American Realness

Ligia Lewis

Sorrow Swag

April 1 & 2, Les Subsistances, Lyon, France
April 7 & 9, Centre national de la danse, Pantin, France
April 12 & 13, Théâtre Garonne, Toulouse, France

Sorrow Swag takes race and melancholy as points of departure for an experience that unfolds through the language of sadness. Performed by Brian Getnick with live musical accompaniment by George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow, the performance uses texts and images derived from mid-century classical theater (Beckett and Anouilh) to interrogate race, authorship, gender, and grief. Sorrow Swag disrupts the canonical by means of an imaginative reformulation that prioritizes sensation. The work takes place in an immersive visual and auditory space and uses color as a synesthetic texture and emotional referent to produce a choreography that engages language, text, affect and embodiment.

Les voix du refus et de la résistance à l’ordre imposé peuplent le corps étrange et habité de ce jeune performer qu’est Brian Getnik, originaire de Los Angeles. Ligia Lewis, qui a écrit la pièce pour lui, est née en République Dominicaine et a grandi aux États-Unis. Avec Sorrow Swag, elle nous embarque dans une étrange traversée de sensations, de sons, de visions s’inspirant de Beckett et d’Anouilh, évoquant la tristesse comme une forme de résistance politique aux injonctions de bonheur portées par la société contemporaine. La bande-son a été composée par son frère jumeau le musicien Twin Shadow : la performance – loin d’être nostalgique – est électrique autant que physique, musicale et visuelle.

Sorrow Swag was produced with funding from the Berlin Senat’s Tanzstipendium with further support from Human Resources Los Angeles, ADA Studios Berlin, and a residency at Pieter Space LA. Sorrow Swag is presented in collaboration with, and in part made possible by the generous support of the Goethe-Institut.

Photo by Ian Douglas

Concept and Choreography by Ligia Lewis
Performed by Brian Getnick
Musical Accompaniment by George Lewis Jr. (Twin Shadow)

Ligia Lewis (DO/US) is a choreographer based in Berlin. Lewis weaves together critical and literary texts with dance and theater as she interrogates the metaphors and social inscriptions of the body. She engages with the choreographic through embodied, sensorial, and immersive performances, with a predilection towards interiority and abstraction. Her choreographies can be described as experientially rich and complex. Lewis has been presented in multiple contexts including visual arts and theater.

Lewis was awarded the Prix Jardin d’ Europe for her work Sorrow Swag at Impulstanz 2015. Minor Matter for the theater is her latest creation in development.

Brian Getnick is a performance maker and sculptor living in Los Angeles. Reconfiguring the physical materials and procedures of theatrical fantasy, Getnick creates performances that engage memory, history, and the absurd in both solo and ensemble works He directs PAM; a residency program and theater for performance makers and co-directs the performance art journal Native Strategies with Tanya Rubbak.

George Lewis Jr. aka Twin Shadow (born 1983), is a Dominican-American singer, producer and writer, based out of Los Angeles, California. He has released one novel and three albums: Forget(2010), Confess (2012) and Eclipse(2015). His latest album is released with major record Warner Music. His music has been met with positive acclaim by the likes of Rolling Stones magazine, Pitchfork, BBC music, NPR music and more.

“…Lewis’s work is most successful in its insistence that the spare can be made spectacular.

Lewis, a Dominican-born and Berlin and LA-based performer and choreographer, has been working on sadness. Minor Matter follows her Sorrow Swag, shown at HRLA last October, which fuses Jean Anouilh’s translation of Antigone with Billie Whitelaw’s performance of Samuel Beckett’s Not I. Brian Getnick played the amalgam of tragic figures: one buried alive for civil disobedience, the other a lone, hysterical mouth.”

- Catherine Damman, Artforum