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Jackie Rivas

first performed on November 17, 2018
New Blood XII at Links Hall, Chicago, IL
performed once in 2018


Chicago, IL


Summoning the dead, “Generation Loss” engaged memory and absence by inhabiting the unbreachable distance between us and those we’ve been closest to. This approximately ten-minute movement-based duet consisted of five “chapters” distinguished by the type of motion we performed, which included dragging, walking, and hand gestures.

At some times the space between us became tiny and taut; arms hovered within an inch of each other’s shoulders, and our legs moved in concert as if bound by rope. At other times, feet away from each other and facing different directions, we played hand games, and the distance grew gentle, even delicate. Though we never touched, the gestures occasionally, by chance, coincided. Across this expanding and contracting gap, we maintained eye contact. To produce this symbiosis, we rehearsed several times a week, focusing not only on constructing the piece itself but also on emulating each other’s characteristic postures. We used exercises derived from physical improvisation, devised theater, and dance warm-ups.

Final lighting and sound were thematically minimal. During rehearsal we explored amplification with body mics; however, this made the sound inappropriately disembodied. Ultimately, the sound comprised our breath, the slap of our feet, and all other noises produced by our movement. The lighting alternated between a wash and a focused diagonal beam that cut across the floor, accentuating our shifts between motion and stasis.

Reiterating another person’s gestures is one way of archiving with the body. In this summoning of the dead, you invite them to inhabit you. But at odd moments, recognizing these same gestures in your own mannerisms, you realize that the dead have lived in you all along, and the self you had thought to be your sole possession is not, after all, yours alone.