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Don’t caress your soul as if it were a body, feeding on kisses.


Beat it without humiliating it;

whip it without diminishing it;

drive it out of yourself in order that it may rejoin its source ...

                                       -Elie Wiesel

The Gates of the Forest

Make the Brutal Tender is an interdisciplinary performance project that straddles the boundary of the real from the starting point of choreography. 


It is a dance with the limbic system,

a ritual of consent,

and a practice of making one another strong.


The work is reordered, cut, added to, modified and redressed for each iteration. Merging live, embodied sound and movement, the work sometimes features a visceral score and trickster presence of Chicago-based collaborator Hanna Elliott and a sensual, evocative, consent-oriented choreography. Sometimes the work is performed in silence making space for the sounds of the bodies.  


Make the Brutal Tender mines the coexistence of the sacred and the venomous in women's relationships where the brutal and the tender start to resemble one another, and may come from the same place. Initiated as a choreographic process in Chicago in 2017, MTBT developed into a deliberate practice of holding space for movement and sonic research into the thresholds and contours of psychosomatics in performance. The work is informed by personal narratives, the cinema of Claire Denis, non-human species, the art of Berlinde de Bruyckere, EMDR therapy, industrial music, butoh, flamenco, martial arts, water currents and climbing earth walls. 

Based in New York, the work has resulted in site-specific movement research at Moodna Creek, sound collaborations with Hanna Elliott (HOGG, Goad Deimos), photographic collaborations, a music video for Sonya Belaya, a 16mm performance film (in-production) and context-specific performances of varying lengths between 7-40 minutes merging movement and live music performance languages.


*Make the Brutal Tender takes its title from a paragraph in Maggie Nelson's book The Argonauts: 

One night during our courtship, I came home to find the stump with bolts lying across the welcome mat of my porch. You had left town, and I had been baffled by your departure. But when I ascended my front steps and saw the weapon, shadowy in the twilight, I knew you loved me. It was a talisman of protection---a means of keeping myself safe while you were gone, a tool to fight off the suitors (had there been any). I've kept it by my bedside ever since.Not because I think they're coming for us per se. But because it makes the brutal tender, which I've since learned is one of your principal gifts.

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