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More on HARDCORPS Theater of Operation

Further notes on Heather Cassils in the THEATER OF OPERATION program at CPR on 6/4…

The other artists in the evening’s program all grappled with control over digital systems—be it Madonna on youtube or wearable video monitors. Cassils’ performance was the last of five in the evening, and a piece of rickety scaffolding was wheeled out as the only preparation (a marked change from the technical equipment employed by the other artists). For about ten minutes, Cassils flexed? (I’m not completely sure of the right verb), slowly changing positions. Cassils is a body-builder, so watching her in a bikini felt, for me, uncomfortably voyeuristic in a refreshing way.

Although the territory of how bodies interact with technology is certainly rich and worthy of exploration, there is something incredibly refreshing about “just” a body. By employing her body as an artistic instrument, Cassils is not just gesturing at systems of control, but constructing them. (Or maybe referencing them, since bodybuilding has a distinct history, culture, and set of practices.)

In the HARDCORPS mission statement, the curators say that performance can “extricate the power of rigorous disciplines and vigorous ideas.” I agree that this is performance’s most profound potential—and yet I find that this field is constantly defending its rigor as much as celebrating it. Thank you, Cassils, for reminding me that the best performance doesn’t show, it does.

–Lydia, Spring Festival 2010 Blogger

Lydia Bell is a dance artist, teacher, and administrator based in Ridgewood, Queens.

Moments from HARDCORPS

HARDCORPS is over, I’m in a different country–where to go from here? I’d like to use the next few days to reflect on some of the things that have stuck with me from the festival. What has survived my faulty memory, spotty notes, and jet lag? What moments are still lingering?

1. The sounds of Heather Kravas’ piece in the FREE RADICALS program at Abrons Arts on Thursday 6/3: a cowbell, 2 girls in clogs, and a metronome.

2. The discussion with W.A.G.E. artists and Lauren Cornell on Thursday 6/3 at Jimmy’s No. 43. “Re-performer B” shed some insight into the negotiations Marina’s re-performers had with MOMA. What did they get paid, anyway?

3. robbinschilds in the THEATER OF OPERATION program at CPR on Friday 6/4. The piece started off  grounded in a particular experience–a trip to Germany–and then slowly grew out of control, into the realm of imagination and allegory. I loved the rhythm of their unison: committed but somehow also accidental. They felt bound together by something larger than themselves, something so powerful that they had no choice but to accept its arbitrariness. 

4. The fun and discomfort of PERFORMANCE FOREVER at FACADE/FASAD on Saturday 6/5. I had to fight for every inch of space around me and I loved it. Also, let’s all try to have more tacos present at performance events, OK?

–Lydia, Spring Festival 2010 Blogger

Lydia Bell is a dance artist, teacher, and administrator based in Ridgewood, Queens.



Heather Cassils = seriously hardcore.


Hello, all—I’m jumping into Day 2 of HARDCORPS, the MR Spring Festival 2010 as your festival blogger. My mission is to see as many events as possible (i.e. write them into my day planner and actually go to them). Festivals in New York are always a bit fraught for me. On the one hand—wow! So many amazing events all packed into four days. And on the other—shit! More things for me read about and regret missing. As festival blogger I will in part brag about the fact that I got my ass to all these shows, but I also hope to inspire you to get your ass to some things. The curators are really making it easy on you, since all of the events involve some combination of drinks, food, karaoke, and hot bodies.

Last night (Thursday) I saw the Free Radicals program at Abrons Art Center. The show started outside with a piece by Enrico Wey. He and his dancers arranged us so we were standing in two rows in the amphitheater. A photographer lurked, snapping photos of the audience, and thus begun the “did the piece start?” game. It had, and quite beautifully, with dancers weaving in and out of sidewalk and street traffic, all making their way to the bottom of the amphitheater where they stared, as a group, back at the audience. (Ten shorter and friendlier Marinas.) I’m not sure if Enrico was commenting on “The Artist is Present,” but the artist and and co were certainly present and they demanded that we have our $10 entry in hand. There was something sort of pathetic about the group of us clutching our $10 bills—it made me very aware of the terms of transaction and the accompanying expectations—here we all are, about to spend two hours in a dark theater in vague but distant hopes of a transformative experience. This seemed fitting to me. Aren’t the best performance events those that make me reflect on who I am and what I’m doing? I think that festivals, more then making us stressed out about seeing things, have the potential to make us question why and for whom work is being made.

I will report back with more later today.

Lydia Bell is a dance artist, teacher, and administrator based in Ridgewood, Queens.

  • June 4th, 2010
  • Lydia Bell

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