Heart Stück Bernie (HSB) serves as a vein cave that pumps quirky-luscious dance, studio-lab education, and intimate audience performance art into desirous and unsuspecting environments. HSB places the emphasis on process, sensational strata, and the dynamic combustion of highbrow and lowbrow zeitgeist ingredients. A hand-made arts & crafts aesthetic exposes seams of meaning and making – inviting each viewer to act as game accomplice, loyal sister, and endlessly surprised participant.
My performance art is the swinging, side-by-side handhold of slapstick physicality with a noir shadow. I place rambunctious movement shoulder to shoulder with delicate phrasework. The movement is sewn at the pelvis to harmony. The dance is hinged on dissonance. The Performers and Audience are swept up in a world bigger and more deceiving than they realize. Audience and Performers alike encounter a stage full of literal and figurative knots as they find themselves in hot pursuit of a miniature-epic conundrum. Only their wits can save them. Only their wits can get them in trouble.
I have honed a quirky-luscious movement vocabulary that zigs and zags classical training with contemporary sensibilities. Tender to tense, the work flies through space with abandon, until it grounds itself. It explores conversational and emotive duet work, and it plays at unraveling causation in tight-knit group work. When the curtain rises, opens, or gets thrown aside with gamine intention, my work looks like a been-around-the-block broad – full of accumulated propositions and proposals. She’s been dressed up and stripped down, and she knows how to ask the hard questions.
One afternoon in 2005’s Berlin, my rehearsal booking went missing and the sun bragged about its rays through my kitchen window. Neither of those happenings aligned with the city’s fastidious organization or dedicated gray cover. But the circumstances, in addition to a wood floor and reflective-mirror like appliances, prompted my first avant-garde, site-specific dance happenings company right there in the kitchen. Ever since, I have created works in storage closets, balconies, living rooms, graveyards, rooftops, parking lots, bookstore aisles, burrito joints, and any kitchen window sill with the good view of a sun or crescent moon.
Heart Stück Bernie (HSB) is usually found performing in something like a stairwell, while pushing play on something like a boom box. Company members, otherwise known as my friends, are a ragtag group of partners in crime. I gets them to do things by promising chocolate. But their intense focus and dancing beauty far surpass any fleeting bite; I am honored to dance (and snack) among them.
HSB site-specific choreography has been presented in Berlin’s Tacheles and dida e.V. Raum für Kultur, Long Island City’s The Creek and the Cave, Brooklyn’s Bookcourt, the Rooftop of the Chelsea Hotel, the very dirty East River, Dance Omi, P.O.R.C.H., all up in, around, and under the Mayflower Square Apartment Complex in Alexandria, VA, the first annual On Site/In Sight: A Downtown Winston-Salem Dance Festival, The Kennedy Center, Sidney Harman Hall, Metro Micro Gallery, McLean Project for the Arts, and the U. S. Botanic Garden. The company also presents proscenium work on stages and showcases including the Annual Choreographers’ Showcase, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Baltimore Theatre Project, Dance Loft on 14, Dance Place, and SUNY Purchase.
HSB is a recipient of a 2009 Brooklyn Arts Council Regrant, Dance Metro DC’s 2015 Choreographer’s Commission, the Kennedy Center’s 2016 Local Dance Commissioning Project, a 2018-2019 Montgomery County Individual Artist Grant for Snake Telegram, and a Maryland Creativity Grant for Wren Print Cess Pool Cutty Sark. Recent and upcoming commissions and performances include work for The Collective, Joy of Motion’s Youth Dance Ensemble, the Inaugural DC Dance Summit, Art Omi: Dance, Velocity DC, Purchase Dance Company, and the National Gallery of Art. HSB is currently working on Holster Buffalo (postponed due to COVID-19) and a new site work for 28 dancers at Extra Space Storage in Brookland (also postponed due to COVID-19).
Heart Stück Bernie, alongside fellow company SOLE Defined, is an inaugural Artist in Residence at Dance Place, where they’ve spent the last two years making new site and proscenium work, implementing community-engaged programming, and dancing with their favorite DMV dancers every Monday night!
HSB has been around for 10 years already. But (oops) we missed the boat on our 10 year anniversary programming season! So, instead, at the recommendation of dance writer Lisa Traiger, we’re gonna celebrate the company’s bat mitzvah in 2020-2021. Now you have enough time to save money for your party dress. Isn’t that meshugenuh?