Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dearest readers,

I was trying to write a post for you. A really good one, featuring hundreds of embeds of a list of amazingly visually stunning music videos. But while i was collecting the videos, well, one thing led to another, and pretty soon i was watching celebrity appearances on sesame street on youtube. Project averted. Then i had to post that as my twitter status, becuase it was funny, and then i saw someone's twitter status and was reminded of something i had to check on facebook. When i looked at my facebook, I saw a message from Pam, about her friend's blog. So i looked at the blog, and it's pretty darn neat.

It's always really nice to find innovative material from non-NY artists - we're so inundated with things to see here that it's easy to forget the multitude of stuff that's going on elsewhere, and since no one's pushing it at us it doesn't get found as often...

So, starting with a post, and via (count them) FOUR types of online social media, i give you the end point for the night, this video from Ethan's blog. Great ideas Ethan! And congratulations to me, for officially handing myself my digital-native status on a silver platter engraved with the word irony. Or maybe "what is this world coming to?"

Just thought i would share. And not to worry folks, the original post is still in the works.

pit stop-- exit 84 from Ethan Philbrick on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Slow Mo PoMo Promo!

With apologies to Neil Greenberg for the title, check out the promo i just finished for 13V!

13 Variations on a Car Crash Promo from Sarah A.O. Rosner on Vimeo.

I've had my nose to the grindstone for the past week or so on this EMPAC application, and this weekend I had that great moment in the app-writing process when all the painstaking explaining and delicate rewording gave way to an "oh" moment. As much as grant writing and apps can be tedious and a huge energy drain, I almost always come away from them clearer on the piece i'm submitting.

I though i'd share some of what I wrote in the treatment for the film version of 13v:

Picture a head-on car crash in exquisite slow motion:

As one car hits the other, the sheet metal hoods ripple, snap, buckle, and condense—forcing themselves into the windshield, which holds and holds, suddenly crystallizing into shatter of broken glass. Crumple zones spent, the real weight of the cars grind over each other and the symmetrical ballet begins, the ends of both cars lofting in the air and rotating before sucking themselves back to the pavement with such weighty heft that even in slow motion you sense their heaviness in your whole body. As the cars compress and fracture, an array of scrap metals detach and spiral outwards. Glass bounces glittering and metal shrieks twisting, as the cars lurch to a stop.

Point is, you can’t look away.

I propose the creation of a new dancefilm entitled “13 variations on a car crash”—a piece that blends the heavy partnering and detailed gesture of my dance work with the aesthetics of a car crash—edited like an action movie and told as a love story.

I am admittedly obsessed with the aesthetics of car crashes. Perhaps this is not so surprising: as present-day humans we are constantly viewing car crashes (on the highway, on the news, in action movies, etc) knowing we shouldn’t be attracted to them and yet not being able to look away. I feel a kinship, especially as a mover, with these hulks of gravitational metal. There is no falseness in a car crash—only the weight and the speed of the cars involved and their resulting physics. Their heaviness is brutish, their interaction is defined as ‘wreckage.’ These qualities embody my type of dance: hard falls, striking images, and brutally honest physicality.

The film.
The film itself follows two once-lovers (the two main dancers) as they experience a series of physical and emotional crashes. Entering into a dream-like collage of effortless yet heavy partnering, hard falls, surreal images, and grocery lists, the pair is pulled through space and time, navigating a visually stunning junkyard in the black of night. Amidst crushed cars and blaring TV sets, dark Muses direct the action and embody the physics of wreckage. Crashes disrupt time and render each moment infinite. As heads sail towards dashboards there’s still time to think “coffee…eggs…flour…facewash…” Exploring the emotional damage of lovers becoming once-lovers, the film’s fixation with crashes is an embodiment of physical and emotional hurt, an exposure of the beauty of debris. As the dancers struggle to find control in the face of inertia, the film’s editing and slow motion mimics ideas of control and lack thereof, horrible beauty, and the mess of how we treat the ones we love.

Point is, you can’t look away.

Shooting the film.
I propose to create the film via three main shoots.
The first shoot (which we will choreograph in early September 2010 and shoot later that month) involves the two main dancers, and consists of intimate shots of the two lovers together – approaching for a kiss, unexpected shots of the soft “crash” of the two bodies coming together, etc. This footage will be edited together in late September with found footage of actual crashes, crash tests, and driver safety videos to create a montage of crashes, both mechanical and sexual. After being edited and printed to VHS, this montage will be played through the cluster of old TVs that will serve as the lover’s “car” in the second shoot. I am excited to create this film-within-a-film because it will lines the dancers, counterpoint their movements, or re-contextualize what they are doing. Since the new footage of the dancers will be mixed with low-fi found footage, I will be shooting it on my own equipment (a Panasonic 100dvx)—and will therefore be able to save on production costs by requiring only minimal lighting and one camera operator on this shoot.

After completely reworking and rehearsing the movement for the piece for the month of October, the second and third location shoots will occur over a weekend in early November, using the first two nights to shoot in a junkyard and the third to shoot in a black box theater.

The second (and main) shoot will take place in a crushed car lot in Brooklyn. This set of crushed cars and scrap metal, along with the eight TV sets showing the crash montage, will serve the piece by providing a location that is at once surreal and pedestrian, enhancing the piece’s sense of unease and impending impact. Lighting designed by Lauren Parrish will utilize the location by shooting with the available industrial light, as well as hotwiring select headlights of junked cars to frame the piece. This location will feature the majority of the movement of the piece, and will be shot in a variety of stationary and moving shots. It is important to me that dance on screen still convey visceral excitement and impulses to the audience, so we will shoot both a well-planned storyboard, and leave time for improvisational shots of the movement as to allow for maximum flexibility in editing.

The third and final shoot will be in a black box theater. This shoot will capture two types of footage: surreal images of the two main dancers and lighting-specific images of the Muses. The surreal snippets include shots of the main dancers playing with a small matchbox car, the woman putting it in her mouth and running it over her legs. Lighting-specific shots of the Muses’ movement will utilize the black box setup to create a night-driving atmosphere, playing with the effect of the dancers moving in darkness while “headlights” sweep over them, illuminating them in glimpses.

Starting in December, I will begin editing the footage from these shoots together to create a cohesive and alluring whole. Because I work day jobs in addition to my art making, I plan for the project to be fully edited by the end of March. After the film’s premiere in August 2010 at EMPAC, I plan on submitting the film to a number of film festivals (dancefilm and otherwise) as well as using screenings and DVD sales of the project to fundraise and build excitement for the eventual production of other sections in the larger piece.

In terms of production, this piece will be fortified by the collaborations and working relationships that will create it. As I work as an editor and producer at reels4artists, Gerrit Vooren (owner, producer) and Brian Miller (production coordinator, camera operator) are excited to bring their expertise to the film. Additionally, Lauren Parrish (lighting design and execution) has lit many of my stage works. New collaborations include Tracy Klein, (costume design and execution) who is interested in creating a movable and pedestrian subtle-grunge look, and the Psychedelic Disco Angels (composers), who are committed to a collaborative approach to making a lush dark sound-score specifically for the film.

As always, feedback (as E.D. would say: questions? headaches? heartaches?) is welcome, as are questions about the meaning of life, and great summer salad recipes. I'll post the whole app once i'm done so you can cross your fingers with me. Here's to the imminent maybe of our funding, the eventual certain of our success, and the rare joys of clarity!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Crash Crash Crash! Live in Cinemascope!

So i've finally gotten it online! Sorry for the glitchy beginning (i had edited it out, but somehow uploaded this one...) but i can't wait any longer - i have to SHARE!

Here's the vid from our April 12th performance at DanceNOW[nyc]'s RAW festival! Check it out and TELL! US! WHAT! YOU! THINK!

13 Variations on a Car Crash - live performance version from Sarah A.O. Rosner on Vimeo.

You can just post about what you saw, what it made you think or feel, or you can check out the questions we posted if you want to respond to something more specific. Remember, there's no wrong way to see it, no wrong thing to take from it. Feedback on a new work is always immensely helpful, especially while it's still in process. It also just feels good to know that someone's out there on the other side of the 4th wall - sometimes a piece spends so long in the studio or in your head that it's hard to take it out of that context and think about the people who will be seeing it. And if you've got something to say but are shy about posting it publicly, you can always email us at

We'll be showing a newer version of this (with an added three minutes from the section that leads into it at the beginning) when we perform with CrossCurrents Dance Company at the Dance Place in DC at the end of May, so all you DCers, put it on your calendars and tell all your friends! It's actually really nice to look forward to performing this again - it's become quite a baby of mine.

That being said, c o m m e n t a w a y !

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Questions for RAW showing...

Just got back from a GREAT last rehearsal before our RAW showing, and feeling so so so excited to show it tomorrow. Lillie and i were talking about this - for some reason it feels like it's been a really secret piece. Perhaps a combination of not a ton of footage online, and the piece itself (and it's cast) shifting around and then coming together really quickly - it just feels like not many people have seen it yet. Combine that with the fact that this is this project's first NY showing, and you cna understand why i'm SIKED.

If you're planning on being at the show tomorrow, here are some questions that i have (for myself and for anyone interested in answering) since it is an in-process showing after all. Feel free to respond as comments here, in person, or via email ( I'll also try to get the video up asap so those of you that aren't going to make it can see/discuss.

1. What/when are the "ah-ha!" or "ooo!" moments for you? Moments that are exciting, stimulating, interesting, or entertaining?

2. Of the "slow motion" movement, what of it (if any) works for you and what of it (if any) doesn't? Would you say that the movement is more "embodied" or "acted", and how does that make you feel?

3. Let's talk about time and quantity. Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of movement/ideas shown in this time period and/or the speed at which they are shown?

4. Is there a narrative apparent in your mind? Is there something that this piece is about?

5. What specific moment or image sticks out to you the most? Why?

6. Are there any moments when you feel yourself unengaged, turned-off, or bored? Are there parts that distinctly don't work for you? Why?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The future of theater...

Here's a GREAT article/manifesto from Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, co-artistic directors of Big Dance Theater. Their show was (maybe not so coincidentally) the first dance performance i saw after coming to New York for college, and I still remember how interested and excited i was to see their show. I remember finally breathing a sigh of relief, realizing that there were minds MUCH more complex and advanced and avant garde than mine - relief that i was finally in a place where i could stop being the one person who made "wierd" dances, and instead get to work on all the learning that was ahead of me.

This spring (again, probably not so coincidentally) Big Dance Theater is choreographing the upcoming production of an Orestia, which is being presented by the Classic Stage Company, translation by my long-time word-wielding wonder-smith Anne Carson. Tickets expensive (although i just learned that there are side seats with a partially obscured view for only ("only") $15. Worth it? For these minds, i'm thinking yes.

Review #1 from Writing on Dance

As part of the Van Lier Fellowship at DTW, i'm working as the artist services assistant - filing fiscal sponsorship, printing mailing lists, and also being the DTW liaison to a handful of workshops. Until now, they've all been pretty up-my-alley: fundraising, marketing, touring, developing a board, etc. When i learned that I was going to take the "writing on dance" class taught by Claudia LaRoco, i didn't really think twice about it. I'm a dance writer, after all.

This thought did little to calm me as i sweated through the first class realizing that OH! i still have many many unresolved issues in my mind with the role and purpouse of the critic and OH! i'm not sure that there should be dance reviews and OH! maybe my issue isn't with the reviews themselves, but the idea of performance...oh dear.

The class is really interesting thus far - Claudia's illucidations on what she views as her role as a critic (specifically her understanding of criticism as a distinct artistic entity that the writer uses to triangulate the piece and the audience) are quite helpful in my internal struggles. Which is to say, i'm still struggling, but i think it's worth it. I'm making the most of being in the class, anyway, and that includes getting to do the assignments - a review a week!

I'll be posting them on here (and at least in this first one, this blog is the intended audience) but would value any feedback etc that you feel so moved to give. Enjoy! Or Detest! Or Both! At Once!


60 x 60 provides the economy package at Galapagos

I, the epic-dance maker, stand corrected.
Turns out that one minute is the perfect length for a dance.
Or rather, sixty dances.

On Tuesday Galapos Arts space presented Jeramy Zimmerman’s collaboration with “60 x60 Dance” – this year’s rendition of the larger ongoing multi-media multi-country “60 x 60” series. Composed by 60 individual composers and then choreographed by 60 individual choreographers, this unlikely format of 60-second performances is perfect for a city such as New York that’s overflowing with creators.

It’s like a wine tasting, only you’re sampling artists, and you get to relish both discovering new flavor and spitting it out if desired. Watching a program like this your brain begins to wrap around the enormity of New York’s dance scene, and you wish that a program like this was a more frequent occurrence.

Forget the dances - the format is key.
Pieces that you felt drawn to (for me, one specific piece where dancers took nearly the whole time to approach each other, then spewed water, fountianlike, into Galapagos’s pools) were great precisely because they followed the format – one minute of concise brilliance. Though many of them made you want to see more from the choreographer or dancers, the best pieces felt complete – choreographic petit fours – and didn’t leave you wanting more from that piece specifically.

Pieces that made you yawn or gag (highly-costumed women raising their legs oh-so high while being controlled by men – gaze theory, anyone?) only lasted a minute. Then, true to format, they were done, and you could breathe a sigh of relief, remembering other shows that wasted an hour of your life rather than just a minute.

Some pieces left you unsure right up to the end. Is there a point to this? Oh wait – there it is at 0:58. Other pieces left you unsure far past the ending. Did the choreographer know she was doing the same thing everyone does, or was she commenting on it? Is this one brilliant, or just too short to discover otherwise? In a show like this, ignorance was bliss.

As dance-audience regulars, this format of performance questioned our personal rules and economics of spectatorship. If the dance only lasts a minute, what do we expect to get from it? What does it need to do to be successful? If it’s only a minute, does it really matter if it fails?

While it certainly takes a skill and innovation to create a one-minute work that really shines, it’s also hard to make anything too horrible. Additionally, the revelry of how much of the work was produced – often times only one or two rehearsals, very much in a playful response to the music – shone through the show. It’s this that makes one-minute dances stand out to me as a great form, though by no means a new standard for how dances should be made. In an economy and city where artists slave for years to create a show seen by under a hundred people, this format seemed refreshingly egalitarian and viable: an hour or two of rehearsal for a minute of performance, done not in desperation or extreme amounts of effort, but with a smile and a shrug.


Check out the 60 x 60 website here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Oh No, Performers Coming Into Audience"


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Come see us perform!

This Sunday (you know, the 12th, the day with chocolate eggs and bunnies) at 11:00am, the A.O. Movement Collective will be showing "13 variations on a car crash", an excerpt from their upcoming eventing-length work. It's part of DanceNOW[nyc]'s RAW festival, and we'd love love l o v e to have you there!

Tickets are FREE too, you just have to email Lauren at with "RAW Reservations" in the subject line by Thursday to be on the list.

We're really excited to show it, and i'm hoping to use the occasion (this! our first new york premiere!) to take a step back from what we've made, as well as get some feedback. I'll post some specific questions before the show.

Also, we may be voyaging on a picnic or brunch after, so if you know me by being a reader but we haven't done the face-to-face thing yet, just introduce yourself and come along with us!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Finally! source for SIDEsubTEN is online...

It's about time!

If you're new to the blog or project (welcome!) SIDEsubTEN is an offshoot of the A.O. Movement Collective's new work. The idea is that we take the source material (32 + 2 phrases) of one of the sections (a solo called "glass tree") and give it to ten other artists. We then go our separate ways, and each make an original piece out of the material, joining back up in July to present the eleven works as a show at Chez Bushwick's CAKE series.

Ups, downs, and direction changes abounding (Julia, my dancer for the solo, is nursing a neck injury right now and not able to dance) the project has gotten off to a slow start, but i'm excited all the same.

This is a video of me doing the phrases (so we could get it online to show the non-NY collaborators). It's definitely lacks the sublty and visceral knowladge of the movement as well as sharp beauty that julia brings to it - a few of the phrases i hadn't ever done before this shoot - but it's at least a record. Enjoy!

Glass Tree Phrases for SIDEsubTEN from Sarah A.O. Rosner on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Design vs Sleep: the Plot Thickens...

Okay guys, i found this yesterday, and have been positively itching to post this ever since. At some point (theoretically) i'll have time to write a little bit more in depth about it (i've got a great post brewing about my adoption of technology and design as a gendered action) but for now you've got to
c h e c k // t h i s // o u t !

It's "Smashing Magazine" - while it reports itself to be a blog that "smashes you with the information that will make your life easier." it's a blog that's really more of a design nirvana for those who already know a little some some and want to play the classy way. It has some amazingly hip and entirely usable fonts that you can download and - get this - every month they release a new set! They also have a great collection of free downloadable wordpress themes. Time-consuming highlights also include great youtube/vimeo collections of the best movie intros, music videos, and short animations.

Go play!
You'll be up till 3, but you'll thank me next time you need to author a PDF to get asses in seats.