by John Killacky
I first presented John Jasperse in early 1996 at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He was one of several improvisers that gathered from across the country to explore moving and performing together. Vermont’s own Polly Motley was also part of this disparate group.
Jasperse was astounding to watch move: awkward, lyrical, stumbling, thrilling, and totally idiosyncratic. I was mesmerized. Since that early time, Jasperse has become one of New York’s most acclaimed choreographers, with world tours and commissions from major international dance companies. Jasperse deconstructs choreographic conventions and disrupts audience expectations. His works are stripped bare to their most essential elements, filled with intimate, sumptuous dancing and startling design. Totally audacious, he dares and dreams big, but in a fiercely quiet and unassuming manner.
For his company’s upcoming appearances in FlynnSpace on June 14 and 15, he brings a work that originally appeared in 2000 for a limited run, Fort Blossom. This was one of those works that everyone in the dance world talked about with astonishment, and how it made them look anew at dancing bodies.
Jasperse revisited and expanded this work and at a recent New York performance, the New York Times was breathless in its review: “Leaving the theater we are no longer quite what we were when we arrived.” (Read the full review.)
So, why isn’t this dance for everyone? The work features four dancers—two women clothed throughout, two men naked throughout—who challenge us to gaze intently where we will, where we dare. There is nothing profane here, only the juxtaposition of gender and clothing in yet another peculiarly brilliant dance.
For more background on Jasperse, please read Suzanne Carbonneau’s essay commissioned by Bryn Mawr’s Performing Arts Series to contextualize his work within their series.
Today, as I write this, we are still basking in the glow of Tuesday night’s wonderful performance by Bernadette Peters. This is the mission of the Flynn, to welcome myriad artists and aesthetics into our community. I hope to see you at John Jasperse’s Fort Blossom (revisted) (2000/2012).