What is a score? The Baccara Collaborative’s exhibition Thirteen Ways at the Bolt Gallery in Chicago included an essay in their printed catalog by Syniva Whitney that included writing about score work and choreographic scores intended to be read at the installation:
We find directions/choices are everywhere … often with confusing/painful/pleasurable/boring outcomes. I have become obsessed with the way the simple visual cue of the SLASH directs the reader/dancer to explore their body/mind’s potential, highlighting the ways in which we choose NOT to move and think: confronted with a directive, we may simply choose to say no to it. The SLASH also highlights the desire to rebel against any directive at all. The movement scores I have written for 13 Ways could play themselves out in silliness or seriousness. This reminds me of the sense of collaboration the artists have brought to this work. We don’t know exactly where Madeleine/Maurene is present; we just know that they both are, and it is fun/maddening to imagine where.
This choreography may only ever play itself out on this printed matter. These prompts could just as easily be the text at the bottom of a Choose Your Own Adventure paperback, like House of Danger by R. A. Montgomery (one of my faves). There are other ghosts at work here. The Fluxus movement is felt, Maya Derren dances by, The Adventures of Baron Munchusen can be heard in the background, Grand Theft Auto is being played next door and that certain inner city beach smell is present. Consider the following words to be hiding underneath the structure of this installation. Imagine that you are at play in a story with pages as gigantic as the city of Chicago itself, and that this installation is a space between words you are invited to explore.
Note to the reader: These scores were intended to be performed/danced at the installation you are attending with your body/mind. Words separated by a / indicate a choice you can make in your movement and/or imagination. Choose any/all/one/none of the following prompts in any order.
1. Begin a kind and ecstatic breathing. The beach in the image lunges/stands, the sand reclines/claps, the realty is: here we might step shoeless. Slicing is inevitable. Syringes have been held cozily. Needles disposed of thoughtlessly. Madeleine walked here. Slump with the memory of a murder and/or an escape that did/will happen.
2. To bend without cracking the ribs/to adjust the view with a simple step. Turn to the right/backwards. Stand on pointe/block someone’s view.
3. Touch someone in attendance/Maurene softly on the wrist. Your living room does the impossible while you are not there/here.
4. The garden is a fake/everything died here or rusted. Relax your forehead. Even your pituitary gland is an empty ruin. Cough/giggle.
5. Slide this printed matter up and down your/Madeleine’s leg. Sense the breath from the mouths of two absent friends stretching across your back. Your legs move beyond the floor of your last apartment. Bend at the waist.
6. Begin itching your chest/breasts. Now stare at a rounded edge of a shadow created by the room until your eyes blur/blink. The bile in your stomach jumps, then trickles down like molasses.
7. This is an impossibility/necessity for me but maybe not for you/the Baccara Collaborative. Your/their torso will revolve around a different kind of calendar. Check the calendar in your day planner/smart phone/mind. Write/type/think down fuck/eat/shit anywhere and then erase/delete/forget it immediately.
8. Thirst/whisper for something that has never occurred.
9. What are you wearing/seeing? Take a photograph with your smartphone/mind’s eye. Jump/close your eyes while capturing the image.
10. Slowly make your way around the installation with your body and /or gaze. Relax your elbows. Walk in this manner for at least a minute/year. Re-
call the taste/flavor of the exhibit.
11. Impersonate the exhibition using only the most discreet of swaying motions and a slight variance in your breathing.
12. Grab anything besides the art with your mind/toes. Apply pressure/odor.
13. Emotions/erosion are shaping this moment. I’d/you’d be foolish not to see it, so look/stop/read again.
excerpt: GENDER TENDER in Go/Long
VIDEO: GENDER TENDER in Family/Portrait at ‘Mo-Wave: Seattle’s Queer Arts and Music Festival 2014
Thank you to our generous GT supporters:
Emily Batlan, Sara Ann Davidson, Maryam Steffen, Mark Krantz, Nora Sharp, Sayward Schoonmaker, Alicia Walker, Doug Mora, Lori Whitney, Anna Conner, Erin Hunter, Liz Panelo, Allie Hankins, Eric Gamoral, Callie Swedberg, EmpeROAR Fabulous!!!, Annie Terrell, Diana Prechter, Heather Stansbury, Lauren Brazell, Jessica Rawlings, Gena Barnabee, Nikolai Lesnikov, Ryan Johnson, Devi Bhaktananda, Anonymous, Patricia and Buster Reimers, Jenny Lowery, Spark Awesome, Steve Lundeen, Vanessa DeWolf
Special thanks to our presenters and partners:
Studio Current, Gay City Arts, Project: Space Available, Velocity Dance Center, On the Boards, Oh Snapz! Productions, Pidgeoncoop Productions, Queer Social Club, Lily Divine Productions
VIDEO: Gender Tender in Sync or Swim presented by Gay City Arts at Calamus auditorium, January 2014
ROOM/DRAG soloist: kt shores
Experimental Shifts at Seattle International Dance Festival / Rachel Gallaher
Sync or Swim Floats/ Ciara McCormack
The Pick List: The Week’s Recommended Events/ Sandra Kurtz
Blindfolds and Jockstraps at Next Fest NW/ Melody Datz
Touched at Velocity’s Next Fest/ Jeremy Buben
Next Fest NW 2013 All About the Audience/ Anna Waller
Sense and Nonsense at the Tulip Show/Kathryn Hightower
past and present GENDER TENDER performers, musical collaborators and artists include:
Ariskany Records, Christine Abdale, Vida Alapour, Mimi Allin, Eric Eugene Aguilar, Emily Batlan, Dahlia Blackthorn, Adam Boehmer (Tenderfoot), Lauren Brazell, Ava Cole (Golden Space), Will Courtney, Sara Ann Davidson, Alyza DelPan-Monley, Vanessa DeWolf, EmpeROAR Fabulous!!!, Steven Gomez, Alice Gosti, Kathryn Hightower, Rachel Houser, Paris Hurley, Kristi Krein, Ryan Law, Justine LaViolette, Joyce Liao, Mary Margaret Moore, Loren Othon (Golden Space), Lily Maureen, Juliana Meira do Valle, Olivia Ruggieri, Sayward Schoonmaker, Tikiri Shapiro, kt shores, ilvs strauss, Eli Steffen, Lydia Swartz, Annie Terrell, Jan Trumbauer, Hendri Walujo, Tyler P. Wardwell, Syniva Whitney, Belle Wolf, Meng Yu
Gender Tender is a Seattle based dance and theater project that has been described as "stand up comedy as much as dance" by art critic Melissa Feldman. Co-founded by choreographer and visual artist Syniva Whitney and actor Will Courtney the company makes work about the *trans* and queer* experience using an interdisciplinary process.They have shown work at ‘Mo-Wave: Seattle’s Queer Arts Festival, the Seattle International Dance Festival, On the Boards, Yellow Fish: Epic Durational Performance Festival, Gay City, the Seattle Fringe Festival, Washington Hall, Gender Odyssey, at the Satori Group’s Lab at the Inscape Building, Modern Dance Behind the Pink Door and Velocity Dance Center all in Seattle, WA. Drag and drills are featured in this tour ready duet, Go/Long, that premiered at Velocity’s NextFest NW in 2013. This piece led to the development of a full-length project slated to open at the Pocket Theater (Seattle) in 2015. "As a pair, Courtney and Whitney were a force to be reckoned with, offering brilliant insight into stereotyping." Kathryn Hightower writer, SeattleDances
Willsyn: Queer romantic relationships and family structures, shape shifting, Warhol worship, reality television, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, the day to day challenges of navigating hetero-normative culture as queer wizards…this is the stuff Willsyn is made of. Will is a trans* navigator and a cartoon grand piano. Syniva is an ever shifting gender fucked landscape and cartoon anvil. They have been “together together” for 16 years in a non-cartoon like way. They sometimes perform as the draglesque duo Leon and Neon Beige of the House of Beige.
Will is a healer, performance artist and actor. He was the muse and lead in Syniva’s short film SHOT DAY that screened at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and at Translations: The Seattle Transgender Film Festival. He is also one of the co-founders of GENDER TENDER and often performs with Syniva in duet and ensemble mode. He was a performer and an unusual photographer (took pics in performance mode of the action onstage) for Vanessa Dewolf’s project “Score for an Unrehearsed Ensemble” at the 2012 Northwest New Works Festival. He has danced in works by Shannon Stewart and appeared with Syniva in Shelby Earl’s music video “Swift Arrows” directed by Neil Ferron.
Syniva is obsessed with the heart felt, slippery and dangerous subjects of identity, power, emotional and physical movements, high and low culture and trash and transformation. In addition to being the choreographer for Gender Tender, Syniva has danced in works by Maureen Whiting, Paris Hurley, Vanessa DeWolf (as performer and visual designer), Shannon Stewart, kt shores, Alyza Delpan-Monley and Jan Trumbauer. Their artwork, installations and experimental videos have been exhibited across the country at places like Roxaboxen Exhibitions and Heaven Gallery in Chicago, Femina Potens and STUDIO gallery in San Francisco and more. They have performed at: Project: Space Available (Seattle), Siberia Bar (NYC), Performance Works Northwest (Portland), in the CALTRANS system (Bay Area) and Velocity Dance Center (Seattle). Syniva received their MFA in studio art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.