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An evening-length dance and text collaboration that explores life and death and the stories we are and tell in between.

A THOUSAND NATURAL SHOCKS

“All lives are stories, and all may be told this way: someone is loved, then someone is dead. Only the writing between varies.” 

A Thousand Natural Shocks is an evening of dance and words. It’s a collaboration between choreographers (and sisters) Megan and Shannon Kurashige, writer Kat Howard, and the dancers of Sharp & Fine—the luminous, gorgeous, and wickedly brilliant Carson Stein, Josianne Fleming, Kelvin Vu, and Sarah Lyman. It’s an exploration of life and death and the stories we are and tell in between. It’s about an hour long and careens through beauty, slapstick, and tragedy. 

(Or, so we hope. People say the piece reminds them of silent films and the movies of Quentin Tarantino. The comparison makes us blush... with pleasure.) 

Sharp & Fine is the name we chose for our collective dance endeavors. This is our first big project as choreographers. We are bursting at the seams with the thrill of working with such inspiring collaborators, and we are giddy with excitement to have this piece laid bare onstage for an audience to see. 

A Thousand Natural Shocks will be performed on July 2nd and July 30th at the wonderful Z Space theater in San Francisco. It is being presented as part of the Summer Dance Series. The Summer Dance Series was launched in 2010 by the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance to present performances by choreographers and dance companies engaged in making interesting and groundbreaking work. 

You are, of course, invited. 

Tickets are available HERE: 

Carson Stein
Carson Stein

THIS IS THE STORY

In April 2011, I received the following email from Kat Howard, a good friend and a writer whose darkly, lushly magical stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies, and on National Public Radio:

Megan,
Do you mean it? Would you really be willing to try to stage a dance/story collaboration? Because, seriously, I would love to try that – I would put that sort of project on the top of my list of things to work on in a heartbeat, and even more so if it gave us the chance to work together. We should maybe talk about doing this, and what would be involved?
Excitedly yours,
Kat


None of us had ever done anything like this before. Adventures are never so appealing as when they are the first of their kind to arrive on the horizon. We said, YES! Let’s do it. Let’s jump right in and, as one of our recently vanished heroes said, build wings on the way down.

(Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.)

We gathered our comrades—first Carson, then Josi, then Sarah, then Kelvin—each one a dancer with prodigious talents and a ravishing brain. We dove into the studio, once a week, four hours at a time, FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. Kat wrote stories in Long Island and sent them to us in San Francisco. We made dances in San Francisco and sent them, by the magic of the internet, to Long Island. We talked about Persephone, ghosts, fencing, Buster Keaton. We examined each other’s creations, broke them apart, gutted and devoured them. Words turned into dance and dance turned into words and we have somehow ended up with a hybrid beast that we could never have imagined into existence before.

As I write this (on a fine, sunny June afternoon), we are very nearly done. The place where, if this were a story, we would write “the end” is so close that we can feel its breath tickling the back of our necks.

Josianne Fleming and Kelvin Vu
Josianne Fleming and Kelvin Vu

WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP

A Thousand Natural Shocks has the honor of being presented at Z Space as part of the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance’s Summer Dance Series. This means that we get to perform in one of our favorite theaters in San Francisco at a very minimal cost. As new choreographers without deep pockets or grants from foundations, this is an extraordinary, ridiculously enormous opportunity. We are all, with the exception of Kat, alumni of the Conservatory, and are incredibly grateful for its generous support.

However, we still need to cover the other costs of producing an evening-length performance. The most important thing (to us) is paying our dancers, who have given us their unwavering enthusiasm and skill for an entire year with only our love in return. They are our dream team and if we could give them infinite riches, we would. As it is, we would like to pay them the humble sum of $1000 each.

Other costs that we must cover include lighting design, costumes, a theater technician, and the various wonderful people who keep the box office and theater running smoothly on the nights of the show. We currently don’t have concrete amounts for these costs because we are still hammering out the details, BUT if people are interested in the specifics of what goes into producing a dance performance (I, for one, am always curious about peeking behind the curtain), we’ll post updates as we get them.

Shannon and I are both a little bit in love with Kickstarter. The way it brings people together and enables them to support projects with varying amounts of cash and great enthusiasm is refreshing, powerful, and kind of magical. It lets us get our hands dirty and join the fray. If you’ve read this far, we thank you for putting up with us and for considering A Thousand Natural Shocks and Sharp & Fine as an adventure you might want to join.

Please note that Sharp & Fine is fiscally sponsored by Dancers' Group. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation through Dancers' Group, please contact us directly at Megan[at]sharpandfine[dot]com. Contributions made through this Kickstarter campaign are not tax-deductible. 

Sarah Lyman
Sarah Lyman

FURTHER INTRODUCTIONS

If you want to know more about us, please visit our website at www.sharpandfine.com.

Watch us on YouTube or like us on Facebook. Megan is a Twitter fiend.

Or, write to us. Send us a message through Kickstarter. Or email us at sharpandfine[at]sharpandfine[dot]com

We would love to meet you.

*** 

Megan, Shannon, Kat
Megan, Shannon, Kat

Megan Kurashige studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Summer Lee Rhatigan. She currently dances with Liss Fain Dance in San Francisco. She has previously worked with choreographers Alex Ketley (The Foundry) and Christian Burns (burnsWORK), and performed with Ballet Pacifica and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. She is also a writer. Her fiction and poetry has appeared (or will appear) in Sybil’s Garage, Strange Horizons, and Electric Velocipede. She is a 2008 graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UCSD. You can read more about Megan here

Shannon Kurashige graduated from UC Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance. She also received extensive training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the tutelage of Summer Lee Rhatigan. She currently performs with Liss Fain Dance and has previously performed the work of William Forsythe, Alex Ketley, Donald McKayle, and Ohad Naharin. Shannon is also an artist and maker of interesting things. She is the driving force behind Fable & Tale.

Kat Howard is a fiction writer, blogger, and editor. Her short fiction has been performed on NPR as part of Selected Shorts, and has been selected for a year’s best anthology. It has appeared in Lightspeed, Subterranean, and the anthology Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. Her nonfiction has appeared on Tor.com, and is frequently on Fantasy-Matters.com, where she is also the content editor. She blogs and is on Twitter.

Carson, Josi, Kelvin, Sarah
Carson, Josi, Kelvin, Sarah

You can read more about our amazing dancers here.

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    {PAPERBACK SPECIAL} A book printed exclusively for our Kickstarter backers featuring original fiction by Kat Howard and pieces by the various members of Sharp & Fine about the creation of A Thousand Natural Shocks. This will have less content than our hardcover souvenir book (see below). It will be printed in B&W in a smaller, trade paperback size and have fewer photographs and less text. We think it will still be pretty sweet though. Please add $10 for shipping outside of the US and Canada. Plus: a sticker and your name on the website.

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    {NIGHT OUT} A single ticket to the July 30 performance of A Thousand Natural Shocks, plus a copy of our paperback book. Come say hello after the show! This reward is only for people who can get to our San Francisco show on July 30.

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    {SHORT STORY} Kat Howard will handwrite a piece of short fiction on the back of one of our postcards. This will be a complete flash piece, unique to each card and contributor. Frame it, send it to someone special, add it to your collection of curiosities. Each story is a rare creature, being the only one of its kind. We'll also send you our paperback book. Please add $10 for shipping outside of the US and Canada.

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    {BOOKISH DELIGHTS} A hardcover book printed especially for our Kickstarter backers, featuring original fiction by Kat Howard, writing by the members of Sharp & Fine, and full-color photographs. We'll tell you some stories. We'll talk about all the weird and interesting things that fed into the piece and what working on it was like. We'll a send you a DVD of the July 30 performance. Please add $10 for shipping outside of the US and Canada.

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    {SCHEHERAZADE IN MINIATURE} Kat Howard will handwrite a series of interconnected short stories on the backs of our six postcards. Each story will be unique to the card and contributor. Savor these as bedtime bonbons, dole them out to lovers and friends, put them on your wall. Each of these sets will be the only one of their kind. We'll also send you our hardcover book and a DVD of the July performance. Please add $10 for shipping outside of the US and Canada.

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