Performance Space New York presents INVISIBLE TRIAL by Brontez Purnell next month

Performance Space New York presents Brontez Purnell’s Invisible Trial, a dance solo by acclaimed writer (100 Boyfriends, MCDxFSG) and dancer (Brontez Purnell Dance Company), June 16-18 (at Sydney Neilma Theatre, 150 1st Ave. 4th floor) . Choreographed by Larry Arrington, Invisible Trial is loosely based on Sylvia Plath’s short story “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams” – with anxiety as the absolute master of the work.

In “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams”, the protagonist, a receptionist at a mental health clinic, acts as a kind of medium for the living – secretly recording the dreams, fears and anxieties of those he comes into contact with. . Its boss is Johnny Panic, the god of anxiety himself, who secretly keeps tabs on spying on the protagonist. Through dance, text and installation, Invisible Trial tries to name the fears and fantasies around patriarchal heritage, the shadow work that is done against us and the burning question: are we still the sole agents of our own destiny?

Purnell has been described as “a restless and prolific performer in almost every genre imaginable” (The New York Times). Invisible Trial – Purnell’s first one-night dance solo piece – has been on the artist’s mind for over a decade. He began dancing in contemporary Haitian and West African companies and in his twenties was part of the queer electroclash dance group Gravy Train!!!, before devoting himself to the study of dance and founding Brontez Purnell. Dance Company (which builds works that combine punk rock subversion and free jazz improvisation in a company made up of movers and artists from all disciplines) in 2010.

Purnell expands on her approach to dance-theatre: “Unlike writing, which is 2-dimensional, dance-theatre is where I can have a total 6-dimensional approach to what I’m trying to say. You have sound, movement, light, it’s closer to how the real mind works. I like that history works with memory, because my dance is based on a kind of gestural, magical practice, and that’s partly a refusal of the way we consume dance these days, where dancers are treated like workaholics, supposed to do as many laps as they can, especially those dancing in a black body, where I feel like if you don’t do hip hop dance or you don’t no voguing to the gods, your body is read as unreadable. tendency to let my body present itself as a statement in itself.”

Although Purnell’s writing is born out of movement and his dancing is often imbued with language, it is also the first time that he has directly staged a dance around a short story. He describes having always been “obsessed with the short story by Plath because it is both a feature of his work, since the themes emerging from it also appear in his later writings – but it is also a lesser-known piece that resembles at the beginning of where his voice is cemented. ‘Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams’ is a cool fucking name too.”

Other collaborators on the project include Savannah Knoop (who creates the installation around which the dance is performed) and Jeremy O. Harris (playwright).