Home Wisdom (2000)

Conceived and Directed by Martha Bowers
Sound Design and Musical Direction: Mark McCoin
Produced in collaboration with Deborah Reshotko and SPEAKING OF DANCE.
Funded by Artists and Communities:America Creates for the Milennium, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Denver history fused with the city’s present-day scene through the unlikely bedfellows of local architecture and contemporary dance. Choreographer Martha Bowers explored the changing values of the West by interviewing local residents about their dreams and fears of change, and translated these vignettes into a site-specific performance under the common theme of HOME WISDOM. Looking for a metaphor for transmitting values, knowledge, and experiences across generations, Bowers and Speaking of Dance Artistic Director, Deborah Reshotko, decided to base the HOME WISDOM performance in a house with a colorful history.

HOME WISDOM combined a conventional tour of a turn-of-the-century mansion, the Grant-Humphreys Mansion, with performances in various rooms of the house. Victorian Grande Dames led tours of the Mansion. As the tours went from room to room, the audience experienced site-specific scenes, popping up like dreams among the formal surroundings. The main floor reception room was devoted to “Brides Descending a Staircase,” in which brides paraded up, and sometimes fell down, the house’s main staircase. A local livestock auctioneer called out bids for wedding values such as loyalty and trust. In the dining room, a grizzly bear shared a meal with a Victorian woman. Upstairs in the nursery, with pillows strewn on the floor for the audience to relax on, a nanny read a bedtime story and offered a lullaby. Denver composer, Mark McCoin was the musical director and sound designer for the event. Two nights of sold-out performances took place in October 2000.