Jo Kreiter’s new aerial dance piece is inspired by Rebecca Solnit.
In October 2014, Harper’s Magazine published Rebecca Solnit’s “Cassandra Among the Creeps.” In it, Solnit examines female credibility—specifically, how women’s authority, cogency and credibility is called into question in many realms: political, economic, legal, social, familial, professional and academic. Solnit’s piece resonated with choreographer Jo Kreiter, founder and artistic director of Flyaway Productions. Kreiter had just completed a trilogy of dances on economic justice and visibility as seen through a feminist lens and was ready to move on to a new project; Solnit’s article served as a jumping off point.
“I got excited about how I might explore this idea of female credibility, about how economic justice fits into the narrative, and about how the law reflects and does not reflect the value of credibility for women,” Kreiter explains.
For the past two decades, Flyaway has examined vital issues through apparatus and aerial dance. “Aerial dance is dancing off the ground,” explains Kreiter. “We use rope and harness technologies that allow dancers to be suspended on the side of a building, hands free, [with] the wall becoming the ground.” Elevating women’s voices is a driving force behind Flyaway’s aerial choreography. Recent pieces have centered on marginalized and hidden women, homeless women and women’s history in labor. “In my work, I’m interested in thinking about new ways to ride gravity…bringing an imaginative language to female power and women’s rights,” she says.
Over the next two years, Kreiter developed “The Right to be Believed,” an evening-length aerial dance work that explores how the law and female credibility intersect. It will be performed on the outside wall of UC Hastings School of Law, an apt venue considering the subject matter.
At the start of each performance, the wall is blank. Then, in real-time, a cast of six women sets up and constructs the physical frame for the multi-chapter dance, which includes sections on TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws and on women in the workplace. Each segment of “The Right to be Believed” uses the frame differently to convey its distinct message.
Collaboration has always been integral to Kreiter’s work. “[Because] credibility is such an abstract and complex issue… I wanted to work with artists who could add descriptive, clear language and images that could balance out the different textures in the choreography and apparatus,” Kreiter explains. The production team includes Hip Hop duo FR333 (MADLINES and XOA), score; Ian Winter, projection design; Matthew Antaky, lighting; and Lynn Johnson, photo journalism. Longtime collaborator Karl Gillick created the rigging and apparatus system, making it portable so that the work can travel. Rounding out the artistic team are dancers Bianca Cabrera, Sonsheree Giles, MaryStarr Hope, Yayoi Kambara, Megan Lowe and Sonya Smith, all of whom, Kreiter says, “have come through in such a huge way to interpret my vision.”
Politically, “The Right to Be Believed” comes at an important moment. Kreiter says, “I hope that [this] work causes the soul to open just a little bit more and the spirit to be lifted enough to inspire action, action that is really needed right now.”
The Right to be Believed
May 25–27; June 1–3 (8:30.pm & 9:30.pm)
UC Hastings, 333 Golden Gate, San Francisco
Audience is welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets