a dance in which things fall down

Jennifer Gwirtz

About Jennifer Gwirtz

I am a dancer, choreographer and vocalist whose work lies in the intersection of dance, clowning, voice and sound art. I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and attended a Hebrew immersion Jewish day school, becoming alienated from Jewish practice in my early teens.I developed a signature movement style over thirty years of experimentation with imagination, sensation and precision, making the invisible visible and celebrating physical asymmetry and the beauty of limitation. From 1999 until 2017 I co-founded and directed Right Brain Performancelab, a collaborative hybrid performance ensemble. In 2016 I began a new chapter of life after moving to Portland with my family. I made teshuva in 2018 and at the same time started a body of work that asks questions about the female Jewish sacred.My latest work, which will premiere in spring 2022, explores the aging female and Jewish body, with movement based on shokeling (bobbing, swaying and shaking in prayer) movements, the tradition of the badḥan (comic actor) and the layered collage of texts and voice found in Jewish texts and liturgy. I currently live in SE Portland with my family.

About a dance in which things fall down

Gravity is everywhere. It is invisible and inevitable. It lives in physics, in abstract rules and equations, but also in our bodies and in the environment around us. This project draws a parallel between our bodies’ constant dance with gravity and the release into fallowness during Shmita. Instead of planting, tending and harvesting, we let the fields be fallow and only harvest what shows up on its own. It is more than a rest for the land. It’s a reset, a test of our ability to let go of “progress,” to see if our culture can rebound when released from the treadmill of tending in the same way that the moment in which we decide to let go and allow ourselves to release into gravity tests the body’s resilience. Every physical moment is a dance with gravity in which we resist, lift up, release, let go and rebound. That final, effortless recovery can only happen when we allow ourselves to lie fallow, to fall into gravity, just a little bit, hit the ground and see how much we bounce back.This project will specifically explore the exertion and release of older bodies that have stories to share and experience gravity deeply. I am interested in the natural falling, release and rebounding into understanding that comes with the entrance into elderhood, as well as the shedding of memories as we come to the ends of our lives. in which things fall down will be constructed with scored dance movement and vocal work. The final work will be a live showing in a theater. Video will be used to emphasize details, to play with the landscape of the framed image and the gravity-based interactions of bodies, water, plants, and other natural elements as they interact. Sounds include stories from my parents.