Artistic Director Tonya Lockyer’s letter of introduction for the show:
“It changed my life” – that’s how a Seattle artist described the last time Keith Hennessy performed at Velocity.
Turbulence (a dance about the economy) was a hybrid of improvised dance happening and political theater. It blurred the edges of performer and observer, spectacle and rhetoric to create a beautiful, radical mess. It changed some people’s lives and certainly influenced Velocity. Keith was the first Guest Artist I engaged as a new Executive Director in 2011. Together, we developed alongside Turbulence an Open Forum Failure: Conversations Around Art + The Economy—a week of performances, book clubs, workshops, speakeasy events and community forums. Our collaboration shaped my approach to every Velocity presentation since.
As part of Velocity’s 20th Anniversary season, we’re honoring our history and values.
Keith is equal parts artist, activist, community organizer, and catalyst. He performed with Sara Shelton Mann’s legendary Contraband before becoming a pioneer of queer and AIDS-related performance. Everything in his work feels chaotically purposeful—aiming to disrupt, as it simultaneously brings us closer together. When Keith describes his work as “imaginary activism and plastic shamanism” he might be mistaken as cynical. But I think Keith’s the opposite of a cynic. He’s an unwavering realist, who keeps trying to bring more magic, love and intimacy into the world.
As promised, Keith sent us his suggested reading list along with texts he performed in the show and his further thoughts on Bear/Skin.
We Are All Anxious, by The Institute for Precarious Consciousness
The Real and Racist Origins of the Second Amendment
A note from Keith about this article, “This is not the best piece on the topic. I couldn’t find the one I was citing during the performance, but let this one stand as a kind of doorway into a revisionist critique, i.e., a challenge to the mainstream historicizing of the intentions behind the 2nd Amendment…If anyone’s interested, this could be the start of more research…”
“Several people have asked where I studied ritual or witchcraft or spell crafting. I didn’t learn anything from books. I went to rituals and direct actions organized by feminist witches in the Bay Area, and have participated in the community called ReClaiming for nearly 30 years. I have also been a guest in many ceremonies and rituals, from Black Methodist churches to liberation seders with radical Jews to rituals and ceremonial dances among Indian/Native American and First Nation/Canadian tribes. I listened to indigenous Mayans describe the wars of the 80s and have participated in rituals/cleansings there and almost everywhere I travel. I spent time with ritual leaders from Burkina Faso and Ireland, New Zealand Maori and Radical Faerie…The best way to understand ritual is by participating. There are groups that meet all over the NW. Witch camps happen all over the US and abroad. I have attended several and taught multiple times. My work has been to re-read dance class and art making as shamanistic or ritual trainings. In recent years my attention has focused on death and dying rituals. That’s what I’ll share in Portland in the Fall. Here are a few portals…”
Reclaiming witch camps: http://www.witchcamp.org/
POLICE VIOLENCE + RACISM
“There are so many resources online. And there are street protests happening everywhere. Read and protest and talk and listen.
Some folks in Portland have recently released an important documentary. Their site has a list of resources.”
Reading list: http://www.
Film list: http://www.
Music list: http://www.arrestingpower.com/music-list.html
“The Black.Seed collective just released a short video in which organizer Alicia Bell says, “Direct action is always a space of healing and ritual.” This statement and the video really captures the tension/collaboration that was brought up by someone at the post-show talk…how every action or performance has to negotiate its own balance between shock/provocation and healing/ritual.”
“And if folks want a resource for staying up to date with some Native issues, consider this site.”