Early Work

All videos are excerpts from the full-length pieces,
except where noted.

Rag
(1976)

Rag was the first of a series of "everyday life " dances I made when I had young children and spent a lot of time doing domestic chores. The soloist takes ever so long to dust a wall with a red rag, swings a couple of metal pails vehemently, and hovers over an angry looking rake, without ever actually picking it up. "Rag" is a pun on the cleaning cloth, being "on the rag," and the ragtime music which accompanies the dance.

Dawn in Rag
Photo: Abe Epstein

Bits and Pieces
(1979-82)

Bits and Pieces was a series of four short pieces that appeared at intervals between longer dances on a program, or at intervals of months or years between programs. They distilled domestic concerns into brief scenes: the shopping cart and faux-fur lady with businessman; later stripped down to lady in slip and nude man wrapped in plastic, like a hunk of meat in the cart...the tired mom with child and Raggedy Ann doll... the back of an older woman as she massages her own aching neck...

Dancer in Shopping Cart
Photo: Roberto Toledo

Conversation Piece
(1979)

Conversation Piece continues the choreographer’s exploration of using the ordinary events of everyday life as sources for making dances. The objects associated with those mundane events become physical, kinesthetic, and expressive extensions of the performers. The rhythms and repetitions of telephone language and numbers provide the fabric of sound through which the movement is woven. Conversation Piece is bound to refresh your perspective on the frustrations of modern communication.

Swinging cordedtelephone
Photo: Video Still

Housewares
(1980)

Having explored traditional women’s work as a source for making dances, I also wanted to investigate traditional men’s work for choreographic material. In Housewares, auto mechanics and construction work appear transformed in surreal and absurd ways. Mundane objects again become physical, kinesthetic and metaphorical extensions of the performers, a mechanic’s creeper, a lunchbox, a boombox. The section called Linen Closet was inspired by a photo by Karen Plesur in a collection of women’s photography.

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Photo: Video Still

Imaginary Crossing
(1980)

In the early days of video art, the New Television Workshop at WGBH-TV asked me to collaborate with videographer Robin Doty to create a "dance video" without a director. Having been disappointed by the lack of vitality in stage choreography as documented by video, we wanted to make a piece specifically FOR video time and space...a piece that only exists on video. By keeping the camera very tight most of the time, using the dancer's breathing and percussive body sounds, and enhancing some body movements with camera movement, we created a piece that feels very physical and allows the audience an intimacy with the performer that could never be achieved in a theater space.



Dawn Kramer
Video still: WGBH

Blue Cheer
(1983)

The multiple entendre on blues music, feeling blue and the iconic laundry detergent resulted in this messy, humorous quintet for three diverse dancers, live pianist and singer and lots of laundry.

Blue Cheer
Photo: Video still

My Place or Yours?
(1985)

Inspired by watching the actions inside two windows across an apartment building courtyard, this piece fantasized an unconscious duet between strangers in adjacent apartments.

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Photo: Video still

Raw Stuff
(1985)

Having been known as an ironic commentator on quotidian life, I wanted to experiment with a pure movement piece. Falling, rolling, brittle, shaking, liquid, and off-balance movements were the only materials of the choreography. Fast Forward’s intense steel drum score propelled the dancers’ raw energy.

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Foreign Fling
(1986)

On tour in Holland with Dance Collective in 1985, I was surrounded by people speaking only Dutch. Although they knew English, I felt excluded by their speaking a language I did not understand. By coincidence, it was Pieter Smit, a Dutch set designer who worked with me to build this mountain of dysfunctional communication technologies: broken TV’s, radios, turntables, telephones. Composer/performer David Moss and I had a rather uncommunicative conversation, using shards of mysterious, invented spoken and movement languages.

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Photo: Video still

Pipe Dream
(1990)

A full-evening work on multi-level scaffolding, co-choreographed with Martha Gray and Judith Chaffee, commissioned music by Caleb Sampson, presented in the Boston Center for the Arts’ Cyclorama, Back Bay Train Station, Prudential Center Mall Atrium, Towson State College, Maryland. It was commissioned by First Night and Dance Umbrella.

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After Ever
(1991)

While Pipe Dream responded to the Cyclorama’s height, After Ever was inspired by its circularity. The vast, circular space brought up images of lifecycles, circus rings and cycling or running tracks. The huge rope net that hung 18’ x 22’ Was designed by Pieter Smit and hand knotted by a former Navy rigger. The net bisected the space and became a metaphorical membrane between two worlds. The audience was seated in the round which was a challenge for the choreographer as each member of the audience got a different view of the work.The choreography was episodic with a recurring ”party” scene that moved around the periphery. In addition to Dance Collective’s professional dancers, bicyclists, skaters, and skateboarders glided around the ring.

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Cameo
(1991)

Cameo is an excerpt from the full-length work, After Ever. It has been performed several times as a stand alone piece. Never leaving their swivel stools at the bar table, a man and a woman embody the classical battle of the sexes in a highly non-classical manner.

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Mercy
(1993)

Mercy references the title of Andrea Dworkin's controversial book. The dance is a reverse striptease to Hungarian folk music. It uses the layering and binding of underwear worn in odd ways as a metaphor for restrictions and violence against women. It is a challenging piece to perform, both physically and emotionally. Mercy makes some audience members uncomfortable as it is a somewhat graphic look at the often hidden problem of domestic violence.

Mercy
Photo: Pete Wishnok

The Stonecutter
(1993)

The Massachusetts Cultural Council gave a grant to Israeli composer Yuval Ron, and myself for "Myth, Sound, and Motion." We worked with third-graders in the Jackson-Mann School, an urban public school. Half were in a bilingual Vietnamese class; half were English speaking, mostly African American students. Using the Vietnamese myth of The Stonecutter, the students responded to motifs in the story through musical, movement, and visual art media. After many workshops and videotaping, we used the children's source material to develop our own musical composition and choreography which was then performed by the professional dancers in Boston Dance Collective.

Stone Cutter
Photo: Pete Wishnok

The 21st Tribe
(1994)

Originally made as part of Dance Collective’s commissioned Dancing In the Park, the 21st Tribe looks towards the 21st century, celebrating our tribe of dancers, diverse in age, gender, race, orientation and training. It is a high energy piece, filled with fast, complex movement, performed with audible joy to live drumming.

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Bellows
(1996)

Bellows is another double entendre on the bellows of the bagpipe and the bellowing performers. The musician, Derek Burrows, is a theatrical performer who had taken my improvisation class years before. Micki Taylor Pinney had the improvisational “chops” as well as the lungs and voice to partner Derek in this directed improvisational escapade.

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The Body Hesitates
(1998)

Created as a 45th birthday present for Carlo Rizzo,The Body Hesitates celebrates his talent as a performer while acknowledging his pain and limitations because of arthritic hips. The commissioned score by Jeff Talman weaves Carlo’s speaking into some of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The Body Hesitates

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What We Here Possess
(1998)

"What we here possess" is a line from an old shape note song that Jeff Davis sang at the very end of a 25-minute journey that Sun Ho Kim and I made through a field of feathers, created by Bebe Beard. It's my life-cycle piece. I guess every choreographer has to have one; looking back at the planting, playful time of youth, through sexuality and procreation, to harvesting, aging and the inevitability of death.

Dawn with feathers
Video still: John Meltzer

Shout!
(1999)

Contrasting a meditative, circular prelude with a high energy, “noisy” trio to Balinese Kecak, I wanted to make a pure movement piece filled with gesture, bumps and speed.

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Swan Song #1
(2000)

Entranced by the "lock and pop" virtuosity of 15-year-old Jeffrey Louizia, I choreographed a duet for him and me. Although different generations, genders, and races, both Jeffrey and I worked hard in our different dance forms to master a similar movement quality; I call it "brittle." Critics have said that it looks like I'm dancing under a strobe light.

Trio
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Walk in Progress
(2001)

Seán Curran and I wanted to make a duet that celebrates our friendship. He directs a high powered dance company that often tours so it was not easy for him to be available for lots of rehearsals and even less so for performances. So I came up with the idea of partnering each other with me live on stage and Seán in life size video projection. The piece developed in such a way that we both appear on video first and then surprise the audience by our half live/half video relationship. Antony Flackett’s unique editing style underlines the humor in the piece.

Trio
Video still: Harvey Nosowitz

De/Reconstruction
(2003)

I made this solo for Dance Collective's thirtieth anniversary concert, as a farewell piece to my dance company, after thirty years of co-directing it. It seemed appropriate to deconstruct the curtain call. I found as many variations and rhythmic breakdowns of the bow as I could and asked Kevin Pelrine to take a sound recording of applause from a video of an earlier Dance Collective performance and to manipulate it. Half way through the piece, his meditative sound emerges from the din of applause. As that drone grows more prominent, my movements become more introspective. I end the piece in the upstage left corner, facing the wing, with arms and legs and focus extended upwards, peacefully seeking the next step.



Dawn
Video still: Harvey Nosowitz

Sean & Dawn
(2003)

This is a short, single channel video, taken from the video material created for Walk in Progress. It juxtaposes Antony Flackett's highly edited, humorous sections with the deadpan scenes of Seán and me walking in many rhythmic and physical variations. It closes with an homage to …Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in Easter Parade…"We're a couple of tramps…"

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