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Origins Matter


Posted October 27, 2011

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion … unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
— Newton’s First Law of Motion

I’ve always experienced the works of Liz Lerman as a kind of conversation – a provocative conversation, to be sure, but also a welcoming one. Liz is the masterful choreographer not only of dancers on stage, but also of communities of people, drawing us together to find where we stand on issues that matter.

This new blog, MCA Stage: Origins Matter, is stimulated by Liz Lerman’s multimedia performance The Matter of Origins. She created it with the Dance Exchange and a wide-ranging group of collaborators, from media artists to particle physicists to ethicists. And Chicago audiences get to experience this epic work November 10-13, when MCA Stage and Chicago Humanities Festival join to present it.

We’ve been describing The Matter of Origins as part performance, part conversation, and part game show – and it really does stretch to embrace all this. When I saw it at its premiere, I was amazed by the vivid worlds conjured up in Act One, a multimedia dance that probes the universe and how we understand it. And I was totally taken by Act Two, which moves the entire audience into a nearby party room for cake, tea, and conversation – with artists and scientists presiding over the talk at each table.

Tea Room from the Matter of Origins. Photo by George Hagegeorge.

Tea Room from the Matter of Origins. Photo by George Hagegeorge.

This blog is a bit like that: it’s a chance to use The Matter of Origins as a springboard for ideas, questions, and expansive expressions about the what, where, and how of our existence. We’ll be hearing from artists, scientists, specialists, and our audiences. And there’s a welcome mat here for your views and exchanges.

As Liz Lerman wrote: “The Matter of Origins is about the origin of matter. But it’s also about how we perceive beginnings, discover them, think about them. It’s about speculation. It’s about how the human mind flips and stretches to comprehend things that are incredibly small, large, fast, or far beyond the categories of known experience. I suppose The Matter of Origins is a dance about a very big topic, but I also think of it as something more intimate and approachable, a meditation on the poetry of the mind.”

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