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Liz Lerman comes to ASU Gammage as part of Origins Project

March 28, 2011

Artistic visionary Liz Lerman’s latest exploration of dance and performance art comes to ASU Gammage in an innovative program of movement, storytelling and thought provoking conversation. Her new work "The Matter of Origins" probes the physics of beginnings and the poetry of the mind for one performance only at 7 p.m., April 11. 

Exploring scientific concepts of origins of the universe, atomic ethics, engineering and physics fused with art and dance, this explosive program includes audience participation with a recreation of the provocative discussions held by physicists at Los Alamos in the 1940s. This performance is presented in conjunction with the ASU Origins Project 2011 Science & Culture Festival. "The Matter of Origins" is part of ongoing programming associated with Lawrence Krauss and the ASU Origins Project and is the final capstone event of the Origins Project Weekend Celebration of Science and Culture.

Act One takes place on stage and travels from Marie Curie’s lab to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, then through the Hubble telescope to the reaches of an accelerating universe. For Act Two the audience moves to a nearby “tea house” for a 360-degree experience of dance, media, tea, cake and provocative conversation – courtesy of some surprise guests.  The piece is inspired by Liz Lerman’s visits to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland, where physicists are currently probing the origins of matter. Encounters with these experts sparked some of the key conceptual and artistic ideas for the piece.

One unique feature of "The Matter of Origins" will be an interactive experience built around tea and dialogue. Audience members will sit at tables enjoying tea as they experience a combination of live performance, expert commentary, conversation and computer-manipulated media. The concept comes from the tea house run by Edith Warner for the physicists at Los Alamos during the early 1940s. Edith Warner kept her little establishment open as other businesses were forced to close in the wake of the secretive Manhattan Project. She served suppers and poured tea for the engineers and physicists who had come to split the atom. But what do you say to someone with a huge, explosive secret? What subjects come to mind after a day spent probing the essence of matter and contemplating an unspeakable act? What do you listen for in a room like that?

"One of the things we’re interested in is what are the questions scientists are asking, and which of those questions have real, enormous resonance for the public? For example, they think they’re going to understand more about the big bang, and I think the public is just incredibly interested in that. I think how we see our beginnings really affects us emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, in all kinds of ways," says Liz Lerman.

Tickets are $20 and $10 for students and on sale now at or by calling 1.800.982.ARTS (2787). ASU Gammage is located on the main campus of Arizona State University in Tempe at Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard.

About ASU Gammage
Located on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University, ASU Gammage is among the largest university-based presenters of performing arts in the world.  ASU Gammage is the home theater of the PROGRESSIVE® Broadway Across America – Arizona and Beyond series. Its mission is connecting communities by providing artistic excellence and educational outreach to the public.  ASU Gammage is an historic hall designed by internationally-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange is a professional company of dance artists that creates, performs, teaches and engages people in making art. The Dance Exchange creates groundbreaking new dance works with their cross-generational company, which is performed on major stages throughout the U.S. and abroad.  The company offers classes, workshops and institutes for people who dance to make a living, people who dance to make a better life and people who have never danced before. Founding Artistic Director, Liz Lerman, received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellowship in 2002 for her visionary work. Her work has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, the American Dance Festival and The Kennedy Center, among others.