Lisa Bufano (US), Sonsherée Giles (US) One Breath is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart

performance, 2007.

The One Breath is an Ocean for a Wooden Heart premiered in Zagreb is an unusual modern dance duet for a disabled dancer and an able-bodied dancer that continues to examine the relationship between physical transformation and identity. In this performance, the dancers wear 28” wooden stilts secured to their arms and legs. The stilts are constructed from familiar, every-day objects to create illusion and are a visually compelling tool of transformation. The queen-Anne style table legs enable the dancers to create a basic illusion of table and chair shape. Through the quality of their movement, the dancers are transformed through a wide range of imagery: animated furniture, magical toys, 8-legged insect, 4- legged gazelle, 2-legged birds. The effect is an eerie otherworldliness that may leave audiences with the idea that they can’t trust how things appear. Two dramatically different bodies navigate a movement and sound landscape that is both enabled and constrained by their use of wooden stilts.

The precarious nature of working on stilts equalizes the dancers’ physical abilities, thereby opening a dialogue about relationships between disabled and non-disabled people. “Movement and illusion continue to play major roles in my current work, althoughI’ve begun to discover new approaches that are exciting and terrifying. I am using my own body, both as a direct approach to animating forms, and also as a way to explore issues of physicality and deformity. Despite my own terror and discomfort in being watched (or, maybe, because of it), I am ∫nding that being in front of viewers as a performer with deformity can produce a magnetic tension that could be developed into strength. I attempt to channel this tension by exaggerating the mode of physical difference (for example, presenting myself on stilts). I am using mechanical sculpture, props and prosthetics to transform my body to discover its unique physical vocabulary.”

— Lisa Bufano

creators and choreographers: Lisa Bufano, Sonsherée Giles, Jerry Smith
performed by: Lisa Bufano, Sonsheree Giles of AXIS Dance Company
music by: Jerry Smith
The work was commissioned in part by AXIS Dance Company, in association with Alliger Arts

Lisa Bufano (US)

Lisa Bufano is an interdisciplinary artist from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Her initiation into performance led to an international collaboration and support with the University of Linz in
2005. In September 2006, she was awarded the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art for
her work wearing table-leg stilts. When Boston presenter Jeremy Alliger introduced her to NY choreographer Heidi Latsky, she began a new phase as a contemporary dancer. In 2006-2007, Lisa performed at The Kennedy Theater in Washington D.C., The Baryshnikov Arts Center,
Judson Memorial Church and Long Island University in New York, The Balancing Acts Disability Arts Festival in Calgary, and for audiences in Boston and Vienna, Austria. In May 2007, Lisa
began to work with AXIS Dance Co.

Lisa was a competitive gymnast as a kid. After a bacteria infection led to the amputation of both her feet and fingers when she was 21, Lisa pursued animation and sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After a 15-year career as primarily a visual artist, Lisa is finding dancing to be challenging and engaging work. Lisa would like to thank Peter Couture, prosthetist at Next Step O & P, for 13 years of encouragement and friendship. Next Step fits Lisa’s prosthetics and cheetah (running) legs.

Sonsherée Giles (US)

Sonsherée Giles is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana and now resides in Oakland, California. She is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and costume designer. She moved to the Bay Area to attend Mills College where she received her MFA in dance performance/choreography. Since 2001, she has been collaborating with Jerry Smith. Together they combine movement, sound, video and sculpture to create performances. Before moving to the Bay Area she was teaching dance and yoga in Jacksonville, Florida in public school systems and university institutions. As a costume designer she has had the opportunity to create costumes for many extraordinary dance artists. In 2005 she joined AXIS Dance Company. She considers it a deep honor to be dancing with the company.