This weekend, you can catch contemporary dance choreographer Sara Shelton Mann and media artist David Szlasa’s latest collaboration “tribes/dominion,” a vibrant mixture of dance, spoken text, and multimedia, which will close out Yerba Buena Center for the Arts‘ current performing arts season. In “tribes,” Mann and Szlasa seek to explore the “kinesthetic and vibratory shift in our global culture” and explore how people interact with and play off each other in “an increasingly interconnected world.”
What: Sara Shelton Mann and David Szlasa’s tribes/dominion
Where: Novellus Theater at YBCA, 700 Howard Street, San Francisco
When: May 20-22, 8PM
This increasing interest in dance, technology, and awakened experience isn’t all that new. Just a few months ago, Ben Levy’s “Everyone Intimate Alone Visibly” stretched into “an exploration of instant-access communications as both moderator and interference in human connectivity.” But “tribes” isn’t redundancy; it’s continuing on the thread of a poignant, movement-based dialogue.
Perhaps some wish that we could just throw out all of the technological mumbo jumbo and turn back the clock to a more personal time. But is that feasible? Probably not (and if “The Road” or “Oryx and Crake” are any indication, life would quickly run amok).
Mann ruminates on this, writing to me that, “Email is dangerous and also a great tool. I am lacking in technological expertise. I am in awe of the mind that grew up with it. The coffee bar across the street is beautiful, and it’s a line of computers with people working all day long. People often seem to have a conversation with each other–sitting next to each other through their computers.”
But Mann isn’t solely a pen and paper gal. She reflects on the internet, “I find people who are doing amazing things on the planet and studying this shift on the planet in some pretty interesting ways. I get information I would not have [read] except through my own intuition. Thus I find community…
So yes, I use this tool a lot to find community and to collage writing. I script from “The New York Times” to reading posters on the street–to bits of time during the night or day–and cruising the web and editing into my own head things of interest. I have about an hour of text for this show–about seven minutes will get in–and the commentary in my head you won’t hear.”
As to whether this new hyper connectivity making life more personal on a grander scale, Mann concurs,”[I]t takes a clear mind. We have the power through technology to converse/discipline/be heard/make change.”
During the creation process of “tribes,” Mann traveled across the country teaching, and she “found that people have such different skills and could only do say 1/3 of my training, but a different part. So the work began to come out of the skills and belief systems of the people–quite stunning to me. I am not important, I just make the work.”
Mann showers Szlasa with accolades, saying, “He has brought the media into the world I care about… This one is a new experiment of our working together. And I like it. He brings the edge of technology with wisdom and curiosity.”