In March 2020, when Suchi Branfman’s ten-year choreographic residency inside the CRC Prison in Norco was put on hold due to the pandemic, she began an ongoing handwritten log, archiving covid positivity numbers and deaths inside the California state prisons. Unbeknownst to her at the time, this archive, handwritten on oversized yellow pads of paper has become the basis for this latest work, DATA – 7 ways to dance a dance through prison walls. All the while, dances written from prison bunks were being sent out to her, including the stunning piece, I Am You, written by Forrest who remains locked inside prison walls. The profound devastation of covid inside prisons, lives side by side with acts of resilience and community survival.
Branfman is accompanied on stage by six formerly incarcerated and “free world” performers, Marc Antoni Charcas, Ernst Fenelon Jr., Mokhtar Ferbrache, Selina Ho, Amy Oden, Tom Tsai. Including a deeply landscaped sound score created by visual/sonic designer, Jimena Sarno, and massive set design supervised by graphic designer Kimi Hanauer – both inspired by paper, the material that holds the data and carries the dances through prison walls.