What is America Dawn?

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What is America Dawn?
Erin Carlisle Norton, choreographer/Artistic Director, The Moving Architects, Fall 2017

The Moving Architects current work, “America Dawn”, will premiere at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY from November 30-Dec 2. The work draws inspiration from a poem written by my late grandfather Thomas John Carlisle “America Dawn” from 1976, inspired by a Louise Nevelson sculpture of the same name from 1959/67. A dance inspired by a poem, inspired by a sculpture. Collaborating with multidisciplinary artist gwen charles on video and design with our shared aesthetic of layering multi-sensorial elements, together we are able to transgress borders between dance, art, and cinematography. Intergenerational collaboration with family extends even further in “America Dawn” through the use of sound with composer, collaborator, and my second-cousin Ralph Lewis (great-nephew of Thomas John Carlisle).

This not the first time I have drawn inspiration from the visual arts or continued my grandfather’s legacy by using his poetry. My previous collaboration with filmmakers Alicia Chester and Andrea Slavik on a reinterpretation of Vito Acconci’s “Pryings” (2012) and site-specific choreographic projects within Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center (2011) and Church of the Epiphany (2008) allowed me to explore my visual sensibilities and bring attention to filmic-qualities in my dance works. In 2015 I premiered the evening-length work “Demure as Dynamite” which looked to two books of poetry by my grandfather and his portrayal of women of the Bible.

In “America Dawn” we are lifting and bringing to the stage the original sculpture’s textures and proportions, the poems’ optimism and cyclicity, and the beauty and architectural cityscapes of both, intertwining dance, original music, and designed prop and costume elements, all fully realized through the physically strong, exacting, and emotive six female dancers/performers of The Moving Architects (Caitlin Bailey, Maggie Beutner, Rachel Gill, Jenny Gram, Léla Groom, and Ashley Peters). Two other shorter works will also be featured in the evening-length concert. “Yellow Capes” (working title), a dance film by gwen charles in collaboration with The Moving Architects that reveals a secret society of women who gather yearly for their ceremony in the location of their sacred land, a project which we filmed during our yearly residency at Wilson College, and “Canon,” an escalating dance work that displays and promotes political activism and civic engagement through the dancing body and blank protest signs.

Collaboration is at the heart of this project, allowing many artistic minds and experienced artists to join and layer together elements of movement, visual art, sound, props, costume design, lighting, and live music, to truly bring to life the poem and original sculptural art impetus behind “America Dawn”.