What's The Egg That Needs To Be Cooked Now?

That's one of the things choreographer John Jasperse wondered about during a forum called Curating Dance: Ideas and Innovation held at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) conference on Friday January, 11th. The question derives from a Thurston Moore interview in which Moore recounts someone telling him, "You should never boil an egg twice."Jasperse spoke of this as a reminder to take risks, to keep challenging ourselves within performance creation and curation. This became a theme that was articulated quite beautifully by many of the eight panelists during a three hour forum.

I was especially touched by Jasperse, Sixto Wagan of DiverseWorks in Houston, and Ken Foster of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. These three passionately and boldly spoke about the role of risk taking not only in developing the arts but, even more importantly, as a way of developing the kind of citizens we want in our communities. Foster said, "The choice to not risk is as large a statement as the choice to risk. Over time, what happens to our culture? I know it looks safe to only present comedians, but it's not. I look at our own current political situation and I hold presenters largely responsible for that." And Wagan, "How can I help redefine what culture can be...What can I do to shake things up?"

These men struck me as thinking, questioning, caring human beings interested in supporting and developing other thinking, questioning, caring human beings. In a culture in which schools (and governments) have become places for filling in multiple choice bubbles, artists and the people who present them have an even greater responsibility to offer alternatives.

Jasperse spoke about our "convenience lifestyle," and a "permeating value system that says ease is good, effort bad." He said, "A soundbite that goes with this is 'if you can't say it quickly, it's not worth it.' But poetics exist in a realm of not one point." (Nice to be reminded of this at APAP, an event that seems set up to share soundbites.)

Jasperse reminded me of Jerome Bel and "La Societe de Spectacle," with his remarks. He continued, "Entertainment is not the central component of my work. Instead of that passive model, I look at pleasure in the aesthetic experience. If that doesn't function, people will say no. The pleasure is a means to an end and that end is awakening. That is my responsibility as an artist--- awakening."

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