Oregon Observer spotlights ‘Here Lies the Truth’ by Li Chiao-Ping Dance

The Oregon Observer spotlighted the recent performance of “Here Lies the Truth,” a collaborative work by UW–Madison’s Li Chiao-Ping and Douglas Rosenberg that was presented by Li Chiao-Ping Dance on March 25-26 at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison.

Li is the Sally Banes Professor of Dance and a Vilas Research Professor in the School of Education’s Dance Department, and Rosenberg is a professor in the School of Education’s Art Department. Li and Rosenberg, who are husband and wife, also worked with sound designer and composer Tim Russell, a faculty member in the Dance Department, and dramaturg Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento to create the work.

The story in the Oregon Observer, headlined “Dancing around difficult topics: Race, prejudice, inequity themes of dance performance by Oregon choreographer,” notes the work was born out of “four years of thought and reflection.”

“The four collaborators sought to investigate ‘truth’ as it relates to positionality, power, access, and equity by bringing together dancers from across the country to share their own truths and stories about their identities,” the article states. Li invited five guest dancers — all people of color — to perform with LCPD company dancers during the performance.

“I reached out to each person individually and told them a bit about my thoughts, and how truly I needed them specifically — their voices — I wanted to amplify them and their stories,” Li told the Observer. “It took a lot for them to agree, to get them to put their trust and faith in me.”

The article explains that Rosenberg brought to the project “the concept of verbatim theater, which is when a performance uses the exact words spoken by people who were interviewed about a particular topic or event.”

“The five guest dancers, along with Li, Rosenberg and Nascimento, recorded their voices for the performance — sharing stories of discrimination and prejudice they’ve faced — as well as using verbatim transcriptions from court hearings and broadcast journalism.”

As the work progressed, the focus shifted away from individual cases (such as the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse) to more global instances of discrimination, such as anti-Asian hate crimes, the article explains.

“I’m sharing this work not to blame people in the audience — I’m really sharing this experience so that there might be more empathy and love,” Li said.

Li said the collaborators wanted to bring up topics like the inequities that people of color experience, for audience members to both be able to find empathy for that experience and also to understand “what those people are complaining about.”

To learn more, check out the full article about “Here Lies the Truth” in the Oregon Observer.

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