Choreographers Nina Haft and Sue Li Jue combine forces in “this.placed,” a series of nine short vignettes that form an evening-length meditation on place, space, where one belongs and where one finds oneself.
The show, presented by Nina Haft & Company and Li Jue’s Facing East Dance & Music, is onstage at ODC Theater in The City this weekend.
“Place is something you carry inside of you wherever you go,” Haft says. “How do people take place around with them and become attached? What happens when a person is dislocated?”
Haft draws from excerpts of author Britta Austin’s “Notecards: A Living Museum,” a collection of flash fiction on 4-by-6-inch notecards.
In one section titled “Flesh Taste Fiction,” three dancers stop and resume movement repeatedly, sometimes intertwined, sometimes supporting each other’s weight, constantly shifting their spatial relationship to each other.
Austin’s accompanying text is a sensual, voyeuristic musing on seeking closeness with people. The text and dance collectively create an impression of lost connections and false starts. Haft describes Austin’s voice as coming from “a very sensate” place.
“I feel like I’m in her body,” she says. “I wanted to work with desire and projecting oneself into something illicit and pleasurable.”
For performer Rebecca Johnson, the dance creates a tension between what is private and what is public, what is alone and what is universal.
In one of Li Jue’s sections of “this.placed” called “Not What She Seams,” the dancers unravel huge bolts of green, purple and blue fabric across the stage, evoking what is traditionally a woman’s domain, sewing.
“It’s about camaraderie, a sense of place, a sense of being grateful for having a place, and these feelings being tied up in dread and love,” Li Jue says. The notion of oscillating between dread and love is demonstrated in the juxtaposition between a lighthearted score with playful dancing, and the somber singing, gathering of fabric and a dance that is both joyful and solemn.
While the individual vignettes of “this.placed” vary greatly in themes, the piece as a whole seeks to give audience members visceral insight into, as Li Jue puts it, “what reads in the body of our own human story — memories from life experiences that linger in us, travel around with us and never leave us.”
Presented by Nina Haft & Company and Facing East Dance & Music
Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $18 to $24
Contact: (415) 863-9834, www.odcdance.org/buytickets