audio tutus return 15 years later

Submitted by Susan Miller on Sun, 06/10/2007 - 10:18.

Ingenuity's Premiere events bring world-class performers to the Cleveland stage
Die Audio Gruppe creates site-specific audio costumes known as "Audio Uniforms" or "Sonic Costumes" that reflect local customs, themes or traditions. These electro-acoustic clothes and dresses make sounds by interacting with their environment. Audio Ballerinas and Audio Geishas will be featured during the festival and brought to life by members of Inlet Dance Theatre.
Audio Gruppe
Baitz, Germany

In 1992, my company, The Repertory Project worked with Benoit Maubrey as part of the Cleveland Performance Art Festival. It was a blast. The dancers wore the audio tutus in CPT, at Tower City (where the dancers also dragged garden rakes equipped with pickup mics producing a loud screeching sound that echoed throughout the atrium), in the Halle Building Food Court during lunchtime and at a club in the Flats called Aquilon. There are great black and white photos of the events, but they are tucked away in the archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society (home to the history of the Repertory Project) and the CSU Library (home to the history of the Performance Art Festival). The events took place in March, so the dancers had to rely on batteries more than solar power, but inside Aquilon they stood on the bar and the frequency of the recorded tape loops was controlled by the bartender as he raised and lowered the levels of the lights that hung over the bar. Even in this hip-hop and techno blasting bar scene in 1992, attendees covered their ears and winced as the dancers played the very loud techno recording and screeched in from the freight elevator with the rakes in tow.

I encourage everyone to see the return of Maubrey's audio clothing to Cleveland. Back in the day, the Performance Art Fest and Rep Project were hot topics. Now long in the past, it is good to see Ingenuity hauling out some art and technology collaborations that are still interesting 15 years later. By the way, these were the only tutus Rep Project ever wore. The toe shoes, you might be wondering? We torched them in 1989, like so many bras burned in the 1960s, we had no use for them. The event took place on what is now a parking area just west of SPACES Gallery. Yep, we were a scrappy lot dedicated to new horizons for dance in Northeast Ohio. I still see glimpses of hope for the postmoderns here in NEO, but only glimpses. The majority of the audience seems mired in Taylorism, insipid as it is.  Ingenuity offers a chance to revisit, check out and get tuned into what has been going on in dance for the last uh... 40 years. Get with it NEO, the dance world has passed by here skipping over Cleveland like so many bits of detritus between NYC, Oberlin, Cincinnati, Columbus and Chicago.

Here's more: Sound Junctions

Also see Troika Ranch -- who despite rumor made their Northeast Ohio debut at Oberlin College (go figure) years ago. Thank you, Carter McAdams.

Here's the review from the 2003 preview of Future of Memory
Innovation powers company

Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
February 15, 2003
Author: Wilma Salisbury; Plain Dealer Dance Critic

The evening- length work, a fascinating fusion of movement, music, text, video, costumes and lighting, will premiere later this month in New York. Although the preview lacked live music and a set, it successfully created a surreal world of vivid memories that became blurred, distorted, dramatized or destroyed.

The dancers - Danielle Goldman, Michou Szabo, Sandra Tillett and co-artistic director Dawn Stoppiello - each focused on a meaningful event or emotion. As the memory faded or changed shape, it was recalled with everyday objects.

The dancers alternately moved together in flowing unison or took the solo spotlight in collaboration with co-artistic director Mark Coniglio, who used interactive video techniques to transform the dancers' faces and voices. He also projected recurring images of a stone dropping into water and he composed taped string-and-percussion music that was played simultaneously with interactive electronic music generated by the dancers' movements.

The periodic scattering of small yellow balls suggested that the self-absorbed individuals portrayed by the dancers might be losing their marbles. But at the end, they exchanged Polaroid photos taken during the course of the piece and danced a harmonious quartet that celebrated the company's innovative union of performance art and technology.

Troika Ranch, the progressive digital dance company from New York, capped a teaching residency at Oberlin College with a preview of "Future of Memory" Thursday night at Warner Center.

( categories: )

bound up in archives

i'd like to see something from the Rep Project's archives as your Dance Video of the Day sometime...

the video is not digitized

Do you know how to digitize old VHS tapes? They are all in the library at the Western Reserve Historical Society and can be hauled out.


Jenita is a beautiful dancer. I loved working with such a fresh minded, clear and hard working young woman. I don't think I have any video of her since I turned in my keys that day and left everything there, but if someone took the rest of the Rep Project archival materials there, then it is there for the researching. Mostly we had wide shots of the entire stage because we used them for reconstruction.


I have toyed with the idea of making some environmental dance video, but the environment itself dances before me with whatever human or animal behavior that passes in between, so the call is not too strong. More often than not I simply recall the lameness of so many of the wimped-out competitive people I struggled to help form a cohesive community and the beauty of those who gave their deepest and best and let it go at that. Some really amazing moments remain among the good memories, but there were many bitter disappointments as well. As I said to you, two on Saturday, I still imagine a dance community here that works together to demand respect for the work, that demands to see the most innovative work out there on the touring circuit and that educates the broader audience about what dance can teach us all about the frailty of human existence and the vulnerability of our bodies as the touch the earth.

I am not gone from dance nor is dance gone from me. I simply can no longer enjoy the moment in the studio when a dancer, glistening with the effort of deeply rooted commitment to self revelation conveys a message so rich that it makes me weep from unadulterated engagement with another's inner life.

O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,

Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

-- W. B. Yeats

Dance Diva

Susan, I know you've long projected and promoted a perserverent passion for dance and arts in NEO.  I feel fortunate to help coordinate this year's Ingenuity Festival and would love to hear your thoughts toward incorporation of innovations in dance.  Also, Kudos to you for your wonderful work on the Cleveland Arts Prize.


I've got a couple of VHS recordings of Repertory Project dances, but not many. I wonder if could we move those to the Historical Society too? As far as I know they are sitting on shelves in the Douglas Building, untouched, and probably unwanted.

I was just asking Jeff the same question (digitizing VHS tapes) the other day. Maybe I could get a hold of some tapes and make it a project for the year. I'll keep you posted.

By the way, did you know that Laura Benson has been working with Molly Shanahan at Mad Shak?

"Sounds" as if I missed all the technological fun of the Rep Project. Looking forward to Troika Ranch. I need something to erase the Momix induced disappointment from my psyche.

who knows how to transfer VHS to digital files?

You can definitely add to the Rep Project archive at WRHS. Just contact the library and let them know you are coming. I usually talk to Steve Doell there. It would be cool, too, if the costumes got donated thought iIdon't know if the library would take them. Last year at Ingenuity I saw that Verb was perfomring Balloonetics by Jose Bustamante. I raced down there, but they were reprising Planet Soup (a dance I think would be great for a cruise ship dinner show). I was pretty disappointed.

I like Mad Shak and Molly. I love her work, Hive. I have watched her grow from the days she attended summerdance as an undergrad at Denison. She's one smart cookie and so is Laura. Thanks for letting me know and if you speak with her, pass along my good wishes. Former RP dancers, Nikki Sikora is lovely, too, who was working with Molly last I knew.

Sorry Momix was pat. I do wish Dancecleveland could kick out the jams and hit the high spots of dance these days. But I still recall that it took me years to get CMDA to bring Merce Cunningham. Jeez -- it was like slogging through almost set concrete!