Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd (2016)


Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd is a re-construction and a re-imagining of the work by choreographer John Bernd. Bernd was a pivotal figure in the 1980’s downtown NYC dance scene who made several semi-autobiographical solos and ensemble pieces. Bernd was one of the first artists in that community to be diagnosed with HIV (before the virus had even been named). Throughout his life he created a significant body of interdisciplinary work dealing with themes of mortality, spirituality and queer intimacy right up until his death at 35 in 1988 from AIDS complications. In this piece, conceived by Ishmael Houston-Jones, who danced in all three of Bernd’s series Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life, and co-directed by Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, excerpts from the last seven pieces that Bernd made are re-configured to create a new vision of his work that captures the vitality of his vision, demonstrates how his influence lives in work we see today, and serves as a blueprint for what his work might have become. Bernd’s original music compositions are reimagined and enhanced by composer Nick Hallett. With consultation by Jennifer Monson.

Variations premiered November 3, 2016 at Danspace Project as part of Platform 2016: Lost and Found, a season of performances curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Will Rawls that looked at the impact of HIV/AIDS on the New York dance community.

Conceived by Ishmael Houston-Jones
Co-directed by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez
Choreography by John Bernd
Compositions by John Bernd, arranged and re-mixed by Nick Hallett
with additional songs:
Just Be Good To Me, performed by The S.O.S. Band, written by James Harris III, Terry Lewis
Dirty Mind, written and performed by Prince
Age of Consent, performed by New Order, written by Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert
Street Hassle, written and performed by Lou Reed
Consultation by Jennifer Monson
Lighting Design by Carol Mullins
Drawings by John Bernd
Video Design by Alvaro Gonzalez
Performed by Toni Carlson, Talya Epstein, Alvaro Gonzalez, Charles Gowin, Madison Krekel, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, and Alex Rodabaugh.

Dance, music, text and visual imagery drawn from the following pieces by John Bernd:
Surviving Love and Death, 1982
Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life, Part One, 1982
Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life, Part Two, 1983
Avant Garde a Go Go, 1984
Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life, Part Three, 1985
Be Good To Me, 1985
Two on the Loose, 1988

photos by Ian Douglas


Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd from Marin Media Lab on Vimeo.