Jess Curtis

Jess Curtis’ research explores physical and disciplinary diversity in body-based performance and interrogates the roles of haptic experience and contextual framing/dislocation in the processes of creation, performance and reception of live art.


Jess Curtis founded Gravity in 2000 as a research and development vehicle for very live performance. Gravity aspires to the creation of engaging body-based art that explores issues and ideas of relevance to a broad popular public. Curtis, (Concept/ Director/ Performer) who lives and works in both San Francisco and Berlin, has created a body of work ranging from the underground extremes of Mission District warehouses with Contraband and CORE (1985 – 1998) to the formal refinement and exuberance of European State Theatres and Circus Tents with Compagnie Cahin-Caha and Jess Curtis/Gravity (1988-present). Curtis has also collaborated with the renowned fabrikCompanie in Potsdam, Germany to create the award-winning fallen, and has been commissioned to create works for companies such as Artblau in Fermany, ContactArt in Italy, Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company in the UK, and Croi Glan Integrated Dance in Ireland.

Current Activities

Jess is currently at work on Performance Research Experiment #2: Paradox of the Heart,  an interdisciplinary project, measuring the physiological effects of live performance on (and in)  viewers bodies and comparing the ways that Art and Science each construct their own notions of the ‘truths’ about the body. The work will be presented May 24-26 2013 at CounterPULSE in San Francisco and go on to tour in Germany through the Summer and Fall. Look for critical analysis of the research to be published in 2014.

Curtis’ Dances for Non/Fictional Bodies is a multi-component performance-based project examining the role(s) of imagined societal ideals as a kind of “fictional body” that disables individuals in terms of our ability to see others, and be seen, as beautiful, empowered, and autonomous. Physically and conceptually the work deconstructs movement vocabulary and ideals of beauty based in socially imagined perfections of form that rarely exist in actual bodies. The work examines difference as a virtue, finding the unique beauty in the idiosyncrasy of each individual performer. In the meetings between performers we will highlight the synergistic and esthetic necessity of difference, and thus implicitly propose that the audience re-consider their own definitions and limitations of beauty and empowerment.

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