Artistic director, Aviva Geismar founded Drastic Action in 1989 as a vehicle for her choreographic work. Geismar’s expressionistic dance theater stems from complex psychological and emotional impulses and from her fascination with the nuances and paradoxes of human behavior. She uses an idiosyncratic kinetic language to explore inner landscapes fraught with contradiction. Using a physicality of tension and resistance, the dancers’ pressure against the floor, the walls, and each other gives a charged urgency to their movement and to the body of work she has been creating for over fifteen years.
Many of Geismar’s dances have portrayed individuals grappling with uncontrollable aspects of their own nature. For example, her 2001 solo from “The Unbidden and Unhinged,” is a one-woman courtroom drama in which conflicting aspects of an individual psyche battle it out in the case of “Self vs. Self.” In more recent dances she explores the ambiguity of interpersonal relationships and social systems gone awry. In her quartet, “All Fall Down,” seemingly childish games take an eerie turn toward violence as the dancers vie for attention and dominance. Treading the delicate line where comedy and tragedy meet, one dancer frees herself from another’s deranged bite, only to reconsider and subtly beckon her attacker back.
Geismar’s dances have been performed at many national venues including Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow, The Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center, Symphony Space, Merkin Concert Hall, Dance Theater Workshop and The Brooklyn Arts Exchange. In January 2004 Geismar was featured in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” article. She was an artist-in-residence at HERE Arts Center from 2000 to 2002 and at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in June 2001.
Geismar’s site-specific quartet, “Snare Tide” was commissioned by Dancing in the Streets in 2000 for their “Dances For Wave Hill” series. Her choreography has also been commissioned by The University of Maryland, Rutgers University, James Madison University, Trammel and Thompson (a Virginia-based duet company), Gotham Group (a New York-based repertory company) and Fernando Maneca (a New York-based performing artist).
Since 1997 the company has also been committed to reaching audiences who would not ordinarily be exposed to contemporary dance and has implemented community outreach programs with public school students, ESL students and community college students in New York City. This year the company is also beginning a Jewish Heritage Project in connection with the Blue House, the former Jewish Community Center in Breisach, Germany.