Saturday morning I got up for 10:00 AM to go see Sophia Bartholomew’s first performance for Mountain Standard Time. She’d been up 3 hours before me (7:00 AM!) to go jogging before heading to a dance studio at CASA for ULTIMATE WORKOUT.
I admit, I’m the sort of artist who likes to fall back on the good old “bad at sports” stereotype to avoid physical activity (with a few exceptions). Sophia, alternately, is one of the most strong and fit artists I have ever met. Her performance ULTIMATE WORKOUT is an incredible feat of physical endurance, determination, philosophical pursuit, as well as an entrancing and upbeat meditation on the body.
Sophia entered the dance studio, crossing to the other end of the room where she dropped her duffel bag and removed stacks of books, small weights, and a water bottle from within. She hooked an iPod up to the studio’s sound system and promptly centred herself opposite the room’s entrance. After moving seamlessly through a warm-up routine, the music began to pick up and Sophia selected one of her books as she removed a first layer of warm-up gear.
As she returned to her position, and a more vigorous aerobics routine, she began to read out loud, at a volume to compete with the music. Nearly shouting, Sophia began to recite readings on the philosophy of the body alongside dance-club hits. The tracks she selected focused on bodies, physicality, and sexuality. As she seamlessly performed her aerobics routine, gradually shedding layers of clothing, the words she read came through at breaks in the music. I had Ke$ha’s Die Young track in my head for hours.
I hear your heeeaaart beat to the beat of the drum! OH what a shame that you came here with someone… while you’re here in my arms… gonna die young!
“to a statement on non-centralism”
“she offers… the power”
“if I can’t dance, I don’t want to be a part of your revolution”
“we are not sure of the number or gender of speakers… asexual…”
Reactions as viewers stopped to watch Sophia’s performance varied, from enthused children dancing to the tunes, to numerous viewers in awe of her focus. After the first hour of her three hour long performance, I was reluctant to leave. It is moving to experience another person’s strength and determination for such a long period of time. Watching Sophia elicited simultaneous feelings of empathy, awe, support, and solidarity. Staying to watch became my way of trying to support her through an incredible and inspiring endeavour.
Sophia will be performing ULTIMATE WORKOUT again at the West Village Theatre on Tuesday, September 7. And I highly recommend checking it out.