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Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance

How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?  was co-produced by Cross Performance, Inc. and MAPP International Productions.  It premiered at the Krannert Center (Urbana, IL) in September 2010 and subsequently toured to Walker Art Center (Minnepolis, MN), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), Brooklyn Academy of Music (Brooklyn, NY), Duke Performances at Duke University (Durham, NC), REDCAT (Los Angeles,CA), and On the Boards (Seattle, WA).

How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? is a four-part project consisting of live performance, film and visual art which features bodies honed by years of contemporary dance training and bodies honed by decades of physical labor; contemporary artists with an urban 21st-century sensibility and a former sharecropper in a rural southern community whose life spanned over a century. The project takes on questions of transcendence and grace as experienced in human partnerships, in the idea of escape, in the performance of dance, in the end of human life, and in the attempt to translate personal experiences into works of art. 

The stage components of How Can You Stay...  begin with the overlap of projected film and live narration, casting a retrospective eye on Lemon's work and life since 2004, and an imaginative glance forward into the future. The film-talk includes excerpts of an intimately staged film, created by Lemon in collaboration with  Walter Carter, a 102-year old former sharecropper, carpenter, and gardener from Bentonia, Mississippi, and his wife Edna, that remaps Andrei Tarkovsky's hypnotic sci-fi film Solaris (1972) in the "outer space" of the Mississippi Delta. The second part of How Can You Stay... shifts to live performance, exploring dance on the edge of "disappearing."  An ensemble of six performers, Djédjé Djédjé GervaisDarrell Jones,Gesel MasonOkwui Okpokwasili, Omagbitse OmagbemiDavid Thomson cast themselves into turbulent physicality that  borders on complete exhaustion, revealing what remains when we think we cannot go any further. The third part is a contemplative, minimal duet for Lemon and Okpokwasili, accessing an analogous state through very different means.

The final chapter of How Can You Stay... is a visual/film installation entitled Meditation. Created in collaboration with video designer Jim Findlay, Meditation reiterates the live performance's themes using film projection, light, and shadow to create an immersive environment. Meditation was seen at performance venues Walker Art Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and also at The Kitchen in NYC. Other collaborators include dramaturg Katherine Profeta, sound consultant Lucas Indelicato, and lighting designer Roderick Murray.

How Can You Stay has received funding support from: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; Doris Duke Fund for Dance of the National Dance Project, a program administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts with funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and MetLife Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation.

It was co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; On the Boards, Seattle, WA; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.

How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? was developed in part during a creative residency provided by the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. It was also developed through creative and production residencies provided by Brooklyn Academy of Music, Walker Art Center, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Kitchen.