Jane Comfort’s Unvarnished America

Jane Comfort.

Year: 2020/2021
DanceForce Member: Cynthia Williams
Artist: Jane Comfort
Community Partners: Farash Foundation; Hobart & William Smith Colleges; Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Audience: 300
County: Ontario

My proposed DanceForce project is to bring Jane Comfort and Company to Geneva, NY for a three day teaching and performing residency in March, 2021. Jane Comfort and Company creates dance theatre works that push the intersection of movement and language to a new form of theatre; Jane Comfort’s Unvarnished America is a touring retrospective of Comfort’s Bessie Award winning 40the Anniversary concert, featuring excerpts of Comfort’s signature political works which address issues of race, gender equality, hypocrisy, bigotry and controversial military practices such as extraordinary rendition and torture. The performance is one hour and forty-five minutes in length with intermission and features ten company dancers in live performance from eight dances spanning 1978-2018, interspersed with archival footage and interviews with Comfort. The company is an extraordinary group of dancers, actors, and singers whose artistic collaboration with Jane Comfort has resulted in the creation of deeply layered works. Hailed by critics as a choreographer who “stretches the limits of what is customarily meant by dance or drama to achieve a truly new form,” (Washington Post) and as “one of the most original choreographers on the downtown scene” (The Village Voice) Comfort’s work is timeless in its relevance, thought-provoking, and beautifully crafted.

In addition to the performance of Jane Comfort’s Unvarnished America, the company will offer two to three outreach activities for the Geneva community: a master class in composition with an emphasis on using text, movement, and theatrical elements to create choreography, a public lecture on the intersection between arts activism, political issues and dance/theatre performance, and a third outreach event to be determined, which could focus on the performance of gender in contemporary choreography, the role of the artist as public citizen, or a master class in improvisation, dance technique, or other participatory workshops.

The dates are not set yet, but will likely be March 1-3, 2021. The company is in the middle of arranging a tour that will include Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the University of Rochester for late February and March, and then travel to the Washington DC and Virginia area for further performances. Jane Comfort’s Unvarnished America will provide HWS and Geneva community audiences with the opportunity to see meaningful, cutting-edge dance and to experience dance that goes beyond pretty costumes and beautiful movements.
Partnerships include collaboration with the University of Rochester and The Dance Place in Washington, DC as a consortium for the Mid Atlantic Arts Connect grant, outreach to social and political activists in the Finger Lakes region, and interdisciplinary connections across campus and community in theatre, dance, GLBTQ and media clubs and organizations. Total estimated audience served is 300+.