Amid a notoriously cerebral lineup, dance company zoe | juniper are bound to shake things up with something visceral. It's their second appearance at the Time-Based Art Festival, and they're taking its name to heart, with a hypnotizing meditation on time, memory, and the shifts between the two.
Like the Portland group tEEth, who is also performing at TBA this year, Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey are domestic partners and artistic collaborators who've begun their own successful company. Their striking combo of video projections (Shuey), demanding choreography (Scofield), and atmospheric music (Morgan Henderson of Fleet Foxes) is intense, to say the least.
Their current piece, A Crack in Everything, is inspired partly by trauma and how the mind grapples to understand it. When asked about influences, dancer/choreographer Scofield lists some truly gut-wrenching literature: The Year of Magical Thinking—Joan Didion's memoir about the sudden death of her husband; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—Jonathan Safran Foer's novel about a precocious child in the wake of 9/11; and Aeschylus' Greek tragedies, the Oresteia.
Of prime interest was how to create a nonlinear evocation of time within the sequential art of dance. A recent retrospective of the painter Cy Twombly sparked the challenge. "The work had it all. You could see where he erased; you could see a record. You could see an encapsulation of time, nonlinear based," says Scofield. For A Crack in Everything, projections, mirrors, and choreography tangle toward abstraction; the Boston Globe called it "a crazy dream you just can't shake." Scofield says, "The work isn't representational. It's more of an essence, a fog of feeling."
The couple began the piece in 2009, fine-tuning it at residencies and festivals, most recently at the Bates Dance Festival in Maine. The two moved from the East Coast to Seattle several years ago and began their company in 2004, with no shortage of accolades and recognition, including an appearance at the Eighth Northwest Biennial, and a 2007 music video choreographed for Dave Matthews.
About living and working in Seattle, Scofield says, "It's a great incubator. On the Boards and TBA have been huge for us," adding that the Northwest allows for a quietness—unlike the art mecca of New York City—as well as the open space, and, of course, the time.
A Crack in Everything
zoe | juniper, PSU's Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park, Thurs Sept 15-Sat Sept 17, 8:30 pm, $15-20; installation Fri Sept 9-Sun Sept 11, noon-6 pm, Wed Sept 14-Sat Sept 17, noon-6 pm, Thurs Sept 15-Sat Sept 17, 7:30-8:30 pm, free