Cid Pearlman: Your Body Is Not A Shark

Laurie says:

My daughter Cid has been working in collaboration with the composer and musician Joan Jeanrenaud and the poet Denise Leto on a major work.  It’s called Your Body Is Not A Shark.  I saw the first section last month at Looking Left in Santa Cruz and it really knocked me out.

I’m always impressed with Cid’s work.  And the way that this dance/collaboration centers on a conversation about the body and it’s fragility and limits, and the powerful possibilities within those limits and its universality is illuminating.  I’ve seen portions of the project both in video, rehearsal and performance and it is going to be her very best work.

One of the things I particularly appreciate about the work is that her superb dancers’ ages vary from 18 to 62.

This is Cid with the dancers performing, and talking and showing the process of developing the work at TEDX in Santa Cruz.

In 2010, Maya Barsacq approached Cid Pearlman and Joan to talk about collaborating with her orchestra. Out of these conversations came Your Body is Not a Shark. Choreographed by Cid Pearlman with an original score composed and performed by Joan Jeanrenaud, text by poet Denise Leto, and musical direction by Maya Barsacq, Your Body is Not a Shark is an investigation into the inevitable fragility of the human body.


We have been working on this project for two years and the world premiere will take place at ODC Theater in San Francisco in January of 2013, followed by performances in Santa Cruz at Motion at the Mill.
The Project

At some point in our lives, we each will experience a lack of physical capacity or a diminishing of social presence. This may come on quickly or over time, but it will come. Using “the stutter and the stumble” as inspiration for movement, sound, and poetic research, Your Body is Not a Shark asks the questions: What happens when we stumble, when our words won’t come out, when the body stutters? How can music, movement, and language evoke a broken wholeness?

In Jeanrenaud’s case, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1998 prompted her to leave the Kronos Quartet with which she had played for 20 years; but, she says, it’s also what “empowered” her to become a composer. For Leto, the onset of laryngeal dystonia – a neurological condition that impairs the vocal chords – has been a source of artistic exploration leading to new ways of experimenting with the sound and shape of her poetry.

The Process

This is complex content to work with and the collaborating artists are committed to a rigorous process of investigation. Denise is writing six original texts for Shark. Each of the performance’s sections engages with a different poetic form – Tanka, Sestina, Sound Poem, Oulipo, and Pantoum.  Joan and Cid are using Denise’s writing as scaffolding for meaning making, and the process has been fascinating so far, shifting the dance and music into new and exhilarating forms. Cid Pearlman Projects

They’re raising the final funds to produce Your Body Is Not A Shark on USA Projects.  They’re not quite halfway to their goal with only 3 weeks to go.

On that site, Cid and Joan are talking about developing the work and expressing the emotions in these issues and the fragility of all our lives.  It’s really worth listening to for it’s own sake.