The Way You Look (at me) Tonight

Claire Cunningham & Jess Curtis

Diskurs Performance 2022/23

How do we look at each other? How do we allow ourselves to be seen? “The Way You Look (at me) Tonight” is a social sculpture – a sensual journey for two performers and audience. Dancing, singing, telling stories and asking questions, Scottish artist Claire Cunningham and Berlin-based American choreographer and performer Jess Curtis combine music, video art and performance. They wrestle – sometimes literally – with important questions about the habits and ruptures of how we perceive the world and each other.

  • Duration: 1 hr. 50 min.
  • Language: English with German surtitles

Accessibility

  • Audio description on both evenings. 
  • Fri 16.09. 7:00 p.m. Tactile tour, registration at ticket@hellerau.org
  • Both performances are relaxed.
  • The translation into German Sign Language (DGS) planned for Sat 17.09. must unfortunately be cancelled for organisational reasons.

+ Talk Sat 17.09. 15:00 Care and Care Work, With Claire Cunningham, Boglárka Börcsök a.o.

  • The piece contains spoken word and occasional strong language.
  • There are sections of black out and where audience members sitting on the stage may come in physical contact with the performers.
  • Parental discretion suggested for viewers under 14. One moment of strong language.

Claire Cunninghamis a performer and creator of multi-disciplinary performance based in Glasgow, Scotland.  A recent Factory Artist with Tanzhaus NRW Düsseldorf, Germany she is also an Affiliate Artist with The Place, London. 

One of the UK’s most acclaimed and internationally renowned disabled artists, Cunningham’s work is often rooted in the study and use/misuse of her crutches and the exploration of the potential of her own specific physicality with a conscious rejection of traditional dance techniques (developed for non-disabled bodies). This runs alongside a deep interest in the lived experience of disability and its implications not only as a choreographer but also in terms of societal notions of knowledge, value, connection and interdependence. A self-identifying disabled artist, Cunninghams work combines multipleartformsand ranges from the intimate solo showME(Mobile/Evolution) (2009), to the large ensemble work12made for Candoco Dance Company.    

In 2014 she created Give Me a Reason to Live, inspired by the work of Dutch medieval painter Hieronymus Bosch and the role of beggars/cripples in his work, and the full length showGuide Gods, looking at the perspectives of the major Faith traditions towards the issue of disability. Awarded one of the Unlimited Commissions in 2016 she created the duet The Way You Look (at me) Tonight with choreographer Jess Curtis.  The piece has since toured world-wide, was selected for the 2018 Tanzplattform in Germany and was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award. 

 In 2019 Claire was commissioned to do her first piece for gallery spaces, taking part in Automatise Ambulatoire: Hysteria, Imitation, curated by Amanda Cachia for Owen’s Art Gallery, Sackville, Canada.In July 2019 Claire premiered the ensemble piece, Thank You Very Much at Manchester International Festival which went on to win CATS awards for Best Ensemble and Best Sound and Music.In 2021, Claire was honored for her Outstanding Artistic Development in dance at the German Dance Awards.

Jess Curtis is an award-winning director, choreographer and performer committed to an art-making practice informed by experimentation, innovation, critical discourse and social relevance at the intersections of fine art and popular culture. Curtis has created and performed multidisciplinary dance theater throughout the U.S. and Europe with seminal group Contraband, the radical performance collective CORE and the experimental French Circus company Cahin-Caha, Cirque Batard. From 1991 to 1998 he co-directed the ground-breaking San Francisco performance venue 848 Community Space with Keith Hennessy and Michael Whitson. In 2000, Curtis founded his own trans-continental performance company, Jess Curtis/Gravity, based in Berlin and San Francisco. In 2011 he was presented the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts for choreography and the Homer Avila Award for innovation in physically inclusive dance. Curtis is active as a writer, advocate and community organizer in the fields of contemporary dance and performance, and teaches accessible Dance, Contact Improvisation and Interdisciplinary Performance workshops throughout the US and Europe. He has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of the Arts in Berlin. He holds an MFA in Choreography and a Ph.D. in Performance Studiesfrom the University of California at Davis.

www.jesscurtisgravity.org

Founded in 2000 and directed by Jess Curtis, Gravity creates exceptionally engaging body-based art that physically addresses issues and ideas of relevance to anyone with a body. Through innovative, accessible, experimental performance, Gravity activates the bodies and minds of our viewers, exposing them to new ideas and experiences of the body.
Gravity has premiered 13 full-evening works and numerous shorter pieces in collaboration with co-producers in the U.S. and Europe.  In addition to annual San Francisco home seasons, Gravity’s work has toured to over 70 cities in 15 countries.
Curtis and Gravity collaborators under his direction have been awarded a total of 6 Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (Izzies).  In 2011 Curtis was honored with the Alpert Award for Choreography and the Homer Avila Award for innovation in physically inclusive dance. In 2018 Curtis’ work with Claire Cunningham, The Way You Look (at me) Tonight, was selected for the highly prestigious German Tanz Platform.
In addition to the creation and presentation of the work of Artistic Director Jess Curtis, Gravity supports the work of queer artists, self-identified disabled artists, and emerging dancemakers, and engages with the broader artistic community through Gravity Access Services, which assists arts organizations in making their productions more accessible to audience members with diverse sensory modalities and physicalities. The company offers accessible classes and workshops  in Dance, Contact Improvisation, and Interdisciplinary Performance and promotes global exchange by co-presenting fresh international contemporary artists in San Francisco and supporting emerging Bay Area Artists to travel and share their work abroad. 

Alva Noë is a writer and philosopher living in Berkeley and New York. He is the author of Action in Perception (MIT 2004), Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness (FSG 2009), Varieties of Presence (Harvard 2012), and, most recently, Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (FSG, 2015). His newest book is Learning To Look: Dispatches from the Art World (Oxford 2022).He is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also a member of the Center for New Media and the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Noë is a 2012 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and he is a weekly contributor to National Public Radio’s science and culture blog 13.7 Cosmos and Culture. He is currently an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Free University in Berlin.

www.alvanoe.com

Claire, Jess and collaborators Luke Pell (Dramaturge) and Yoann Trellu (Video Artist) engage in a series of conversations regarding the most interesting ways to create and present an after-the-fact reflection on The Way You Look (at me) Tonight

Creative Team

Created and performed by Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis

Philosophical consultation by Alva Noë

Video by Yoann Trellu

Music by Matthias Herrmann except for

The Way You Look Tonight by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields performed by Fred Astaire

Dramaturgy by Luke Pell

Costumes and Set by Michiel Keuper

Texts by Claire Cunningham, Jess Curtis, Alva Noë including excerpts from Varieties of Presence and What We Know Best by Alva Noë and Nicole Peisl

Lighting Design by Chris Copland

Produced by Claire Cunningham Projects with Jess Curtis/ Gravity

Executive Producer: Nadja Dias

Gravity Administration: Julia Danila

Marketing and Projects Producer: Vicky Wilson

Technical Manager: Chris Copland

Stage Manager: Gregor Knüppel / Carly Hook

Audio Description (German) Claire Cunningham, Jess Curtis, EJ McHenry; Übersetzung: Panthea gesprochen von Yvette Coetzee-Hannemann