Burning: Cells, Transformation, Energy Transfer, an installation of influence

An Olimpias Participatory Performance Installation

Subterranean Arthouse
2179 Bancroft Way (between Shattuck and Fulton), Berkeley
Friday, July 31st 2009, 7pm

Space rental donation suggestion: $10, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Come and explore with us the poetics of bodily fantasies in our new Olimpias Disability Culture happening. Put your arms around someone, accept a touch, put words in your mouth: what does it feel like to speak of cancer, of leprosy and environmental toxicity? Locate yourself. What happens when bodies change, undergo transformation, expose themselves? What happens as you let images and poetry of poison and healing roll down your veins? Move with us, be moved by us. Dance improvisation, butoh, contact, ritual, video, visual art and poetry in a performance installation.

Performance participants, videodancers and art creators include: Adam (the late Paul Cotton), Amber DiPietra, Ashok Albrecht, Dax Pierson, Eboni Hawkins, Harold Burns, Kristina Yates, Leroy Moore, Leora Amir, Leslie Schickel, LissaIvy Tiegel, Mayuko Ayabe, Neil Marcus, Petra Kuppers, Sadie Wilcox.
Director/Writer: Petra Kuppers
Info: www.olimpias.org

The performance installation takes place inside the art exhibit CORPOREAL DISTANCE. Sadie Wilcox uses large-scale drawings to document somatic movement sequences and improvisational crip-choreography. The work on paper includes graphite, conté, and acrylic media depicting multi-layered configurations of physical gesture and kinesthetic interaction. The series was created in response to the 2009 Olimpias Disability Culture collaborative workshops.
Sadie's artwork can be viewed online at www.sadiewilcox.com

Program Notes:

Background (Petra Kuppers)
Burning began with a visit to SymbioticA, a research laboratory in Perth, Australia, one of the few places in the world where artists can create transgenic art, art out of living cells. During my visit there, people were manipulating cells to create new tissues, observed and choreographed cell developments under microscopes. It’s a good place to think about ethics in performance.
What had brought me there was a particular development in the ways medicine sees the body diagnostically. In this technique, polarized light highlights living cancer cells, and allows the researcher to distinguish between cancerous cells by their different movement patterns. I work often in hospice environments, as a community artist, with people in the last months of their lives, and also with cancer-survivor support groups. I was intrigued by the images and videos that I saw of this new technique: in them, cancer looks beautiful, lit up, in gorgeous colors. What does it do to someone diagnosed, to see their cancer this way? What would it mean, ethically, artistically, to show cancer movement, and to explore its different aesthetic dimensions?
What does it mean to explore movement as a tracker for difference, but to not work with ideas of deficit or negativity, struggle or fight?
How can we host the multiplicities of movements we hold inside, how do we fill the hollows of our bodies, hollows within and without?
The Olimpias have explored these issues in 2008/9 through open workshops and participatory performances in Melbourne and Adelaide, Glasgow, Eugene, Berkeley/San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and through an on-line wiki environment.

The Installation
The three stations are interactive and come to life when you engage with them. They are'diagnostic', using different techniques to 'read' the patterns of people who interact with them.
- Station A hopes to draw you into a movement dialogue, to explore different movement patterns and their meeting points.
- Station B : your presence will activate drawing, a movement visualization that focuses on the changing space between people.
- Station C: In the back station, the video behind the golden wall will show you how you can interact with Neil before the wall. You have the option to use a blindfold when you explore movement, to allow you a different sense of privacy and touch.



During 2008, Burning was developed via a wiki site. If you are interested in this Olimpias process work, email us.

three people linked, on black floor, energies coursing

Dancevideo 2009: water burns sun. a butoh video

Crew and Performers: LissaIvy Tiegel, Sadie Wilcox, Mayuko Ayabe, Eboni Hawkins, Neil Marcus, Leslie Schickel, Music: Dax Pierson/Robert Horton, Petra Kuppers

Production Photos below: Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang

dancer Neil Marcus with naked upper body, tense pose

Eboni, Neil and Mayuko leaning into each other


dancer in expressionistic pose, hands raised, ghosts

dancers Neil  and Mayuko  moving together

Performances 2009

Berkeley, July 09

Olimpias Workshops/Participatory Performance Event: Burning
A Disability Culture Project, led by Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus
Subterranean Arthouse, Bancroft Ave (between Shattuck and Fulton), Berkeley Wednesdays 8, 15, 22, 29 of July, 7-9 pm,
performance sharing with gallery exhibit: Friday, July 31st, 7-9 pm

Come and explore with us through movement the fantasies, potentials and tensions of our new Olimpias happening/score/script. Put words in your mouth: what does it feel like to speak of cancer, of leprosy and environmental toxicity? What happens when bodies change, undergo transformation, expose themselves? What happens as you let images and poetry of poison and healing roll down your veins? We have a script, not a linear play -- scenes emerge from it like flowers out of earth.

No experience necessary, we do not require a commitment to come to all workshops or the sharing, we honor all forms of embodiment and identification, and we want to learn about access and respect together.

Space rental donation suggestion: $10, no one turned away for lack of funds.


Earth Matters on Stage Opening Festival, May 2009, Eugene, Oregon


Moment's Notice Improv Salon
Time: Saturday, 8/30/08, 8pm
Location: Western Sky Studio, in the Sawtooth Building, 2525 8th St., Berkeley
$8-$15 (sliding scale; tickets available at the door)

Liz Boubion --dance
Edward Schocker & Suki O'Kane - music
Imaginary Friends (Abhay Ghiara, Krista Gullickson & Kim Criswell, in collaboration with
Edward Schocker) -- physical theater
Nicole Richter & Pamela Marsh - dance with poetry & music
The Olimpias (Leora Amir, Christia Braun, Neil Marcus, Eric Kupers, Petra Kuppers, Kelly Rafferty)- dance and poetry

three people in peach-silver clothes, huddled on a stage floor

A Benefit to Help Bring Out of Town/Country Butoh Masters to San Francisco

Friday Aug 15, 2008, and Saturday Aug 16, 2008
Both performances are at 8:00 pm

Studio 210
3435 Cesar Chavez St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Studio 210 is located in the former Sears Building, inset from the corner of Cesar Chavez
and Valencia Street. Accessible by: BART - 24th St Station: and MUNI - #27, #26, #14, #49.

$5-$20 sliding scale. No one turned away for lack of funds.
Additional donations are graciously accepted and gratefully appreciated.

This time around: Molly Barrons (Sat only), Christina Braun (Sat only), Laurie Buenafe
Krsmanovic, Darya Chernova, Michael Curran, Dorine Hoeksema, Petra Kuppers (Friday only),
Karen Light, Luke (Sat only), Neil Marcus (Friday only), Martha Matsuda (Fri only), Kelly
Rafferty (Friday only), Liz Saari-Filippone, and Bob Webb.
Surprise guest artists may well also be performing. There are often last minute additions
(local, national, and international artists) to the programming, it's that kind of show.

Bare Bones Butoh Presents is a performance showcase for local and International artists
working in the areas of butoh, performance art, and/or ritual performance. It exists for
artists to try out new material, show works in process, hone improvisation chops and redo
or revisit previous material. Hosted by a veteran group of Bay Area Butoh performers,
Bare Bones Butoh Presents employs the grassroots ethic of working together to sustain an
artistic culture.

The minimal fee the audience pays at the door allows Bare Bones Butoh Presents to
function as a fundraising platform which supports local Butoh and Performance Artists.
Every Bare Bones Butoh Presents show has been a Benefit Performance for an individual or
group within the Butoh/Performing Arts community in need. Bare Bones Butoh Presents 11 is
no exception. All proceeds from these performances go towards enabling Butoh SanFrancisco
to bring out of town/country Butoh Masters to our fair burg, thus enriching the entire

Bare Bones Butoh Presents is community building and performance all smushed together into
two evenings.
We hope to see you there.

a man blows on the hand of a woman lying down. Concentration

Production History:

How we got here:

Alchemy ... and Burning

(July 2007)

An unclear new project, about to be born

about pain

about transformation

about shame

about invisible visibility

about volume and form


more details to follow

A collaboration with the Berkeley Telematics Laboratory


Update, July 2008:

It's been born! After a few practice-as-research sharings in Ann Arbor, Oakland, Portland and San Francisco, Alchemy is now Burning, a performance/drama/movement/visual art/collaborative project, a crucible of creation. The performance aspect is co-directed with Kelly Rafferty, University of California, Berkeley.

Four seekers live among potentially radioactive rocks not far from an imaginary Burning Man festival site, out in the desert. They all search for some kind of resolution: one lives with pollution-induced cancer, one with leprosy, one with severe pain, and they all talk of allergies, environmental poisons, autism, living in a land that effects their bodies. They refuse to think of their differences as negative. They meet an Iraq veteran and other Burning Man goers. Guided by a mysterious person, they all go through a ritual. They perceive their bodily changes as transformations, as being in emergence towards something new. Each makes a new commitment to life.


Here are the invitations that have gone out. We'd be glad for more people to join us, as we travel into the desert, and watch what happens.


Invitation to join new Olimpias production, either physically or as cyber

Dear everybody,

Here is a draft of Burning, the heart of our new production - it
incorporates the Alchemy piece a few of you have seen or worked with in our
workshops/performances at the Touching Time Symposium in Michigan, at the
Portland Disability Arts and Culture Festival, in Oakland at the Dance and
Disability Festival, and in San Francisco at Bare Bones Butoh.

(if you see this on the website: contact me if you want to a copy of the play)

Burning is less a naturalistic play, and more an open script that is
malleable, might be carried in live voices or through soundtrack to
movement, might be a video combined with live performance, might be all
kinds of things....

The workprocess I envision is a longish one, going on over the period of
about a year and a half. We will call for people to come together somewhere,
either outside on a beach or nature park or in a studio, for a few hours,
and do scene work, working with scenes or parts that speak to them.
Hopefully, we can find small sharing opportunities. And thus, we will build
the show bit by bit, scene by scene, capturing things on camera as we go

To me, the whole thing, and the performance research, is about opening the
pores of the body/self, being permeable, dangerous play on the borders of
self and other, self and environment, stage and audience, etc.

So if anybody would care to go on that journey with us, we'd love to hear
from them: actors, dancers, singers, photographers, videographers, sculptors
(in found materials), fire eaters, costume designers, sound artists, poets,
writers, theorists...

Commitment level: open. Could be one day, could be multiple one-day
workshops. There is no expectation that people will stick with it towards a
performance (usual Olimpias process): this is a research process rather than
conventional performance rehearsal work. All energy levels and forms of
embodiment will be respected, and you can be a physical or cyber
participant. Usually, somehow, a product of some kind emerges but we do not
know yet what that is. We will open a listserv to reflect on the process of
creation and the themes, and that might lead to publication (it has for our
last two projects, Anarcha (http://liminalities.net/4-2/anarcha/) and
Tiresias (forthcoming work in About Performance and TDR)).

There is no funding for this work at this moment, but we hope to be invited
to residencies at colleges, which might lead to payment.

Contact: petra@umich.edu. First workshop days in mid-July, around Northern
California, followed by one every two-to-three weeks in
July/August/September. There might be a workshop each in NYC and Ann Arbor
in September. A workshop each in Melbourne and Adelaide in October/November.
Probably a workshop during MLA time in SF.

Love to you all, and come play. Please feel free to distribute to others who
might be interested in this kind of disability culture/body research work.



Dear (potential) Burning community, dear Olimpias collaborators, Burning is getting going, and here are some news, workshop dates, and first glimpses of sharings. If you want to get involved, in California or long-distance, contact me, at petra@umich.edu! This is the last email I am sending out to all of you, after this, announcements will be just for the group who identified their interest, so no worries about lots of future emails!

1. Kelly Rafferty

We have a co-director for Burning! Kelly Rafferty, from UC Berkeley. Kelly is finishing her PhD in Performance Studies, and has had a good bit of Olimpias experience: she was part of the Anarcha work in 2007, and participated in Touching Time in 2008. She is an experienced theatre director and acting teacher, and will be responsible for those parts of Burning, while I will continue to act as producer, and co-director with special attention to community process and choreography. Kelly and I are both interested in the intersection of performance practice and research, so we are continuing the journey of Anarcha and Tiresias.

2. Workshop Dates

We now have a first set of dates for some initial Burning out-door workshops in Berkeley and Oakland. Thursday 17th of July, 3-5, Lake Temescal in Oakland (near Broadway Parking Area. You will not have to pay for parking. If you need a ride, let us know) Sunday July 20th, 3-5, Faculty Grove, UC Berkeley campus Thursday 24th of July, 3-5.

Bring sunscreen/appropriate clothing, a journal and a pen, and an open mind. It's best if you have read Burning before you come, just as background: if you need an e-copy, email me. We will have another set of workshops in August.

3. Groundrules

These workshop are based on the usual Olimpias methods:

1. There is no expectation that people come to more than one workshop, there is no pressure to build up to a performance. Everybody can give as little or as much time to the process, in person or online, as they wish. In particular, we honor physical, mental and emotional differences and the different temporalities created by them. Different people work on different bits, depending on interest and availability.

2. This is process-work. We offer you opportunities to create art together, to engage in issues of bodily poetics, the relations between metaphors and bodies, transformation, and disability culture. We do not know where the journey will lead. Everybody can perform or publish their material generated in the project, but agrees not to use others as case-studies or use or reveal any material created in the workshops in unethical ways. Permission and trust are important elements of the process, but there is no specified product, or way to it. The journey will be about a year long, and we will see what happens. We are aware that some people find this way of working frustrating, but we have had very good experiences with this open crucible.

3. We shall have fun, share companionship, engage in rituals of creative practice, and break bread together.


4. Sharings

We will have a first sharing of work at Rudramandir, July 31st. This sharing of a short solo work based on one of Guide's monologues is by invitation only. Let me know if you'd like to come, and I will tell you more about it.

The next, and now fully public sharing will be as part of Bare Bones Butoh's next performance evenings in San Francisco's Mission District, August 15/16th.

The next Burning date after that will be a day-long workshop around stem cell research issues at UC Berkeley, date to be announced.

back to Olimpias site