On Sunday, October 16 from 6–8 p.m. a performance Provost Frances Bronet co-directed, titled “Don’t Leave Me,” will take place at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
“Don’t Leave Me” weaves dance, music, and architecture in an exploration of the ways physical space determines human action and the interdependence of people within that space. Professional dancers with and without disabilities use an ever-changing set design as apparel, furniture, and architecture.
This cross-disciplinary collaboration of dance and architecture takes risks with large-scale structural frames and bodies. During a rehearsal, one of the dancers was high up on the designed structure and felt it start to collapse. She immediately called out to the dancers below her: “Don’t leave me!” This became the title of the piece. It speaks to interdependence, and also the DanceAbility method belief that nobody should be left out or left behind.
Bronet has designed with several nationally significant choreographers, and as Dean of the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts supported the Adaptive Athletes section of the Product Design Program. She is the Provost at Illinois Institute of Technology. Her co-director, Alito Alessi is a Guggenheim Fellow for his choreography and dance pedagogy achievements with the DanceAbility method. He is known internationally for connecting people of all disabilities and abilities into dance, both at a recreational level and in critically acclaimed choreography.
Following the performance, Bronet and Alessi will deliver the MAPP Diversity & Inclusion Fall Lecture, titled “Feel the Force” on Monday, October 17 at 5 p.m. at the School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation.
In “Feel the Force,” Bronet and Alessi will discuss how physical and architectural bodies can influence each other. They will look at the contested terrain between “fixing the body” by designing to increase the efficiency of people with disabilities (i.e. prosthetics), and designing environments that celebrate human variability. They will discuss the implications of how the structures in the “Don’t Leave Me” mixed-abilities dance piece are only stable if the dancers hold them together with their hands or manage where their bodies and shifting weight are placed. How high can we climb? The collective musculatures are part of the architecture. If we cannot feel the force that we exert on each other, sometimes by just leaning on your next-door neighbor, or through the vehicle of an unstable structure, then there will be failure. If you leave me, I will topple. It becomes critical to always be aware of your context, its structure and occupants.