Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener and Claudia La Rocco

Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener began their collaborative work while dancing together in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Since 2010 they have created site-specific installations, improvisational dances, traditional proscenium pieces, film dances and highly crafted and intimate, immersive experiences. Together they have been a part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Dance Development program, the New York City Center Choreographic Fellowship, and have been artists in residence at EMPAC, Mount Tremper Arts, Wellesley College, Jacob’s Pillow, Dance Initiative, Madison Square Park Conservancy, and Pieter (L.A). Their work has been presented at MOMA PS1 as part of Greater NY, The Chocolate Factory, New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, the Vail International Dance Festival, REDCAT, ICA Boston/Summer Stages Dance, the O Miami Poetry Festival, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, On the Boards, Marfa Sounding/Marfa Live Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music and SFMOMA.

Claudia La Rocco is the author of The Best Most Useless Dress (Badlands Unlimited), selected poetry, performance texts, images and criticism, and the novel petit cadeau, published by The Chocolate Factory Theater as a print edition of one and an interdisciplinary live edition. She edited I Don?t Poem: An Anthology of Painters (Off the Park Press) and Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets, the catalogue for Danspace Project’s PLATFORM 2015, which she curated. July, the debut album from animals & giraffes, her duo with musician/composer Phillip Greenlief, has just been released by Edgetone Records. She is an Artforum contributor, was a critic and reporter for The New York Times for many years, and is now editor-in-chief of SFMOMA’s arts and culture platform Open Space. She is currently an artist in residence at On the Boards, part of a three-year Doris Duke grant to create context around contemporary performance.

Visiting Artists | March 18- 31, 2018

Desire Lines: translation

After working together as dancers in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and then seven years of collaborative performance and research, Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener came to MANCC to develop their new work, Desire Lines: translation. Their work process engages in the idea of indexing their practice while exploring the nature of transmission of movement ideas.

“Desire Lines” are alternate, unofficial routes or social trails in nature and landscape architecture. They represent an accumulated record of disobedience and transformation. Mitchell and Riener apply this phenomenon to an improvisation practice that maps individual and collective action. The choreographic material is the attention of the performer, a navigation of impulses and adaptive systems. The dance offers shifting and emergent models for coexistence, assimilation, and rebellion. Their choices create a world built of its own desires, a provisional utopia constantly making and unmaking itself.

For Desire Lines: translation, the pair draws connections in the areas of improvisation, collage, task-based modes, mimesis, meditation, and transcendentalism. The work and processes of Robert Rauschenberg, Anna Halprin, Charles Atlas, architect Claude Bragdon, and spirit-medium and artist Ethel Le Rossignol are used as road maps to navigate internal psychological landscapes, external architectural landscapes, and collective desire.

As a part of their investigation into group dynamics and choice structures while at MANCC, Riener met with FSU’s Dr. Jens Grosser, Professor of Political Science with a focus in Game Theory. Riener shared the game-like elements present in the improvisational score for the piece, and Dr. Grosser reflected Riener’s thoughts through the lexicon of game theory, illustrating how the concepts of deviance and equilibrium, and the ways exogenous and endogenous game players impact the outcomes of situations, real or imagined.

In addition, Mitchell and Riener opened the doors of their rehearsal process to the public in four Open Studio sessions, sharing their improvisational practice in both traditional studio settings, as well as outdoor spaces throughout FSU’s campus. Observers were welcome to come and go as needed, as dancers honed their ability to respond to bystanders not necessarily familiar with contemporary dance practices. Two of these sessions took place during the School of Dance’s weekly Forum.

Writer Claudia La Rocco joined Mitchell and Riener in her capacity as artist-in-residence at On the Boards in Seattle. Through a three-year Doris Duke grant, she is creating context around contemporary performance (focused on, but not exclusive to, the artists at OntheBoards.tv), in part through building partnerships with institutions such as MANCC. The Duke award is an artist-led grant, and the focus is on privileging individual perspectives, styles, and voices, approaching the creation of context as its own artistic practice.

Working with organizations like MANCC, and numerous artists and thinkers in the field, La Rocco’s project is an effort to spin constellations of ideas around ephemeral works, allowing individual viewers various avenues into these performances through such materials as interviews, essays, poems, drawings, and archival videos. Some of these materials are pre-existing, while others are being commissioned. While here at MANCC, La Rocco generated written material in response to the ensemble’s rehearsals and showings, and performed a reading of selected passages, in concert with Mitchell and Riener.

  • Silas Riener
  • Stanley Gambucci and Jennifer Gonzalez during an open studio session
  • Eleanor Hullihan, Cori Kresge, Jennifer Gonzalez and Stanley Gambucci improvise during an open studio session
  •  Jennifer Gonzalez, Cori Kresge and Stanley Gambucci
  • Riener improvising during open studio session
  • Artists talking with students from FSU's School of Dance
  • Artists talking with students from FSU's School of Dance
  • Artists improvising on Landis Green, on FSU's campus
  • Artists participating in site-specific improvisation
  • Artists participating in site-specific improvisation
  • Artists participating in site-specific improvisation
  • Artists participating in site-specific improvisation
  • Cori Kresge and Stanley Gambucci
  • Silas Riener, Jennifer Gonzalez and Cori Kresge rehearsing/improvising for Desire Lines: translation
  • Jennifer Gonzalez
  • Claudia Lo Rocco and Rashaun Mitchell
  • Jennifer Gonzales
  • Cori Olinghouse, archivist
  • Silas Riener and Paul Moreland
  • Silas Riener and Eleanor Hullihan
  • Paul Moreland and Stanley Gambucci
  • Paul Moreland, Cori Kresge and Jennifer Gonzalez
  • Eleanor Hullihan
  • Silas Riener and Cori Kresge
  • Silas Riener and Claudia La Rocco share work at FSU's School of Dance Forum
  • Silas Riener and Claudia La Rocco share work at FSU's School of Dance Forum
  • La Rocco and Riener
  • Claudia La Rocco
  • Riener and La Rocco
  • Silas Riener, Rashaun Mitchell and Claudia La Rocco talk with students after their Forum showing.
  • Eleanor Hullihan, Silas Riener and Paul Moreland perform at FSU School of Dance Forum
  • Cori Kresge
  • Site-specific improvisation at School of Dance Forum
  • Silas Riener
  • Silas Riener and Eleanor Hullihan
  • Riener and Claudia La Rocco during post-showing discussion
Collaborators in Residence: Stanley Gambucci, Jennifer Gonzalez, Eleanor Hullihan, Cori Kresge, Paul Moreland [Dancers], Cori Olinghouse [Archivist], Laura Checkoway [Filmmaker]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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