The Listening School & The Listeners Performance
As a social choreographer of place, I have been working with the mindful gesture of listening to people and landscapes for the past 30 years. However, in 2016 I launched "The Listening School" as a pilgrim project, to engage American audiences in the lost art of listening as a single task with full attention and no hurry, without interruption or judgment, with generosity and empathy.
In 2018, I took my wandering school to Germany, where I established a temporary homestead in the city of Osnabruck, trained a group of young and old civilians, and staged The Listeners, a performance, in their medieval historic town hall as part of the 375th anniversary of The Peace of Westphalia. Hundreds of citizens came to be listened to, one at a time.
In 2019, I took my humble school to The River to River Festival in New York, trained young artists, and launched them as listeners throughout the streets of Lower Manhattan to listen to the Hudson River and to listen and speak with pedestrians about their thoughts and hopes. Their sidewalk/street experiences then culminated in our more formal performance of The Listeners under a neoclassical atrium, in the very room where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States.
The Listeners sat all night in a circle, listening to the people of the city as they came and went, listening as a public service. I am interested in the artist as a public servant. I am interested in turning the tables on art. Historically, art speaks and the people listen. But what if the people spoke and art listened? What if art was a site for listening to America?