Performance Research

CSPA Quarterly: Issue 10

768d3b4ae902374c96e1ab8d40db54e4We see our tenth issue of the CSPA Quarterly, this very issue you have in your hands, as an opportunity to renew, refresh, and even rewind a bit. Since our first issue, the CSPA has grown in reputation; we have travelled the world with special projects, have increased our global membership, and have published well over 2,000 posts online highlighting projects, tools and reports in service of sustainability through art making practices. Our Knowledge Network is expanding quickly, and this Quarterly has been a critical tool in sharing information at conferences, in-person meetings, and with our membership.

This issue contains content from contributors who were part of Issue #1, along with a few new perspectives. We have lovingly called this issue 1.0. As an experiment in looking back, we’ve re-published Sam Goldblatt’s comprehensive report on greening events from 2009, which cites the London 2012 Sustainability Plan. We’ll check in on this plan in a later issue this year. We are also re-running a call to action from Thomas Rhodes in this issue- on renewable energies in organizations. Have we progressed as a movement since these two writings were initially published?

We’ve invited updated articles from frequent contributor Meghan Moe Beitiks, now part of a new “performance research collective” based in Chicago, as well as Olivia Campbell, writing on site-specific dance and it’s relationship to sustainability. Linda Weintraub has contributed a fantastic essay on the curator’s role within our complex arts ecosystem.

And, of course, we feature Dianna Cohen’s latest works in our issue 1.0. Since our first issue, Dianna’s work has been exhibited in several galleries and museums internationally. She has delivered one of the most memorable TED talks on plastic pollution in our oceans, and continues her work with the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

We thank our collaborators in this issue, and our membership for their ongoing support. The issue is available from MagCloud, both in print (on-demand) and as a digital reader.


Superhero Clubhouse and Matchboxarts in association with Chez Bushwick present MARS (a play about mining)

uqze_MARSlogo2013FacebookcoverphotoMarch 7-9, 7:30pm

Center for Performance Research (CPR)

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Displaced Appalachians resettled on Mars face a familiar dilemma when their leader initiates a questionable mining operation. The sixth in our Planet Play series, MARS is a dance-theater event featuring live music, graphic art and an original story inspired by the history of Appalachian coal mining.

MARS (a play about mining)
adapted from the graphic novel MARS! by  Tom Coiner
Choreography by Adam H. Weinert
Music by Adam Miller
Graphic Art by Kristy Caldwell with assistance from Clay Rodery and Ray Jones
Stage & Costume Design by R.B. Schlather
Stage Management/Assistant Direction by Alessandra Calabi
Dramaturgy by Megan McClain

Directed by Jeremy Pickard

Created & Performed by

Javier Baca
Nathaniel Bausch-Gould
Rosie Dupont
Aba Kiser
Logan Kruger
Dan Lawrence*
Keisuke Matsuno
Adam Miller
Manelich Minniefee
Jeremy Pickard
Davon Rainey
J.P. Schlegel
Adam H. Weinert

*appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association

marslogoMust human progress always end in destruction?  What are the risks we will take to restore our home? Contemporary politics and childhood fantasies come crashing together in this unique event inspired the history of Appalachian coal mining.  Led by choreographer Adam H. Weinert, director Jeremy Pickard and composer Adam Miller, MARS features original dance, live music, graphic art and a strong ensemble of cross-disciplinary performers. Our technology is opening new frontiers… and new mines. We can go to Mars, hold the internet in our palm… and blow the tops off America’s oldest mountains. The controversies and paradoxes of mining have never been more relevant. In MARS, we explore these topics in our own unique way, and invite you to join in the adventure and the conversation.

CALL FOR PAPERS/PROPOSALS: Trans-cultural, trans-national, trans-species histories in performance

Ecology and/of/in Performance Working Group (on-going)

“Trans-cultural, trans-national, trans-species histories in performance”

Since our first ASTR Working Group session at the 2010 conference in Seattle, the Performance and Ecology Working Group has spawned symposia, anthologies, and publications.  Foremost among those is a new volume that grew out of our 2010 session: Readings in Performance and Ecology, eds., Wendy Arons and Theresa J. May (Palgrave 2012).  Our Working Group has continued valuable research on numerous fronts, including:  Earth Matters on Stage conference at Carnegie Mellon University (2012); the Staging Sustainability at York University (2011).  Participants in this Working Group have published an array of new material including; Ecology and European Drama by Downing Cless (Routledge). Networks and journals in the field such as, The Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts Quarterly, the “Fieldworks” issue of Performance Research (eds. Pearson, Roms, Daniels, 2010), and the “Performance and Ecology” section of Theatre Topics (2007) attest to scholars’ acute awareness of environmental politics and ecopoetics praxis in an imminently changing world.  The rising tide of this focused research indicate not only a growing concern and mounting artistic will in the realm of ecological sensibility, but also faith in the imagination as a critical aspect of our individual and collective ecological identities.

In 2012, as part of ASTR’s “Theatrical Histories” focus, we turn our attention to trans-cultural, trans-national, and trans-species performance in anticipation of a second volume of ecocritical writings on theatre and performance.  Our questions for the upcoming 2012 Working Group session include:

  • How do transcultural and transnational performances re-map our understanding of what May has called “ecodramaturgy”?
  • What constitutes “theatre e of species” (Chaudhuri) and how might these trans-species performances rearrange or reinterpret understandings of representation?
  • How do the material characteristics of artistic sites condition the aesthetics of the work produced?
  • What kinds of geological and geographical histories emerge alongside socio-cultural storytelling?
  • How do intersecting histories – indigenous, place-based, community-driven – play out on stage in performance?
  • How do ecological transitions, transmigrations, transmutations, transformations and transference shape artistic practice and meaning-making in the theatre?
  • Other questions, approaches and  topics that clearly address trans-national, trans-cultural, trans-species topics in performance.

Please send a 500-word Abstract as attachment to both Working Group conveners below:

Theresa May, University of Oregon (

Nelson Gray, University of Victoria (

Session Format:

Working Group participants will exchange papers in advance of the conference via meetings.  Depending on number, participants will read a selection of 3 to 4 papers each and develop questions that arise from the intersection of the ideas and research.  At the conference, these “pods” will discuss their findings and share them with the entire working group.  The conveners will facilitate a discussion leading to a possible frame (for instance, for a volume of essays) and key questions that the working group would like to see addressed as the research moves forward.

Dance Partners for CPR

Reprinted from New York Press:
“The Space Age” by Andy Seccombe, February 11, 2009

Daniel S. Burnstein

It’s hard to imagine New York bereft of artists.

Few absences would dull the city’s reputation more convincingly. And yet a bleak economic climate, ever-escalating rents and living expenses make the likelihood far from intangible.

From crisis comes camaraderie however, as demonstrated by a new nonprofit performance space in Williamsburg, the Center for Performance Research (CPR) which opened its doors this week.

The facility has a variety of selling points: It’s the first environmentally conscious space of its kind in Brooklyn; it aims to promote community engagement and education; and it’s co-founded by two of the city’s most respected names in dance, Jonah Bokaer and choreographer John Jasperse.

The three-year collaborative project opened for operations Feb. 2 and welcomed its first renter, the Trisha Brown Dance Company. And for Jasperse, the facility has arrived at a critical time.

“I truly feel that this is a last stand in terms of artists really being able to work affordably in New York City,” he says, having observed the displacement of artists since his arrival in the 1980s. He explains that it’s no longer a just a question of artists moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn to avoid rent increases—the situation is more urgent. “It’s really gotten to a density where there’s a question about whether artistic process can really remain local,” he says.

Bokaer echoes such concerns, outlining how CPR’s name itself embodies the much needed resuscitation of the city’s arts centers. “Part of the reason why we called it CPR is the acronym can be read as a response to crisis,” he says. The gentrification of areas like Williamsburg has displaced artists and longtime residents and Bokaer describes how the “condo craze” has made the area a treacherous one for local creatives. Even since his involvement establishing CPR began in 2006, many local arts spaces have had to close due to soaring rents. In fact, the facility’s location is surrounded by the new generation of real estate. “You look around this one block radius, there’s nine condo developments,” he says.

Amidst the hyper-evolution of New York real estate, the aim of the facility is to provide “a new model for sustainable arts infrastructure in dance and performance” and the green-friendly nature of the 4,000-square-foot space is a key element of that. Located on the ground floor of Greenbelt, a building designed with specific environmental initiatives in place, CPR is zoned as a community facility. The building’s upper four floors are residential, the sale of which subsidize CPR’s nonprofit space.

Greenbelt is in fact Brooklyn’s first private green development to qualify as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold project, LEED being a certification program that ensures the creation of high performance green buildings. Bokaer outlines how it has been developed according to strict guidelines, with longevity, minimal emissions and low energy costs in mind.

“A theater or performance space usually uses light, sound and video, which all consume an enormous amount of energy,” Bokaer says. “We’re going to be saving probably about an eighth of the power of a normal theatrical facility.”

Engaging with CPR’s philosophy of providing an affordable, sustainable facility, a variety of ensembles has expressed interest in the venue. Artist Robert Wilson will be developing a work there for the Guggenheim in April, CPR is currently in discussions with the new media enthusiasts at Bitforms Gallery and Israeli artist Iri Batzri may also use the space. So too, Jasperse will prepare projects at the facility and Bokaer plans to develop “a duet studying memory” there, a commission for the National Academy of Sciences.

“I think our appetite for what performance research will look like is pretty vast,” Bokaer says, explaining that the $6-$15 hourly rental fees at CPR are an obvious draw. “It’s a public program so we’ll probably have a great diversity of renters.”

The financial structure behind CPR is also an anomaly. Bokaer’s Chez Bushwick Inc. and Jasperse’s Thin Man Dance Inc. are the parent companies of CPR and have made the facility economically viable (along with funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs).

“It’s very rare for dance organizations to partner in general but also in terms of real estate,” says Bokaer. CPR is unique in this manner as it’s unusual for dance and performance organizations to own their facilities. Indeed, the Trisha Brown Company recently closed its studio and the Paul Taylor Dance Company will lose its Soho facility (and home for 20 years) in April to an expanding Banana Republic store.

“There you have historical legends of American modern dance who do not have adequate work space,” says Bokaer. “That’s another reason this is a dynamic project because [CPR] puts that issue in the foreground and it says ‘Dance needs space. And it needs permanent space in New York.’”

Undoubtedly CPR represents a new model for performance centers and how dance companies operate, deterring from traditional American models which tend to be characterized by a single choreographer with a singular vision. “I think that a dance company can be a different thing now,” says Bokaer. “It can be a cultural organization, or a space, or it can have a larger generative power.”

Jasperse, who’s been a friend of Bokaer for almost a decade, affirms the importance of the partnership, explaining that neither of their organizations could have established CPR individually. “I firmly believe we’re going to demonstrate the power of this kind of model,” he says. “We’re taking a risk. But hopefully we will serve as an example that defies certain ideas of where real estate and arts organizations are necessarily headed in the city.”


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