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This20144 dancers54 min

This, at its core, was another of my “against interpretation” projects (à la Susan Sontag), continuing my interest in a move away from conventions of representation and instead aiming toward an experience of the performance moment in and of itself -  - in all its specificity and ”sensuous surfaces.”

By design, I worked with new collaborators for This -  composer Steve Roden (suggested to me by Zeena Parkins!), and lighting designer Joe Levasseur. Plunging into these unfamiliar relationships really upped the ante for me on the act of collaboration, as did working with dancers new to me, a group without as clear a center as in the past when the hinge of the group was, I suppose, very much me. This decentering had the effect of extending the movement range even further, and increased the challenges of translating idiosyncratic movement material across the borders of the performers' trainings and histories.

The movement in This, as in most of my work, was  all culled from videotaped improvisations that we learned as close to “verbatim” as possible. In This most of the movement material came from the other dancers’ solo improvisations (prior to 2006  I recorded only my own), as well as from duet improvisations, which I utilized in this work for the first time. 

The costumes, by James Kidd Studio of Los Angeles, were based on the rehearsal clothes the dancers were wearing in one of the early rehearsal videos I sent to Kidd. James Kidd Studio reproduced these rehearsal clothes “verbatim” - mirroring our process of learning videotaped movement improvisations “verbatim” - creating three sets of costumes, each set constructed of a different fabric, denim (stiff), silk (flowing), and a weird polyester (spongey). In like manner, lighting designer Joe Levasseur brought two towers of exposed lighting instruments into the dancing arena, replicating the pillars the dancers had to negotiate in the basement studio in which we began work on the dance. 

Though I played around with performing in This myself, eventually winnowing my part down to just the solo I made as an initial exploration, only days before the first performance I decided against including the solo, and myself. This made sense to me as a quartet, This just wasn’t a quintet. There was not a place for my more authorial voice as a performer. I later  performed that exploratory solo a few times as this solo.  

Similarly, Steve Roden made some wonderful videos for This that we played around with projecting on the back wall at different points in the dance, but we decided against the projections as well. Instead we created a video installation for the lobby of the theater, showing three of the videos each playing on a loop on a different old-fashioned analog monitor. Each video shows Steve’s hands working with a different material - pipe cleaners, paper clips, tissue paper squares - constructing and reconstructing these in different configurations, much as I worked with different choreographic materials in This, seams showing. 

Premiered at New York Live Arts in New York City, December 3-6, 2014.


Choreography: Neil Greenberg
Performed by: Molly Lieber, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Mina Nishimura, Connor Voss
Music and Lobby Video Installation: Steve Roden

Lighting: Joe Levasseur

Videography by  Nic Petry/Dancing Camera at New York Live Arts, December 4, 2014

Videotaped by the Dance Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts for preservation in the Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image


Commissioned by New York Live Arts and made possible, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts and by contributors to the Dance Theater Workshop Commissioning Fund at New York Live Arts.
American Dance Institute's National Incubator Residency Program
Yellow House Fund
Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund
2wice Arts Foundation
Research funds from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts.


Gia Kourlas, Time Out/New York, 1995

Jack Anderson, The New York Times, 1995

Jack Anderson, The New York Times, 1996

Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice, 1996
Rick Whitaker, Ballet Review, 1996
Don Daniels, Ballet Review, 1996
Ann Daly, Dance Theatre Journal, 1997
Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times, 1997

Additional Links

About This (2014)
Neil Greenberg in Conversation with Biba Bell Critical Correspondence, Movement Research Publishing. November 13, 2014
Excerpts from This
this solo

Molly Lieber
© Frank Mullaney

Omagbitse Omagbemi
© Frank Mullaney

L-R: Connor Voss, Mina Nishimura
© Frank Mullaney

L-R: Mina Nishimura, Molly Lieber, Omagbitse Omagbemi (front), Connor Voss
© Ian Douglas

L-R: Connor Voss, Mina Nishimura, Omagbitse Omagbemi (front), Molly Lieber
©: Ian Douglas