Is It Through You (2019)

Spacetime Dance Photo 1 by JHsu Media.jpg

Is It Through You?directed by Katie Sopoci Drake in collaboration with Mountain Empire Performance Collective (MEPC), takes inspiration from Whitman's poem "To a Pupil" and highlights how individuality rests at the heart of social movements.

Whitman prompts us with: "Is reform needed? Is it through you? The greater the reform needed, the greater the Personality you need to accomplish it."

MEPC, using their signature long-distance collaborative method, will create pieces separately with a similar set of movement prompts.  Presented separately, each piece and its musical accompaniment highlight each unique movement artist moving in their own choreographic voice; but when each are performed together, they create a cohesive single group work and a beautifully merged composition. This work asks how the deepening of individual character and spirit creates leaders and a movement worth following.

See Is It Through You? on March 15, 2019 at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage 
See EVENTS for additional show details

Fat Robin (2016-2017)

Fat Robin is a variation on a round robin of movement creation. In teams of two, MEPC members take turns creating movement material, with their partner crafting the movement into a cohesive piece. Each projects is different, based on the circumstances of the movement and performance.

State Change State Change is a collaboration between MEPC's Eliza and Katie, with raw material from Beth Elliott Dance Group (BEDG). State Change was premiered at the Small Plates Festival at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA on November 18, 2016.

Additional Fat Robin performances ocurred in 2017.

Solo/Solo (2015-2016)

Photo by Jim Lykins

Photo by Jim Lykins


I made this for you.

It's a gift. It's a puzzle, an impossible task.

Solo/Solo is a collection of collaborative solo performances created using sourced written material.  Initially conceptualized through writing, each dancer is tasked with translating this written material to the body through the creation of a solo.  These solos can exist alone, but they are also intended to be performed in tandem, using improvisation and the choreographed material as a way to interact and compose two or more solos as a group piece in real time. 

Solo/Solo is an experiment in creating work that is sourced from without but formed from our desires. 

Solo/Solo (Katie Sopoci Drake/Rachel Rugh) will be performed at the Gender, Bodies and Technology Conference in Roanoke, Virginia, in April, 2016. Solo/Solo (Barbara Tait/Rachel Rugh) was performed at Warm Hearth Village in Blacksburg, August, 2015, and Solo/Solo (Eliza Larson/Barbara Tait) premiered at the curated Conduit's DANCE+ Performance Festival in Portland, Oregon, at the Reed College Performance Lab, July 8-11, 2015.  Read a review here.  

Are You Not Your Own (2014)

Is being committed to another person synonymous with moving something larger than yourself forward? Developed by Mountain Empire member Barbara Tait, this duet kinesthetically explores commitment, and in doing so exposes questions about connection to a higher power. 

This piece began as a research investigation led by Barbara Tait with Eliza Larson, while at the Bates Dance Festival, in Lewiston, Maine in August, 2014.  It was developed over the fall by Jenna Bryant and Barbara Tait for the Nice and Fresh series in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, PA; it now exists as a duet with Barbara Tait and Rachel Rugh, and was performed in Blacksburg, VA, November 2014.

Everybody Knows This Is Now Here (2014)

"funny and sweet. Without trying too hard." - Washington Post

The Great American Road Trip goes virtual through contemporary dance.  Developed primarily via Skype, this multimedia performance explores physical and virtual distance through the lens of female friendship and cross country travel.  Blending dance, film, personal story and song, the performers search for home in the digital age.   Featuring Mountain Empire members Eliza Larson and Rachel Rugh, as well as video appearances by guest artists Emily German and Annie McGhee.  

This production was presented as a part of the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.  Read the review in the Washington Post. Workshop performances at Movement Research (NY), Workbench (MA), Trillium Collective (WV), Open Flight (WA), and Salon Showings (VA, WA), Spring 2014. Their collaborative dance-making methods were also featured in the DanceUSA EJournal.

Telephone Dance Project  (2013/2014)    

The Telephone Dance Project turns the classic game of "telephone" into a long-distance collaboration tool. Over several months the four collaborators created choreographic material inspired by their own geographical location, transcribed it, and sent it to each other via snail mail letting each recipient reinterpret it as the the letter passed down the line.  These phrases are then used to create an improvisational score, directed by each participant in their own home state, bringing location and inspiration together.  Each performance is created anew, depending on the specific time and place occupied by the participants.  

Performances of the Telephone Project included the Mascher Space Cooperative, Philadelphia, PA; National Portrait Gallery and DancePlace, Washington, DC; Workbench and Salon Showing, Northampton, MA; Blacksburg, VA; {Re}Happening, Black Mountain College, Asheville, NC.  The Telephone Dance Project was the feature of a Blog Post by The Art of Balancing - read it here.

You Are Happy  (2014)

You Are Happy is a sensual, surreal, and sensorial solo performance by Mountain Empire's Eliza Larson.  Rooted in the physical with an imaginative eye towards the mythical, the world of Homer’s Sirens is drawn anew in this interdisciplinary solo.  Imbued with memories, physical residue, and the essence of emotion, the performance moves between dance and performance art, abstract and literal film imagery, and includes movement, image, text, sound, and a very large dress. Featuring an original score by Benjamin Chakoian Jones and Stephen Turney.  

Premiered at PortFringe, Portland, Maine, June 2014.  Additional performances at the Southern Vermont Dance Festival, Brattleboro, VT, July 2014.