It's nearly impossible to live in Seattle and not know about the "godfather of grunge," punk poet Steven Jesse Bernstein. The NW's answer to William Burroughs, Bernstein was an integral figure in the 90s Seattle scene. Poet, provacateur, performance artist, Bernstein is known for his unflinching poetry and unique style. The 90s were a fruitful time for genre crossing in Seattle, and Bernstein made the most of it - opening for bands including Nirvana, Big Black, The U-Men, Soundgarden, and The Cows. His recordings on local label Sub Pop are legendary.
Bernstein plays an integral role in Shredder Orpheus, and you can even see him on a skateboard. This 25th anniversary screening is dedicated to his memory.
Read more about Bernstein here and check out some of his work...
by Seattle Dances
Seattle Dances' take on Opposing Forces:
"In execution, Opposing Forces proved itself an extraordinary collaboration, not just between O’Neal and the dancers, but also in every aspect of the technical development. DJ Waylon Dungan (WD4D) provided excellent beats and created new musical landscapes for each section. However, it was the partnership between Amiya Brown’s lighting design and Ben Zamora’s set that stole the show. Zamora’s design of interlocking geometric patterns (boxes, triangles, ‘x’s, and eight-pointed stars) on the floor and backdrop set an incredibly adaptable scene, especially in tandem with the lighting. Brown’s lighting transformed the space time and time again, from sharply focused spots flashing tiled patterns reminiscent of disco clubs to bright washes of light revealing vulnerabilities. Arguably, these elements upstaged...
by Leah Baltus
Leah Baltus at City Arts on Opposing Forces:
"Most trips to On the Boards begin with a buzzing lobby. But on opening night of choreographer Amy O’Neal’s Opposing Forces last Thursday, the doors to the theatre opened early and the lobby crowd thinned. The action was already inside, where an open B-boy cipher informally welcomed everyone to get down before taking their seats. Pre-shows can have a canned, awkward quality, but this one exuded casual authenticity.
The room also took an atypical shape, the stage area flanked by two additional sets of risers for the audience. Geometric patterns were taped to the stage and the back wall by designer Ben Zamora. Composer and DJ Waylon Dungan, aka WD40, hovered over his rig near the back wall where he would run sound for the night.
The cipher—the circle in which B-boys take turns showing...
Robert McGinley was one of the original founders of OtB. He served as Artistic Director into the 80's, curating a healthy dose of performance art and punk rock. McGinley currently works as a media artist in film, poetry, and photography.
by Devin McDermott
To be at peace. A physical manifestation of grace as an expression of individuality. An outpouring of inner landscape...universal, ephemeral, pure, and personalized. No two bodies are the same, no two experiences are identical, no moment a replication of the one that preceded or followed it. An expression outside of gender, politics, history, category, and yet influenced and shaped by all of those things and every cell of the person who in the mode of creation. When I watched the dancers of Opposing Forces moving in their element whether in unison or as soloists, choreographed or improvised, my impression was steeped in an appreciation for the unbridled energy and perhaps joy expressed by fellow humans on stage. The technique may be beyond my experience, the culture of hip hop and break-dancing may be a world I know very little about first hand, but I know that very special state of expression through movement. I know what that feels like to be fully consumed by the experience of...
by Marcie Sillman
Marcie Sillman breaks down Opposing Forces at her arts and culture blog, And Another Thing:
"I freely admit I don't know heaps about hip hop culture or b-boys. But I do know when a dancer is technically skilled with a full-on commitment to his, or her, art form. That commitment was on full display on the parts of the performers in choreographer Amy O'Neal's 'Opposing Forces' at On The Boards, Saturday October 25th, 2014.
O'Neal assembled five of the Seattle area's most respected b-boys, along with musician/DJ WD4D, to create a performance that both opens the door to hip hop culture for a (mostly) non-hip hop audience, while at the same time allowing the cast members to explore both their art form and themselves as artists. The result...
by Margo Lauritzen
I think I’ve got the address wrong; I don’t know anyone at this party. I look at my invitation, it’s clearly stated that this party is my birthright.
The hostess is not present so I wander about. Each room houses a starling showcase of masculinity. Theatrical moves rule in the ballroom. At the top of the stairs a man, Houdini-like, attempts to escape a padded box, while in an adjacent chamber a muscle man rips off his clothing to reveal a beating heart. In the corridors, there are exquisite pas de deus where the partners keep shifting who is strong and who is weak, who is led and who is the initiator. The pantry has been transformed into a photography studio. In the garden, games of geometric tag are interrupted by flashes of lightening. And then, a masked troupe of com media dell arte players approach amid heckler’s cries, graceful, and mesmerizing.
In the courtyard a young man builds himself from the ground up, showing us his shaky legs, his tremulous nerves, his...
by Dylan Ward
I got a little angry at a friend last night; not uncommon for me in the evening because I get grumpy; suffice it to say the conversation turned to the subject of gender and Amy O’Neal’s piece.
Well, I get real defensive of boys. I’ve been accused of being defensive of boys in the subject of gender talk because I’m a boy or male privilege or that I’m gay and find men attractive.
I am gay and I find men physically attractive but no that’s not why I’m defensive of boys.
Let’s talk about Amy’s piece “Opposing Forces” and see why: the movement was exemplative of why.
Very simply, the alternation between hard and soft movement on a male body which, in order to be perceived as operating “correctly,” usually operates on a level of hard movement.
“Male” movement is perceived as bigger, larger, stronger, by and large. A man moving softly or delicately illicits a response that...