Modern dancer, interior designer, stylist, communication theorist, and artist, are some of the many hats San Francisco-based performer, Alexa Eisner, wears. Using her multidisciplinary background, Alexa’s work has continuously focused on interaction and environment with the goal of disrupting viewers into being present in the space and moment they are occupying and experiencing.
“I've found [that] consciously engaging with space is a way to proactively empower self-awareness and build community,” Alexa writes.
Recently, Alexa has been experimenting with painting glass, then photographing herself in dance behind it. The play between transparency, pigment, and body fascinates Alexa. On this experience she says, “What I’ve learned is that my body becomes a part of the painting or the painting changes the way you view my body, and it’s hard to know how they’re together or separate."
Her experiment with glass and photography has inspired the dance-paint piece she will be performing at The Midway Gallery for the opening of Terrain: navigating landscapes. For this performance Alexa is working with woodworker, Steve Platt, to create a container with four 4’ by 6’ plastic walls supported by artisanal wood frames. Musician, Cochrane McMillan, is working with Alexa to curate a musical landscape illustrating the 5Rythms—more on that later—of flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. On opening night, Alexa will be enclosed within the transparent structure along with pools of paint. McMillan’s mix will guide her on a physical and emotional journey in which her body navigates through the 5Rythms and expresses itself via live-painting and dancing in an environment that it is both part of and separate from the gallery space.
Alexa has a background in social rebellion through dance where art interrupts the redundancy of public spaces. In her Terrain performance she will be challenging traditional concepts of what “landscape” is by provoking viewers to consider the terrains we navigate outside of the physical and external. Alexa explains:
“I’m thinking about the boundaries between things. There are just so many terrains that happen at once that can also collapse [together] and simultaneously be separated. With the inner landscape inevitably you’re still always a physical body, [and] we’re all, every day, going through our own inner landscapes. [Yet] we’re still bodies exploring through space interacting with other bodies, interacting in environments. So, it’s like you’re never really separate. You’re always within a context--you're always interacting in the world. So, I’m looking at these layers of the inner experience and how that [personal] energy literally impacts the way others interact with their environments. I want you to think about your own inner experiences, your own inner perceptions, your own body, and how [those things] relate to space and other bodies.”
Alexa’s performance follows Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rythms, a practice in which the moving body enacts the rhythms of flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, and stillness. By expressing these archetypes in order, the performer enters a state of self-meditation during which the inner and outer worlds are explored, and the relationships between space and others are reflected upon.
“The thing that I liked about those five rhythms is that it’s not just about sound. There is this idea of the sounds relating to the human journey, which are the inner landscapes that we navigate. For instance, lyrical [is] possibly integration, or flowing is this sort of birth or growing, staccato is this kind of learning and maybe coming together, and chaos [is] this explosion or confusion,” Alexa adds.
Alexa Eisner’s one-night-only dance will be performed during the opening reception of Terrain: navigating landscapes on Saturday, September 10, 2016.
Unlike a traditional dance piece in which viewers are expected to stop and watch for its entirety, Alexa hopes her dance will create instances of transfixed attentiveness that dissipate into reflection and conversation. The performance will be about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes in duration.