Sleeping Babies / Social Sculptures was a convergence of dance, paint, sound, space, and skate. It was an homage to site; to the act of showing up; to the skate trick practiced again and again; to the small gaps of time when creativity is possible in the midst of a life in motion. The concept was inspired by artist Clark Derbes’ paintings on an abandoned stretch of I-89 that serves as an unofficial skate park for locals. He created the work while his baby napped nearby in a stroller, prompting Miller’s exploration and relating to her own experience of writing her doctorate research on “Play and the Creative Process” while her young daughter was napping. The common ground of their experiences highlights how the creative process can thrive even in the smallest slivers of space and time.
As in all of Miller’s pieces, the site dictated all creative and logistical choices in order to maintain full integrity of and respect for the experience. The performance itself took cues from skaters; they make what they need, lean into the landscape, and shape it to the reckless beauty of play. The audience met off-site to keep the actual skate site secret, in true skateboard tradition. The audience wore hats that visually connected them to the performers and, as often is the case in Miller’s performances, fluidly melded both groups to level ground. Drawing on the act of painting and the motion of skaters riding across Derbes’ concrete canvas, the dancers lifted the essence of his art off the surface of the highway, to be experienced in motion and dimension as living skate features. Matt LaRocca built and performed on instruments from old skate decks, tapping into a tradition in music and connecting it to the skate culture. Michael Jager and Mikey Laviolette designed a zine that served as a continuation of the performance and gave the audience a tactile experience during the last scene as they held it in their hands and read it on their way back to the main road from the skate site.
Ultimately, the piece was documented through a symbiotically creative collaboration with videographers and photographers, and finally transformed into multiple exhibitions titled Baby Monitors and Sleeping Babies at Maven that featured videos, photos, and music made during the original performance. Multimedia from the performance included a video by Micah Dudash, a video filmed from a child’s perspective that was inspired by traditional skate videos that are filmed from what would be the eye-level of a young child, as well as a process video made by Oxbow Creative that was based on interviews with Derbes, Jager, and Miller.
July 28, 2017 September 8, 2017 November 3, 2017
Location Former I-89 (Sleeping Babies/Social Sculptures performance) Solidarity of Unbridled Labour (Baby Monitors installation) Maven Skateshop, (Baby Monitors at Maven installation) Burlington, Vermont
Duration Performance: 40 minutes, Installations: One-night viewing
Creative Team Erika Senft Miller, Clark Derbes, Matt LaRocca, Michael Jager
Site Paintings & Costumes Clark Derbes
Dancers Christine Holt, Mia Pinheiro, Sage Horsey, Martha Ming Whitfield, Roxanne Scully, Sabrina Gibson, Elizabeth M. Seyler, Alana Phinney, Annette Urbschat, Navah Stein, Mollie Morgan, Holly Chagnon, Sarah Macdonald, Mireya Guerra, Lydia Kern, Ruby LaBrusciano-Carris, Sarah Alexander, Joy Madden, Jill Lyons, Alison Mott, Melanie Centeno, Carmen Cormier, David Lansky, Alice Maynard
Director of Skate Trina Zide Skateboarders Jay Rehbein, Darren Rice, Ray Iazzi, Brendan Foster,Ben Johnson, Jake Corey, Brendan Grasso, Nate Dugan, Jacob Rist, Maggie Leon, Erin Featherstone, Domenica Maria D’Ottavio, Lj Twombky, Nick Meerburg, Max McCurdy, Gabriel Martin, Ian Archibald, Wyatt Cunningham, Kyle Burroughs, Silas Hunt, Luie LaHart, Kyle Vatis
Music Composition Matt LaRocca
Musicians Matt LaRocca, Graham Fisk
Audience Guides Clark Derbes, Erika Senft Miller
Zine Michael Jager and Mikey Laviolette of Solidarity of Unbridled Labour
Video Micah Dudash
Photography Dean Blotto Gray, Corey Hendrickson
Bicycle & Food Drew
Product Donations Converse, Maven Skateshop, Vermont Paint Company
Rehearsal Studio South End Surfset
Meeting Space Creston Guitars