Arts Encore for the memories

Jump-Start relives the best of its past in a kaleidoscopic performance

By the time you read this, everything may have changed.

I sat down with Jump-Start Performance Co.’s Steve Bailey and Shimi Subramaniam on a Friday morning, three days before the two-week rehearsal process for Jump-Start: The RemiXX began. Individual company artists have been working separately on components of the show, created to celebrate the organization’s 21st year. Bailey is overseeing the process of layering those components and sequencing them to create a kaleidoscopic journey through Jump-Start’s performance history.

A still from It’s About Going, one of dozens of Jump-Start moments from the past 20 years that will find a place in The RemiXX, January 20-22.

“It’s a collage piece,” explains Bailey. “It’s as if we have a series of photographs, and we’re cutting them up and making a new thing. If someone has seen some of the original photographs, they’ll get glimpses of those images in this new collage, but you always want a piece like this to be able to stand on its own.”

The “original photographs” are the resonant moments and images from two decades of company work, selected by company-wide brainstorming and jam sessions that began last year. “We asked, what do we remember?” says Bailey. “What do we want to see again? An image, a scene, a speech, a song, a video, a lighting effect, even.”

These “remixed” vignettes also give the artists an opportunity to try something new with their original work and allow younger company members to participate in performances they’d only previously heard about — in order to, as Shimi says, “stay true to our spirit of doing new things in a new way.”

Shimi says the piece representing her body of solo work will (probably) be the “Jezebel Spirit” dance from 2001’s Southern Discomfort, which she calls “my twisted take on my journey as an atheist from Southeast Asia to South Texas.” Her dance interpretation of an exorcism was one of the most memorable moments of the show and, as she says “represents my performance-dance style pretty well.” She’ll remix the solo dance as a trio, with company members Monessa Esquivel and Sandra Dunn, who helped choreograph the original.

Jump-Start: The RemiXX

8pm Fri-Sun, Jan 20-22
$12 adult; $9 senior
Opening night gala:
6pm, Jan 20, $20

Jump-Start Performance Co.
108 Blue Star

Sterling Houston is making very subtle changes to the “Mother Song from Santo Negro,” his musical life story of St. Martin de Porres, the mixed-race healer and lay brother of 16th-century Peru. Houston’s play focuses on Martin’s struggle to, as Houston says, “be true to his devotion to the Virgin while negotiating the prejudices of the church.” “Mother Song” will be performed very much as it was originally with the exception of costuming. “I wanted an excuse to include that neglected part of African culture,” says Houston, who will be remixing the song in Tuareg dress, a nod to the herdsmen of sub-Saharan Africa, rather than the original High Spanish Colonial costuming.

The RemiXX run will feature “story circles” following the Saturday and Sunday performances. Audience members who wish to participate will be organized into facilitated circles of eight to 12 people and asked to share stories about Jump-Start — not critiques or even praise, Bailey is quick to point out, but stories about ways in which their lives have intersected with the company, for better or worse.

Jump-Start is also offering a free performance-art workshop on Saturday, January 21, at 1 p.m. Led by company members, the workshop will share Jump-Start’s methods for working collaboratively.

Right after the show closes, the company will go on its annual artists’ retreat. “It’s totally fitting,” says Bailey, “that one weekend we do the RemiXX and the next weekend we go off and work on the future. We’re starting our 21st year with a remembrance of the past 20 years, and then we’re moving on.”

By Laurie Dietrich

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