Unsettled at UCI May 18 2019

Saturday, May 18, 4pm

UAG/Room Gallery | UC Irvine, Claire Trevor School of the Arts | 712 Arts Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697

Free to Attend | Donation/Reparations will be accepted in support of local First Nation’s Cultural Workers

Directions: From San Diego | From Los Angeles | Map

Questions? Email reachout@mountainhouse.family for more info.

Choreographed and performed by GROUND SERIES dance collective’s Sarah Ashkin and Paolo Speirn, Our Bodies Warm in the Sun, Unsettled combines research, satire, and dance improvisation to create a critical reflection on the American Wilderness. Unsettled uses personal, racial, environmental, and artistic histories to unearth the complexities of “the great outdoors.”  The performance practice asks:

How might representations of the West, like iconic paintings, personal narratives, and political rhetoric, shape contemporary participation and resistance to settler colonialism?

Unsettled is inspired by Ashkin and Speirn’s shared love of the outdoors and their work for racial, economic, and environmental justice. The piece attempts to create a self-reflective framework to confront the complex histories and present day practices of settler colonialism embedded in our experiences in nature and the art world. The script, choreography, and participatory action that make up Unsettled result in a collage of strange contrasts and collision. The legacy of Manifest Destiny overlaps with the voices of the performers’ mothers recalling beloved natural places. Rangers give presentations on the power of landscape paintings.  Audience members square dance with John Muir and the National Park System. And the genocide of Southern California’s Native peoples is understood in the context of contemporary battles for tribal recognition. Unsettled invites and challenges audiences to join us in asking:

For people who are deeply nourished by the natural world,

what does it mean for us to hike, make art, and heal all on stolen land?

About the Artists

Sarah Ashkin (she/her) is an interdisciplinary dance maker, educator, and cultural worker based in Los Angeles, California.  Sarah earned her BA from Wesleyan University in Dance Performance and Choreography and Environmental Studies, and a MA from University Roehampton in Dance, Politics and Sociology. She is the co-director of GROUND SERIES dance collective, a collaborative/multimedia/inquiry-based ensemble using performance as embodied intervention.  Sarah has trained with Urban Bush Women, Anna Halprin, Eiko and Koma, Ishmael Houston Jones, Colin Poole and Simon Ellis, Headlong Dance Theater, and Pedro Alejandro. In her work as a dance educator, Sarah leads social justice driven site-specific dance curriculum, in which students learn about the histories beneath their local parks, memorials, and train stations through ethnographic choreographic processes.   As a social practice dance scholar, Sarah confronts the ways in which white supremacist histories and practices impact dance education through performative, written, methodological, and administrative interventions. Sarah’s most recent creative investigations reside at the intersection of critical whiteness theory, the social infrastructure of western dance, and the body as somatic archive.

Paolo Speirn is a climber, writer, and movement artist. He roots and blossoms in Northern New Mexico and Northern California.

GROUND SERIES dance collective, currently based in Southern California, uses performance as embodied intervention. Each GROUND SERIES production is rooted in ensemble collaboration, interdisciplinary approach, inquiry-based content, and site-specific dance-making. In practice and performance, dance is used as a means of personal and communal transformation and a catalyst for community dialogue. Since its inception in 2012, GROUND SERIES has created 18 original dance works performed throughout Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Northern New Mexico, and London. Learn more…


With gratitude, we offer this work here in what is now known as Irvine, California and acknowledge that this land is the home of the Gabrielino people, the original stewards of this territory.  As a community we are committed to uplifting the name of these lands and the community members from these Nations who reside alongside us.