SAN FRANCISCO HONEYBEES TO DANCE IN CITYWIDE BALLET
Conceptual Artist Jonathon Keats to Choreograph First Performance Season - Sponsored by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - Debuting July 19, 2008
Skilled at dancing eons before humans could walk, honeybees are admired by entomologists for the complex physical language with which they communicate the location of flowers to one another. Yet the species has been ignored by choreographers from Nijinsky to Balanchine, who have preferred to work with their own kind.
In an effort to bridge the divide between Homo sapiens and Apis mellifera in this time of cataclysmic colony collapse, San Francisco conceptual artist Jonathon Keats will choreograph the first ballet specifically for honeybees as part of Bay Area Now, the triennial organized by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Working with San Francisco residents - and in consultation with Smithsonian Institution zoologist Mark Moffett - Mr. Keats will place hundreds of flowering cosmos plants in neighborhoods around San Francisco, including Bernal Heights and Hunters Point, carefully arranged to inspire an elaborate two-act ballet unfolding between July and November.
"Deep inside their hives, the bees will dance according to the locations of flowers they've found," Mr. Keats explains. "The ballet won't be predictable, though, because the bees will also encounter flowers that we haven't planted. The choreography isn't dictated, simply suggested."
Moreover, while free choreographic maps will be distributed at Yerba Buena, performances inside the hives will not be open to human audiences. "The bees will dance for themselves, not for us," says Mr. Keats. And what will we experience? "The flowers, and the dances they evoke in our minds."
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Jonathon Keats is a conceptual artist, fabulist, and critic. Recently he exhibited extraterrestrial abstract artwork at the Judah L. Magnes Museum. He has also attempted to genetically engineer God in a petri dish, in collaboration with scientists at the University of California, opened the world's first porn theater for house plants in the town of Chico, and petitioned Berkeley to pass a fundamental law of logic, a work commissioned by the city's annual Arts Festival. He has been awarded Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships, and his projects have been documented by KQED-TV and the BBC World Service, as well as periodicals ranging from Flash Art to New Scientist. He is represented by Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. For more information, please contact Mr. Keats at firstname.lastname@example.org.