World Premiere of Hope Mohr’s Horizon Stanzas

World Premiere of Hope Mohr’s Horizon Stanzas

Bay Area choreographer Hope Mohr announces the world premiere of her latest evening-length dance work Horizon Stanzas, April 27, 29, & 30 at Joe Goode Annex. Mohr was inspired to create this new dance theater work by Alice Notley’s haunting feminist epic poem, “The Descent of Alette.”

Alice Notley is widely considered one of America’s greatest living poets. “She has long written in narrative and epic and genre-bending modes to discover new ways to explore the nature of the self and the social and cultural importance of disobedience.” (Poetry Foundation)  Her poem “The Descent of Alette” describes the protagonist’s journey through a dreamlike underworld to vanquish an archetypal tyrant. Horizon Stanzas is inspired by Notley’s imagery and intentions, specifically the poem’s attempt to disrupt literary forms historically dominated by men. 

Mohr’s choreography is marked by avant-garde verve and “conveys emotional and socio-political contents that just ride underneath the surface of a rigorous vocabulary.”(Dance View Times) Her dances are often inspired by language, including extreme lyric I (2018) (inspired by Anne Carson’s translations of Sappho) and Leaving the Atocha Station, inspired by Ben Lerner’s novel of the same name, which won an “Izzie” for Outstanding Choreography in 2020.

This new work creates an immersive, theatrical world; the poem’s intense imagery will manifest in emotionally charged movement tableaux paired with Mohr’s live vocalizations of excerpts from Notley’s evocative text. The staging and choreography is also informed by the form of the poem on the page, with stuttering and idiosyncratic movement phrasing that reflect Notley’s grammar. Dancer/collaborators for Horizon Stanzas include Belinda He, Suzette Sagisi, and Tegan Schwab-Alavi; Mohr performs in the work as narrator. The design team includes Del Medoff (lighting), Teddy Hulsker (sound), and Ella Noe (masks).

Horizon Stanzas springs from the somatic, emotional, and political work of decolonizing our bodies and our spirits,” shares Hope Mohr. “I’m passionate about re-imagining forms that have been historically dominated by men, such as the lyric poem and the epic poem. Horizon Stanzas is the story of how a descent into formlessness can reveal our power to vanquish oppressive forms.”

This is Mohr’s first premiere following a key career transition. In 2007, she founded Hope Mohr Dance, now known as Bridge Live Arts (B.L.A.). B.L.A.’s mission is to create and support equity-driven live art that centers artists as agents of change. In 2020, she co-stewarded the organization’s transition to a model of distributed leadership; two years later the organization changed its name to Bridge Live Arts. Hope has transitioned out of her Co-Director role and into Affiliated Artist status with B.L.A. to focus on her work as a choreographer. 

Horizon Stanzas will be performed April 27, 29, 30 at 7:30 PM at Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama St., San Francisco, CA.

Tickets are available online choose-your-price $20-40

Photo: Belinda He, Suzette Sagisi, and Tegan Schwab-Alavi (dancers) by photographer Robbie Sweeny