task uses the platform of the proscenium dance performance to re-map and re-frame the stage's complicity in white supremacy.
The duet, choreographed and performed by Sarah Ashkin and Brittany Delany, reflects on the problematics of the white female body moving through the foreground and background.
Balancing the absurdity, tenderness, violence, and honesty required to engage with racism, gender, and western concert dance, task is a collage of postmodern dance, performance art, satire, and political commentary. Entrenched in themes of failure, listening and accountability, this duet invites the audience to consider this work in the current political moment — as artists, as cultural patrons, and as people.
Can dance performance be used to publicly confront white supremacy?
CHOREOGRAPHED & PERFORMED by Sarah Ashkin and Brittany Delany
MUSIC by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs
DRAMATURGY by Sue Roginski
DESIGN by Zoe Koke
CREATED with/for Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA (2018) and Simeon Den Gallery, Cathedral City, CA (2017)
PHOTOS by Zoe Koke and Daniel Objezta
task collaborator bios
CAROLYN PENNYPACKER RIGGS is a Los Angeles-based artist and composer who creates entry points into her compositions through sculpture, video, costume, and performance. At the core of her practice is the conviction that the creation of new mythologies can lead to the deconstruction and devastation of real-life hegemonic structures. She leads Community Chorus, a resistance-themed, no-commitment chorus that sings at justice-themed rallies, marches, and events; is one half of the pop duo, Bouquet; and is the creator/composer of the choral/movement ensemble, Song of Eurydice. carolynpennypackerriggs.com
SUE ROGINSKI is a dance artist and educator residing in Riverside, CA. She works with local dancers through improvisation and with community members through the non-profit P.L.A.C.E. Performance. placeperformance.org
ZOE KOKE is an interdisciplinary Canadian artist who is pursuing an MFA at UCLA. Her practice dissects the minutiae of everyday life through a feminist lens. Collaborating on task offered the opportunity to consider her complicity in white supremacy and patriarchal capitalism. zoekoke.com
DEEP GRATITUDE TO OUR CONSULTANTS ON THIS WORK:
Michelle Castillo, Brittany Gash, Kai Hazelwood, Virginia Schmitt
accountability practice + partners
While creating task, which focuses on the weaponization of white women, Sarah and Brittany worked to interrogate their own racial and gendered identities through personal and communal practice. In rehearsal, they worked to diagram the concepts and felt experiences of race and gender offered by Black cultural thinkers like George Yancy, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, turning those thoughts and stories into choreography. Sarah and Brittany also organized a group of white women artists to participate in ongoing anti-racist education. They gathered and paid a team of women of color consultants to offer ongoing feedback on the creation of the performance. During the creation of this work, the task creative team actively attended White People for Black Lives meetings and canvassed for the Reform LA Jails initiative. Sarah presented a lecture/demonstration at Pieter Performance Space which asked the Los Angeles experimental dance community to consider the impacts of white supremacy in present day western concert dance. All workshops and performances raised funds for Black Lives Matter. As a work that continues to tour, each production of task uses performance and programming to raise funds for local Black Lives Matter chapters and provides anti-racist education for white communities.
“This is something that we all should be discussing and taking action on, especially considering what we are facing with our present administration.”
- LA Dance Chronicle, Jeff Slayton
Throughout history, the dances and music of Indigenous and African people have been banned by white governments as a tactic of cultural and spiritual genocide. Meanwhile, the white dances of the proscenium stage have spread globally, establishing white aesthetics, white culture, and white supremacy through colonial rule. task acknowledges the theater — the site for this work — not as a neutral space for artistic possibilities, but rather as a historical site of racialized and colonial violence.
task was created on the stolen lands of the Tongva people, in the city of Los Angeles, whose historical wealth was built on the labor of Indigenous, Black, Chinese, and Latinx peoples.