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John Jasperse Expresses Wit, Humor, Innovation and a Vivid Imagination in his Misuse Liable to Prosecution at On the Boards
John Jasperse Expresses Wit, Humor, Innovation and a Vivid Imagination in his Misuse Liable to Prosecution at On the Boards
By E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN Arts & Entertainment Writer

John Jasperse Company Oct. 18-20, 2007, On the Boards

When I took my seat at On the Boards to see Misuse Liable to Prosecution, John Jasperse's newly created dance performance work, I was enthralled by the sight of the set, very creatively designed with simple elements, such as plastic and metal clothes hangers and "knitted" extension cords creating a very long hanging from the ceiling. At the foot of this hanging, lying on a bean bag chair, John Jasperse had his legs in the air using them as knitting needles, continuing to knit the extension cord. I was mesmerized, watching him knit.

John Jaspere has an incredible sense of humor and a great sense of artistic composition. He has a very creative imagination and I found his company's performance, set, motivation, message and music to be refreshing and innovative. It felt like it would be a great performance art installation piece for the Whitney Museum.

When creating this piece, the rule was that everything used in this production; sets, costumes and props, had to be found, borrowed, or stolen. The question being explored by Jasperse was: "What does it mean to exist in a capitalist society with little or no capital?" Jasperse considers this piece "an examination of the phenomena of waste, hoarding, whoring, begging, seduction, philanthropy and blood money". The work: "seeks to compare relative means and opportunities (or lack thereof) available to diverse populations across social and physical geography and throughout history, including the particular privilege that is accorded to the artist through association with those in actual power, echoing back to the court jester, and the responsibilities that might accompany this position". At the beginning of the piece, Jasperse used interesting and illuminating statistics of how much people spend for things, how much they make, how much he gets paid , what he pays for rent in N.Y. and how much his dancers make.

Using simple actions, like folding blue jeans in numerous ways, wearing t-shirts as underpants and other odd objects as clothing, Jasperse and his dancers get their message across in a novel and entertaining way. A large cardboard box, the bean bag, a number of brooms and dust mops and an inflatable air mattress (soon to be returned to Bed Bath and Beyond, lowering the cost of his set, etc. to twenty four dollars and change) became fascinating props, when used by the dancers, and the bagpipes, electric harp and other sounds by performer/ composer, Zeena Parkins, offered evocative, live accompaniment.

The clothes hangers hanging in asymmetrical groups from the ceiling reminded me of Alexander Calder's kinetic mobile sculptures. The stage lighting by Joseph Levasseur and Jasperse, created beautiful shadows on the walls from the hangers and knitted hanging and I was thrilled at what an amazing visual art installation was created, using ordinary, humble, every day objects, in the hands of someone with a brilliant imagination.

This production was co-commissioned by On the Boards and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), for their "Next Wave Festival", where it will be performed on Oct. 31st and Nov. 1st-3rd, 2007.

There are a number of diverse performances coming up in November at On the Boards. Visit www.ontheboards.org for complete information.


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