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Jeremy Wade

Excess, ecstasy, exaltation – Jeremy Wade has made a name for himself as an extreme performer. His works are disturbing and thought-provoking: they revolve around the loss of control, exhaustion, collapse, and the dissolution of the self. Interestingly, these raging distortions of the body always entail a socio-critical dimension.

In 2000, the American dancer and choreographer graduated from the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam. He considers his years of intensive night clubbing in New York’s gay scene a formative experience. His first full-length piece “Glory” premiered at the Dance Theater Workshop in New York in 2006. The duet earned him the New York Bessie Award. In 2006, Jeremy Wade moved to Berlin and began to focus fully on his work as a choreographer. It was here that he developed “…and pulled out their hair” (2007), a group piece that relies on grotesque elements. Instead of creating specific references to historic figures, he uses dance as a way to create a “monstrous emotional body” that is directly related to contemporary discourses of religion, war, or pornography.

In his approach, Wade aims at “articulating disorientation.” He experiments with ‘Authentic Movement’ and ‘Releasing technique’ in order to become fully aware of his own impulses. This first step is followed by a process of deconstruction: Wade separates impulse from action. He is not interested in creating continuous flow but instead wants to show a “hyper-segmented body.” The concept of the “desiring machine,” coined by the French critics Deleuze/Guattari, serves as another major influence. His piece “I Offer My Self To Thee” (2009) revolves around the idea of devotion and the production of feelings of happiness. His collaboration with Japanese manga illustrator Hiroki Otsuka led to “There Is No End To More” (2010), a program that assumes the appearance of a bright TV show for children.
“Dark Material” (2013) derives from a collaboration with visual artist Monika Grzymala and musician Jamie Stewart, who is part of the American Indie band XiuXiu. Grzymala works with gaffer tape in the stage area, using it to impede the performers’ mobility. The participatory project “Together Forever” (2014) is a full-length program that turns the social and political implications, which we associate with terms like community, love, and devotion, into a tangible reality. The participants, who eat, drink and dance together, learn to gradually earn one another’s trust. “Death Asshole Rave Video” (2015) is a furious one-man show and at the same time a ‘danse macabre.’ Here, Wade aims for the great gesture, discussing the economic crisis, the dissolution of social agreements, the decline in values, and the risks of climate change, yet also touching upon the precarious existence of art and artists today. Despite its serious undertones, “Death Asshole Rave Video” appears, at times, like a snappy stand-up comedy show. In “Drawn Onward” (2015), for which he teamed up with science fiction author John-Erik Jordan, he draws up a queer vision of the future. Jeremy Wade is one of the leading advocates of queer aesthetics and body politics. In addition to developing his own pieces, he also dedicates his time to curating and producing ecstatic events.

Written by Sandra Luzina
Photo: Ian Douglas