Arthur In Underland (2012)
A bright-eyed young man longs to find meaning beyond the world bounded by Telegraph Avenue and the Haight-Ashbury. His fascination with the charismatic and predatory leader of the rock band Power Play leads to a hunger to be admitted to the inner sanctum of Power Play’s occult-infused entourage and triggers his transit through a dark landscape of dreams and metaphysics. There, he is forced to challenge his sexuality, his friendships and his very life.
With the world premiere of Arthur in Underland, the genre- and gender-bending ensemble Dandelion Dancetheater continues with their exploration into the universal themes of friendship, risk, emergent sexuality, loss, death, and the quest for the spiritual and eternal. In 2011 Dandelion introduced the first section in this three-part cycle, beginning with the audience- immersive piece FRIEND, to conclude in 2013 with POWER PLAY. The three parts of the trilogy present three different timelines, unifying several lives' perspectives as they pass through each other's realities and dream worlds.
The Dislocation Express (2011)
Eric Kuper's directed site-specific collaboration between AXIS Dance Company and Dandelion Dancetheater which travelled from Ed Roberts Campus inBerkeley to two BART stations - twice to the Powell station in San Francisco, and twice to the Walnut Creek station.
The Dislocation Express looks at the nature of place and displacement. Exploring the artists' experiences with finding a sense of home and then losing it, The Dislocation Express draws from images and fantasies about hobo culture to better understand contemporary notions of place amidst the portable internet and mobile phone culture.
All of the music for The Dislocation Express was performed live, composed by members of the ensemble and played on instruments, voices, adaptive apparatus and certain portions of the sets designed for sonic capabilities, including the sounds of wheels, wheelchairs, metal objects, and more.
The Dislocationn Express was generously supported by the Creative Work Fund.
"Friend" was created in response to the death of one of director Eric Kupers' best friends after years of living with a brain tumor. She died during the first week of my CounterPULSE residency. Eric and his friend had met during a tumultuous junior year of high school that provoked many spiritual, sexual and identity awakenings.
With the audience seated on stage and in the round, "Friend" was an immersive performance in an intimate space arranged in a non-traditional manner, with a heavy use of lighting as a mode of communication and expression. "Friend" was created as an Artist in Residence Commission at CounterPULSE in early 2011 and was supported by the San Francisco Foundation and numerous individual donors.
WonderSlow will be a 12-hour performance procession that will circumambulate the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. Performed for audiences and passersby the work will invite people of Oakland to pay attention to their environment in a new way – even if just for a moment. Inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “I am Waiting” (particularly the line “I am awaiting the rebirth of Wonder”), the event will include guest artists from throughout the Bay Area and will last from sun-up to sun-down.
Wonderslow is supported by the Clorox Community Foundation, The City of Oakland, and Theater Bay Area CA$H.
Don't Suck! (2010)
Don't Suck! was a multi-veined project exploring competition through the reality television model.
Reality TV Test - a performance-competition and online "webisode," the first pilot of a combination between performance and reality television.
Don't Suck! was created and performed at the Baryshnikov Arts Center September 7, 2010, and supported by the Princess Grace Foundation.
6 DEGREES (2010)
A dynamic representation of the interwoven dance community in California, 6 Degrees brings together performers and choreographers of various disciplines and aesthetics, showcasing the broad range among the state's divergent dance culture.
As Dandelion Dancetheater tours this project up and down the California coast, they will be joined in each city by six local companies -- three invited by Dandelion, and three invited by Dandelion's invites.
6 Degrees is supported by the Californina Ensemble Touring Initiative.
MamaLOVE: Seeds of Winter (2010)
MamaLOVE: Seeds of Winter is born from the belief that motherhood is a centerpiece of the human experience and affects anyone who has ever been or had a mother: everyone. Directed by Kimiko Guthrie, MamaLOVE: Seeds of Winter aims to bring to the public eye the full spectrum of experiences connected to motherhood, including those which are often marginalized and isolated. MamaLOVE: Seeds of Winter also aims to reach out to mothers from diverse socio-economic classes, races, and sexual orientations in the San Francisco Bay Area who want to be involved in art, yet do not necessarily have the resources to do so. The project provides child-care and a kid-friendly environment at ongoing workshops and performances that use dance, theater, creative writing, and music to address issues that these mothers find relevant. Interactions with mothers at these workshops inform the creation of a final performance piece which will collide dance, theater, traditional lullabies, and interviews of Bay Area mothers from diverse backgrounds, challenging stereotypes about motherhood and offering the radical idea that mothers’ experiences of and perspectives about today’s world are crucial to our socio-political culture.
MamaLOVE: Seeds of Winter is supported by Shawl-Anderson Modern Dance Center, Theatre Bay Area CA$H, the East Bay Community Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and numerous individual donors.
Dan Plonsey's Bar Mitzvah (2010)
Like many American Jews of his generation, composer Dan Plonsey was not raised within a context of traditional ritual, and his thirteenth year passed without a bar mitzvah. As his son approached his thirteenth year, Plonsey was inspired to finally undertake his own rite of passage, and to create an experimental musical dance/theater piece about the experience. The resulting work, Dan Plonsey’s Bar Mitzvah, asks profound questions about the goals, meaning, and expectations of traditional ritual in a post-modern world.
Presented as an actual Bar Mitzvah event, this immersive performance takes audiences through a bizarre journey that wrestles with traditional and alternative ideas about what it means to be an adult, a Jew, an artist, and a member of a Jewish family. Directed by Eric Kupers in collaboration with Dan and Mantra Plonsey, the piece is performed by a highly diverse, multi-generational cast of performers from Dandelion Dancetheater and the Cal State East Bay Department of Theatre and Dance. Dan’s music is played live by nine piece all-star roster of Bay Area musicians, and Mantra Plonsey’s text reveals the intimate dynamics of a family of experimental Jewish artists as they navigate the twists and turns of parenthood, livelihood, religion, scheduling, chaos, and a yearning for meaning.
Dan Plonsey’s Bar Mitzvah is commissioned by the Jewish Music Festival and supported in part by the East Bay Community Foundation Fund for Artists, the Zellerbach Family Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and numerous individual donors.
MUTT examines mixed identity by following the fractured story of Miyo, a mixed-race girl born in an internment camp during WWII to a Japanese-American internee and a Caucasian prison guard. The dance-play begins just after Miyo’s death, when she wanders into a strange after-life honky-tonk inhabited by a motley crew of characters: ghosts of players in her life story and spirits representing various sides of herself. Miyo, who has always felt an outsider due to her mixed ancestry, feels at home for the first time in this odd place in-between life and death. MUTT follows the days—forty-nine—that Miyo spends in this honky-tonk, during which she wrestles with issues from her last identity as she simultaneously faces terrifying questions about future ones. This surreal dance-play takes Miyo and audiences into many surprising, absurd, often humorous and liquid realms inspired by states of in-between.
Co-directed by Eric Kupers and Kimiko Guthrie, MUTT stemmed form Kimiko’s continual investigation of her own mixed ancestry. The creation of MUTT began with a script, written by Kimiko. As the play progressed, the script was increasingly deconstructed and turned topsy-turcy by Eric and the interdisciplinary performers of Dandelion Dancetheater, exposing a humanistic exploration of what it means to be split, or in-between two worlds. All music is played live on stage by the performers, who simultaneously take on roles of dancer, musician, and actor – embodying through form and character the off-kilter state of split identity.
MUTT toured to Joyce SoHo in New York City, Double Edge Art Farm in rural Massachusetts, and Wawona Village in Yosemite before opening ODC Theater’s 2009 Fall Season with three full houses in San Francisco. MUTT was created with support from the Japan Foundation New York, the Lighting Artists in Dance Program, ODC Theater, the Princess Grace Foundation, the SanFrancisco Arts Commission, Theatre Bay Area CA$H, the Wattis Foundation, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.
Oust began with the Buddhist concept that there exists no solid lasting self and pulled from examples such as illegal immigration, refugee crises, and wars that divide countries and ethnic groups. Supported by the Rockefeller MAP Fund, SF Arts Commision, Grants for the Arts Nonrecurring Events Fund.
We love you to the end of the world (2008)
We love you to the end of the world, co-director Kimiko Guthrie's thesis piece, explores how Television simultaneously placates people, making them passive viewers of global violence, and also seduces them to become active contributers to this violence as hungry consumers. This nightmarish piece is from the point of view of a child who, just before going to sleep, witnesses a disturbing, violent event on the evening news, followed by an equally disturbing, maniacally happy advertisement, and is reassured by her parents that she is completely safe.
Spinal Fluid (2008)
Eric has received a prestigious Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Fellowship to create SPINAL FLUID with AXIS Dance Company. Simultaneously, we will be creating an alternate version of the work on Dandelion Dancetheater with support from the Zellerbach Family Fund and the CSUEB Faculty Grants.
SPINAL FLUID will be a research intensive work, seeking to find methods of choreography that can survive multiple cast replacements over the long term and remain accessible to performers of all body abilities/disabilities and size/shape.
DROP is a dance/theater work that explores the theme of groundlessness – the instability in life we so often try to avoid, but with which we ultimately must come to terms. Reflecting on the performers’ experiences of dashed expectations, surprising losses, and slippery twists and turns that have made them question who they are and the nature of identity itself, DROP exposes the audience to sudden shifts of perspective, experiences of “the rug being pulled out from underneath.” Supported by a major grant from the Gerbode Foundation and produced by DanceArtSF, Inc.
ANICCA is the culminating piece form Dandelion Dancetheater’s five-year investigation titled The Undressed Project. ANICCA is “in your face” – a dance/theater work which explores our complex relationship to our bodies and challenges body image prejudice by illuminating the impermanence of all bodies and placing beauty concerns in a larger and more pressing context. The work looks at body politics; power dynamics; the lines between sensual, sexual and medical nudity; aggression; violence; and our multi-layered responses to mortality.
Eric Kupers, co-artistic director of Dandelion Dancetheater and director of the project, says “Every body is perfect for dance. This simple statement is the seed of Dandelion Dancetheater’s Undressed Project. Mainstream culture is plagued with rejection of bodies as they are. This problem is extreme in the dance world where anorexia, bulimia, size-ism and ageism run rampant.” The Undressed Project re-visions this dilemma in the context of the body’s mortality, using visceral dance/theater performed by a large cast of dancers diverse in size, shape, race, physical ability/disability, sexual orientation, and age.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian enthused about Undressed Project works, “Wickedly funny! Ballsy in every sense of the word!...revealing assumptions, prejudices, and the slippery intersection of life and live art…Undressed blurs the objectification of the body, allowing new ways of looking at dance.”
Response to The Undressed Project has been exhilarating. Works have been reviewed and featured in articles in Contact Quarterly, SF Chronicle, SF Bay Guardian, SF Bay Times, SF Examiner, LA Times, Hokubei Mainichi, Spectator, N Magazine and more. Through workshops, discussions, public showings and multiple types of performance, The Undressed Project has created connections with multiple communities interested in the intersections between performance, healing, and social activism.
The Undressed Project was created with the support of the Jon Sims Center for the Arts, ODC Theater, Theater Artaud, and an Irvine Foundation/Dance USA “Dance: Creation to Performance” grant.
A Walk in the Park (2006)
This collaborative duet created by Eric Kupers and Neil Marcus looks at loneliness and the fleeting opportunities for connections through the lens of a meeting between two men, and the ways in which they navigate fear, shyness, desire and connection. It combines dance/theater with physically integrated dance, as well as poetry by Marcus, a disabled artist and activist.
Dandelion joins forces with singer/songwriter Lori B and writer Andrew Ramer to research models for performance that deliberately facilitate healing for both the performers and audiences. Crafted specifically for intimate spaces, Prism addresses relationship wounds and their foreshadowing from childhood. Performances transformed a studio at Jon Sims Center for the Arts, SF for an unexpected spatial configuration.
A wild ride along the intersections of improvisation and composition within experimental dance, music and performance painting, using these three mediums to ask questions about the nature of self and selflessness, obsession and detachment. Created and performed collaboratively by Dandelion, avant-jazz quartet Quadrangle and painter Nancy Ostrovsky. Performed at ODC Theater, SF and Electric Lodge, LA.
You plays with the slipperiness of memory and projection in relationship, examining fragments from childhood and how they impact present day interactions. Performed by Josie Alvite, Christy Funsch, Rebecca Johnson, Debby Kajiyama, Eric Kupers, Anne-Lise Reusswig, Manfred Schaechtle at ODC Theater, SF and Electric Lodge, LA.
Night Marsh (2004)
Night Marsh explores impermanence and death and how these given aspects of
life imprint on perceptions of our bodies. Drawing on the research in naked
dancing that Dandelion conducted through three years of the Undressed
Project, Night Marsh has been performed Jon Sims Center for the Arts in San
Francisco, as part of the SF Queer Arts Festival, at the Mondavi Center in
Davis and at the Electric Lodge, Los Angeles. The work incorporates a core
cast of dancers with diverse body types dancing completely naked, and future
versions will integrate a chorus of community members that allows for an
even wider range of naked bodies.
Stories Written Under Skin (2003)
A work commissioned by the California Choreographer‚s Festival in Laguna Beach, for a performance at the Sawdust Festival, Laguna Beach, CA. This work weaves together Dandelion‚s highly physical, quirky and emotionally driven movement and partnering with lyrical story-songs by singer/songwriter Lori B to explore love in its losses and redemptions. Also performed as part of Dandelion‚s „Re-Visioning the Body in Dance #1‰ at Western Sky Studio, Berkeley.
Kimiko Guthrie's There, performed by Eric Kupers, Frank Shawl, Debby Kajiyama and Erin Gottwald, tells the vigorous, fragmented story of a man engaged in a race, both backwards and forwards, with Time. Caught in one moment, he looks incessantly back at himself, trying to reconcile who he has been over the years, and as well cannot stop looking forward towards that which he might, willingly or unwillingly become. The piece is set to text by Kimiko.
The Undressed Project (2002 - present)
Shown as a work-in-progress at Jon Sims Center for the Arts; premiered at ODC Theater in SF
Eric Kupers interrogates the assumptions of physical beauty that have engendered an array of insecurities, from anorexia and bulimia, to self hatred and abuse. By exploring the naked body within the medium of dance, with a cast diverse in size, shape, color, age, race and sexual identity, Kupers challenges the dancers and the audience to remember the innocence, power and beauty of the human body. Undressed experiments with dismantling the stigmas around nudity in this culture, through highly physical dance and partnering that includes acrobatics, intimate touch, physical humor and the exploration of the artistic advantages to having areas of our bodies that wiggle, jiggle, shake and bounce. Created in an Airspace residency at the Jon Sims Center for the Arts and including music by local music artists Down River and Lori B.
Strange Hole (2002)
Shown as a work-in-progress at the East Bay Dance Festival; premiered at ODC Theater in SF
Choreographed by Kimiko Guthrie. Explores the landscapes of loss through three vignettes weaving together loops, holes, catches, slips and sudden disappearance. Strange Hole includes a new duet choreographed and performed collaboratively by Guthrie and co-director Eric Kupers. Performed by Dawn Frank, Kerry Gaither, Kimiko Guthrie, Debby Kajiyama, Eric Kupers and Ching Chi Yu.
Shown as a work-in-progress at Jon Sims Center for the Arts; premiered at ODC Theater in SF
Choreographed by Eric Kupers. An undressed prologue. This duet, performed by Eric and Kimiko, explores and challenges, through humor and fluid dance, the prevailing and constraining beliefs about body type in the dance world.
Start Adrift (2001)
(Work-in-progress) Performed at Jon Sims Center for the Arts; ODC Theater in SF, Cal State Los Angeles
A collaborative project initiated and organized by Eric Kupers, and co-created and performed by Kupers, Manuelito Biag, Manfred Schaechtle and Oscar Trujillo. Part 1 was performed throughout the Bay Area and Los Angeles in the Summer of 2001 and was a series of intimate duets, some highly sensual between men in suits. Part 2 delves into the nature of dating in the gay male world; touching on personal ads, talk-show type stereotypes about gay and bisexual men, fears of vulnerability and isolation, and dance that boldly crosses the line between partnering and explicit making out (with a cameo by Trujillo’s partner, Mazdak). Created in an Airspace residency at the Jon Sims Center for the Arts.
Premiered at Summerfest 2000 at the Cowell Theater in SF; also performed at Open Arts Circle in Oakland
Choreography by Kimiko Guthrie. Tells the story of a woman stranded by the side of the road. Cast: Manuelito Biag, Kimiko Guthrie, Chingchi Yu. Alternate cast included Dawn Frank. Original Live Music: Daniel Berkman; Visual Art: John Jacobsen
Premiered at ODC Theater in SF; also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland
Choreography by Eric Kupers in collaboration with the dancers. A trio in which the three dancers are always in contact with one another; explores the intense interwoven dynamics of a triangle relationship. Cast: Kimiko Guthrie, Debby Kajiyama, Eric Kupers
Mind Circle (2002)
Premiered at ODC Theater in SF; also performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland
Choreography by Kimiko Guthrie. A dance-play exploring aging and the circuitous journey of memory loss. Cast: Brad Guthrie, Debby Kajiyama, Eric Kupers, Sue Roginski
Miyo in the Middle (1998)
Choreography: Kimiko Guthrie, in collaboration with Eric Kupers Original Music: Monica Pasqual, Bob Frank Text: Kimiko Guthrie-Kupers
(The premiere performances of Miyo were produced by Asian American Dance Performances at Theater Artaud in San Francisco. Since then Miyo has toured to New York and Hawaii. Miyo has been funded by the Serpent Source Foundation for Women Artists, and in large part from a generous grant from an Anonymous Foundation. Earlier versions of Miyo were also funded in part by the Zellerbach Family Fund.)
This evening-length dance-play explores life and mind of Miyo, a girl born to a Japanese mother and a Caucasian prison guard in an American Internment Camp during WWII. This post-modern dance/play, uses lyrical, emotionally-charged dance, dramatic scenes, and original music to follow the complex, often tragically humorous family-life of Miyo, including her mother's wandering ghost and her father's other wife and child. Based loosely on Sam Sheppard’s play “Fool for Love,” Miyo in the Middle is the story of an All-American Hapa-Cowgirl, and -without providing the audience with simple answers--sheds light on one woman's struggle to come to terms with her complicated mixed identity, the Internment, and her mother's suicide.
Choreography: Eric Kupers, in collaboration with Kimiko Guthrie Music: Kaila Flexer and Third Ear, and others Costumes: Dandelion Dancetheater
(Riverbed premiered as part of Summerfest '98 dance festival in San Francisco. Dandelion Dancetheater has since performed the piece in the states of Bihar, Orissa, and Kerala in India, in Los Angeles and at Santa Rosa's First Night festival and in Hilo, Hawaii. Riverbed was funded in large part by a grant from an Anonymous Foundation and by the Zellerbach Family Fund.)
Riverbed, a duet between Dandelion Dancetheater directors Kimiko Guthrie and Eric Kupers, explores the ebb and flow of relationship through the universal metaphor of water. Using contact improvisation-based partnering and full-bodied, liquid-inspired dance, Riverbed portrays an intimate couple at a bittersweet transition in their lives.
2nd Class Sleeper, Seat 26 (1999)
Choreography: Kimiko Guthrie and Eric Kupers Original Music: Hyim Ross Commissioned by: Dancing in the Streets
(Dandelion Dancetheater was commissioned by Dancing in the Streets to create this new piece, which premiered at Wave Hill in New York, and was performed as part of Summerfest '99 at the Cowell Theater in SF as well as in Hilo, Hawaii. These performances are made possible in large part by a grant from an Anonymous Foundation.)
2nd Class Sleeper, Seat 26 is a kinetic, archetypal journey from the known and safe to the frightening and ultimately redeeming territories of the long-closeted spirit. In this piece Dandelion Dancetheater uses unexpected, turbulent turnings of bodies and events, sensual momentum, humor, real-time action, and dream-like imagery to portray the adventures and awakenings of Mr. Zeitzmann, a character metaphorically evolved from the company's recent travels in India. 2nd Class Sleeper, Seat 26 will feature the exciting combination of vigorous, traditional and alternative modern dance, theatrical text and gesture, and abandoned, intimate partnering that the San Francisco-based company has been developing over the past several years. Mr. Zeitzmann, a man without much to say, goes about life in a timid, inconspicuous fashion, not changing his routine in the slightest from day to day. He is utterly unprepared for the wild cast of characters he is about to meet, the colorful chaos he will be bombarded by, and the astonishing unraveling and complete scattering of his very identity as all his carefully placed, skillfully packaged belongings are scattered to the wind.
Other past works include...
In This House (1996), which featured Beverly's Piece (1995), In Their Wedding Clothes (1996), Across the Ocean (1996), and others, as well as work by choreographer/videographer Rajendra Serber; The Fear Project (1995); One time a bird looked at me and I knew it was you (produced by Unbound Spirit Dance Co., 1994); and Did You Say Something (1993).