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Branches,  Swords, Flowers, Spears, Ribbons19906 dancers48 min

Branches, Swords, Flowers, Spears, Ribbons did, indeed, make use of each of the titular theatrical props, MacGuffins all. I was again interested in investigating the construction of meaning, and just what might constitute meaningfulness in a performance. I used these props for much the same purpose I used projected text in my previous two works, MacGuffin or How Meanings Get Lost and : as a burlesque on meaning-making. 

The choreographty also made use of a front curtain that, when closed, allowed performance on the apron area in front of the drapery, and when opened fully allowed mainstage action. I also created sequences for which the curtain was only partially opened / partially closed,  with the effect that each viewer could only see part of the dancing behind the curtain, each with a different partial view depending on their seating location. This dance clearly reflected my obsession with theatrical stagecraft, and the notion of performance itself.

Branches, Swords, Flowers, Spears, Ribbons was divided into two sections, separated by a brief pause, each half a mirror of the other. The first section contains several sequences from of a preliminary draft of the work I made the previous year for students at Purchase College, and the second section is primarily a quartet. A recurring choreographic strategy can be found in the solo for Christopher Batenhorst in which he performs the same sequence of movement first without holding any props, then holding branches, and finally slicing the air with swords. (I inserted that same solo for Christopher within Not-About-AIDS-Dance (1994).) Certainly the effects are different, but even so - what might any of it mean? For me the meaningfulness lay less in what he was doing and more in that he was doing it. 

Premiered at Dance Theater Workshop on April 25, 1990.


Choreography: Neil Greenberg

Performed by: Christopher Batenhorst, Matthew Carmody, Maya Ciarrochi, Neil Greenberg, Sondra Loring, Elizabeth Maxwell (for Kristy Santimyer), Jean McDade

Lighting Design: Rhonda Rubinson

Production Design: Christopher Batenhorst & Neil Greenberg

Costume Construction: Mary Beth McCabe, Denise Mitchell

Curtain Construction: Christopher Batenhorst & Sondra Loring

Thanks to Kristy Santimyer, who participated in the choreographic process for BSFSR, and who performed in preview performances of Section II of BSFSR in Portland, Maine earlier in 1990.

Videography by Character Generators at Dance Theater Workshop on April 29, 1990

Camera: Mark Robison

Commissioned by DTW’s FIRST LIGHT Project with funding provided by the Jerome Foundation, St. Paul, MN.

National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship

New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship

New York State Council on the Arts


Burt Supree, Village Voice, 1990

Jennifer Dunning, New York Times, 1988

L-R: Christopher Batenhorst, Kristy Santimyer, Neil Greenberg, Sondra Loring
© Paula Court, 1990 Studio Shot

L-R: Christopher Batenhorst, Sondra Loring, Neil Greenberg, Kristy Santimyer,
© Paula Court, 1990 Studio Shot

L-R: Christopher Batenhorst, Sondra Loring, Kristy Santimyer, Neil Greenberg,
© Paula Court, 1990 Studio Shot

Neil Greenberg
© Tom Brazil