Keening, Healing, and Home

This weekend I got to see Karen Sherman’s new work, One with Others, at Dance Place and was reminded how nice it is to see work by choreographers coming from outside of DC. It was refreshing to hear the sources that are fueling her work and the questions she’s wrestling with in her practice, and to think about how those are connected to things that are percolating in DC. It was also thought-provoking to see new bodies and movement vocabularies.

There’s another great chance to see out-of-town artists on the rise performing in DC. Nicole Touzien and iele paloumpis are both based in New York and will be sharing works in progress at Dance Exchange on Thursday, May 2 as part of our HOME series.

I’m super-excited about presenting these artists in our space and asked them both to share a little bit about the work they’ll be showing and sharing on May 2. Each choreographer will have an hour to show work and then have a discussion, moderated by Kelly Bond, and we would love to have you join.

iele recently presented a Studio Series residency at New York Live Arts. They writes that “I’m interested in the remnants of physical and emotional trauma on our bodies – what is visible or invisible but still felt? I’m also interested in the ways we heal ourselves – through ritual and science and the magical nature of it all.”

Iele Paloumpis

At Dance Exchange, iele will be showing an excerpt of Keening, a new work in progress that began at New York Live Arts and in this showing will be a duet between iele and their collaborator, vocalist Joanna Groom. iele explains that “the act of keening is a combination of weeping and singing. It is most often a lament for the dead. In Irish mythology, keening is said to have been invented by the goddess Brighid as she witnessed the death of her son. I’m interested in the duality and complexity within this action.”

“Having been raised by a disabled parent facing ableism, abuse and resulting poverty – I think a lot about disability justice, survivorhood and classism in relation to dance and the work that I do. Ideas exploring body politics and artistic self-empowerment have become central to my practice as I come into my own identity as a disabled, trans/queer dance artist.”

Nicole will be showing part of her current project, Feels Like Home. She started her process by carrying an antique suitcase given to her by a resident artist in Paonia, Colorado around the town and asking for contributions relating to people’s conceptions of home. Since then, she’s been asking online contributors to share pieces of home with her.

Nicole Touzien

“The choreography and scores are inspired by photos, videos, text, physical artifacts, my own personal writing, and discussions with others regarding the broad concept of home. I’m excited by what I’ve been receiving. Most of these pieces of home are in some way nostalgic, looking back to past memories and most often surrounding one’s nuclear family. Others deal with constructs of home, or look at the body and lived experience as home. What I’ll be showing is the first draft of sourcing these shared expressions and interpretations of the theme.”

What does it mean to physicalize home? How do we avoid the traps of nostalgia? What if your home disappears? What does home mean for a transient New York City resident? (equally topical in transient DC!) These are some of the questions that Nicole will be addressing in her project and at the Dance Exchange.

Event details:
Dance Exchange
7117 Maple Avenue
Takoma Park, MD, 20912
Just a few blocks from the Takoma station, on the Red Line
Thursday, May 2, 7-9pm
$5 suggested donation

(cross posted at Dancers in Dialogue)

About Ellen Chenoweth

Ellen Chenoweth has been with the Dance Exchange since 2009 and is currently Managing Director.