The Retreat began in 2014 with the questions: is there a way to engage in dance improvisation by relinquishing control? If so, to what is control being ceded? Julia and Jonathan began an inquiry into sub-cortical improvisation. Sensing, choosing, and moving from a low-brain state, like the nebulous alertness of infancy or the hypnagogic awareness negotiating the shadowy hours of the night, this improv practice came to be called Orders from the Horse.
Julia & Jonathan got interested in how duration can shift the mode of attention and they began engaging long-form versions of the practice. Orders from the Horse saw multiple iterations of development and performance before becoming a core practice within the larger world of The Retreat, which expanded to include a larger cast, cyclic choreographic patterns, and an environment of fabric and light. The Retreat offered shared meals, participatory meditative movement practice, art sleep-overs, and curated conversation. Sprawling and minute, mesmerizingly repetitive and chaotically unpredictable, it was offered as a retreat, cultivating deep engagement and a state of beneficial boredom, positioning this often-suppressed form of attention as radical engagement with time and self.
Presented in the fall of 2016, The Retreat : One Night was a variable-duration show, with audience choosing an evening-length format (2 hours), a long-form experience (4 hours), or an overnight stay (12 hours).
The culmination of this project, The Retreat : One Week, was presented in the summer of 2018 and ran continuously for 168 hours, fostering a quality of attention like wilderness wandering: expansive and still, full of unexpected discovery, engendering retrospection. Like the wilderness, The Retreat was ongoing world, preexisting the audience visit and continuing after they left. Guests were invited to visit for the evening, linger for a day, or camp out for the week.