Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener: RETROFIT: a new age
May 20, 2022
April 28 – April 30, 2022 Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener premiered their performance installation, RETROFIT: a new age at Danspace Project as a part of Platform 2022: The Dream of the Audience. Over four hours each day, the duo and six performers and collaborators followed threads of desire as they constructed and deconstructed the sanctuary of St. Mark’s Church with dancing bodies and objects.
During the installation hours, audience members were invited to bring clothing items to be decorated and adorned with images of the dancers performing, unique pre-made upcycled pieces were made for sale. Designs were provided by Otherwild, and the proceeds of the upcycle-station sales raised $1,050 in proceeds that were donated to Housing Works.
Building a site for dance and working on a house in upstate NY for the last five years has shifted Mitchell and Riener’s approach to time and choreography. The collaborative duo have developed an improvisation-based practice they call desire lines, which teases apart the experiential and spiritual cores of both dancing and watching dance. In their newest work, RETROFIT: a new age, they consider when and how dance slips into ‘something else’.
This site-specific immersive work, created for St. Mark’s Church’s architecture and surrounds, imagines dance as “an everyday ritual, the body as a prism and the audience as a dream,” in their words. Through an adaptive system of choices, relational structures, and material constructions, a group of long-standing and new collaborators (Morgan Amirah Burns, Savannah Gaillard, Jennifer Gonzalez, Eleanor Hullihan, Cori Kresge, Rashaun Mitchell, Mina Nishimura, and Silas Riener with lighting design by Kathy Kaufman) build a world for collective action and transformation.
Both Mitchell and Riener contributed to the Platform 2021-2022 catalogue, The Dream of the Audience:
“The trees around my house tell stories with their bodies—evidence of what has happened to them. Blight, windstorm, battle. They bend around each other to reach errant rays. They show wounds, they have scars.”
—From An excerpt from Instruction Manual From Scratch by Silas Riener
“On any given day I pick things up and put them over there. Stacks and piles. Big and small. I let them accumulate one at a time. Some are heavy, some are light. But first I have to move other things out of their place. And before that I have to clear the pathway of obstructions and debris. I carry these things on my head and then my shoulder and then—after many back-and-forths—in tandem with him. We synchronize our body positions, our weight shifts, through the open field and into the side door. The sun moves across the sky like an open machine. How does meaning tumble through time? Is this a dance? What is the spectacle of the ordinary?”
—From It takes a long time by Rashaun Mitchell