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Ligia Lewis in Minor Matter at the Diver Festival.(Photo by: TATE)
Not so minor
By ORI J. LENKINSKI
09/03/2018
Minor matter is the second part of a trilogy of trios (BLUE, RED, WHITE) that includes Sorrow Swag, which premiered in 2014 and won the prestigious Prix Jardin d’Europe.
In 2013, when the hashtag #blacklivesmatter first hit social media, it opened an unprecedented, international channel for reactions, thought, response and action. The impact and effect of this movement, started by Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors and Opal Tometi, continue to resonate deeply and echo broadly. As Ligia Lewis explains, her 2016 creation minor matter is a reaction to what these three women set in motion.

“The work began as a poetic response to Black Lives Matter and through a long process became its own entity,” explains Lewis.

“Thinking through the poetics of blackness – black thought, black life, and the black box, this work emerges with urgency to rethink history and to also challenge the way in which we understand subjectivity, representation and sociality.”

Later this week, Lewis will present minor matter in Tel Aviv as part of the annual Diver Festival. The occasion marks her first performance in Israel.

Lewis, 35, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. A dancer and choreographer, she currently resides in Berlin, where she creates her own work and collaborates with other artists. Her work has been presented throughout the United States and Europe. In her choreographies, Lewis delves into different fields and contexts voyaging into the theater, museum spaces and site-specific engagements.

Minor matter is the second part of a trilogy of trios (BLUE, RED, WHITE) that includes Sorrow Swag, which premiered in 2014 and won the prestigious Prix Jardin d’Europe. Recently, Lewis received the Bessie Award for Outstanding Production for minor matter.

“For me, an aesthetic practice enables me to interrogate certain assumptions and logics that are preexistent,” Lewis says. “I look at the practice of performance-making as an opportunity to create worlds that otherwise don’t exist or lend themselves to certain societal impossibilities. It became clear to me within the last few years that I needed to make work from my subject position, as it is one that is often overlooked or erased.”

Lewis contends with the emotional and physical implication of the black box theater in minor matter. She places her audience on the stage, allowing them a vantage point that their usual seats would not afford. Lewis and her dancers refuse to remain strangers with the viewers. Clad in work-out gear, knee-pads and sneakers, they get close and allow the closeness between them to fill the space. 

Throughout their tangling and untangling from one another, Lewis and her two performers are thrust forward and buoyed along by a complex musical score. This composition, created by Lewis together with Jassem Hindi, was in fact the first piece of the puzzle that is minor matter. “I began the process by working on a sound score that would slide across musical epochs and genres. The sound score is integral to the work,” she says.

Though three dancers will take the stage at Inbal Theater on Wednesday night, there are in fact five members of the minor matter cast.

“The original performers were suggested to me by friends in the dance community. Since then, the cast has expanded to include two other performers that I knew from the dance scene, so now we have a rotating cast.”

“I am very interested in performers that have a strong sense of autonomy in relationship to how they think and work while simultaneously are good team players. My work is demanding, so obviously a strong skill set is required. I am also seduced by strong personalities and performers that hold a certain kind of resistance in their bodies to normativity and cultural hegemony.”

While the performance embodies a certain stoic attitude, Lewis and her dancers are nothing if not friendly off stage. Three minutes before each performance, Lewis and her dancers can be found behind whatever curtain or wall is at hand, “touching and giggling and wishing one another a great show.”

Ligia Lewis will present minor matter on Wednesday, September 5 at 8 p.m. at the Inbal Theater. For more information, visit www.diverfestival.com.


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