Renée Rhodes Performance at NorCal Performance Platform

The view from the rooftop of San Francisco Art Institute / Photo by Amos Cass
Renée Rhodes is a Bay Area artist who is obsessed with maps. She has taught me the value of what it means to understand a map, and has giving me a chance to create a relationship that is both abstract and internal/personal when it comes to mapping in my physical and metaphorical world. 

The wonderful thing about Renée's obsession is the idea behind mapping can be interpreted in so many different ways. It can be applied to spaces/locations, the directive/instructional motion towards a goal, exploration within a physical and metaphorical landscape, collaboration with other explorers, and it can even give you an intimate look at dislocation, which is something we explored in her performance art piece on March 28, 2014.
Photo by Amos B. Cass
In this performance, Renée laid out four sets of exercises on the rooftop of San Francisco Art Institute during a symposium art performance showing. The event was being administered all throughout the campus. So you could very well be on the rooftop watching us making structures with blankets, while at the same time leaning over the balcony to listen to a spoken word performance happening on the lower level. Artists performed all at once, which made the experience really memorable; that is, memorable for me who was trying really hard not to perform but to live in the moment of this communal experience of a movement exercise. 
Photo by Amos B. Cass
We played games that involved spinning and finding a partners hands with our eyes closed. We built homes out of blankets, strings, and body parts. We ate dinner, told stories, and drank wine while passing notes as audience members watched from a distance. The final score involved hand gestures and signaling to others through Upper-Lower movements, using distal ends and mid-limbs (hands and elbows specifically) to be the major motivation for torso movement. 

The last score gave us permission to spread across the space and play with the architectural elements around us. Not to mention that there was a gentleman in the first floor performing a spoken word art installment about statues, which I have to say inspired/influenced some of my movement quality.  Our bodies morphing with shared gestures from one person to the next. We all got to lead and share movement within the community. 

Photo by Amos B. Cass

This is the second time I perform for Renée, and I have learned a little more about her work since the first time I got the chance to dance in her piece, Navigating in a Whiteout. Watching her give directions, I feel like she values the individual as they move and maneuver through space. Also, she has led me to explore parts of my body that is affected by architecture, natural elements, and environments (in terms of performing with many audience members or performing with one person present).  Renée is very clear about her goals in her dance pieces, yet she always leaves space for inquiry and tries things on that others suggest in the space. If she provides choreography, she is specific but (again) open to suggestion. Overall, her love for mapping has a way of living within the body and outside of it too.

I invite you to check out her website and see her work. I find her work very interesting because it reminds me about being foreign to new spaces, and what that experience can do to the body.

Photo by Amos B. Cass

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