up against, a new work by acclaimed performer Jennifer Nugent. Through invitation, memory, movement, text, and sound, Nugent’s up against emphasizes physical resonance. A collective endeavor between the artists, the set, and the audience the work highlights the mental and physical transition dancers undergo as performance unfolds. Asking for help, listening, allowing for consent, and following, Nugent invites the audience to participate by doing or witnessing. With the feeling of moving forward and backward at the same time and pouring weight from limb to limb, she questions the concept of stability inside an ever-shifting compositional structure. A minimal set design using classical pine wood theater flats, designed by Adrian W. Jones, creates a frame for imaginative play. Ted Coffey’s intricately composed soundscape of synthesized melodies, constructed room tones, and occasional guitar builds upon itself throughout the 60-minute performance. Photo by Tori Lawrence
When my mother passed away, I experienced an altered quality directly related to my physical being; an enhanced aliveness that nurtured memory and deepened the experience of mourning. The pedagogy of watching my mother die imported itself into my own corporeal experience of the living and the decomposing happening each moment while alive. In this moment the space between self and witness dissolved. Time had no end.
and how is this?
Up Against does not really concern itself with the death of my mother and yet it continues to travel alongside, relational, and supportive to my artistic practice. That my mom mobilize my process inside relational states of movement and interactions with my surroundings, it is the realization that I am not alone that is vibrating the process right now. While trying to reconfigure connections in movement, I notice what is coming up in terms of meaning and which parts of me are suspended liminal states of presence.
Up Against is about the dance. The dance between me and my hand or myself and you for instance. I do not want to hide my humanity and shortcomings behind performance.
The work is in progress. My hope is that the work will invite a shared experience between myself and the audience and the space between us.