Courtesy photoPower of objects:  A “foam tableau” is among the scenes in “Spaceholder Festival

Courtesy photoPower of objects: A “foam tableau” is among the scenes in “Spaceholder Festival

‘Spaceholder Festival’ mines the past for meaning

If you gathered the artifacts from one day in your life — what you use, things you consume, what you value or discard — and buried them, what would some future archeologist infer about your life?

This was the question Minneapolis-based choreographer Morgan Thorson pursued for “Spaceholder Festival,” an evening-length performance piece for five dancers getting its West Coast premiere at ODC Theater this weekend.

Thorson became interested in the concept of movement artifacts as expressions of who we are by reading about archeology.

“Cultural objects have significance in tracking and identifying human behavior throughout history,” she says. To understand the process of uncovering found objects she participated in an archeological dig. “You have to be very careful about moving the dirt away so that you don’t damage the object. At first you might think it’s part of a bottle and then you realize it’s part of a pipe. So the meaning of the object changes as it is revealed, which is something that I also try to play with within my work.”

The relationship between image and movement is fundamental to Thorson’s work.

As a practitioner of the Skinner Release Technique, she uses tactile exercises and guided imagery to facilitate economic, effortless expression from her dancers. With their torsos grounded, they bring as much presence to the examination of a piece of discarded foam rubber as a watchmaker might to the intricacies of an antique clock.

One theme in “Spaceholder” involves how people attach value to things: “It’s a window into the whole idea of worth and how arbitrary it can be,” she says.

Thorson assigns different values to certain parts of the stage, giving her dancers the option of where to perform movement patterns.

For part of the score, she employs auctioneer-style dialogue.

“Auctions are designed to resolve the uncertainty of an object’s value,” says Thorson. “The auctioneer’s often unintelligible speech doesn’t establish a price so much as it ritualizes the community’s acceptance of a given value through a magical, trance-like performance.”

Circus music composer Sxip Shirey provides a soundscape of haunting melodies and sounds produced by familiar materials including  marbles, a miniature hand bell choir, industrial flutes and a reconfigured music box.

How is the piece a festival? “It’s an upbeat coming together of many different artists in one place at one time, bringing their histories together,” Thorson says.

IF YOU GO

Morgan Thorson’s ‘Spaceholder Festival’

Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., S.F.  

When:
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $25 to $45

Contact: (415) 863-9834, www.odctheater.org

artsentertainmentMorgan ThorsonODC Theater

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott listens at a rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Will the Biden Administration help SF speed up police reform?

City has struggled to implement changes without federal oversight

Lowell High School (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students, families call for culture shift at Lowell after racist incident

District to explore changes including possible revision of admissions policy

Alan Wong was among California National Guard members deployed to Sacramento to provide security the weekend before the presidential inauguration. (Courtesy photo)
CCSF board member tests positive for COVID-19 after National Guard deployment

Alan Wong spent eight days in Sacramento protecting State Capitol before Inauguration Day

Due to a lack of votes in his favor, record-holding former Giant Barry Bonds (pictured at tribute to Willie McCovey in 2018) will not be entering the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the near future.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Ex-Giants star Barry Bonds again falls short of Hall of Fame

After striking out yet again in his bid to join Major League… Continue reading

San Francisco firefighter Keith Baraka has filed suit against The City alleging discrimination on the basis of race and sexual orientation.<ins></ins>
Gay black firefighter sues city for discrimination

A San Francisco firefighter who says he was harassed and discriminated against… Continue reading

Most Read