KNEES, SCHOOLS, URGES
June 3 - July 9, 2022
Wednesday - Saturday, 11AM - 6PM
Performances - June 3-19
Curator, Jennie MaryTai Liu
Assistant Curator, Alana Frey
Producer, Pieter Performance Space
Developed with a Mike Kelley Foundation Award
with additional funds from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Milka Djordjevich, Sebastian Hernandez, Jmy James Kidd, taisha paggett
- Tanya Brodsky, Jessa Calderon, Neha Choksi, Alison D’Amato, iris yirei hu, & Peter Hernàndez
A collaboration between Pieter Performance Space and The Box, Knees, Schools, Urges is a performance program and exhibition which invites ten dancers / artists to grapple with documented and undocumented histories of early 20th century modern dance in the place now known as Los Angeles. An examination of the absence of archived history of dance and dancers in the region, and the undersung work that historically minoritized artists have done in the field, the project looks both forward and backward, approaching the timeframe of the exhibition as an opportunity to document and create an archive which acknowledges the value of short-term local history as an ongoing project for present and future generations.
This project is the culminating event of Pieter Parking Space’s six month residency at The Box, where an accessible dance platform was installed in The Box’s parking lot to give six Los Angeles-based choreographers space and time to develop new work. For Knees, Schools, Urges this same platform will be housed inside The Box’s gallery, functioning as a stage, a sculptural object, and a space for visitors to rest, read, and remember.
Primarily funded by a Mike Kelley Foundation Project Award, newly commissioned dances explore embodied lineage and learning through transmissions and articulations, carving out of devotions and defections, to and from the multifaceted form of dance. These artists working in dance and related disciplines situate themselves as both descendants and ancestors, positing their work as conveyors of corporeal, sensual, theoretical, and spiritual knowledge tumbling back and forth within non-linear, non-secular relations of past, present, future.
Comprised of performance, installation, moving image, textiles, sound/music, and writings, the project considers dancing, making, envisioning, relating, and survival itself as historical methods. Taking a corporeal and sensual approach to “doing history,” there will be dialogue and educational programs facilitated by dance artists, organizers, and scholars that will include improvisation, meditation, working within movement scores, and responding to poetic prompts—unearthing what it means to come-to-be a body that moves today. The project holds space for dance and choreographic practice, producing new ways of knowing and understanding, engaging histories of oppression, colonization, and exploitation, with possibilities of transformation and deepened relation across subjectivity and generation.
The project also seeks to educate about the processes and practices of dance that art institutions seek to undertake, often without knowledge of the history and understanding of the conditions that bodies need to produce it. A thoughtful dialogue between artists and organizations with deep investment in performance and the performing arts, Knees, Schools, Urges is an intentional coming-together of dance and visual art thinking, curating, and expression, highlighting the interdisciplinary and relational nature of all artistic efforts.
To hold onto a medium and to not know how to survive. To tap the back space. To confront the historical fact of federally imposed corporeal control on Native people dancing. To claim entitlement to space. To be zoned out. To bury your dead in a place, and to call that place your home. To grapple with darkness - where you can’t use your vision. To feel time, to work with it in a very specific way. To be involved in survival and have had no time for learning. To set up new conditions. To not try to do anything new. To make forms and shapes which emerge from a place beyond what’s personal. To build techniques to anchor what wants to float away. To tattoo your knee - Feelings are facts. To speculate on the kinetics of a still image. To muddy the aspects of what got preserved. To dance with both deer hoof and church organ. To say it’s okay to hold both. To be an avatar, a statue that has come to life. To use scraps from your past projects. To have as much salt in your body as seawater. To see the bodies performing inside the bodies performing. To write it all down like a web. To acknowledge there is risk present here. To hope that all of that can happen in a particular session.
Compilation text comprised of commissioned artists’ voices and thoughts from conversations and correspondence between 2019-2022, edited by the curators.
Friday, June 3
- 4:30p Neha Choksi*
- 6p Alison D’Amato
- 7p Milka Djordjevich
- 8p opening gathering led by devika wickremesinghe
Saturday, June 4
- 3:30p Jacqueline Shea Murphy (lecture)
- 5p Peter Hernàndez
- 5:30 Milka Djordjevich
Thursday, June 9
- 6p Jmy James Kidd & Tara Jane O’Neil
Saturday, June 11
- 1p Sebastian Hernandez
- 4p-8p taisha paggett
Thursday, June 16
- unspecified performance times thru the day Jmy James Kidd & Perin Hailey McNelis
- 6:30p Alison D’Amato
- 7p Peter Hernàndez
Friday, June 17
- 4p Ajani Brannum (class)
- 7p Choreographic Conversation with Pieter Parking Space Residents
Saturday, June 18
- 3p Sebastian Hernandez
- 6p Jmy James Kidd & Perin Hailey McNelis
- 7p closing gathering
Founded in 2009, Pieter is a home for all people to dance, create, and heal together with the belief that embodiment liberates. We say “all people” because dance spaces historically exclude those who are non-white, non-able, non-”fit,” non-”healthy,” non-young, non-cisgendered and non-independently-wealthy. Dance includes a broad spectrum of body-based practices and the cultivation of culture. Rooted in Los Angeles, Pieter fosters a just and expansive community of movement artists, healers and activists.
Pieter’s programs feature a free boutique and promote non-monetary donations such as food and drink to share, as well as clothing, bookings and kitchen items; in these ways, Pieter implements our commitment to reciprocity, generosity, and a vision for a non-hierarchical art space. Located in Lincoln Heights from 2009-2020, Pieter’s present Pandemic Era form, is a virtual and nomadic platform with multiple satellite locations including a dance stage in the parking lot of The Box gallery and a plot at the El Sereno Community Garden. Pieter’s performances, residencies, workshops and classes nourish artists and support the growth of Los Angeles’s creative community.
Jennie MaryTai Liu (curator) is an artist and arts organizer working across performance, video, writing, and education. She has recently received commissions and presentations from Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, New York Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Human Resources LA, and The Mistake Room. With Alana Frey, she co-founded and edited Riting, an experiment in writing that engages with performance being made now in LA. Since 2021 she is based between Los Angeles and Hong Kong where she runs Center for Artists in the Making, an art education program engaging young people in methods and practices from multidisciplinary art making towards the development of their own work and platforms.
Alana Frey (assistant curator) Alana Frey is a Los Angeles-based performance maker currently at work with dance improvisations, choreographies, sounding of voice, and written forms. Along with Jamie Green, she operates Society for the Reunification of Sound & Dance, an emergent performing arts endeavor whose object is to re-establish robust and conscious mutuality between sound and movement, with the ideal of assisting in the development of new-legacy idiomatic forms. She is a co-founder and emeritus editor of Riting.org, a platform for experiments in writing on performance happening now in Los Angeles. She also performs under the name de cherubim, a music project with Jamie Green. Her work has been presented in Los Angeles and the bay area at Pieter Performance Space, Dalton Warehouse, Electric Lodge, Human Resources, PAM (artist-in-residence), Oakland Secret, Pro Arts, Automata (artist-in-residence), and 2220 Arts & Archives.
Commissioned Artists -
Tanya Brodsky (b. Kyiv, Ukraine) is a Los Angeles-based artist and educator, working in sculpture, drawing, printmaking, installation, and public art. Futility and poetics in the structures that govern our everyday environment have long been themes central to her practice. Recent works have come to focus on parallel experiences of time: as a language of care, as geological eventuality, as bodily rhythm, as a device for subdividing the impossible to make it graspable. For the past two years, Brodsky has been engaged in a remote collaboration with her retired Soviet engineer-turned-tinkerer father, in which electronics merge with sculpted elements to create ephemeral installations that approach personal connections, time, ecology, and the inadequacies of language. Incorporating the flows of vapor, water, and electricity, these works, like her father’s inventions, exist as closed systems, serving an absurd logic that negates usefulness, revealing the poetic gesture hidden within the utilitarian.
Singer, Song Writer, Emcee (rapper), Poet, and Published Author Jessa Calderon is of the Chumash and Tongva Nations of Southern California. Jessa also identifies with her Yoeme and Mexican roots. Jessa is a natural born singer who truly found her voice in hip-hop. As an emcee, poet and published author, Jessa is able to share her culture and truth in a way that keeps the crowds intrigued. Not only does Jessa bring pictures to life through the minds’ eye with her writing, she also brings her listeners enlightenment and healing. Since 2019 Jessa has joined the Dream Warriors collective with Tanaya Winder, Frank Waln, Lyla June, Tall Paul, Mic Jordan and Gunner Jules. Together they share, music, culture, stories, poems, seminars, workshops, webinars which equates to healing as a community. Aside from writing and music, Jessa is also very passionate in Massage Therapy, Energy work, Past Life Regressions, Hypnotherapy and Intuitive practices.
Neha Choksi embraces a confluence of disciplines, including performance, video, installation, and sculpture. Her most recent work-in-progress, Elementary, is a long-term, multi-format project that stems from a lived performance wherein she attended for an entire academic year (2018-2019) a Los Angeles public elementary school as a kindergarten student. Choksi's work has been widely exhibited, screened and performed in the United States, Asia, Australia, UK, and Europe. She lives and works in Los Angeles and Bombay, India.
Alison D'Amato is Assistant Professor of Practice at USC's Kaufman School of Dance. Her writing on performance can be found in publications such as Choreographic Practices, Imagined Theatres, Contact Quarterly, Dance Research Journal, X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, and the upcoming volume, Object-Event-Performance: Art, Materiality, and Continuity Since the 1960s. In 2015 she completed a dissertation on contemporary choreographic scores (Mobilizing the Score:Generative Choreographic Structures, 1960-Present). Her dances and scores have been presented in Los Angeles (PAM Residencies, Pieter PASD, The Hammer Museum, HomeLA, and Anatomy Riot), New York (Movement Research, the Tank, AUNTS, Waxworks, Dixon Place, and BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange), San Francisco, Philadelphia, the UK, and Poland.
Milka Djordjevich is a choreographer, performer and educator who questions preconceived notions of what dance should or should not be. Her work draws from a variety of compositional strategies to examine gender in so-called “neutral” public spaces of theaters, galleries, and museums. Her work has been shown at many venues, including the Kitchen, the Chocolate Factory Theater, the Whitney Museum, the American Realness Festival, and Danspace Project in New York; REDCAT, Grand Performances, Pieter, MAK Center, the Hammer Museum, Machine Project, Showbox LA/Bootleg Theater, Santa Ana Sites and HomeLA in Los Angeles; Counterpulse and BAMPFA in Northern California; PICA’s TBA: 18 in Portland, Oregon; and internationally in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, and the UK.
Peter Hernández, b. 1990, is a musician and performer based in Los Angeles. He creates music and dance performances as Julius Smack, who has taken the shape over time as a sexy prince, a business faun, and a statue awoken from antiquity. His work concerns the traumas and hardships of modern society through the lens of indigenous spirituality and intergenerational memory, as informed as a descendent of the Pascua Yaqui tribe. He is the founder and director of Practical Records, an independent record label for California’s queer, trans, and POC communities.
Sebastian Hernandez is an LA native and multi-disciplinary trans femme artist who received a B.A. in both Art Practice and Dance and Performance Studies from the University of California Berkeley in 2016. They make art that range from sculptures to performance art works to photography. Hernandez employs feminist theoretical analysis, queer theory, browness, gender and notions of collectivity as modes of thinking and generating works that shift and complicate Mexican and Chicano narratives in the contemporaneous social imagination. Their art making is embedded with Sebastian’s Aztec/Mexica heritage and the history of the brown body in relation to the U.S.-Mexico borderland.
iris yirei hu (b. Los Angeles, CA) is a journey-based artist and educator who paints, weaves, dyes, writes, and composts her lived reality into installations, public artworks, and intercultural, generational, and geographical collaborations. Building relationships to people and places through slow and critical reflection and uplifting the roles of sensuality and beauty are central tenets of her work. She is interested in how storytelling and working with her hands deepens our relationships to what we experience, with whom we connect, and how we live. She often works in community with friends, artists, poets, scientists, lawyers, keepers of traditions, and organizers to limn possibilities of kinship. She asks herself: What if we understood the present as generations of people cultivating love and optimism through deep relation and stewardship, instead of a sequence of violent events?
Jmy James Kidd makes dances, textiles and community spaces. Jmy is the founder of Pieter Performance Space in Los Angeles, CA. Choreographic commissions include REDCAT, The Kitchen, Made in LA 2014, The Broad, The Getty, Pacific Standard Time 2013. Residencies include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BOFFO, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Jmy was a 2021 MacDowell Fellow. Jmy is visioning a Music and Dance Temple to be built somewhere sometime in the next 10 years. Jmy frequently collaborates with wife, musician Tara Jane O'Neil.
taisha paggett is an interdisciplinary dance artist whose individual and collaborative works re-articulate and collide specific Western choreographic practices with the politics of daily life in order to interrogate fixed notions of Black and queer embodiment, desire, and survival. Such works include the dance company project, WXPT (we are the paper, we are the trees), and the School for the Movement of the Technicolor People, both of which seek to radicalize questions held within contemporary dance by way of intersecting with social practice; experimental pedagogy; somatic and contemplative investigations; queer, feminist and Black studies; performance and visual art; and the political and philosophical meshes of personal history. their work has been presented at Audain Art Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; Danspace Project, New York; Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Chicago; DiverseWorks, Houston; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.