by ERIC CZULEGER
[dropcap]Michelle[/dropcap] Ellsworth wants you to consider a lot of things. She wants you to see a dancer who can code, a filmmaker who can choreograph, and a performance that reaches past the walls of the theatre and into your internet browser. And in her current performance, she wants you to consider a world without men.
In Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome, presented by Show Box at Bootleg Theater, Ellsworth asks audiences just that: What would a world without men look like? The piece began five years ago after Ellsworth read a Maureen Dowd article on the topic of the fragility of the Y chromosome. At the same time, a friend’s father passed away. The two of these events combined led her to thoughts on the impermanence of life, which she chose to interpret through technology, choreography, statistics, and spaces — both digital and physical.
The performance presented at Bootleg grew from an original piece, but it will be created anew each night on stage. Ellsworth comments that the vastness of the theme is what prompts each new iteration.
“I perform the piece differently every night, because it is such a large question.”
Regarding this creative process, Ellsworth says, “I try to play it out and see it through. Over the last five years, I’ve been adding more content and replacing old content. I’m testing ideas about the issue through my body.”
Ellsworth has performed at some of the premier dance and performance spaces in the United States, including Jacob’s Pillow, On The Boards, P.S. 122, and The Dance Theatre Workshop. Most recently, she is the winner of the Doris Duke Impact Award, which celebrates and invests in artists through multi-year funding. While a self-identified dancer since the age of seven, she’s added a considerable number of skills to her repertoire since then. She’s a videographer, writer, cartoonist, coder, techie, scholar, humorist, inventor and scientist. Her performances often include a digital component that both performer and audience alike interact with during and after the performance.
Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome is no different. At preparationy.com you will find a website which is simultaneously an object created for use during the performance and a primer for the world of the piece. On the website, Ellsworth appears in a series of videos discussing the pitfalls, possibilities, science, and nonscience surrounding the soon-to-be manless world of the production. The content focuses on memorializing and categorizing the contributions that the fading Y chromosome has made in the world, rather than celebrating its coming extinction. The site includes a “tick list” of the one hundred most influential men, as well as a series of videos lovingly logging different types of “man dances.”
Ellsworth gives an equal focus to progress and reflection. She calls the remnants of masculinity that are brought to bear in her piece, “exquisite artifacts,” which she imagines appropriating in a world where their use has become obsolete. In essence, Ellsworth is looking for the good in approaching catastrophe wherever she may find it.
NOW PLAYING: IN PREPARATION FOR THE OBSOLESCENCE OF THE Y CHROMOSOME, presented by Show Box at Bootleg Theater on Friday June 19 at 8PM and Sunday June 21 at 3PM.
In an inventive and humorous unscripted live performance, Michelle Ellsworth attempts to prepare audiences for the end of men. Her “man archive”—a vast compendium of science, non-science, procedures and possibilities—provides the foundation for a hyper-linked tour through the modern mind and the future of our species.