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  • JoAnna Mendl Shaw

The Breaking Ring Physical Listening Practice, Performance Creation, Community Engagement

The Breaking Ring is a performance project that brings accountability for choice directly into the creation process and performance arena. The centerpiece of the work is a movement practice called Physical Listening that evolved out of The Equus Projects’ choreographic work with horses. Kinetic exploration focuses on spatial and tactile awareness, merging sensing and thinking, strategic decision-making, setting others up for success and accountability for choices.

CREATION PROCESS: Communication, Listening, Empathy and Rigor

Movement material is generated from inside rigorously defined improvisation structures that call for heightened attending to the rules of engagement. The process encourages moving beyond assumption and habit. Working in duet form, listening shapes the dialogue. The group forms generate cohesive teamwork and teach effective leadership.

A full-length performance is shaped over a 5-10 Day residency. The creation process is adaptable for movers ranging from recreational to professional and offers opportunity for expansive community engagement.

PROJECT COMPONENTS: Performance, Workshops, Dialogue

  • Creation Process with local performers

  • Performance devising for proscenium stage, museum, urban or rural sites

  • Community outreach vehicle via creation process and adjunct workshops

  • Performance and creation as entry point for interdisciplinary dialogue

  • Physical Listening practice as catalyst for citizenship dialogue

The Breaking Ring: Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA), Santa Fe – June 2016

The Breaking Ring was originally created for the CCA in Santa Fe as the finale event for an M12 installation and social sculpture about wild horses in the American West. A large round pen enclosure was the staging ground for a series of duets that evolved through kinetic dialogue, two movers responding to and shaping given kinetic behavior. A cycle of six choreographed duets shaped the periphery of the space. The 3-hour CCA installation was engineered as an immersive experience for ambient audience, eventually drawing willing spectators into a round pen experience. The round pen duets were all improvised. The soundscape of singing bowls was composed and performed by Santa Fe musician, Agu ( The Breaking Ring was created during a 5-day residency in June 2016.

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