How To Lose a Mountain

Meat, milk, produce, grain; heat for our houses; power to run cars and computers: Behind every product we use is a story that has been lived and a distance that has been traveled. Behind every resource we consume are communities, lands, and processes that often exist beyond the scope of our awareness. What happens when the source of a resource is examined?  Could knowing the story behind our stuff change our relationship to process and use of product?  Who gets to tell the story?  As the source of art, what can the body reveal through the telling and retelling of stories?

Led by choreographer Cassie Meador, How To Lose a Mountain will probe these questions in a project that is rooted in a family story and realized through a physical journey.

THE STORY (in the words of Cassie Meador): “They say my great-great-grandfather owned Stone Mountain in Georgia, but lost it in a poker bet. I’ve heard the same tale about other ancestors in other families in north Georgia. Is it just a story that every family tells, or did the deed to the mountain actually pass from hand to hand in a series of back-room poker games?”

THE JOURNEY: Meador will walk 500 miles from where she lives in Washington, DC to the sources that provide energy to her home. This self-powered journey will take her to an electrical plant in Virginia, then on to the terrain in West Virginia where another mountain is being lost as coal is extracted through mountain top removal to provide fuel to the Virginia plant’s turbines. The walk from DC to West Virginia will serve as a period of intensive production development for the project, comprising research, media content collection, and choreographic development. Meador will be met along the walk by dancers and other artistic collaborators who will engage in parts of the journey with her.  They will generate movement, conduct video/audio interviews to capture community voices among people she encounters, and lead scheduled workshops at sites along the route to develop the set for the stage performance, currently envisioned as a mountain range constructed from hundreds of playing cards.

By harnessing the development of How To Lose a Mountain to the mobile process of a 500-mile walk, the innovative creation of this work will challenge conventional notions about where art happens and how performance dance is made. At the same time – in the spirit of the wandering balladeer or travelling portraitist – it will embrace and revive traditions of the itinerant artist.

See what people are saying about How To Lose a Moutain.
Bruce Frankel’s blog

photos by John Borstel.


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