Giant Empty (2001)

CHOREOGRAPHY: John Jasperse in collaboration with the performers

PERFORMERS: Miguel Gutierrez, Parker Lutz, and Juliette Mapp

ORIGINAL MUSIC: Christian Fennesz

SET DESIGN: Matthias Bringmann




Giant Empty is an evening-length project for four dancers. The work deals with division–between inside and outside; self and other; intimacy and distance; future, present and past.   We as humans are continuously constructing new divisions while reaffirming or dismantling existing ones, imposing spatial, temporal and ideological structures onto our world.   We use these divisions to separate out (and thereupon assign meaning to) individual people, groups, moments and places from the enormous continuity of humanity, time and space. While these divisions are highly subjective and often unstable, we depend on them to define such fundamental aspects of our existence as personal identity. Giant Empty is about the continuous flux of where we place our “edges” and how we use those frames to define ourselves and our experiences. When these boundaries momentarily collapse, there is an ensuing sense of vastness–a “giant empty.” The work also deals with this experience and the myriad of emotions which can accompany it.

Within this frame, the piece explores the idea of actions which take place, not merely in the sense of occurring, but in the sense of seizing a given space and redefining its meaning through the actions which occur within in. Implicit in this is the idea that architecture (in the sense of spatial identity) exists not only through physical matter, but can also be created through physical action. A key part of this is the transformative power of repetitive action. 

“The repetitive motion of a line, to caress an object, the licking of wounds, the back and forth of a shuttle, the endless repetition of waves, rocking a person to sleep, cleaning someone you like, an endless gesture of love.”   – Louise Bourgeois


WORLD PREMIERE: Schauspielhaus (Frankfurt, Germany), May 18-20, 2001

American Dance Festival (Durham, NC), June 11-12, 2001

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), October 5-6, 2001

TanzQuartier (Vienna, Austria), October 18-20, 2001

Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH), November 8-11, 2001

Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival (NYC), November 14, 16-18, 2001)

Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), April 6-8, 2002

Walker Center for the Arts (Minneapolis, MN), April 12-14, 2002

Montpellier Danse Festival (Montpellier, France), June 28-29, 2002

DANCE 2002 (Munich, Germany), November 5- 6, 2002

Trafó House of Contemporary Arts (Budapest, Hungary), November 13-14, 2002

La Biennale di Venezia, Teatro Alle Tese (Venice, Italy), July 16-17, 2003

Tanz im August at the Schaubuhne (Berlin, Germany), August 23-25, 2003

LAOKOON Festival (Hamburg, Germany), September 3-5, 2003

Dance Umbrella (London, England), October 21-22, 2003


NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL REVIEW; Exposed to the Elements in an Existential No Man’s Land – Anna Kisselgoff, NYTimes 11/16/01

GIANT EMPTY’ FILLING – Erin Morley, The Lantern 11/8/01

John Jasperse Company – Laura Molzahn, Chicago Reader 4/4/02

A first in multimedia studies – Juan Parry, The Guardian 10/25/03

“Dem Blick des Zuschauers haftet etwas Pornografisches an” – Welt 9/2/03

Naked bodies in an empty space – WRITER, Hamburger Abendblatt 5/9/03


Project Funders:

Giant Empty is a co-production of Ballett Frankfurt and The Brooklyn Academy of Music in collaboration with co-commissioning partners the American Dance Festival and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.   Development of the work was also made possible through the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Philip Morris Companies, Inc. , Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and The British Council. Additional funds for the development of the work were provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation of St. Paul, MN, Creative Capital Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, an Artist’s Fellowship in Choreography from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the James E. Robison Foundation, and The Goethe-Institute.