Tag Archives: Joan Jeanrenaud

Cid Pearlman Dance Performance “All Joan Show”


Laurie says:

Photo Beau Saunders

My daughter Cid Pearlman will present the All Joan Show, a retrospective of dances made in collaboration with remarkable San Francisco-based cellist and composer, Joan Jeanrenaud. (She was a 20 year member of the Kronos Quartet until she went on to solo work.) Shows are in San Francisco (Sept. 21st and 22nd) and Santa Cruz (Oct.19-21st).

As Claudia Bauer said in making the show her dance pick for the San Francisco Chronicle: Longtime collaborations yield rich rewards for choreographers and musicians, who can play off each other’s evolving ideas, talents and interests. The dances created over time can be just as fruitful for audiences, who get to contemplate their transformations and indulge in more work by artists who intrigue them.

I’ve watched Cid develop these works over time. I am continually impressed by both the aesthetics of her work, it’s strong and subtle social messages, and the quality of her dancers.

She is celebrating her long collaboration with Joan in an evening of three works: Strange Toys, small variations and Your Body is Not a Shark. Cid said that…I think Joan is one of the most extraordinary musicians and composers of her generation, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to continue working with her.

In revisiting these old works, I’m conscious of making a place for the dancers to be themselves inside the dance. These works are not frozen records from my archive. I see them as living things because dancers are not interchangeable. And if the works have a handmade feeling, that’s by design. I want the selvage edge to show, for the seams to be visible, with threads waiting to be snipped off.

The earliest piece on the program, Strange Toys, a 10-minute duet for two women, had its New York premiere at the Joyce Soho in 2004. It was nominated for two Los Angeles Horton Awards,.

small variations premiered as a 30-minute sextet in 2006. For this program Cid is adapting the work for four female dancers. “In this reimagining of the work, the women are doing the lifting that the men originally did, and it’s exciting to see how they adapt this choreography to their bodies,” she said.

Finally, Your Body is Not a Shark, an evening-length work, premiered at ODC Theater in San Francisco in 2013. Four sections of the nine-part whole will be presented on this program, with the role of the author [poet], originally performed by Denise Leto, shared by the dancers.

The Santa Cruz dates will include a 10-minute world premiere for the full ensemble with a new score by Jeanrenaud. (The music for this and for all the works on the program will be played from studio recordings.)

The All Joan Show runs September 21 to 22 at the Joe Goode Annex in San Francisco, before moving to Santa Cruz for a three-evening engagement at Motion Pacific, October 19 to 21. All performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets, $15 to $25, may be purchased online at joegoode.org/box-office and motionpacific.com.

Cid and Joan will take part in a pre-show talkback with the audience at [7:30 p.m.] on September 21

Your Body Is Not A Shark

Laurie says:

I’ve watched my  daughter Cid working intensely on this dance collaboration for the last year.   The article I’m quoting from SFArts is a superb conversation about Your Body is Not a Shark, disability, art and the way limits can lead to brilliant work.  Read the whole piece. (Article is on the red bar on the left.)

The world premiere of an evening-length dance performance, “Your Body Is Not a Shark,” by choreographer Cid Pearlman, opens at ODC Theater in the Mission {San Francisco}…Pearlman’s six dancers (ages 18 to 63) embody a series of new poems by Denise Leto. Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud composed the sound collage, which she performs. [The musical direction is by Maya Barsacq.]



How do artists continue to create when required to adapt to a radically changing body? That was the question that a handful of Bay Area women, each highly accomplished in her respective field, set out to explore in a multidisciplinary collaboration.

…Pearlman says, “I find poetry provocative and inspiring and it pushes my work in a lot of different directions. You can create abstract narratives that [evoke] sensation, emotion and visual pictures.”

She was particularly interested in how Leto brought her neurological condition, laryngeal dystonia, into her work. Diagnosed in 1993, Leto–who has been writing poetry since grade school–had to learn to articulate with a voice disorder that causes spasms of the larynx. She was accustomed to performing her own work, but the condition makes speech difficult, unpredictable and at times painful. (The condition can cause pain elsewhere in the body as well.)

As for her writing process: The work became more fragmented–the lines became shorter and more staccato, the rhythm became non-discursive, without an easily identifiable beginning, middle and end. Her poetry is more experimental now, and it includes themes and subjects that directly speak to issues of disability.

The dystonia created a framework for her,” observes Pearlman. “She’s a mature artist who knows her form well. There’s so much in there, so much sensitivity, intelligence, wisdom and complication.”

…In choreographing “Shark,” Pearlman responded to both the content and the poetic structure; Leto included, with the poems, an explanatory text to guide the choreographer and dancers. For example, in one section, written in the Japanese tanka form, Leto notes that the lines imply stops, continuation, etc.: “Keep going, but not as fast.” Pearlman worked to embody Leto’s directions as well as the imagery generated by the words, sometimes image by image, sometimes word by word. “It’s shifted how I make dances,” she says. “It forces me to break apart my structure and rebuild it in a different way.”

Before the actual work began, the artists met to talk extensively. Leto and Jeanrenaud found many similarities in the paths their artistic lives were taking despite their different disciplines and different disabilities. Jeanrenaud had her first episode of multiple sclerosis–an inflammatory disease that affects the brain and spinal cord–in 1996. After 20 years performing with the Kronos Quartet, she could no longer lug her cello around on the touring circuit, and that led to composing, which, she says, she’d never have started without the impetus of her new condition. Since then she has composed more than 50 pieces for cello and small ensembles.

…”Shark” is not a narrative about the heroic body in difference, or about perseverance, Pearlman emphasizes. Rather, it’s an exploration of how limitations constrain and yet allow new possibilities to arise. Says Leto, “It’s focused on the larger issue of the fragility of the human body in general, and aging. What happens when the body stumbles or stutters … [It’s about] moving through the world in difference and creating work from that rather than from the presumption of ability, of the able-bodied universe.”

As for the mysterious title: It comes from one of Leto’s poems and, says Pearlman, means different things to different people:

“Your hands, your lips, your aural torso bring a quiet down upon us

with her fingers on the strings that tell you:

the body of your body is not a shark.”


Your Body is Not a Shark at ODC Theater, San Francisco (January 11-13)

Your Body is Not a Shark at Motion at the Mill, Santa Cruz (January 17-20)

I’ll be at ODC and Motion at the Mill.  If it’s your neighborhood, I’ll hope to see you there.