Dance is a means of exploring new ideas. Below is a sampling of current projects

Announcing Practice Progress!

Teaming up with Kai Hazelwood of the Good Trouble Makers, Sarah is thrilled to announce their new initiative, Practice Progress: a facilitation and consulting platform addressing structural, professional, and interpersonal white supremacy through body based learning.  We are open for bookings for workshops with students, faculty, staff, and administrators of any size of institution or organization.  Visit our website at practiceprogress.org

Scores for a Cathedral

Sarah and GROUND SERIES co-founder Brittany Delany were commissioned by the San Francisco Movement Arts Festival held at Grace Cathedral January 24, 2020 to create a performance for the main altar.  Their new work, Scores for a Cathedral asks dancers to move through a series of scores that engage with the complex histories of violence propagated by the catholic church.  

Dancing Around Race 

Sarah was invited to attend the Dancing Around Race: Whiteness in Higher Education conference at the University of Utah in January 2019.  It was deeply encouraging to gather with other dancing artists and educators around this theme. The critical work of dismantling white supremacy in the dance classroom is imperative, difficult and ongoing.

a( )wake for water

In December 2019, Sarah supported long time GROUND SERIES member Miles Tokunow and new collaborator Keegan Kloer in producing their new work.  Using butoh, experimental guitar, collective voice, and social practice, a( )wake for water expresses states of perpetual mourning presented by afro pessimism and our global water crisis. 

experiments with land and dance 

In November 2019, Sarah guided GROUND SERIES artists Brittany Delany and Shayna Keller in a week-long exploration of land listening during their residency at Buckwheat Space in Morongo Valley, CA.  Under the support of artists Yvonne Buchanan and Dorene Quinn, GROUND SERIES invited a group of forty witness-participants to join them in a high desert wash for an interactive residency share which included dance performance, durational performance art, body listening workshop, and a photographic installation. 

artEquity National Facilitator Training 2019

Sarah was chosen to participate in the National Facilitator Training in Atlanta Georgia as a leader fighting for equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts.  

ECHOSENSE (2019)

Echosense - a new duet by GROUND SERIES artists Brittany Delany and Rob Cheifetz will premiere July 19th at San Francisco Movement Arts Festival at Grace Cathedral.  This is an exciting mixed repertoire festival features 250 artists for one ticket price.  

Upcoming work in Coachella Valley

GROUND SERIES is excited to announce fall 2019 programming in the Coachella Valley! We have been invited to activate Michael Daniel Birnberg’s public art piece ‘Moment Movement Change’ at Desert Art Space in Palm Springs through dance, music, and storytelling. Community workshops and public performances will run September 28th through October 7th. We have also been accepted for the Buckwheat Residency in Morongo Valley for November! GROUND SERIES members Brittany Delany, Shayna Keller and Daniel Obzejta are planning to create a dance film, sculpture installation, and live performance while in residence in the desert. More details on performance dates and community programs forthcoming!

Meet Sarah Ashkin

In January 2019, Sarah was featured in online LA culture magazine: Voyage LA! 

 

"I make multimedia hybrid performance. There is often speaking, joke telling, singing, objects, projections, and live music in my work. The body is always central. GROUND SERIES dance collective’s mission is to use performance as an embodied intervention. By this, we mean that performance has the potential to disrupt the status quo. When we literally lay our bodies down in the arroyo, the gallery, the park, and the theater, we ask our viewers to consider the slow vulnerability of our fleshy forms, or how we use the gathering of audience as a critical opportunity to talk, and think, and feel about racism, or colonialism, or our climate crisis....

 

Taking task on tour!

GROUND SERIES is working hard to bring task to you! This dance theater duet uses dance performance to confront white supremacy.  Through performance, reflection, and workshops, task endeavors to provide a space for white folks to take accountability and join the fight against racism. Are you apart of an organization, arts or dance department, or presenting institution interested in presenting task and task community programs? Please take a look at our task tour kit and reach out!

Our Bodies, Warm in the Sun (2019)

Our Bodies Warm in the Sun, Unsettled (Unsettled) is a modular performance based on the personal, racial, and environmental histories of land in which it takes place.  A dance theater duet and social practice experience, Unsettled combines research, satire, and improvisation to create a critical reflection on the American Wilderness. After two performances in southern California, GROUND SERIES is planning to bring Unsettled to the Bay. All you Patagonia wearing Bay-Area folks, we are coming for you!

task (2018)

Simeon Den Gallery, Cathedral City, CA 

January 21st, 2018

Presented in The New Feminist Gaze 

Produced by Wyld Women 

 

GROUND SERIES most recent interdisciplinary duet is entitled task. task is a practice in tarrying with dancing whiteness, particularly the white cis-female dancing body.  In the making of this work the artists have been tarrying with the fact 53% of white women voters in this nation voted a white supremacist rapist into office. They have been sitting with the truth that white ‘feminists’ dismantled the power of Women’s March by refusing to listen, honor, and be led by women of color.  

 

task is a public practice in which the performers reflect on the problematics of the white female body moving through the foreground and background.  Dealing with themes of failure, listening, and accountability the choreographers have asked themselves:

What is a performance practice of responsibility?

What is a performance practice of listening?

How might these practices be feminist?  

and How can we make our learning process and partnership a public offering?

 

The artists would like to honor Urban Bush Women, Cannupa Hanska Lugar, and Colin Poole for inspiring the journey of this work.  

LAUNDROMAT: A DUET (2017)

University of Roehampton, London 

Choreographed and Performed by Sarah Ashkin and Maisie Sadgrove

 

A short duet contemplating period panties, emotional labor, air drying, public cleaning rituals.

White Ways of Knowing (2017)

University of Roehampton, London

Choreographed and Performed by Sarah Ashkin

Dramaturgy: Simon Ellis

 

Part of the core curriculum for my master's program at the University of Roehampton was a module entitled Ways of Knowing.  The course offered a series of approaches to research, theory, and approached to 'knowing' the dance body.   I found the project of class, to offer an interdisciplinary and many perspective look at what Dance Studies could be fascinating and challenging as from a pedagogical point of view.  However, throughout the course, I noticed the majority of proposals of 'ways of knowing' dance offered by my lecturers and the assigned readings were white.  Either the knowledge that was given priority in this class was written by white people, about white western concert dance, and made eurocentric assumptions about the knowledge production of the dancing body.  

 

For my cumulative project for Ways of Knowing, I created a performance and writing piece entitled White Ways of Knowing. The  White Ways of Knowing performance began with my handing out a portrait a selection of the scholars on our module syllabus to each of my classmates and lecturers who made up the audience.  Next, I sang a short rendition of Stevie Nicks' Landslide, drawing a metaphor between nostalgia, oblivion, and racism.  The bulk of the performance entailed my taping of the portraits previously handed to the audience to the backs of the chairs arranged in the performance space.  By the end, I have amassed the white mob of dancers, scholars, and choreographers making up our Ways of Knowing syllabus.  

 

The White Ways of Knowing writing piece can be found in the writing section of the website.  It is a performative, statistical, theoretical poem addressing the whiteness of knowledge production in Dance Studies.  

Listening (2016)

University of Roehampton
Performed by: Sarah Ashkin
Listening Device Designed by: Benito Steen of Santa Clara Pueblo

Below is the artist statement posted on the day of the performance installation in the lobby of my University on December 8th, 2016.  listenings took place deep into the winter of the Water Protectors encampment at Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Reservation fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline's violation of treaty rights and endangerment of the Cannonball River.  During the 3 hour installation, I asked passers by to play news, poems, stories, films made at Standing Rock and listen with me.  

***
I wonder about listening as an act of solidarity to the Water Protectors.  I wonder about appropriating a World War I listening device as an object of possible connection and peace.  I wonder about co-opting the performative moment as an opportunity to listen, to ask you, the audience, to listen. White People like me need to practice listening and get better at it. Listening to the planet, to native peoples. Today we are going to listen to the voices, interviews, poems, soundscapes, screams, and chants posted directly by the Water Protectors currently fighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Reservation.  

listenings is an attempt to receive.  To receive Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore’s performative sculpture, Speaking to Their Mother; a huge megaphone installed throughout North America's First Nations lands threatened by mining, oil drilling, water pollution and other acts of environmental racism.  To receive the work of my friend, artist, and Lakota Sioux tribal member, Cannupa Hanska Luger ANYTHING EVERYWHERE; an amplified sculpture of giant female figure head who speaks of how closely our survival is tied to our connections to the land and each other.  To receive the words and experiences of the Water Protectors.  

Please be sure to let the Water Protectors know that WE ARE LISTENING.  Direct Actions of Solidarity for folks in London are provided on the print outs.

If you have any questions or need someone to listen, I am trying - sarah@ashkin.com

with love,

Sarah

  

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©2020 Sarah Ashkin | dancer, choreographer, educator