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The Key Game is a series of choreographic responses to Polish writer and Holocaust survivor Ida Fink’s fictional short story by the same name.:

“As a survivor, Fink wrote as a form of testimony, while I, a post-Holocaust artist, create dance-theater performances that are memories of her memorial work, functioning as what historian James E. Young calls a ‘vicarious past.’ Rather than recount the horrific details of the genocide, my pieces address the difficult and ephemeral attempt to know and make meaning out of historical period I did not experience directly. In The Key Game, each dance in the series is a memorial to the one that came before it.” - Kristen Smiarowski

About the dances in The Key Game series:

“The Key Game&rdquo (2008)

Choreography and Performance:

Kristen Smiarowski


Douglas C. Wadle

The first dance in the series, also titled “The Key Game” is a concentrated glimpse at human suffering in which a solo dancer, via the characters in the story, repetitively performs a game of survival that takes on the psychological function of rehearsing imminent death.

“The Key Game” was commissioned by Links Hall for “Choreographing Coalitions: Dancing the Other in the Self.” It premiered at Links Hall (Chicago) in 2008. Additional performances include: Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica (2008); TanzTangente, Berlin, Germany (2008); Murphy Hall, LMU (Dance is Social Action: Memory, Performance and the Holocaust, 2009); Laband Art Gallery, LMU (The Presence of Absence: An Evening of Dance and Discussion, 2009).


“Indexical Permutations (after ‘The Key Game’)&rdquo (2009)


Kristen Smiarowski


Douglas C. Wadle


Arianne Hoffmann, Rachel Lopez, K. Smiarowski

For the second dance, the composer, dancers and I analyzed and re-processed movement and sound material from the first piece, emptying it of its original content, in order to create a fragmented, abstract memorial in which we encounter traces of the original work as we encounter traces of some historical event at which we were not present: out of context and out of their original order in time.

“Indexical Permutations (after ‘The Key Game’)” was commissioned and premiered in 2009 as part of Saint Joseph Ballet’s “New Dance” program. It was performed again at the Commuter Festival, Sharon Disney Lund Dance Theatre, California Institute for the Arts (2009).


“Sleep, Staring, Well&rdquo (in-progress)

A traveling performance installation about the formation of cultural memory.


GROUNDSWELL: a site-specific dance for the Ballona Freshwater Marsh

Premiere: Loyola Marymount University’s 2006 Bellarmine Forum on Environmental Responsibility: Earth to You-Do Something. Now.

Upcoming Performance: 2011 World Festival of Sacred Music, Los Angeles
Saturday, October 8, 7:00am — 8:00am
Saturday, October 8, 9:00am — 10:00am
Free. For reservations, directions and parking information: GroundswellPerformance@gmail.com


Kristen Smiarowski


Robert Een

Costume Design:

Jim Tsou

Groundswell is a site-specific dance for the Ballona Freshwater Marsh, a 26-acre site in the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles, CA. The marsh is an area that contains a rich history and complex set of ecological, political and economic issues. Human activity degraded the land, and human activity, in response to this degradation, is restoring it. The goal of Groundswell is to draw attention, through dance, to the unique geography and habitat of the marsh, creating layers of images that illuminate the underlying tensions between human and environmental needs. The piece is uniquely situated to build intersections between dance and environmental issues, and between the dance community and the community of people who have stake in the marsh.

“As dawn breaks over the reed beds of the Ballona Wetlands, clusters of soaring, singing birds are joined by musicians and dancers in a site-specific performance that celebrates this 26-acre historic landscape and habitat. With choreography by Kristen Smiarowski and music by Robert Een, along with a large cast of dancers, instrumentalists and vocalists, Groundswell invites audience members to experience an active meditation on this urban sanctuary.” - 2011 World Festival of Sacred Music, www.festivalofsacredmusic.org.

The creation of Groundswell was supported in part by Loyola Marymount University’s Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, the College of Communication and Fine Arts’ Visiting Artists and Lecturers Program, The Durfee Foundation and UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. Additional support came from the Ballona Wetlands Conservancy, Ballona Wetlands Foundation, the Center for Natural Lands Management, Friends of Ballona Wetlands and Playa Vista.

The 2011 World Festival of Sacred Music presentation of Groundswell is sponsored by Dr. Edith Read, Preserve Manager, and Ballona Wetlands Conservancy with support from the World Festival of Sacred Music-Los Angeles, Friends of Ballona Wetlands; the community of Playa Vista; and Loyola Marymount University’s College of Communication and Fine Arts, the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance - Dance Program, and Seaver College of Science and Engineering.