headlong performance exchange, research, dance, theater, platform

Headlong Performance Xchange (HPX)

HPX is a free, peer-to-peer platform of performance research, investigation, and sharing. It is designed to help artists to meet each other, inspire each other, and share each other’s current research.


We want to help you (and ourselves) to renew and recharge. We want to facilitate fuller lives of creative practice and creative research. We want to start conversations. We want to provide opportunities for deep research, for asking big questions without any kind of performance anxiety. We want to hang out.

Dance Camp was founded by artists associated with Headlong more than 20 years ago. Back then, all participants committed a full month to teaching each other classes and working/living together. More recently, Dance Theater Camp has provided opportunities for artists in the dance and theater community to come together to share in the research of “boat” leaders. HPX will draw on both of these traditions.

HPX occurred on June 5 – 21, 2015 at Headlong Studios, organized by Mark Lord or Jenna Horton.


How is HPX structured?


BOATS are research based artistic endeavors led by CAPTAINS or CO-CAPTAINS. They choose a research question and then, in a number of sessions, that line of research is pursued. BOATS may have limits on who can sign up and how many can participate. Priority is given to those who can attend the most and best suit the research of the BOAT. (BOATS may really want folks with only limited experience in certain areas, so don’t feel shy about signing up for what you really want to do.)

The 2015 HPX FLEET of boats is included below.

Conversations and Events (OPEN TO ALL).


Mark Lord and Amy Smith will host and discuss retirement considerations for artists.


A group of Old Heads from the 20th century origins of the Performance Scene in Philadelphia will start to define the trends they perceive in that work…and then we’ll talk about how those strands do/don’t correspond to what we imagine is THE PHILADELPHIA THING now.


Based on a weekly series that BRIAN ENO holds for his friends and acquaintances, these three gatherings are for the pleasure of coming together and singing and they are open to everyone–you needn’t think of yourself as a singer to be at home in these evenings.

Tuesday, June 9th 10am-12pm REAR STUDIO
w/ Mark McCloughan

I want to explore some long-form tonal improvs. Think extended tones, held chords, deep breaths and making noise until it seems to come from somewhere else. We might also learn a round or two to see how discrete melodic units might interact with the drone tones. No real singing ability required.

Monday, June 15th 4:30-6:30pm REAR STUDIO…and on
w/ Liz Filios

All anyone really wants is to be vibrated. Splash around in the sonic possibilities of your environment, discover the natural reverberation of your bones. Learn to feel music in a different way. Connect to your community. Touch the sound.

This workshop includes a studio component on breath and vocal technique, as well as a field trip to some of the most acoustically beautiful spaces in Philadelphia. Class officially ends at 6:30pm, but the tour will continue for those interested, until after dark.

Please bring a bike and a helmet!

3) Tuesday, June 16th 4-6pm REAR STUDIO
w/Alex Bechtel

We’ll start with getting out of our heads and into our bodies We’ll explore where our voices feel most pleasurable to us, and warm into the act of singing with one another in a way that feels fun and joyful.

I plan on leading the group in singing a few songs in different styles–american folk music, blues music, and even a few selections from the world of jazz standards/the Great American Songbook.  We may also improvise and build a song together.

To sign up send an email with name of boat in subject line to jennabokid@gmail.com

    Whit MacLaughlin (New Paradise Laboratories)

Learn what undercover street detective work can add to your artistic practice by revealing the mysteries of systems.

Systems are the stories of how things fit together and work. Develop your secret agent skills – tailing, role-playing, and surveillance – to sniff out systems in an urban environment. The city might give you your next piece, if you know where to look.

Spend nine hours in three, three-hour sessions building a repertoire of gumshoe techniques, a portfolio of systematic observations, and a more concrete portrait of the world in which you live.


Amy Smith (Headlong) and Adriano Shaplin

Performance – democracy or totalitarian regime?  Getting away from nice.  Destroying the “lobby”.  Should performance be free?  Duration?  Authorship?  Branding vs. anonymity.  Manifestos as expressions of totalitarian thinking towards rule-breaking and provocation.

We will read some manifestos (Dada, the coming insurrection, Gilbert and George, Ludlam, Theater of Catastrophe, etc.) and write/discuss.  If performance provocations come out of it, great, if not, fine.


Thomas Choinacky (Headlong)

A piece of art lasts from the moment people start talking about it to when they stop talking about it. It is not just about the hour or so that you share a room with an audience and performer. Our arts and culture sector is in crisis: who is writing about the state of the performance work that is being created in Philadelphia.

This boat will brainstorm and create outlets for local art criticism. We will also write about some art that we see in June.

Sailors welcome who have a strong familiarity with the local performing arts community and/or are excited to write about our community. Your concerns and interests in discursive writing will assist and shape the direction that this boat will take.



Sam Tower (New Paradise Laboratories)

I am in love with spaces. I am in love with how they influence performance material and how our bodies can transform them.

This boat is a place to research our relationship to space….

-How we utilize it to build material
-How we negotiate given restrictions when arranging material
-How we imagine the scope of a project’s architecture
-And how we negotiate space for producing in our lives and careers

Each Sailor should bring in one piece of source material they’d like to use as a springboard for generating. Source material can come in any form; object, sound, image, text, video, food, movement, etc….


Mark Lord (Headlong) (with David Brick, Headlong)

We want to explore contemplative states and their relationship to creating and enjoying performance. We will explore work that originates internally and which seeks to find balance between internal states, physical states, and the performance environment. Values: intimacy, intricacy, ephemerality.

Beginning with sharing practices, we will lead up to making micro-performances created by sailors, alone or in collaboration with one another. We will work indoors and out of doors.



Leah Stein (Leah Stein Dance Company)

Using body/voice/song/movement/rhythm to create practice and performance structure? What is musical composition for movers? What is sound inspired / activated body response? What is movement activated / inspired voice response? How does ‘story/image’ influence practice?

Vocal/body warm-up, tuning, listening. Every day a little different. Score research – practiced and performed for each other. Material to foster connection and risk taking. Images and stories shared to activate practice. Sessions divided into sections – topics – to activate engagement of scores.



Catharine Slusar, Actor (with Mark Lord, Headlong)

Just how much of the skill that the two of us consider crucial for performance can be absorbed in two three hour sessions? We will play games, do exercises, and work on short scenes that will allow performers with a base in ANY DISCIPLINE to become at least familiar and perhaps conversant with the skills that actors use. Will it allow you to skip grad school? Come sail with us and see.

Skills to be worked on: Action. Given Circumstances. Spheres of Concentration. Presence.

These skills are totally transferrable from mainstream acting to dance, clown, physical theater, etc. Actors are welcome, but so are folks from other disciplines.



Hannah De Keijzer

An hour and a half of guided therapeutic partner massage. Being present for each other. Advocating for the necessity of self-care and community-care in the life we have chosen. Giving each other new proprioceptive input. Giving ourselves the time to unplug our brains. Reminding our bodies they’re loved. Refreshing, restoring, releasing.



Christina Gesualdi

You know: when we are artists and activists and are critical, (especially in the face of capitalist positivity)…when we refuse to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and instead decide to take off our boots and lie down together cause we are really over strategy and scrambling and self-improvement and building ourselves bigger and better and always bigger and better.  This boat is more about giving ourselves time for digestion, time to negate our urges to “keep on truckin'”…our urges to hustle hard.  This boat hovers over the space and time where creativity allows us to both weave and unravel ourselves.  We will not have a fancy “art-scarf” to show for it at the end.

I want to make space for ambiguity, to make time to be together…us – the stuff we will do together will be in pairs: moving with our eyes closed and with a witness to hold space for our experience (AKA Authentic movement but I hate the term “authentic”), free writing/drawing together, going for a walk together, touch…exploring touch together or apart.