Intersections in Performance/Life: A glimpse of artist and teacher Gerry Trentham

By Lani Weissbach, MFA

With others, how are we transformed, imprisoned, or set free, by our habit selves, our natural and constructed environments? Can we embrace the unknown to learn beyond division (of culture, art form, nationhood)? How do we, together, in our individual distinctiveness, negotiate with integrity in order to share resources and life, not only as human nature, but Nature’s human?” 

 — Gerry Trentham

When I first saw Gerry Trentham perform, he wasn’t doing any fancy tricks. He was pushing a squeaky wheelbarrow loaded with tree branches across the stage, pausing only to acknowledge the humor of the moment by looking directly at the audience and sharing a giggle with them. At that moment, I thought, “I gotta spend as much time in this guy’s presence as possible.”

My calling in life has been to teach, create, connect and transform through the art of dance/movement. From the early, formative years back in the late 1980’s to the present, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have many brilliant teachers. I only call a few of them mentors – teachers who continue to inspire me and help me discover my path. Gerry is definitely one of them. His artistry appeals to my love of contradiction, unapologetic presence (no matter how messy,) and poetic processes that move us into deep and revelatory places. Indeed, something profound happens with this kind of work – as a participant or audience member – that defies definition and is utterly compelling.

Although Gerry’s entire 30+ year international career has been devoted to dance and theater, (perhaps we can say his work is the quintessential intersection of those forms,) there’s a lot more to it than that. Gerry’s creative work and teaching is truly an original approach to performance, blending “written/spoken poetic text, dance, human gesture, sound, music, and visual and media art” in a way that is both striking in the moment and resonates deeply over time.   He describes his teaching as “sourced in his art-making and his eternal interest in his own and others’ potential presence in performance.”

This November, Indianapolis will have the unique opportunity to experience Gerry’s work firsthand. The Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective (IMAC), NoExit Performance and Indy’s District Theatre have invited Gerry Trentham to be a featured presenter for a two-week interdisciplinary residency from November 4th – 18th, 2018, with generous support from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. Gerry’s residency this fall is the inaugural OPEN Indy event, an annual IMAC and NoExit Performance collaboration designed to bring top-notch interdisciplinary teachers and artists to our community for training geared toward all levels of experience, from the novice to the professional.

The programming during the two weeks this November speaks directly to this year’s Spirit and Place theme of intersection, as it is designed to connect our theater, dance, vocal performance and visual arts communities and to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration in the region. Gerry will lead a series of workshops that introduce artists of varied disciplines to each other’s community and to interdisciplinary practice. But the theme of intersection doesn’t end there. This project encourages sharing not only between disciplines but between nations. Gerry is the artistic director of lbs/sq” based in Toronto, and senior director of the company’s Fulcrum Project (for which I am an associate artist.) His Indy residency will help to foster a bi-national exchange and dialogue between our two cities and nations, encouraging us to find new ways for both American and Canadian artists to share their vision and markets.

“Sharing our artistic practice is more necessary than ever if we are to survive the current political climate that does not celebrate the arts as a necessity to building healthy communities,” Gerry says.

There is going to be something for everyone with OPEN Indy, so get out your calendar and plan to bring your OPEN, curious mind!

Workshop Experiences: There will be two community workshops for the beginner/mixed level, and two for more advanced performers. For information and to register, visit: www.indymovementarts.org

Performance Experiment: Sign up to participate in a one-of-a-kind opportunity! With Gerry as our guide, we will co-create a performance piece that integrates trained and untrained performers alike. The piece will be part of the Residency Performance on November 16-17, 2018, described below. For more information and to register, visit: www.indymovementarts.org.

Residency Performance: In a shared show with local artists, Gerry will perform Yellow Scale, a 40-minute solo from his full-length work Four Mad Humours, which earned him a Toronto Dora award in 2011. Performances will take place at the District Theatre on Friday & Saturday, November 16-17, 2018. For tickets, visit: http://www.indyfringe.org/theatre-show/open-indy-district-theatre

Lani Weissbach serves as Director of Artist Residencies and Embodied Learning for the Indianapolis Movement Arts Collective (IMAC) and teaches a variety of workshops and classes throughout the region. For more about Lani, please visit: www.laniweissbach.com.

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