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Duets for a Solo Performer

Director Jennifer Sargent is musing on a new project with a working title, "Alluvium":

As a native of Berkeley, California now based in New Orleans, I am fascinated with how our psyche interacts with the land that holds us. A colleague of mine specializing in body-based trauma recently commented, “It’s hard for people who were born in a place of bedrock to find grounding in New Orleans, situated on river sediment and water.” I am exploring a solo movement-based performance project that will compare the geology and ecology of Northern California (my childhood home) to the land under New Orleans, seeking how the dynamics of the earth reverberate within the structure of the body, the state of the psyche, and the layers of memories and traumas we hold in our cells. Movement compositions will investigate the worlds within Californian rock over 80 million years old and Mississippi River sediment a mere 4,000 years old; the tension of the San Andreas and Hayward faults and land so soft it shakes when a large truck passes; the mountains of the Bay Area still rising slowly and the Delta sinking in front of our eyes. The summer of 2020 saw record wild fires burning across California as two hurricanes barreled towards New Orleans. What relationships do these ferocious elements have to the human body as steward and partner to the land?

photos by Jennifer Sargent

I am currently in conversation with Matthew Rioux, Geologist and Associate Researcher at the Earth Research Institute at UC Santa Barbara - as a dramaturgical collaborator on this project. Matthew is also a childhood friend who grew up with me in our Berkeley backyards and on the hiking trails and campsites of Northern California.

Notes from Matthew:

"As general background, much of the geology of California reflect subduction during the Jurassic and Cretaceous (201–80 million years ago). This led to the formation of the Sierra Nevada, the sediments that underlie the central valley and the jumble of different rock types that make up much of the Bay Area...


A summary paper I found by the New Orlean Geological Society stated: 'Deposition of the St. Bernard lobe of the Mississippi Delta began in the New Orleans area approximately 4700-4500 years ago (Kolb and others, 1975).' So maybe even slightly younger than 7,000 years old."

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