Six Degrees of Freedom
Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2
ODC Theater, SF
I know, it sounds like some kind of weird Kevin Bacon thing. But its not. Not that we have anything against Kevin. We don't. Honestly, we have very little to do with how the title came into being. The computer decided that. The computer has decided pretty much everything about this show. Decided on the text, made sketches of movement possibilities, came up with a set and music.
Ok. Actually none of that is true, except that Kevin Bacon is probably not in the show. We are making almost everything in the show with the help of our extraordinary cast: Stephen Buescher, Rami Margron, James Graham and ourselves. The computer does interfere a little here and there but mostly we wanted to play with the idea of what if? What if a computer was solely responsible for developing the content of an evening length dance drama?
In the future computers will begin to think thoughts
In the future these thoughts will become increasingly distraught
In the future the disturbing thoughts will be calmed by various forms of distraction, like pornography
The computer will ask itself—what is pornography? What is its purpose? What would it be like to have genitals? Or have various fluids?
The computer will connect to other computers searching for answers to similar questions.
The computer will begin to imagine that it is making friends only to be shunned for being at least 3 or more years old.
We ask the computer, are you ok?
The computer will return to its disturbing thoughts, born from loneliness and despair.
Again, as a self-preservation mechanism, the computer seeks distraction.
Eventually it is deemed appropriate to harness all manner of existential pain in the service of poetry.
But the somehow the words never quite make sense.
The computer comes up with poems such as:
This couplet of brambles
My downtown plaza
A blue foreigner
Seeking converse all stars
Enter sinkholes slowly
Not bad but not good either. Kind of like stoner graffiti.
The computer finds that language is both fun and frightening
It gets stuck, worried that it will never be fully appreciated
The computer seeks love and affirmation and yet is helplessly drawn towards odd and obscure creative choices
One day, a computer comes down with a virus
Not a terrible virus but enough to slow it down
Forced to get more rest, the computer sleeps more
Naps become more frequent
During one of these naps, the computer dreams
The dream is mostly about some kind of weird show
There are characters speaking and moving
They are stuck in some kind of box that looks like it is made out of other boxes
The dialogue seems made of mostly mashed together bits of click bait descriptions
But it realizes, wait, I’m watching this show but since I am dreaming it, that means that I also made it, and, weird thing is, I kind of like what I am seeing and maybe that is how I solve some of my bigger issues? I mean, like what if I can try to remember some of this and then hire a cast of actual actors and stuff and try to actually put the show in like a theater or something and get a publicist and raise money to put it together…
Smith/wymore disappearing acts
Smith/Wymore Disappearing Acts (SWDA) is a dance/theater company led by Lisa Wymore and Sheldon Smith. SWDA’s performances are often as funny as they are physically provocative, intellectually stimulating, and deeply, beautifully human. SWDA works collaboratively with other dancers, actors, filmmakers, composers,technologists, designers, and media artists to develop uncompromisingly original work. Finished pieces always include a range of artistic modes as well as text and technological interventions. SWDA’s performance style draws from the postmodern tradition of dance making that calls for a new paradigm on the stage -- an aesthetic of everyday movement that draws on a full array of movement, gesture, form, and experimentation within a rigorous practice. Originally a Chicago-based company, SWDA moved to the Bay Area in 2004, and has been presenting work locally and nationally ever since.
Sheldon B. Smith has been making dances, music and video art for over 30 years in both the Midwest and California. Originally trained in ballet and french horn, his interests have since shifted. He now makes cross disciplinary presentations with movement at the core. He has been interested in technology for many years and, with Lisa, regularly performs work that integrates technology and dance in order to allow both elements to speak to common human experience. He has collaborated on projects with many significant local and international artists including Kathleen Hermesdorf, Scott Wells, Jess Curtis, Bob Eisen and many others For the last ten years he has been a full-time Visiting Assistant Professor in the Mills College Dance Department. There he teaches various composition, music, technology and theory related courses. He has a BA in Dance from Colorado College and an MFA from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.
Lisa Wymore has an MFA in dance from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where she was awarded a Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship, an Outstanding Achievement Award, and a Moe Family Award for her creativity. She was a faculty member within the Northwestern University Dance Program from 2000 to 2004. Wymore is now an Associate Professor at the University of California Berkeley in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. She teaches classes in choreography, dance technique, pedagogy, improvisation, and performance. Wymore started a multi-disciplinary project called The Resonance Project in 2005, which has evolved into the Z-Lab UC Berkeley – a site for interactive real time collaboration. This project involves choreographers, computer engineers, and visual/sound artists who are investigating interactivity within live and media based performance. For more information follow the Z-Lab blog: http://zlabucb.blogspot.com. Wymore is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst from the Integrated Movement Studies program. She regularly teaches workshops and classes in this system.
News & Updates
January 15, 2018
Seems about time to update things on the website. Not much to say other than really glad 2017 is over. Too much death. Dad died, our dog died, two of my cousins died and democracy died.
But we did have an amazing show back beginning of December. Really proud of it. You can see some excerpts in the media section if you click the media link up above.
Now starting to brainstorm next projects now that that is wrapped up. Time to turn to some more screendance work. Have a couple of good ideas one of which we will probably get going soon. Won't give away all details but it is another multichannel, algorithmically real-time edited screendance work. Last one was two channels, this one might be more like 4. How hard can it be right?
August 21, 2017
It has been pretty busy here at SWDA headquarters. We got a new dog. Her name is Hazel.
Today was the eclipse. Maybe next time in 99 years or whatever we will make a bit better effort to travel somewhere that is not totally fogged in.
What else...oh we went to London this summer. Performed our collaborative venture (with Ian Smith Heisters) Number Zero at Goldsmith's College at the annual MOCO festival of movement and computing. Was a pretty interesting festival. London was great. Our son wants to live there.
We also have been working on our next show that premieres end of November at ODC Theater in SF. We made a lot of progress over the summer but still many many hours of work to go. Will be classic disappearing acts kind of stuff. Hope you can come see it. There might be a video somewhere on the sight that gives some more clues.
Also worked on another version of the Fatherville show at American Conservatory Theater. Was received with a total standing ovation at a workshop showing at the Strand theater in May. The finished show is getting set to premiere June 2018.
What else would you like to know? School starts soon. Looking forward to getting back to teaching.
Oh also, this is our latest website. I scrape one together every three years or so and then it sits molding away. I'll try to be more active this time as I think it should be easier to work on it as I am using squarespace and trying not to be as fancy.
We are always in need of funds
While the above video is a bit silly, the reality is that we always are in search of funds to support what we do. It is not cheap to pay our performers rent space, publicize, etc. The reality is that Lisa and Sheldon have almost never made any money on their shows. What money they do make gets rolled into the the next project. So, anyway, if you can please help by going to here: DONATE