The Defiance Project uses the creation, expression, practice, and performance of dance to explore what it means to defy. The company behind this project manifests defiance in both the form and function, and process and product of the work it does.
“This is What Space Sounds Like” (December 2012)—In conjunction with the Advanced Choreography class in UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, The Defiance Project has been exploring and creating a piece called The Whole of What Turns about sacredness, ritual, reincarnation, and legacy. In contrast to Sophie Needelman’s typical choreographic process, the emotional themes and through-lines emerged from the form of the movement itself, instead of inspiring the movment in the first place. This piece was approached in a true modernist sense, by addressing the body’s desire to move in a certain way as well as the artistic configurations of various bodies in space that can ensue. The movement generated and trajectory established exposed this burning desire to honor the legacies of the collective and personal unconscious through spiritual embodiment. Through exercises and techniques facilitated by legendary Bay Area choreographer Joe Goode, Sophie has established a movement exploration of honoring past legacies and also making our own current ones. The Whole of What Turns is dedicated to Papa Gerry, the man whose legacy Sophie wishes to honor and follow in the footsteps of.
Title TBD: Collaboration with Erin Johnson (December 2012)— The Defiance Project director Sophie Needelman is in collaboration with UC Berkeley Art Practice Graduate Student Erin Johnson on a piece that explores the politics of San Francisco’s LGBT Archive through the metaphor of water. The constructs of the piece involve black trash bags filled with water that are then poked with pins to begin a leaking process. So far, the empty studio space in which this piece has been created ends up flooded with the water from the trash bags- and bags themselves end in depletion. While the “end” of the piece has always been jarring and rather wet, the means to this end are extremely explorative and therefore different each time. By examining this relationship between water, trash bag, dancer, and space, we have been led to discover various truths about containment, agency, pressure, and how the media of the human body, bags, and water change over time.
“Einstein on the Beach” Flashmob (October 2012)— In honor of the legendary opera Einstein on the Beach, The Defiance Project facilitated a flashmob that took place on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza. Various participants in the flashmob gathered for rehearsals and learned the choreography inspired by Lucinda Childs’ work in Einstein. This piece explored postmodern concepts of dance, musical embodiment, the power of gesture, and the union of pedestrian movement with stylized choreography. In true flashmob form, theEinstein piece was performed spontaneously in UC Berkeley’s most highly populated public place and attracted attention from passersby. Because the flashmob occurred the day of Einstein on the Beach’s dress rehearsal, the performers of the opera were able to participate as audience members which make doing the flashmob an incredible treat. This performance would not have been possible without the support of Rio Vander Stahl and the entire Cal Performances team.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s “Game of Life” (September 2012)—The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of San Diego holds an annual gala to raise money for vital research and treatment of Cystic FIbrosis affecting thousands of people a year. This year’s gala was themed “The Game of Life” and honored various scientists and advocates of preventative treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. The Defiance Project was featured in the opening ceremony of the event with choreography and performance by Sophie Needelman. This “Game of Life” piece was a tribute to the everyday heroes combating this disease.
Movement is change; by moving we are changing. Even in a state of rest, our bodies move with pulse and breath; these movements are the foundation of life. Change is innate to our humanity and to our lived existence. Defiance is embracing oneself as a changing being- by changing oneself. Change, without judging change as progressive or regressive; it is merely a process and a product that leads to a difference based on what once was the same. Move and be moved.
Points of connection within the body are the source of initiation and engagement for movement. Connectivity allows for space to be made as a foundation for and initiation of movement. Space allows for engagement. Connection is liberating. Connection between bodies exists through the catalyst of rhythm. Our breaths and pulses are consistent and constant; the stability of rhythm is innate to our humanity and existence. We can control our bodies on a rhythmic level to connect to other bodies, connect to music, and connect to the momentum of life in space.
It is generally known that physical sensation it inspires thought. However, this cycle is reversed through dance; one must intentionally seek the physical sensation that comes from movement. Through this, presence is both created and maintained. One can only feel completely present by being aware that there is sensation to be sought- and thus that one can experience presence through thinking about the physical sensation that can come from moving through space.
The Defiance Project uses the creation, expression, practice, and performance of dance to explore what it means to defy. The company behind this project manifests defiance in both the form and function, and process and product of the work it does. This work examines Defiance as:
-Presence within and because of one’s physical being, as occupation of self through sought sensation
-Connection within and among physical beings through breath, pulse, and rhythm
-Change through movement, because and in spite of connected presence and present connection
Boundaries must first be known in order to be broken. Defiance allows us to know ourselves- because of and in spite of these boundaries. It yields the growth necessary to then become limitless as a dancer and as a human being.