Why isn’t Strictly Bolshoi more of a thing


Claudia La Rocco
petit cadeau
Friday, January 25, 2019
Doors 6:30pm, Performance 7:00pm
3320 18th Street
San Francisco, CA

petit cadeau, an android coming-of-age story and invisible love letter to dance, is Claudia La Rocco’s first novel. It was originally published in 2015 by The Chocolate Factory in New York as a print edition of one and a four-day live edition. The book is presented here as an official West Coast release, reading, and performance featuring La Rocco, musician/composer Phillip Greenlief, and dancer/choreographer Alex Escalante.

Claudia La Rocco is a writer whose work frequently revolves around interdisciplinary projects and collaborations. She is the author of the selected writings The Best Most Useless Dress (Badlands Unlimited) and the chapbook I am trying to do the assignment ([2nd Floor Projects]). Her duo with musician/composer Phillip Greenlief, animals & giraffes, has released the albums July (with various musicians; Edgetone Records) and Landlocked Beach (with Wobbly; Creative Sources). Interstitial, the sequel to petit cadeau, was published by Michelle Ellsworth’s Man Pant Publishing imprint in 2016; The Lab has commissioned the trilogy’s conclusion.

Alex Escalante has recently returned to California after a 22-year spell in NYC. While there, he had the pleasure of performing, creating and being a thread in the fabric of the vibrant and powerful downtown dance community. He also documented over a decade of performances and events as a freelance photographer. Escalante’s multi-disciplinary works delve into current socio-political issues, creating a performance space in which viewers are invited to examine and reflect upon their own beliefs.

phillip greenlief is a saxophonist involved in over 30 projects with an international crew of free improvisers and new music innovators. playing solo is his most personal work, and in this context his concerns are obliterating the tonal system in favor of establishing a sound language that is accessible to musicians from all cultures and abilities.


rain, fritos, artforum



disabled twitter account. immediately wanted to tweet that i have disabled twitter account. does this count?


quotes written down while watching Dead Sometimes at Project Artaud’s SPACE 124 yesterday. The astonishing performance is “the product of a collaboration between Kathryn Crim, Howard Fisher, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Anne Walsh, and the work of Camille Roy.”


something the inimitable Zee Hartmann (aka one of my favoritest people in the world) is doing



A few weeks before the premiere, a group of Atlanta Ballet dancers headed to Smith’s Olde Bar, where Ms. Monáe was headlining. They clustered together in the raucous, intimate space, cheering wildly as she performed tracks from “Metropolis,” a genre-defying album which casts her as a humanistic, renegade cyborg.

Suddenly, Ms. Monáe halted her hectic movements across the stage. She centered herself and, incredibly, performed a passable pirouette. The dancers went wild.

It fit in seamlessly to her act, and something that the ever-confident Mr. Patton had predicted earlier about the impact of “big” on the ballet world came to mind:

“They might say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna have the New York Ballet with Mary J. Blige, or we’re going to have Ludacris perform with Miami,” he said. “This might start a trend. You never know.”



An entire planet of salt evaporation ponds. Calligraphic spits of rocky earth unfurling between rippling vats of acid green, rust red, mustard yellow. Everything encircled by chalky lines of mineral residue. Railroad tracks cutting through on the levees bisecting the marshes, how she had to remind herself not to say “man-made,” that she had no idea who or what made these things. Little shacks of gray weathered wood collapsing in on themselves, corroded dredges, a world of abandonment punctuated by the flocks of the small silvery birds that made their home in the brine. The slick, soothing hum of their transporter’s life support systems. The casino rising up from



something that happened almost two years ago today. something i am considering reworking for current book, i.e., the something i am always working on for every book (maybe or maybe that just sounds good)

Claudia La Rocco: Later in the House of God

Eiko performing as part of "An evening with Paul Chan and Claudia La Rocco," February 23, 2016.

Eiko performing as part of “An evening with Paul Chan and Claudia La Rocco,” February 23, 2016.

Claudia La Rocco

Later in the House of God, 2016
text fragments, w/assists from a&k


This work was commissioned by Danspace Project,
where it was rendered on February 23
as a four-hour audio loop
during a one-night installation with Paul Chan’s sculptures
& Eiko Otake’s performance & video
in response to PLATFORM 2016: A Body in Places.

It’s dedicated, with love, gratitude & respect,
to Eiko, Paul & Judy Hussie-Taylor:
what a pleasure to spend time & space with you three

It’s also for Alex & Kristen,
who I adore,
& who might once have been the same person


{NB: A few lines are cannibalized
by previous recent works of mine, others are my responses
to video footage provided by Eiko;
“the artist” line represents a quote (or maybe misquote)
of one of Paul’s lines; the Sheehy line comes from a NYT article
from 1/29/16; & found language comes from Alex & Kristen.
The mistakes & bad lines are all mine.}


Thank you.






There’s always trash
There’s always a one-night stand

My gravestone was broken into many small parts.

There was caution tape in the trees. My requiem for you could only ever be a token of my grief for the world. I had a slice of pizza, and tried to write a letter to someone.

I guess I was feeling pretty abject
I thrust my hand out against the broken metal post, the rusted razor wire
Nothing here to protect




The bride read a long time ago that the ancient Greeks believed hysteria was caused by a woman’s womb going unused for too long, thereby causing it to roam around in her body, wreaking havoc. Also that emotions were something outside that same body, imposed upon her by the gods.

In expressing ambivalence about Hillary Clinton, Gail Sheehy described Gennifer Flowers as a lounge singer with slot-machine eyes.

Quit staggering around, old girl
The woman on the dunes gives you alien eyes
She is looking for her womb

Ophelia didn’t drown, in the end. She had a slice of pizza, and tried to write H. a letter. She expressed a big desire to take to the open seas. There was time and no time.

Later, she went out on the veranda and had a smoke. Stared at the world.


Begin Again.


The people were all around the dying sea creature, looking nervously
Maybe it wasn’t dying after all
Were those tubes venomous?
It took them awhile to realize the creature was a bride

The tourist buses
The movement fast to the gatekeeper keymaster

You can read this any way you want.
The bride has seal eyes
She runs away
Dog with a bone
The city loses itself in a haze and the red flag whips beyond the yellow afternoon moon

Now the crowd had Ophelia cornered and she knew it
Her entrails spilled out
We lost interest

Now she no longer would move slowly
And the lights of the city came on
The monster heaved itself onto the boardwalk
And the bride stood with upraised arms.




Last night at the ballet, the retiring star climbed the impossibly tall, thin ladder
She stood on the tiny platform far above the crowd, her legs offering their usual splendidly dependable geometries
Aphrodite Kallipugos couldn’t look away. She knew the ballerina would jump

You write things, you take away their power
An investigation is pending
She fell like it was nothing at all, her death

Everything is ruined
A body can be anywhere
It can fall

The memory of this dream remained with Aphrodite Kallipugos like an impossible thing

The shivering secret excitement of knowing before the others
She was at the top of her powers, in the tower with room only for one




The vines came down
They strangled what had been native, what had been there first

A woman who is also not human, who is also not free.

It was early morning. Ophelia hated her servant’s hangdog face, how abject she was. Her faith in the goodness of her actions.

(Appendix 1. Chart 45: At night the ship hums effortlessly. The territory hurtles forward, held in time.)

Somehow, the prospect of an avatar seemed necessary.
How in novels when they say her face darkened.

Because they didn’t feel … they                              Because they didn’t feel … they

Everything lies still now.

Dear Betty, the avatar whispers, The thing they don’t understand is, we had to go back. That’s where our spaceship was. One’s senses are attenuated anew, the artist told me. But I am not Odysseus.

The spaceship by year three began to develop its own intelligences, these running quietly and undetected by the skeleton support crew.

Now Ophelia can see she is moving further away. She practices jettisoning her favorite belongings through the escape pod hatch. She tries to draw the curtains, but they won’t close. Things outside move restlessly. Her meager allotment of courage goes on a pilgrimage & never comes back. She makes smaller & smaller movements with her hands.

I could go back on television, it’s true, Ophelia thinks to herself. But now I am just waiting.

(Appendix 4, Chart 72: Now I am waiting for her to tell me which way to go next.




“My eyes won’t make focus,” the ghost explained. In the dream there were fleshy, flower-like growths erupting slowly from her palms. She bit them off at the base, the action both painful and satisfying.

St. Paul sits with the sword of the spirit, which is also the word of god. The ghost shakes her head and keeps walking. Everything becomes radioactive, she mutters. Water stains, water damage. Her long sleeves dragging in the mud and dust.

In her memoir, Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854-1911, Malvina Shanklin Harlan gives an account of a slave girl whose clothes caught fire after she fell asleep while working near a candle. Harlan writes: “Unconscious, at first, of the heat that would have quickly awakened one of another race, she lay twisting and turning in her sleep.” Harlan is important to history because she was a wife. Her husband was the Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, who gave the lone dissenting opinion in Plessy v Ferguson, the case endorsing separate but equal segregation.

Begin Again.

Lock her in for the night. She mutters. For eternity. The kumquats are over ripe.

The plants were so lush, you couldn’t tell the world was dying.
The ghost was troubled by this, and did a weird little dance to indicate her discontent

The piano lay on its side in the rubble. The insects buzzed and hummed incessantly. The whistler. The knave. The girl at the bottom of the sea.

The monster when she opened her wings was the palest, most beautiful of reds. What you might say was saffron. She was sexually insatiable. She was immortal. She was cursed.

The ghost could only keep walking. “I’m not sure I entirely understand parentheticals,” she whispered.

Penetrated by the thing that is you also. A deep, impossibly sensuous problem.

In her novel, The Bondwoman’s Narrative, thought to date from the 1850s, Hannah Crafts writes, “Slaves generally are far preferable to wives in husbands’ eyes.” Crafts is important to history because she was a fugitive slave, recently escaped from North Carolina. She was discovered in 2001 by a man, Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; in 2013, her identity was verified by another man, Gregg Hecimovich. Her name became Hannah Bond.

The fiberglass hull was broken like a child’s thing. Finally, the ghost sat along the ruined edge and cried. The ground was soon covered with small white feathers.




It’s late here. It’s hushed. The ship’s systems whirring on and off, indeterminately. Malvina is poolside in her one-piece, the water lapping incandescently under dark lights far overhead. She sips listlessly at her Moscow Mule.

The bride’s face is obscured by vines
She has lain for so long now in her bower
The prince is waiting far, far away, in Soho—or, not waiting, exactly, but alert

Now the trains do not come here anymore
Dry grasses obscure the tracks
The man I would be with has fallen away, the bride whispers,

Now I can never go home
The station is closed
The yellow center line runs on forever: I can no longer offer you a defense of art.


Begin Again.


Aphrodite Kallipugos was sitting in the empty lot behind her apartment building
Drinking beer out of bottles and smoking cigarettes
She set her iPod on shuffle, and looked toward the stars

Everyone was too far away
Ophelia was down in the dumps again
And so Aphrodite Kallipugos had been sending her asemic emojis
Everything was bad, Ophelia texted back
Aphrodite Kallipugos thought to say “make it worse” but she kept that to herself
Also that asemic emojis were code for love

Youth is wasted on the young, Aphrodite Kallipugos said to no one in particular,
Shaking her head and taking a swig from her present bottle of beer
This saying was a favorite of her father’s.
It had taken her a long time to really understand it.

More texts were coming in
Zipping back and forth from Oakland to Seattle.
Ophelia found Aphrodite Kallipugos’ full name cumbersome, and so often resorted to Aphro K, or even AKA.

Ophelia could be incredibly dense sometimes.




“Ballerina dives to her death”

There it was, Aphrodite Kallipugos’ dream, an above-the-fold headline

Or was it the bride’s dream?

She had to take a break and stare out the window at the flowering plum tree

What could this mean.

The bride sipped her coffee from the bright red mug with white polka dots

Last night there had been a single seashell pink band of cloud shot through the baby blue sky.

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight … she whispered the words like a chant

Begin Again.

Aphrodite Kallipugos thought, and not for the first time, how strange it was to be the loveliest woman in the world, to actually be Aphrodite of the fine ass, and to be so lonely
There was something exquisite about it.

The problem with Ophelia, also, Aphrodite Kallipugos decided, was her addiction to luxury
She opened another bottle, and searched for Juana Molina on her device
Endless repeat was the thing
The stars made a few necessary updates, now that she wasn’t looking




There was the relentless wind
The industrial windmills
The chickens scratching around beneath the eucalyptus bushes

The ghost’s husband was losing his mind
Each night, she got into her sleeping bag and waited for the tree frogs
Anything that was useless, she wanted it so badly

There was nothing on tv

The memory of pain and the taste of blood and nothing she could feel
A rough thumb moving softly against her cheek

St. Paul had advised she should think soberly
These men were all the same`

The signal was scrambled.
The high tribunal sat in front of their laptops.

The ghost decided to move into the present tense

That is, the ghost decides.

The kids run up and down the block, laughing and screaming Marco Polo
And the pop stars sing about inscrutable things

There is one feeling, a feeling of feeling everything that goes away as soon as she tries to get close to it
What’s to do
The ghost worries over her newly planted succulents
Brushing her hands over them, against them, through them until they shiver

as if in understanding
as if in keeping with the sentiment





This city is full of spies

You’re of no interest to them


God is not the author of this spectacle

God is not the author of this spectacle

The elephants learn to travel at night

It is a purely natural phenomenon

Give credit where credit is due


Everything runs through her hands

We who are rational we who are not brain washed

So please do not feel sorry for us

Rainbows are unweaved

The article is in Cyrillic

The man is too old

We ask our little mind to believe in what we want it to believe

Put the box out back


The intrigues seem so important, but they aren’t

Let’s all jump in unison

When something is gone you shouldn’t want it any more


The whole planet was in ruins I walked back into the bar the dream was always the same tawny hills dotted with oaks the little girl waiting her hair blowing every which way it was late afternoon it was dusk it was early morning I waited until I couldn’t wait anymore. The stars were all blown out. She was standing she was waiting her hair was blowing every which way my heart walked up and out I waited until I couldnt wait anymore the planet was in ruins I walked back into the bar it was time to


The Eos Code.


Last Friday:

This Friday:

Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener; Brontez Purnell. Dance aftermaths.



12.23.17: I saw that Wooster Group Shaker show. Perfection. I remember being on the street after, or was it before, just outside The Performing Garage in SoHo. I remember McDormand flying past a small knot of us; I think there was a brief interaction, why do I think that, did someone (me?) say something, attempt to halt her progress for a moment? Years later I will be (peripherally) at a dinner for Sophie Calle, and McDormand will be one of the guests. I remember years before that (the Shaker show) trying to interview the only living Shakers in the world, at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village (est. 1783) in New Gloucester, Maine, about a two-hour drive from where I grew up. I sent several emails, as I recall, or did I call? Anyway, they weren’t interested in my interest. I studied the Shakers in college, learned “all about” their ecstatic dances, which in a liberal arts college was inevitably translated to faith as substitute for sex. I would so love to see these dances performed, but also this seems a private thing, a thing for which there aren’t watchers, only doers. Not theater. The second time I visit A. in her studio, we discuss various lineage possibilities for the various ritualized dances in THT: Oskar Schlemmer, Laban, Eurythmy. Later I will think about the Shaker dances, or do I mean the Wooster Shaker dances, and these in my mind will become THT dances, despite all evidence to the contrary.




The complex nature of perception


You are in the house with the windows

Something rushes through


You seek forewarning

Marks on the tarmac

A curtain blowing                  lines bisecting


When you wake up the cattle are all around you

Please come home, that’s all she writes

The game proceeds maniacally

The wave forever cresting

The boundary frustrated


I did this elaborate reading of what the fuck is going on

The teeth wound around and around the spiral

Not a virgin, but a sacrifice nonetheless


And do you know yourself?

And will you receive this?

You press your face this way and that;

Or, rather;

You perceive this happening to your face, this pressing


He threw fire at the shrubbery to prevent the war and now you place action in a vitrine

You do this elaborate reading of what the fuck is going on

Contemporary art is a bad game

All your daily perambulations, eye at the ready


And were the libations poured into the white plastic spoon at the perimeter?

Were the spicy Cheetos speared on the white plastic fork on Folsom Street?

Not a virgin, but a sacrifice nonetheless


The machines go round and round

Come home, she beseeches he does not

A wound like thick color on a mountain

A room at the center of the world surrounded by the noise of men


She puts on her shoes, her garment; she turns to foam


When you wake up the cattle are all around you, their eyes are not unkind

And do they also seek knowledge of their fate no of course not don’t be …

Press your cheek; pull at your scapula

The glossies bore you, the pretend art of the living


You ascend the mountain. After all, it is only paint.

You do a keyword search in the archive. You agree to the slight sleight of hand.

That we have all arrived somewhere. That there is more asking to do.



Anyway. I’m off on a tangent

I said, are you sure                                                                                      He said, yes I’m sure                                                                                       I said ok                                                                                                         He said, please mention                                                                               I said, ok                                                                                                     This is me saying that

It needed to go

The wind was in the trees and the cavalry was coming             We’re gonna have round things and things that are not round. That’s going to be our theme.

She moves her hand over the surface                                                   He moves his fingers against the cupcake

Hey Cuddles. Look smart.

She puts her lipstick on. Now she’s ready

I kinda like to lean in                                                                                 My standards are lower than yours                                                    The lights are being flashed                                                                       Is Steve gonna bring the poets?                                                        There’s a blackout down in SF State

There’s a bathroom. There is light inside the bathroom.

I just touched your microphone

Im going to stop talking

The alien is inside me. I can feel it growing all the time.               The flowers are like constellations. I look for astrology in everything.

We rushed down and through the highways.                                 They took his tooth out, that’s why he’s not here.

All that delicate gold ruffle. That thin red thread.

Put all the instruments out. Delicately. It’s time for dissection.

There’s nothing on the tvee tonight

I’m gonna punish you for being human                                      They’re gonna be playing round things. Though I do see some rectangles, Tim, on the floor

The Parrots are lost                                                                             Maybe it’s only one parrot

It’s never a good idea telling other people how to be free              All the things you can do with round things

Have you seen him?                                                                                Have you seen her

Oh that’s terrible

Wal Mart parking lot

At night she props up the mannequin in the passenger seat          This android that eavesdrops

You did a violence to me                                                                          The ocean comes into the boat it wont stop                                       All that ice skating at night you’re cold you just want hot chocolate                                                                                                      The androids deep down are scared

We’re going to Europe with an android that eavesdrops              Tim thinks it won’t be that different than hanging out with me

He might be right

Corvettes pigs pears

Easter egg hunt astro turf

My sternum, my fingers                                                                           The stoplight clicks on, clicks off

The rain slick roads at night

The gold disks and the red string

Her reflection is all over the ceiling

She refused him

I would turn Carla up a little bit …                                                       The light spills down the channel                                                        You cant even believe how hard I’m trying                                        The bricks have eyes

She keeps talking

Hi Barb

We have one more piece

Let’s see if I can produce some sound                                                  I’m in a good mood                                                                                    No

You’re not just playing long tones?

What’s the matter with you

I thought about getting you a flat screen tvee for Christmas

The gang spoke

I need help with the bass, is what I’m saying

You know I have this gig, in Europe, I never understand what’s happening

We have a bottle of wine if you want to go upstairs and find an opener

I don’t drink but. I watch.

Everyone’s asleep in the Wal Mart parking lot

You sandbagged me.

Let’s see what happens                                                                                 I know how it happens                                                                            I’m playing duo with a guy who’s not here

Finally. Left alone in a library.

Thank god we’re only on the second floor                                         The room is only only locked if you want to be in there

I like that woman for both of us.                                                           They have a lot of hoopla                                                                              I wanna watch crystal melting

You know the oysters Rockefeller weren’t that good                    They just weren’t

The ceilings are low do you think the ceilings are low                        I used to take classes there

It’s pretty boomy in here                                                                          I’m gonna go to my quarters

I dodged Spalding Gray in Santa Barbara. That’s something MT said. That’s not something that happened to me. None of these things happened to me. Nothing ever happens to me.

(while listening to THAT BIG DRUM. THAT TINY PEDAL. [Suki O’Kane (big drum) and Tim Perkis (tiny pedal)], and improvising with kattt atchley at the luggage store gallery, november 30th.


11.29.17: “I just don’t want to take a picture of another thing. What interests me here is the light.” – Nathaniel Dorsky, at BAMPFA, talking about his films Elohim and Abaton, as part of Canyon Cinema 50.


shadow & act

green stalk // pink chalice

when you don’t want to look at anything

when you press your fingertips to sternum

anything but light

fairies & magic (shadow & act)

the sound of her swallowing

The velvetine rabbit waiting to be real

all the names for flowers

all what ophelia knew

flowers like constellations // blue sky like chartres

“It has to do with the body. These films are made for the heart & the body. The only thing I had to go on was the body. … Film editing has to do with progression of energy. And then you break the energy with a cut … you keep refreshing the energy with each cut. … It’s not the objects, it’s the spirits in the objects.” ND


11.26.17: I remember being on the Danube how hot it was that day in Bratislava, L’s ankle & calf (was it both legs or one?) swelling up so fat, soaking them in the water fountain. Yogurt and cinnamon ice cream (or was it cardamon? ice cream has never tasted better). Escape from Vienna. Getting a phone call from the UAI and deciding that day to change my number. The two scoops of ice cream on a plate, a rectangular dish, balanced on my two bare thighs. A lap of cream melting & the delicate ruffled hem of my faded black, thin cotton dress. Not much time and so much time in the old city. Standing on the boat, wind rushing. The call. The decision. Freedom as something chosen.

while listening to A Sound Map of the Danube at The Lab