News: New Project

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.

The Project on Ladders uses 10 foot high ladders and uses the compositional methods of Go Tell Aunt Rhodie. Since that solo (and duet with Diane Madden) I've wondered what will happen when multiple dancers share the ladders and their trajectories overlap. The scores for the dance give the sequence but not the timing, so each time they meet, dancers must navigate unforeseen relationships and physical challenges. 

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 

One choreographic approach to this work 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 the Project with Ladders 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

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 in particular to say about them. But using our hands as little as possible in relationship to ten foot unstable ladders makes us balance delicately and cooperate. It also produces unusual, awkward and beautiful movement.   

 Molly Davies will make videos related to the live action.  

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

And sometimes there will be 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.