Biba Bell’s Cities of the Interior is the second of three dances whose inquiry focuses the “where” of artistic labor as a kind of memory work and excavates the unfixed architectures in which this labor takes up residence. It is about how bodies fits into temporal structures that act like live dermal archives of family, past, and conceptions of home. It is about how these structures become a place to commune and share as dwelling in the gaps of openings between the known and the unknown of the past.
The project was sparked by a reoccurring dream about searching for home within palaces of ancestral memory. Propelled by the desire for intimacy during the early pandemic’s structures of isolation, I reached out to friends, artists, and collaborators around the country and world, inviting them to share a window into their dreamscape. Many stories, poems, dances, drawings, and texts were shared, creating a dream archive of this time. The dance relates to these fragments while inviting performers Christopher Woolfolk and Shannon White to consider their own dream-world-making and somnambulist practices. The three of us work with large folds of fabric, designed in collaboration with Julio Efrain Dominguez, which acts as a dermal layer to augment our bodies and connect us to each other and the space. The dance is about catharsis and togetherness, choreographically invested in physical states emerging from rocking, shaking and spinning.
Biba Bell: choreographer, dancer
Christopher Woolfolk: dancer
Shannon White: dancer
Julio Efrain Dominguez: textile/scenic
Matthew Daher: musician, composer
Biba Bell (b. Sebastopol, 1976) is a dancer, choreographer and writer based in Detroit. Her choreographic work, often set in unconventional venues, focuses on domesticity, labor, and architecture and has been presented at the Kitchen, Danspace Project, Movement Research, Centre Pompidou, The Garage for Contemporary Culture, Jack Hanley Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Insel Hombroich, amongst others. She has performed with Maria Hassabi and Walter Dundervill and is a founding member of Modern Garage Movement (2005-2011, 2021). She earned her PhD in Performance Studies from New York University and is an Assistant Professor in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance. Of her dancing the New York Times writes “It’s invigorating to watch someone who borders on wild.”