Artist Profile: Joni Renee Whitworth

Joni Renee Whitworth (Portland, OR): Self-Defense
music/movement/poetry

Joni is a magic-maker, a mover and shaker, and responsible for some of the coolest events and work happening in Portland. If you haven’t heard of Future Prairie — get Googling! Her work in under-represented communities services creatives of different abilities, races, gender identities, national origin, religion, and age. Her personal poetry work has been published; her writing has appeared across the country, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to our Risk/Reward stage!

PERFORMANCE SYNOPSIS

Self Defense is a passionately-spoken, poetic, slow-moving song and dance, looking at the world through an autistic lens. This stands in juxtaposition to the most commonly-known cultural narrative of autism, which is that of Rain Man – weird and quirky. Many types of people are autistic, and there are dozens of unexplored elements of autism, areas that may be not related to math or memorizing facts but details that are more generous, emotional, or sensual. Self Defense speaks to how Joni navigates being in public, being employed, and being in relationship with family, friends, in love, and more. Through this piece, her engagement with nature, and man-made systems and structures, shed light on cultural issues of exclusion.

BIO

Joni Renee Whitworth is an artist and writer from rural Oregon. She has performed at The Moth, the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts in Costa Mesa, California, the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn in partnership with the Morpheus Youth Project, and the Museum of Contemporary Art alongside Marina Abramovic. Her writing explores themes of nature, future, family, and the body, and has appeared in Lambda Literary, Eclectica, Pivot, SWWIM, Smeuse, Superstition Review, xoJane, and The Write Launch. Her poetry chapbook, Your Full Real Name, was published in 2017. Joni is the creative director and podcast host of Future Prairie.

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Artist Profile: LanDforms

LanDforms (Seattle, WA): The Garden of Expectations
dance/theatre/music/sculpture/horticulture

LanDforms is making their Risk/Reward debut at this year’s festival. Recently finding themselves in Seattle after a stint at Martha’s Vineyard, where they made their hilarious and tragic Barbie-themed work, The Life in Plastic, Risk/Reward welcomes them to our Portland stage.

PERFORMANCE SYNOPSIS

The Garden of Expectations is a movement piece that presents the audience with a surreal and abstract glimpse into another world, presenting a wealth of symbolic and metaphorical readings, including but not limited to life, death, decay, vulnerability, the consumption of living things for human pleasure, and the never ending search for approval. The Garden of  Expectations turns reality TV on its head, forming its own thoughts about what it means to get the Rose. In this version of dating game show absurdity, challenges include basking in radiant sunshine, drinking water, and putting down strong roots.

BIO

Under the moniker LanDforms, Leah Crosby and Danielle Doell’s productions span dance, theater, music, sculpture, and horticulture. LanDforms’ often funny, sometimes tragic, always unusual performances explore the absurdities of human relationships, nostalgia, and the intersections of power, control, and love. Crosby was born in upstate New York to artist parents; Doell went to 13 years of Catholic school in the Midwest. Their early socialization around what is “normal” regarding gender, power, sex, and identity was, to put it simply, different. As LanDforms, they examine how their disparate histories build their present and future expressive bodies. LanDforms began on Martha’s Vineyard, where Crosby and Doell lived for two years. Danielle joined the Seattle dance scene in 2017, knowing Leah would soon follow. They collaborated long-distance and during several developmental residencies while separated. Now, LanDforms is excited to be a Seattle-based company, making work within the PNW’s thriving performance communities. The Garden of Expectations was created in close creative collaboration with the dancers.

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Artist Profile: ilvs strauss

ilvs strauss (Vancouver, BC): Déjalo
solo mediated theatre

One of our festival favorites is back. ilvs’s sea cucumber goes down in history as a highlight for almost anyone who saw it. This summer, ilvs is bringing her most intimate piece yet, delving into her youth — she is speaking English. They are speaking Spanish.

PERFORMANCE SYNOPSIS

Déjalo es una pieza para una actuación en solitario llena de sutileza, magia y el delicado equilibrio de la tragedia y el humor. Investiga de forma juguetona la complejidad de la comunicación, el peso de lo no dicho y la intimidad del diálogo. 

BIO

ilvs strauss is slowly making her way up the West Coast: born in Southern California in 1979, she soaked up as much vitamin D as humanly possible before moving to Portland, OR with her family in 1989. There she bought a raincoat, a bike, and a drum set. She took a slight detour and earned a degree in Chemistry from OSU, before returning to Portland to play more music, experiment with photography and drawing. Fast forward to 2005: Seattle. ilvs lands a Production Internship with a music festival and through that experience, enters the world of Technical Theater. She learns things about lights and sound and video. Meanwhile, she gets an itch to do some of her own art. She writes, does slide show presentations, plays some music, eventually tries and likes dance. All this gets thrown into the big soup pot that is her greater body of artistic work. Skip to the present: ilvs finds herself in Canada pursuing her MFA at Simon Fraser University. Here she stumbles upon those who laud the idea of Digital Scenography, her people. She continues to explore and create subtle spectacles of temporal collage that challenge traditional notions of theater and performance through the use of technology, corporeality, and ephemerality.

ILVS STRAUSS’S WEBSITE

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Artist Profile: Milton Lim & Patrick Blenkarn

Milton Lim & Patrick Blenkarn (Vancouver, BC): asses.masses
multimedia performance

You may remember Milton Lim’s work okay.odd from our 2016 Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance. Flashing slides. Breathing. Thumping. Remember? Milton Lim is back with a fresh piece in collaboration with fellow Vancouver phenom Patrick Blenkarn with a piece about “we.” These explorers of multimedia and digital performance examine questions of labor and values… and YOU are the ones who get to play the game.

PERFORMANCE SYNOPSIS

Equus asinus—the ass, the donkey—has played a central role in religion, colonialism, warfare, and the economics of almost every major civilization since its domestication over 5000 years ago. It has symbolized everything from power, strength, and stupidity, to wisdom, piousness, and fertility. In recent years, however, the utility of the ass has been made superfluous in post-Industrial societies and the animal is being ‘transitioned’ to produce other forms of value. In light of these transitions, the contemporary status of the ass presents a particularly potent context for understanding the state of labor in our current era, as well as a reminder of the deeply anthropocentric features of philosophies of labour and emancipation.

asses.masses is comprised of a series of short games, each documenting the specific and real contemporary conditions of donkeys in seven distinct countries, industries, and contexts of value.

BIO

Milton Lim is a Vancouver-based artist whose output spans performance, new media, dance, installation, and video art. His work is engaged with global politics, the cataloguing/archiving/indexing of public data, and resource allocation. These thematic interests are bolstered by a continued interest in game mechanics, typography architecture, and high-frequency content. He holds a BFA (Hons.) in theatre performance from Simon Fraser University. He is Co-Artistic Director of Hong Kong Exile, an Artistic Associate with Theatre Conspiracy, the recipient of the 2016 Ray Michal Prize for Outstanding Body of Work, and the recent Artist-in-Residence with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (2016 – 2018). miltonlim.com

Patrick Blenkarn is an interdisciplinary artist and director. His recent works feature sustained investigations into the history and function of the book, the politics and imperialism of the English language, and the history of labour and value. His projects have recently been featured in film festivals, galleries, and performance festivals, including the RISER Projects (Toronto); SummerWorks Performance Festival (Toronto), the rEvolver Festival (Vancouver), and the Festival of Recorded Movement (Vancouver). Patrick has a degree in philosophy, theatre, and film from the University of King’s College and an MFA in interdisciplinary art from Simon Fraser University. Patrick is currently a term lecturer at SFU for experimental performance. patrickblenkarn.comB

MORE INFO ABOUT ASSES.MASSES

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Artist Profile: Body Home Fat Dance

Body Home Fat Dance (Portland, OR): Weighted Bodies
dance/movement

Body Home Fat Dance sells out. We’re serious. This new and highly-desired dance company has been making waves in Portland over the last few months. Risk/Reward is proud and PUMPED about the debut of their newest performance, Weighted Bodies.

PERFORMANCE SYNOPSIS

Body Home Fat Dance’s work is building a new vocabulary of movement—one that feels expressive, accessible, and unique to fat bodies. This movement vocabulary highlights and celebrates jiggles, ripples, folds, mass, and softness—codifying in movement the multidimensional meanings of fat in motion. Through deeply curious exploration—how light and shadow enhance texture and shape, how the momentum of mass creates risk and adventure, how fat intensifies the reverberation of movement—BHFD reclaims the narrative of our bodies and reshape the audience’s conception of fatness.

Weighted Bodies is an exploration of the artistic and emotive possibilities of movement and dance in fat bodies. When dancers in non-conforming bodies occupy a stage, the narrative is often “I can do this even though I’m fat.” Instead, we are exploring the narrative of “I can do this BECAUSE I’m fat.”

BIO

Body Home Fat Dance is a fat-celebrating dance collaboration. Our goal is to inspire joyful movement, connection with our bodies, and creative expression, while honoring our unique abilities and challenges with self-compassion. More than just dance classes, we’re co-creating a resilient community, building an empowering and nuanced dialogue about fat liberation, and connecting with our own embodied selves. We invite folks with all levels of experience, all bodies, all abilities, all genders to come dance with us!

KT Kusmaul is a fat, queer, white, able-bodied, genderqueer femme performance artist and community builder. She is the founder of Body Home Fat Dance. What started as a drop-in dance class for larger-bodies folks looking for a safe space to move together has grown into weekly sold-out classes, presenting at conferences, organizing workshops, mentoring of new teachers, and the development of a performance company. As Body Home Fat Dance evolves, KT’s aim is to increase connection, representation, and opportunity for movement work within this underrepresented group of fat-bodied dancers. Throughout the past 2 decades, KT has created radical gender-based performance in Portland’s queer community, including drag, music videos, and dance—all within a deeply collaborative, community-embedded framework. Performance and choreography credits include DKPDX, Homomentum, Untrained I, Cattitude, A Queer for All Seasons, International Drag King Community Extravaganza, and music videos for Athens Boys Choir and Scream Club.

BODY HOME FAT DANCE’S WEBSITE

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