John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Performance”

Event Date: Tuesday, April 8, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.


This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle ( For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at

A history of the conversations is available at


(Note: this conversation series most often takes place on the third Thursday of each month. For April we’ve moved up one week as a scheduling accommodation.)


The Summary

This time we’re looking at the idea of performance: that edge between dance, theater, music, spoken word, an edge that may be all of these things and simultaneously none of them.

Read on for the details.


The Guests (see bios below)

Lane Czaplinski, Artistic Director of On the Boards

Joshua Kohl, co-artistic director, Degenerate Art Ensemble

Haruko Nishimura, co-artistic director, Degenerate Art Ensemble

Jennifer Zeyl, theater maker (tentative)

Vanessa DeWolf, improviser, writer, and performance artist

Paige Barnes, choreographer, movement artist


The Story

I’ve been wanting to do a conversation on performance for some time, following on the subset of these conversations that have looked at genres: painting, sculpture, dance, theater, drawing.

What performance is, exactly, can be a difficult question. Maybe at this conversation, we’ll be able to tie it down, get a specific sense as to what it is. Or maybe not. So many questions: Where does it come from? How is it not dance or theater? We can track it back to Fluxus, and possibly well beyond that to Dada and the Constructivists. Or is Laurie Anderson right when she calls Jack Smith, a camp filmmaker in the 1960s, “the godfather of performance art?”

What does seem true is that performance plays a significant role in the cultural life of this city, whether in the long-running success of On the Boards, in genre-stretching efforts in Seattle’s dance venues, in unsung experiments in local theater that only a handful may end up seeing.

We’ve assembled a sterling crew of guests, a little larger number than usual. I wanted to assemble voices from a variety of vantage points: Lane Czaplinski from the city’s performance core, Jennifer Zeyl from theater, Joshua Kohl and Haruko Nishimura for their work across genres and a fascination with the interplay between music and dance and the street, Paige Barnes through the work she did last year on that dance/performance edge in NAKED, and Vanessa deWolf because of her major contribution to the city, as both a performer and as an arts producer, supporter, facilitator.

Come. This will be a truly delightful conversation.


The Guests in Detail

Lane Czaplinski is the Artistic Director of On the Boards—one of the leading centers for contemporary performance in the Western United States. In 2013, On the Boards received the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters for sustained achievement in programming. In January 2010, Czaplinski helped launch, an online, pay-per-view platform for contemporary performance videos. Prior to moving to Seattle in 2002, Czaplinski worked as the Program Manager at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Czaplinski has worked with many organizations as a panelist/advisor including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Japan Foundation, National Performance Network, Creative Capital, Herb Alpert Foundation, Australia Council for the Arts, Pew Charitable Trusts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, USArtists, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and MAP Fund.


Jennifer Zeyl (Set Designer) is a Seattle-based theatre-maker. Local designs include: Bonita, I am my Own Wife, Of Mice and Men, boom. and My Name is Rachel Corrie (Seattle Rep); Middletown, The Seagull Project, The Mojo & the Sayso and The Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in their New World (ACT); Adding Machine, The Trial (New Century Theatre Company); Art Dog, Jackie and Me, I Was a Rat, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie and The Big Friendly Giant (Seattle Childrens Theatre) Trouble in Mind, We Won’t Pay!, Stu for Silverton, Lysistrata, Hedda Gabler, Dirty Story, Miracle! Romeo & Juliet and Heartbreak House (Intiman); Antony & Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winter’s Tale, Merchant of Venice and Hamlet (Seattle Shakespeare); and Trails (Village Theatre). Look for her work on Angels in America this summer at Intiman.

A Founding Co-Artistic Director of Washington Ensemble Theatre (2004-2008), Jennifer designed 17 of WET’s first shows at the Little Theatre and directed blahblahblahBANG! (A Pistolfit in One Act) for WET at On the Boards (2007). Jennifer is a Stranger Genius Award recipient in Theatre, a Gregory Falls Best Scenic Designer and the grateful recipient of funding for her generative work from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Artist Trust, 4Culture, The National Endowment for the Arts and private patronage. Jennifer is also is the proud proprietress of Canoe Social Club, a salon for civic-minded artists. Images at


Vanessa DeWolf is an improviser, writer, and performance artist. For nearly the last decade Vanessa has run Studio Current; a space that supports artists in their process and practice through residency in community. Each “Season” she supports 16-26 artists with space and community. She is committed to artists working together to fight the usual isolation of the creative process. PROJECT: Space Available, which she co-curated with Mônica Mata Gillam, was a performance-installation residency program that supported 35 artists over 4 years, each artist having a residency of 1-2months. She has also been seen as a performer throughout Seattle since 1992. Most recently she has been working in large unrehearsed ensemble improvisations including: “Score For an Unrehearsed Ensemble” (2012 at On the Boards) and “FORESTFLOOR is low growling in the girls bedroom” (2014 at the Good Shepherd Center). She creates solo works, ensemble works, written works and movement. She is a post-disciplinary artist whose performances grapple with the spontaneous and ephemeral in paradox with the making of objects or the residue of performance. She works with people because she is committed to autonomous and rigorous creativity.


Paige Barnes is a Seattle-based contemporary choreographer, movement artist and GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® instructor. She co-founded Open Flight Studio (2002-present), Locate Performance Group (1998-2004), and PB_TMOG (2008-2012). She was also the co-creative director and co-curator of the quarterly dance and music improvisation-based series HERE/NOW (2009-2012). Since 1996, Barnes has choreographed and performed in projects internationally in Ecuador, Mexico, and Cuba, and nationally in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and extensively throughout Seattle. In her most recent project, she collaborated with seven musicians during a two-month residency culminating in NAKED a performance installation at Project: Space Available. She has received awards from The Bossak/Heilbron Charitable Foundation, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Artist Trust, danceWEB (Vienna, Austria), WA State Arts Commission and Pacific Northwest Dance Lab. Significant mentors are Pablo Cornejo, Vanessa DeWolf, Magali Messac, Michele Miller, KT Niehoff and Stephanie Skura. She holds a BA in Dance from the University of Washington. Currently she attends Bastyr University studying acupuncture and oriental medicine. To see her work visit:


Haruko Nishimura has artistic-directed Seattle’s Degenerate Art Ensemble along with music director Joshua Kohl since its formation in 1999, which is her primary creative outlet. The company creates performance work infused with the energy of live music and driven by her own style of visceral movement theater and dance. The group’s work has been featured in 10 countries presenting large scale experimental dance and theater projects, concerts, site-transforming spectacles and ongoing public experimentation. The group was the subject of a major exhibition at the Frye Art Museum in 2011, was commissioned by director Robert Wilson to interpret his work Einstein on the Beach and undertook a massive site-specific collaboration with Olson Kundig Architects in 2012 and a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet in 2013. DAE directors Nishimura and Kohl have been selected to be featured in the Museum of History and Industry’s Center for Innovation in a video featuring 12 Northwest innovators including Jeff Bezos, Dale Chihuly and others. In addition to her work with DAE, Haruko is constantly collaborating with both local and international artists to push the boundaries of her medium dancing in the street, creating rituals for strangers in cemeteries and performing and directing small experimental ensembles.


Joshua Kohl is co-founder, conductor, composer and co-artistic director of the Seattle based multi-art group Degenerate Art Ensemble (DAE). Under his co-direction, DAE has become a leading entity on the cutting edge of contemporary art in our region as well as an expanding presence internationally. His work with Degenerate Art Ensemble is an intensely collaborative work that sees no boundaries between the visual and performing arts. The work is presented in major dance and music venues as well as shown in galleries, and most recently exhibited in a large scale Museum exhibition at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum. Along with DAE, he has been invited by legendary theater Director Robert Wilson to create an interpretation of his and Phillip Glass’ epic work Einstein On The Beach in which DAE will work closely with Wilson and Glass on the work and present it under Wilson’s guidance at the Baryshnikov Center in New York. In February of 2012 he conducted the music of fellow DAE composer Jherek Bischoff with the Wordless Music Orchestra in New York at Lincoln Center with vocalists David Byrne, Mirah, and several rising stars of creative popular music. Also in 2012 he traveled with DAE to the Czech Republic for a headline festival performance in collaboration with legendary Czech rock band Uz Jsme Doma. DAE’s newest work, The Predator’s Songstress, has been awarded major funding from the Seattle Center Foundation. The work consists of the creation of six extremely intricate and painterly video portraits along with a series of animated films that integrate live music and interactive performance. Joshua’s work as a collaborative artist began in his days as a Cornish composition major in the 1990’s where he met and collaborated with many dance, theater and art students. Many of these artistic relationships have continued to the present. His newest work with Degenerate Art Ensemble was awarded a Creative Capital award and a Music Theatre Now award from the International Theatre Institute in Germany.


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