BE / WITH is a performance series that invites artists with a practice of improvisation to come together for an impromptu dialogue. The audience will choose pairings of musicians with dancers and something will unfold, just once, never again to be experienced. BE / WITH is a response, a small gesture, an act of opening up instead of closing off in uncertain times, to the pressure to exist in isolation, and to experience art without the intimacy of sharing space, community, and collaboration across disciplines and backgrounds.
BE / WITH has included over 100 New Orleans artists and guests, occurred in several neighborhoods, and is a model anyone should feel free to use in their own community. BE / WITH rejects the camera lens, screen, or evidence other than whatever is recalled by who is in the room. One time I invited a very trusted photographer Julie Verlinden, to document the performance just to prove it was actually a thing. That is where the photo gallery photos came from.
BE / WITH is intentionally documentation free--one space dedicated to the practice of being present. Here are the names of people who have participated in the previous performances.
BE / WITH #1 - Marigny Opera House - November 11
Calvin James Rowe + Matthew Varvil
Marizta Mercado Narcisse + Laura Stein
Anton Ovchinnikov + Daiquiri René Jones
Ellery Burton + Helen Gillet
Rhia Jade + LadyBabyMiss
Barbara Hayley + Marcello Benetti
Jarrell Hamilton + Willis Ross
Jeremy Guyton + Spirit McIntrye
BE / WITH # 2 - Contemporary Art Center - January 4
Kimmie Allen + Will Thompson
Chanice Holmes + Sabine McCalla
Rebecca Allen + Patrick Hinegan
Catherine Caldwell + Tiff Teddy Lamson
Milli Brown + Aurora Nealand
Scotty Heron + Matt Webb
Brieze Levy + Rick Snow
Ben Schenk + Ann Glaviano
BE / WITH #3 - Art Klub - March 11
BE / WITH #4 - Marigny Opera House - April 22
BE / WITH #5 - Art Klub - May 27
be / with # 6: Hotel Peter & Paul - December 30
Kelly Bond + Martin Masakowski
Terreze Williams + Willis Ross
Elle C Jones + Meryl Zimmerman
Jenny Sargent + Jennie Lavine
Paris Williams + Bryan McNamara
Jarrell Hamilton + Aurora Nealand
Cypress Atlas + Boyana Trayanova
Stacy Barrios + ensemble
BE / WITH # 7: In partnership with the Instigation Festival - Feb 14
BE / WITH #8: Part of Future Oceans Queer and Somatic Dance Exchange - Aug 27
Performances by: Sierrah Dietz, Gregory Dorado, Cameron Mitchell - Ware, Olivia Saba Rush, Dorothy Nunez, Blake Beckham (visiting artist from ATL), Hez Stalcup (visiting artist from ATL), Peter J Bowling, BRIDE, Cypress Atlas, Zoe Boekbinder, Sophie and more.
BE / WITH draws inspiration from lineages of improvisational performance that I have been lucky to participate in. It specifically reincarnates a series in Seattle called Here Now that was curated by Paige Barnes and Christopher Hydinger in which a musician and dancer were spontaneously paired up to perform a duet. I asked Paige if it was okay to do this in New Orleans, a place where the music and dance scene is so distinct from Seattle, and she encouraged me to go for it. It was modified in ways that made sense for New Orleans and prioritized the live experience. Here Now was documented meticulously (which was a real privilege at the time) but now that we are overwhelmed with the value of everything being dependent on its post-ability, we boycott documentation. Other influences include my time in COMPOSTQ with Kirstie Simson (Urbana, IL), and the Dancer/Musician Improvisation Series (San Francisco) organized by Kara Davis.