passing through the bars and over

passing through the bars and over is a new dance film devised and directed by Gwyneth Shanks, shot in Echo Park. Cinematography by Mobolaji Olaoniye; movement generated and performed by Loren Fenton, Ali Kheradyar, Zena Bibler, and devika v, wickremesinghe; steady camera operation by Robert Arnold and Nick Mullercine; first assistant Daniel “Ash” Asmelash.

Online screening forthcoming @
Screening on: September 29, 7PM @ Echo Park Lake and screened by Echo Park Film Center. 

This project is supported in part by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

passing through the bars and over es una nueva película de danza ideada y dirigida por Gwyneth Shanks, rodada en Consejo del Distrito 13. Fotografía de Mobolaji Olaoniye; movimiento generado e interpretado por Loren Fenton, Ali Kheradyar, Zena Bibler y devika v wickremesinghe; operación de la cámara por Robert Arnold y Nick Mullercine; primer asistente Daniel "Ash" Asmelash.

Evento: 29 de septiembre a las 19:00.
Online: a partir del 29 de septiembre en

Este proyecto es apoyado en parte por una beca de la Fundación para las Artes Contemporáneas.


Clockwise from top left are: Loren Fention, Zena Bibler, Ali Kheradyar, and devika wickremesinghe. Still images from passing through the bars and over, shot by Mobolaji Olaoniye.

Untitled: a procession on the borders of something that has already shifted

Untitled: a procession on the borders of something that has already shifted uses fences to explore questions around privacy, private property, privilege, displacement, and belonging. Our project examines what it means to pass through a neighborhood, lingering in the histories, communities, materials, textures, and memories that make up such spaces. Taking the form of a procession through private and public spaces in Echo Park, Untitled features the voices of invited collaborators, who include a landscape architect, an academic expert on residential zoning laws and the history of racial dispossession in Echo Park, a Chicanx artist whose drawing practice includes portraits of East Los Angeles’ residential landscape, and Echo Park residents who explore their memories and connections to the neighborhood. The performance culminates in an empty lot marked for residential development, a space we understand as nascent with potentiality and conflicting desires. An open space, an unbuilt—for now—space for speculation.  

Devised by Sarah Lewis-Cappellari and Gwyneth Shanks
Text by Sarah Lewis-Cappellari and Gwyneth Shanks 
Performance Guides Dorit Cypis and Loren Fenton
Recorded speakers and additional text by Dana Cuff, David Godshall, Vincent H., Grace Lara, Manuel Lopez, Jesenia R., and Gabriela R.
Additional Performances by Vincent H., Grace Lara, Jesenia R., and Gabriela R.

--------------Beginning at Echo Park: 

Our Guides:

Dorit Cypis is an artist, educator, and mediator. Her work explores history, identity, and social relations by balancing aesthetics with social action. She aims to create openings in which critical thinking, connection, and transformation can occur.

Loren Fenton has been an actor and movement-theater artist for many years. She studied Psychology at Harvard, then moved to California to attend Cal Arts, where she received her MFA in Acting. She lived in Fresno from 2014-2017, working with neighborhood artist-activists and local government. Now, she is expanding her art practice to include writing. Loren returned to Los Angeles in 2017, and is a recent homeowner in Echo Park.

--------------Along Laguna Ave:

If a Building is a Novel, a Fence is a Haiku 

David Godshall, landscape architect and co-owner of Terremoto, creates landscape architectural work that explores the relationship between built and natural forms through conversations, research, and observation.

--------------At 826 LA:

La’s Haunting Heat Roams on Leather Seats

Since the second grade, Jesenia R. has participated in 826LA programs, and  has lived in Echo Park for many years. She is currently a freshman at Woodbury University where she is majoring in Public Safety and is especially interested in criminal justice and civil rights. In her free time, she enjoys scary movies, especially those with paranormal activity. 

Memories Don’t Show The Present

Gabriela R. is a resident of Echo Park and enjoys activities that fill her with a sense of accomplishment, such as reading, running, and writing. When she is not running track or doing homework, Gabriela spends her time hiking and volunteering at 826LA. Writing allows Gabriela to imagine and construct new worlds and volunteering at the tutoring center is especially gratifying for her, as it’s an opportunity to support a place and people that have supported her. 

Selfish Machines and a Mint Green Ipod

Vincent H. is currently a senior at Ramon C. Cortines High School, a member of 826LA since 2011, and an aspiring actor. His interests include acting, video games, reading, and writing...on occasion.   

826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. The presenters belong to 826LA Youth Advisory Board, a group of high school students who want to help their peers and their neighborhood. By helping to plan educational and fun events, and assisting with tutoring and helping younger students, the YAB is the student voice of 826LA.

--------------On The Front Porch:

The House I Grew Up In 

Grace Lara is a permanent makeup artist, a past LAPD Cadet, a member of the Northeast Youth Council, and a former resident of Echo Park. Her family lived and were homeowners in the neighborhood for over 60 years — and in the general Northeast LA area for almost a century — before relocating in 2016.

--------------In and Around The Empty Lot: 

Historical Speculations: and they imagined…

Dana Cuff is an architecture theorist and the founding director of cityLAB at UCLA, where she is also a full professor in the Department of Architecture. At UCLA, she leads the multidisciplinary program called the Urban Humanities Initiative. Her writing and research focuses on postwar LA, affordable housing, and the histories of residential communities; her books include Architecture: the Story of Practice and The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism. Cuff’s proudest achievement is her recent coauthoring of California legislation (AB 2299) based on a decade of work by cityLAB,  that legalizes second dwelling units for the 8.1M single-family homes in the state.

Tracing Precarities

Manuel Lopez is an artist whose work is informed by his immediate surroundings. His black-and-white drawings are inspired by cluster of homes, storefronts, iron gates, utility poles, palm trees and other elements common to the landscape of East LA neighborhoods.


passing through the bars and over

From Above | Looking Down

From Above | Looking Down is a series of improvised scores that explore how to move with and through comfort. These movement scores include movement, vocal soundings, and spoken, textual directions. The text and movement emerged symbiotically, performers writing descriptions of fellow performer's movement, and then, in turn, moving in relationship to these texts read aloud. Drawing upon the performers' personal histories with their dance and movement practices and our political present, the piece shifts between the kinetic and the metaphoric, the individual and the collective, searching for ways to offer and receive comfort, care, and support. 

The project was presented at and supported by Materials & Applications

From Above | Looking Down was developed in concert with The Kid Gets Out of the Picture, an installation created by LADG,First Office, Laurel Broughton/Andrew Kovacs, and Hirsuta. On view at Materials & Applications from October 2016 through February 2017, the project was a contemporary update on the aesthetic principles of early 19th century English landscape architecture. By the early-nineteenth century, practitioners of the English picturesque had invented a catalog of objects (follys, ha-has, viewpoints) that worked to produce the pictorial effects of landscape painting within real space. Lumps, clumps, and masses made it possible, in a sense, to occupy the picture. The Kid Gets Out of the Picture returned to the catalog of nouns developed by the picturesque to ask how these tactics can be deployed in reverse, extracting the qualities of images and literalizing them in the real world. 

Zena Bibler
Ellen Gerdes
Ali Kheradyar
Brynn Shiovitz
Devika Wickremesinghe

Performance Engagements:
Materials & Applications | Los Angeles, CA | January 7, 2017

Please find a link to a series of short excerpts from the performance of From Above | Looking Down

Image Credit: Mobolaji Olaoniye

The Other Side of Stillness | Live

The Other Side of Stillness | Live, conceived of by Alexx Shilling, is a collaborative, highly physical, two-hour movement score. Composed of a series of fifteen-minute duets, the piece is imagined as a never-ending dance. The dancers get tired, they rest, but the dance goes on.

The Other Side of Stillness has been performed in public spaces, private studio and theatrical spaces, for the camera, and in intermediate spaces where performance and spectatorship mingle loosely.

Created in collaboration with the Modern Dancers of America:
Barry Brannum
Alison D’Amato
Sarah Leddy
Samantha Mohr
Madison Page
Gwyneth Shanks
Alexx Shilling
Laurel Tentindo
and DJ/Performer Ian Isles

Select Performance Engagements:
The Wonder Room, Santa Monica/Tongva Park, CA, October 28, 2015
Pieter Plays the River, Los Angeles, CA, October 2014

Gwyneth Shanks at Pieter PLays the River. Photo by Lisa Wahlander, 2014.

Gwyneth Shanks at Pieter PLays the River. Photo by Lisa Wahlander, 2014.

The Other Side of Stillness | Installation

The Other Side of Stillness | Installation is a dance for film project that investigates what it means to keep moving. Created collaboratively with the ever-expanding collective, The Modern Dancers of America, the piece is a series of duets that last for fifteen minutes before one dancer is replaced with a new mover. And so on. And so on. The dance never stops. The highly physical score draws upon and celebrates each performer’s movement history as well as the dance history of America and explores ideas of endurance, replacement and constancy.

In December 2014, The Modern Dancers of America practiced the piece in Wonder Valley, CA for the camera. 

Brought to life by the Modern Dancers of America:
Barry Brannum
Alison D’Amato
Sarah Leddy
Laurel Jenkins
Madison Page
Gwynn Shanks
Alexx Shilling
Devika Wickremesinghe

Concept, Direction, Editing: Alexx Shilling
Director of Photography: Taso Papadakis
Original Sound: Jesse Neuman

Performance Engagements:
Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center | Lincoln Center/Dance on Camera Festival | New York, NY | February 2016
Anita’s Way Times Square | New York, NY | September 21 – 24, 2015

Left to right: Gwyneth Shanks and Barry Brannum, still from The Other Side of Stillness | Installation by Taso Papadakis; Alison D’Amato and Alexx Shilling, photo by Gwyneth Shanks; and Alison D’Amato and Barry Brannum, photo by Gwyneth Shanks.

A Beautiful Game

Exploring the ritual aspects of soccer, A Beautiful Game, by Sarah Leddy, propels its performers — divided into two teams — into a choreographic game in which movement vocabulary excerpted from Twyla Tharp’s 1986 classic “In The Upper Room” is whimsically manipulated using devices such as fouls, replays, and substitutions.

Collaboratively devised with the performers, the piece explores themes of competition, rules, and winning across soccer and contemporary dance. 

Loren Fenton
Samantha Mohr
Lisa Renee
Gwynn Shanks
Alexx Shilling
Devika Wickremesinghe

Performance Engagements:
REDCAT Theater | Studio Series | Los Angeles, CA | March 22 & 23, 2015 
Electric Lodge | High Voltage Series | Venice, CA | December 5, 2014

Left to right: Samantha Mohr, Alexx Shilling, and Gwyneth Shanks (left) and Samantha Mohr, Alexx Shilling, Sarah Leddy, Loren Fenton, Lisa Renee, and Gwyneth Shanks (right) at the Electric Lodge, Venice, CA, photo by Steve Burr.


PLASTIC is by New York-based, Cyprian-born choreographer and dancer Maria Hassabi. The piece, Hassabi’s first presented exclusively in museum spaces, was curated by Aram Moshayedi, and was on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles from January 31, 2015 until March 1, 2015. 

The piece’s movement vocabulary is slow and sustained and includes long minutes of holding a single posture. Typical of Hassabi’s work, PLASTIC explores how stillness can be found within movement, or, rather the impossibility of embodied stillness.

PLASTIC later traveled to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Hammer Museum Cast: 
Casey Lin Brown
Alison D’Amato
Ellen Gerdes
Hristoula Harakas
Maria Hassabi
Molly Lieber
Oisín Monaghan
Gwyneth Shanks
Devika Wickermesinghe.

Sound design by Morten Norbye Halvorsen.
Lighting consultation by Chu-Hsuan Chan.
Produced by Ash Bulayev.
Styling by threeASFOUR.

Performances Engagements:
Hammer Museum | Los Angeles, CA | January 31- March 1, 2015
Stedelijk Museum | Amsterdam, Netherlands | April 16- 23, 2015
Museum of Modern Art | New York, NY | February 21 – March 20, 2016

Photo credit: Gwynn Shanks | Hammer Museum | Brynn Shiovitz.
Gwynn Shanks | Hammer Museum | Brynn Shiovitz.

the favorites

the favorites, created by Alison D’Amato, is an ongoing investigation into the language score as a vehicle for dismantling originals, staging imperfect copies, and paying homage.

D’Amato began watching a minute of movement from video clips of four of her favorite modern dances; while watching the clips, she transcribed the movement phrases in the four works into written instructions. The dancers’ task was to then translate D’Amato’s instructions back into movement, working collaboratively between D’Amato’s structure and each dancer’s interpretation, text and movement. 

Movement invention and performance by:
Barry Brannum
Dorothy Dubrule
Loren Fenton
Gwyneth Shanks
Milka Djordjevich
Sarah Leddy
Jil Stein
Alexx Shilling.

Pieter Performance Space | Los Angeles, CA | April 21, 2014
Gold Stage, Made in L.A. | Hammer Museum | Los Angeles, CA | Summer 2014

Photo credits: Barry Brannum and Dorothy Dubrule | Emilio 
Barry Brannum, Loren Fenton, Gwynn Shanks, and Dorothy Dubrule | Emilio Oliveira
Barry Brannum, Loren Fenton, Gwynn Shanks, and Dorothy Dubrule | Emilio Oliveira
Barry Brannum, Loren Fenton, Gwynn Shanks, and Dorothy Dubrule | Emilio Oliveira
Gwynn Shanks | Emilio Oliveira
Gwynn Shanks and Barry Brannum | Emilio Oliveira
Gwynn Shanks | Emilio Oliveira

The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On, by French choreographer Jérôme Bel, was performed by a cast of UCLA students and LA performers. The piece was presented as part of the Center for the Art of Performance’s 2013-14 season. 

The show, which premiered in 2001, examines the line between fine art and popular entertainment, challenging audience’s expectations of both. Joyous, and at times poignant, the dance deconstructs choreographic authority and expectations of what concert dance should look like. Like much of Bel’s work, the piece is minimal: a DJ (Bel in the original production) plays a series of popular songs while the dancers on stage literalize each song’s lyrics.

Theodore Bonner-Perkins
Heyward Bracey
Chankethya Chey
Alison D'Amato
Rafa Esparza
Loren Fenton
Ralph Flores
Meryl Freidman
Annakai Geshlider 
Jeremy Hale
Ahilya Kaul
Sarah Lyddan
Micheal Mason
Zakk Marquez
Jos McKain
Genna Moroni
Sunshine Nickels
Hap Palmer
Courtney Ryan
Gwynn Shanks
Brynn Shiovitz
Phinn Sriployrung
Fran Su
Robert Watson
Kevin Williamson
Jodi Wofford
Jessica Wolf 
Meg Wolfe

Performance Engagements:
Center for the Art of Performance | Los Angeles, CA | December 5 & 6, 2013 

Photo credits: Center for the Art of Performance, UCLA.

Wedding | Funeral

Wedding/Funeral is a collaboratively devised dance-theater piece, conceived of by Carson Efrid. The work for three performers explores themes of intimacy and relationships. Loosely grounded in Edward Albee’s The Sandbox, the piece transforms all of the verbs in Albee’s short play into movement. 

Evoking the absurdism and poignancy of Albee’s original text, Wedding/Funeral resembles a series of children’s games, which escalate and unravel, revealing the tension and challenges that undergird relationships. 

Conception: Carson Efrid
Movement generation: Carson Efrid, Loren Fenton, and Gwynn Shanks
Performance: Carson Efrid, Loren Fenton, and Gwynn Shanks
Music: Joe Westerlund

Performance Engagements: 
UCLA, Glorya Kaufman Dance Theater | Los Angeles, CA | May 2013.
White Wave Dance Festival | Brooklyn, NY | October 23- November 10, 2013

Photo credit: Carson Efrid, Loren Fenton, and Gwynn Shanks | White Wave Dance Festival. 
Carson Efrid, Loren Fenton, and Gwynn Shanks | White Wave Dance Festival.

Slippage | SeeSaw

Slippage/SeeSaw explores through sliding, slipping, and tipping how we negotiate oppositional poles, attempting to find and negotiate balance points. Embracing the sensual and sexual connotations of slippage and slipperiness, the piece is an embodied exploration of desire, power, and agency.

The piece, collaboratively devised by media/theater artist Sheila Malone and Shanks, is an interactive installation featuring two minimalist seesaws and accompanying video projection. As viewers/visitors ride the seesaws, sensors on the seats of each one trigger different combinations of video clips. The clips feature Shanks and dancer Loren Fenton performing short, choreographed movement phrases on the seesaws. Drawing inspiration from companies like Diavolo Dance Theater. Shanks and Fenton explore precarity in their explorations of balance, stability, and slippage on the seesaws.

Conception: Sheila Malone and Gwynn Shanks
Performance: Loren Fenton and Gwynn Shanks
Set design and construction: Sheila Malone
Filmography: Sheila Malone

Performance Engagements:
INSTALL: WeHo | LA Pride | Los Angeles, CA | June 2, 2013 
LA Pride Festival | Los Angeles, CA | June 9, 2013

Photo Credit: Loren Fenton and Gwynn Shanks | Sheila Malone
Loren Fenton and Gwynn Shanks | Sheila Malone
Exhibition image | Sheila Malone
Loren Fenton | Sheila Malone

Simply Knot

Simply Knot is a ten minute movement score and video installation created by theater/media artist Sheila Malone, Shanks, and queer scholar and performer Storm Madsen. 

The work uses the metaphor of the knot to explore the many ways we embody, move through, or challenge identity categories. Particularly focused on queerness and queer subjectivity, Simply Knot is an improvised score that entangles Shanks and Madsen in an ever constricting network of ropes. 

Concept: Sheila Malone, Storm Madsen, and Gwynn Shanks
Performance: Storm Madsen and Gwynn Shanks
Live Music: Sheila Malone
Photography: Sheila Malone
Additional Camera work: Cosmo Soltani

Performance Engagements:
INSTALL: WeHo | LA Pride | Los Angeles, CA | September 16, 2012
Akbar | Los Angeles, CA | October 2012 
Performed for the camera | Playa del Rey, CA | November 2012

Photo credit: Sheila Malone, Gwynn Shanks, and Storm Madsen | Micah Levin
Photo credit: Storm Madsen and Gwynn Shanks | Sheila Malone
Storm Madsen and Gwynn Shanks | Shelia Malone

Nude With Skeleton

In 2011, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles invited performance artist Marina Abramović to curate their annual gala. Some eighty performance artists and dancers were hired to perform at the event either as ‘head centerpieces’ or re-performing Abramović’s 2002/2005 piece Nude with Skeleton. Shanks was one of six women who re-performed Nude with Skeleton, their bodies centered in the middle of the VIP tables at the event.

The event generated controversy in the days leading up to our performance as the context of the gala and our low pay was imagined by many as exploitative. Shanks wrote about this experience in a piece published in the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism.

Performance Engagement:
Museum of Contemporary Art | Los Angeles, CA | November 12, 2011

Photo credit: Gwynn Shanks | MOCA | Getty Images.