question: Is this the story we want to keep telling?
Development of the work began in 2015 with support from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
Stark lead an open to the public company movement practice January through June at Mascher Space Cooperative. Movement practice was followed by rehearsals, with Sean Thomas Boyt, Leanne Grieger, Meredith Stapleton, and Megan Stern that dove into physical investigations of leadership, heroism, and cinematic effects.
On March 21 we shared some initial movement ideas and did some experiments with audience participation at our annual friendraiser / fundraiser Meet The Naked Stark.
On June 3rd we held a showing of our material at Mascher. We chose an unconventional format, weaving together short movement segments and conversations with our audience as well as including the audience in leadership movement games.
In addition to movement investigation, we conducted interviews with 15 Philadelphian's. Asking questions like, "Many of our fictional heroes choose to act anonymously under a pseudonym Superman, Spiderman, Batman, X-Men (?), or choose positions where they are unknown to the general public whom they are serving James Bond, Mission Impossible (main character?) - Is it brave to be unknown? Is it selfish?"
In the winter of 2015, we narrowed the scope of the work, focusing on the hero's journey within a system of oppression.
This first investigation lead to the creation of a short work, Encounters. Stark rehearsed with Sean Thomas Boyt, Leanne Grieger, and Megan Stern to develop the material, which Boyt and Grieger performed in the Nice & Fresh series and at Bryn Mawr College's Faculty Concert.
We continued to develop the work through a free and open to the public week long workshop/audition in March 2016.
We started the week with a pot-luck and theme relevant movie, HERO. The week continued with release-based movement practice, partnering work, improvisation, movement manipulation, discussions and culminated in an informal showing of the material we created followed by a participants dinner.
We were thrilled to work with 20 dancers over the course of the week with a wide variety of movement experiences. 15 of the participants were able to join us for an informal showing on March 11.
The One, The Other One, & The Many, an evening length work in the FringeArts Festival at Mascher Space Cooperative, September 10th-16th, 2016!
The work presents a physical narrative of a hero's journey, using cinematic structures and techniques to create quickly shifting perspectives with a cast of ten dancers whose roles vary form being members of a group to serving as invisible threads assisting the lead character.
It is the first work of a trilogy. More to come Spring 2017!