By Amanda Sieradzki
Two Years Later
Brewer’s Hot Walk
Encircles An Unspoken Center
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March 11-12 at 7 pm
Sarasota Contemporary Dance
March 12 at 7 pm
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Enter the elevator. Go up to the third floor and exit. Walk down the long hallway, towards the box office. To the right, take another hallway that passes through a kitchenette into a large meeting area with a long table. There’s a couch and some chairs, and a wall showcasing local artists’ work. Keep walking out onto the covered back patio and past the staircase. Keep going.
Turn left. There’s a tiny hallway. Go inside. Walk through the doors into the dance studio. The studio expands away from you, large windows streaming light.
Walk out the double doors. You’re back where you started… at the elevators.
This is the “track” choreographer Heidi Brewer will have her dancers take as they perform hot walk on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 at Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD). The durational performance is part of SCD’s In-Studio Performance Series, a residency for artists to share in-progress and developed works.
Dancers Tammy Carrasco and Kirsten Standridge will move counterclockwise on their paths for this traveling show that will have two in-person performances, as well as a livestream for virtual viewing.
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Brewer originally premiered hot walk, then titled ellipses, as a part of projectALCHEMY’s annual Momentum Showcase in fall 2019. The piece took place outside in the abandoned bank teller booths that join with Studio@620’s space. Dancers Carissa Bishop and Kirsten Standridge walked tandem circles in khaki jumpsuits, gravel shuffling underfoot as their backlit figures cycled again and again.
– – Amanda Sieradzki wrote about this earlier work in DIYdancer Magazine – “Methodically, like a surgical procedure, like the sun will rise again, we see them come around the bend again, sure as the sun will set again, they disappear, foot, grab, release into a high arcing dome. The gravel crunches underneath their sneakers. Their shadows grow longer, backlit, white halo silhouettes. Their cycles complete they run past us back into the studio.” – –
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Now, in spring 2022, the world has cycled through countless phases of a worldwide pandemic. Shutdowns, postponements, lockdowns, cautious re-openings. The dance world has circled between virtual standstill and radical alterations alongside evolving safety practices. Brewer’s hot walk reflects on these cycles, as well as centrifugal force, momentum and its interrupters.
As the two-year mark of the COVID-19 lockdown approaches — one of the most influential and terrifying interrupters in modern history — the movement itself seems to hold a certain power in how it chooses to circulate.
“Because they’re on the same track so to speak, circling around, it feels like there must be something in the center,” says Brewer. “I’ve been thinking a lot about centrifuge and that force that keeps you going around, like a bit of a vacuum. In a sense if you think about the way the pandemic has had this pull on our lives for two years now, we’ve had to abide by certain things and pay attention to certain things we never did before.”
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Brewer is a Pacific Northwest native and University of Washington alum who has worked in Seattle, New York and Los Angeles since 2001. Her rehearsal process for hot walk has been as atypical as the work itself, highlighting the use of video-calling and Zoom in pandemic-era dance-making.
Alongside her collaborator and Los Angeles-based dramaturge Ajani Brannum, Brewer’s rehearsals patched in dancer Carrasco from Philadelphia while she and Standridge worked in St. Pete. She says the performance will come together a few days before the premiere when everyone is in the same space, much like another major influence on this work — fashion shows.
“It’s the power of walking,” says Brewer. “The way that somebody walking with an insane amount of confidence in an amazing outfit, not doing anything else, can make thousands of people go wild. Why and how is that so powerful and mesmerizing sometimes? There’s something about attracting attention and drawing somebody’s eye.”
Brewer hopes the pacing and the rhythm of hot walk will offer a meditative headspace for the audience as the dancers exhibit stamina and spectacle. A map will be provided for in-person attendees so that they can preview the duet’s pathway through SCD’s third floor space. Brewer will direct audience members to three seating areas — the main meeting room, the outdoor patio, and at the center of the dance studio facing the double doors.
Once audience members choose a place to sit, they must stay there for the performance’s duration. Carrasco and Standridge will navigate the narrow hallways, at one point even passing one another. The audience will not only see the performance from their unique vantage point, but will be able to view a video projection of at least one other space. Brewer wants to offer a livestream as well as the virtual performance which will possibly show all three spaces simultaneously. Cycles upon cycles.
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Much of the continuous inertia in Brewer’s choreography relates to her experience building a non-stopping practice under the guidance of dance artist Jeanine Durning during her own COVID lockdown. The practice centers on cultivating strategies for continuing in all contexts, whether it’s through hardships or investing time and energy in activities that feed creative practices.
For Brewer, hot walk is an open prompt in non-stopping. It is a continuous run-on conversation in response to the world around it.
“This piece can’t really ignore what is happening on our planet or in our lives because it’s a reflection of that given its cyclical nature and this never-ending looping of movement,” says Brewer. “I have a hard time understanding how this piece ends because it doesn’t feel like it ends to me.”