Pare examines patriarchal power structures, ownership, gaze and queerness (as an identity and a poetics). The work, created by women, replaces benchmarks in prevalent narratives (marriage, bearing children) with inquiry into impermanence, autonomy and desire. The project began in October 2017, coinciding with the traction of the #metoo movement. The work is unfixed, and the material responds to personal histories of the dancers as well as nationally impactful events. Thus, the dance becomes a documentary of the process and reflects the contemporary moment without demonstrating or depicting it. Pare references issues related to trauma, grief and misogyny, not with aggressive action, but by slowing time, sharpening attention, and offering another possibility of how to come together at the level of the body.
This project grew out of a personal experience in my life (not my usual point of departure!). When I was nine years old, my family lost our home and all our belongings in a fire. I remember my mother’s attempts to salvage her burnt photos; gingerly peeling their melted edges away from each other and then wiping them with a damp cloth to remove the ash. Most of the images were inadvertently removed along with the soot, leaving behind a series of vague, chafed slips of paper which had previously held two-dimensional reminders of instants in our lives.
Something about watching my mom do this made me understand that becoming was not a linear process: that burning down was just as much a becoming as building up, that wiping a photo clean was just as much a becoming as allowing it to develop in a dark room. The fire’s interruption in my life has subtly shaped my perception and my work especially with regard to impermanence, ownership, and contradiction. The experience coded in my a resistance to assuming an event has fixed meaning. As a choreographer, I have bred in myself both a capacity for detachment, and a deep regard for histories: my own, my family’s, and the broader context of dance-making in which I situate myself.
The basement of my home in Illinois, built on the same foundation as the one we lost so many years ago, still smells like smoke. I remember the house when it was a burned out skeleton before demolition. The façade of the exterior had been torn off, but the burnt grid of incomplete walls and caved in floors still told the story of the rooms it used to hold. Some of the house’s strongest beams were so unfazed by the event that the new house was built around them. I can identify analogous beams in my choreography which have become clear over the past decade, and which continue to be built up and bared again through my research, practice and performance.
So far, there have been two iterations: One at Hampshire College, a trio for myself, Katie Martin, and Jenny Bennett.
And one more recently performed as an in-process draft at Mount Holyoke College. Here’s an analogous moment. Notice I have replaced myself with the inimitable and admirable Kate Martel, and added Leah Fournier into the mix (lying upstage).
To see the development of Pare’s choreographic logic, here is the video of our first performance:
Pare at the Five College Faculty Concert (2018) from Barbie Diewald on Vimeo.
And our second:
First Draft: Pare Part II from Barbie Diewald on Vimeo.