On the home page of this site there is a video that begins with my falling off a four foot high stool (Bale Light Stories, 1988). I like risk. I like falling.  I like having people help each other.

I am also inspired by the cultural co-mingling that gives the United States vibrance and by our need for the voices and visions of women.  For this reason,  the cast will comprise mature women living in the United States who are fundamentally informed by different cultures within this country.

One section of RISK happens off the floor. The women will share multiple ladders, some 10 feet tall. The scores for these ladder-dances are derived from songs and texts from each woman's personal and cultural history. These text-scores determine the sequence but not the timing of each woman's dance, so each time the women's pathways on the ladders intersect, they must navigate unforeseen relationships and physical challenges. 

Climbing, falling and building are actions that readily lend themselves to metaphor.  But I intend no metaphor or symbolism.  Progress, effort, risk, success, failure, cooperation, patience, persistence, relief are inevitable in the work.  I have nothing particular to say about them.  But using our hands as little as possible in relationship to 10 foot unstable ladders makes us cooperate and balance delicately.  It also produces unusual, awkward, and beautiful movement.  The content of the songs and texts add layers of complexity. And their rhythms naturally find physical expression both on and off the ladders.

 All videos on this page edited by Molly Davies, Polly Motley and Philip Roy.    

James Dawson/Polly Motley: first attempt, 9/2016. Comfort Farm Gallery. Stowe, Vermont 

In another section of the work which may include men, the choreographic approach is spatial/architectural, related to  In No Time (2015)  when we re-organized large tube structures to see how our perceptions of the space and our desire to interact within it changed. In RISK we'll work with how the placement of ladders affects our perceptions of the architecture of the ladders, the space itself, and our desire to interact within the changing situation.

Diane Madden and son, James Dawson

    Molly Davies will make videos related to the live action.  

James's first attempt at some multi-plane choreographic and video options

Sometimes there might simply be the vulnerability, strength and beauty of a young man.

James Dawson

A workshop in relation to the work could be:


We place large high ladders in the space. Every new placement changes our sense of architecture and gives us new desires for interacting. Every new plane and height excites desires for risk, safety, beauty, intimacy, tension, cooperation, patience, speed, destruction. This architectural and interpersonal composing is a game of balance, emotion, and social construction. When we add to this game songs and movements from our worlds of origin, the levels of meaning multiply.