Cid Pearlman/Performance Projects constructs a dance 

click to enlarge In “Economies of Effort: 1,” dancers in Cid Pearlman/Performance Projects build the set onstage. - COURTESY BEAU SANDERS
  • In “Economies of Effort: 1,” dancers in Cid Pearlman/Performance Projects build the set onstage.
Keeping in tune with today’s maker culture, choreographer Cid Pearlman shows just how much work goes into constructing a dance piece in her new world-premiere “Economies of Effort: 1” opening at the Joe Goode Annex this week.

Construction is the operative word in the dance, presented by Pearlman’s Performance Projects.

Pearlman’s five female dancers actually build the set on stage every night using power tools, sawhorses and lumber. They also take part in the lighting and musical score (designed by Bessie award-winner Albert Mathias) by operating of two turntables and a laptop.

“We don’t imagine women constructing a house – something that has a solid shape with the illusion of permanence,” says Pearlman. “But when we create a dance or a piece of music, the substance is satisfaction, and that’s the essence of what we create.”

Rose Sellery’s costumes, which Pearlman describes as beautiful wearable art, are without extraneous contraptions, hats or billowing fabric. “They’re economic, too,” she says.

Inspired by the do-it-yourself movement, “Economies of Effort” is a response to today’s need for people to reconnect with their senses in a fast-paced world.

“Some things can’t be mechanized. Bodies and people can’t be sped up. But having the dancers build the set gives us independence and self-sufficiency. It makes it economically possible for us to perform in all different kinds of spaces – museums, cafeterias, parks,” Pearlman says. This week’s program also includes a revival of Pearlman’s 2011 trio “Drowning Poems,” which draws on imagery from writing by poets Carrie Powers, Stevie Smith and Emily Dickinson.

Unlike some choreographers, Pearlman – who often tackles serious subjects in a lighthearted way – brings together dancers of different sizes and ages. She says, “I take them wherever they are in their dance career – not where they were at one time or will be in the future. For the younger ones, I allow them to be themselves without forcing them to express a more mature self.”


Cid Pearlman/Performance Projects

Where: Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 5-7

Tickets: $18 to $22

Contact: (800) 838-3006,

Note: Performances also are Feb 20-22 at Motion Pacific in Santa Cruz.

About The Author

Andrea Pflaumer

Andrea Pflaumer

Andrea Pflaumer is a Berkeley-based author and journalist and former dancer who writes dance and arts previews for the San Francisco Examiner. She has just published her first book: Shopping for the Real You.
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