The Matter of Origins

Conceived and Directed by Liz Lerman

Dance Exchange in The Matter of Origins. Photo by Jaclyn Borowski.

Dance Exchange in The Matter of Origins. Photo by Jaclyn Borowski.

“This hour-long contemplation of the universe is a work of expansive range, emotional depth and singular beauty.” — Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post

The Matter of Origins combines choreography, media, and conversation. Created by Liz Lerman, it addresses the physics and philosophy of beginnings, and probes into the mind’s capacity to discover and comprehend the workings of matter at vast extremes of scale, from the quantum to the cosmic. Following a stage performance that constitutes the work’s Act One, the audience moves to nearby venue to for the innovative Act Two Tea, which serves up cake and conversation, prompted by a postmodern floor show of dance and hand-held media.

Liz Lerman describes the impetus behind her newest work in these words:
The Matter of Origins is about the origin of matter. But it’s also about how we perceive beginnings, discover them, think about them. It’s about speculation. It’s about how the human mind flips and stretches to comprehend things that are incredibly small, large, fast, or far beyond the categories of known experience. I suppose The Matter of Origins is a dance about a very big topic, but I also think of it as something more intimate and approachable, a meditation on the poetry of the mind.

Dance Exchange in The Matter of Origins by Jaclyn Borowski

Dance Exchange in The Matter of Origins by Jaclyn Borowski

The Matter of Origins’ distinctive Act Two Tea has been staged by presenters in a variety of venues, including the theater lobby, rehearsal rooms, and the stage itself. The cast for Tea includes up to 60 student/community dancers who act as servers help create a 360-degree performance experience. An equal number of “provocateurs” – artists, scientists, and other thinkers –preside at the tables and facilitate the conversations structured into the Tea. The chocolate cake served at the tea is the original recipe of Edith Warner, the Los Alamos local who was hired by J. Robert Oppenheimer to serve meals to the physicists who developed the first atom bomb during World War II.

The Matter of Origins was co-commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland and Montclair State University with generous support from the National Science Foundation. It will be presented at Museum of Contemporary Arts in Chicago in Fall 2011.

For booking information for The Matter of Origin, contact partnerships@danceexchange.org.