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Richard McDonough

first performed on October 22, 2021
464, Ridgewood, Queens, NY
performed twice in 2021


Amelia Heintzelman, Tommy Martinez

Brooklyn, NY


“13 False Starts” was part of “A Night of Duets,” a program of four loosely-defined “duets” by myself, Josie Bettman, Sylvie Hayes-Wallace, and Sharleen Chidiac. The evening was the result of a few important events: a hefty covid-era emergency grant, the opening of a new artist-run space in Ridgewood by a group of collaborators and friends, and a euphoric feeling of reunion and motivation that emerged when we were finally able to dance together in a room, after so much time apart. It felt momentous and thrilling, a night of true experimentation and community support.

My piece took its name and structure from a 1994 Janet Malcolm essay (“Forty-one False Starts”), in which Malcolm approaches writing a profile of the artist David Salle by creating 41 different ledes.

In similar fashion, my collaborator Amelia Heintzelman and I attempted to make a dance out of a series of beginnings, which blended prismatically to reveal a full-length dance. We were accompanied by Tommy Martinez, who created a sound score for the piece. Over and over, we exited and re-entered, blacked out the lights in the middle of a scene, stopped time, started it, blurred our sense of who was who (in motion, we are said to look like twins), hid from the audience, revealed ourselves, and dropped suddenly into view from behind the curtain.