WHAT: On Beauty, co-presented by Nancy Karp + Dancers and the David Brower Center, is inspired by their current exhibition, Douglas R Tompkins. On Beauty is a site specific performance created by Nancy Karp, which celebrates the life and work of the late conservationist Doug Tompkins.

“If anything could save the world, I’d put my money on beauty.”-Douglas R. Tompkins

“On Beauty will reference imagery from the natural world in the choreography, exploring concepts of stasis and movement, darkness and light, a solid foundation and liquid motion over it, and how the boundaries between these opposites aren’t as rigid as they appear.”Nancy Karp

  • Choreographer: Nancy Karp
  • Composer: Charles Amirkhanian
  • Dancers: Sonsherée Giles, Sebastian Grubb, Amy Lewis, Megan Lowe, and Charles Slender-White

In Rehearsal at the David Brower Center Dancers: Megan Lowe, Sebastian Grubb, Amy Lewis, Charles Slender-White Photo/Bhumi B. Patel

WHEN: Performances  -February 9 – 11, 2018

WHERE: The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way in Berkeley
(5-minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART Station)

TICKETS: Online purchase

$35/$20 General Admission
Tickets on sale now!

“Truth and beauty can still win battles. We need more art, more passion, more wit in defense of the Earth.”David Brower  

About Douglas R. Tompkins and the Exhibit

The late conservationist Doug Tompkins was inspired by many notable environmentalists, including David Brower; in fact, Doug often quoted Brower in saying that his conservation work was “to pay my rent for living on the planet.” In 2008, the American Alpine Club awarded Doug the David R. Brower Award for his work preserving mountain regions. Additionally, Brower’s pioneering use of large-format photo books in the 1960s – to bolster the Sierra Club’s environmental campaigns – was carried on by Doug through his publishing efforts as part of his Foundation for Deep Ecology.

In March, the Chilean government announced the creation of 11 million acres of new national parks. That historic agreement was the culmination of Doug’s visionary land conservation work begun in the early 1990s. Creating national parks of that magnitude would have been enough accomplishment for anyone but, in Doug’s case, it followed the founding of The North Face and Esprit companies, legendary first descents of many wild rivers, first ascents of mountains on multiple continents, against-all-odds activist successes, and a life of relentless action.

The David Brower Center is honoring Doug’s life and work with Douglas R. Tompkins – On Beauty, a photography exhibition and accompanying book. The project will consider how the pursuit of beauty became a central, animating force in Doug’s intellectual development and informed his entire worldview. The exhibition and book also will explore several key themes: how the diversity of life emerges from beauty; how beauty and ecological health are intrinsically linked; and how Doug’s personal narrative intersects with conservation history, especially at this particular moment in humanity as we face a collapsing biosphere. View the book On Beauty. More about the David Brower Center. The exhibit continues until Feb. 21. Weekdays 9am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-2pm. They will be closed Saturday, Feb. 17 through Mon., Feb. 19 for the Presidents’ Day holiday. 

About the Music

A lush acoustical environment composed by Charles Amirkhanian from samples of bird calls and weather events will emanate from multiple loudspeakers as the musical accompaniment to On Beauty. Amirkhanian has a history of collaboration with Nancy Karp + Dancers having received one of his first music commissions from the dance company in 1984 for the interdisciplinary work Dot Bunch, with visual artist Carol Law.

The present 30-minute composition (Im Frühling) was commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne and the National Endowment for the Arts for a premiere at the Whitney Art Museum in New York in 1990. Its title was an often-used one in late 19th Century salon piano music and translates to “In Springtime.” In the 19th Century, composers such as Smetana, Dvorak and Liszt wrote “tone poems” that conjured the sound of nature and the narrative drama of the novella in the form of music played for symphonic instrumental forces. Im Frühling reverses this model so that, by means of digital technology, the sounds of nature are sampled and rearranged to imitate modern orchestral music. Sounds of birds and thunder were altered in the Synclavier studio of composer Henry Kaiser in Oakland, played back via keyboard, and mixed in the 24-track studios of Sprocket Systems (LucasFilm Co.) in San Rafael.

About Nancy Karp

Since forming Nancy Karp + Dancers in 1980, director Nancy Karp has choreographed more than 70 outstanding works for her company. She and company members have performed together in many distinguished venues, at home and abroad. These include The Washington Project for the Arts in Washington D.C., The Kitchen in New York, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Broadway Performance Hall in Seattle, the Fur Augen und Ohren and Sprachen der Kunste Festivals at the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin, Kyoto College of Art in Japan, and the Zagreb Experimental Theater Festival. Interdisciplinary collaboration is one of the company’s key focuses, and since its inception Ms. Karp has commissioned numerous composers, visual artists, and designers to work with her in the creation of new dances each season. Among these accomplished associates are Charles Amirkhanian, Alvin Curran, Paul Dresher, Ingram Marshall, Jay Cloidt, Sandra Woodall, Carol Law, Bill Fontana, Lutz Bacher, and Wolfram Erber.  More info.