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Little Death, Big O: CentralTrak's HARAKIRI Series Launches Tomorrow

It's adrenaline at first. And then the serotonin.The feeling of flight and shallow breath. Dry throat, spinning room. It's frantic, it's chemicals. Then the euphoria, ohgod the euphoria. The snap-solid moment when everything stops and all that exists is you.

A Shakespearean staple, la petite mort is the Renaissance concept that the expenditure of life-force during orgasm is a "little death," life affirming in its transcendence but terrifying in its spiritual dissolution. It's performance, it's sex, it's creative destruction. And it's at CentralTrak every Saturday for the next five weeks. We love it when they go dark on us, blood-in-vials kind of love from the kids at 800 Exposition.

Which is why you're not to miss a single moment of HARAKIRI: To Die For Performances, a series of collaborative performance art pieces curated and produced by Ph.D. candidate in residence Danielle Georgiou, and largely inspired by seppuku, the Japanese concept of ritualized suicide reserved for samurai warriors in instances of dishonor, captivity and capital punishment. It gets a little gruesome after the jump.

Spectacle, ceremonial garments, ritualistic cutting -- all pertinent to the art of exhibitionist disembowelment. The samurai recites a death poem, plunges a Tantō sword into his abdomen and cuts from left to right. His selected attendant then decapitates him, leaving a strip of flesh so that the samurai's head hangs, as if embraced by the body. Intense shit going down, as portrayed in this scene by Kippei Shiina.

When offered a chance last year by CentralTrak director Hyde Fontenot to curate an ongoing gallery exhibition, Georgiou began considering the idea of harakiri and the transformative effect of her craft as a dancer and performance artist. Fully committing to a performance meant leaving it all on the stage, willingly forfeiting pieces of herself emotionally, physically and spiritually for the audience to take away. She says that performance is about becoming more than oneself and that "transforming during performance is a self-execution, a petite-mort, a release of the spirit." She asked, "So if you do not 'die' with every performance, have you lived honorably?"

Inspired too by a 2009 MoMa exhibition, Stage Pictures: Drawing for Performance, that she simply couldn't shake, Georgiou incorporated the idea of atypical performance "providing a platform for emerging artists and for challenging them to think outside the traditional proscenium stage (for the performers) and the traditional white box (for the visual artists)." While, as the title suggests, the original exhibition focused primarily on drawing as performance, Georgiou hopes that by utilizing diverse artists and modes of expression, HARAKIRI will expand upon the initial idea and will bring to Dallas new avenues of thinking about visual, literary, and spoken art not yet maximized in our community.

Liberating dancers, thespians, poets, auteurs, photographers, painters, and sculptors from their respective "normative" modes of exhibition, HARAKIRI explores in conversation the process of creation, fostering in the participating artists a "curiosity for discovering new ways to notate [their] movement work."

And, true, we love it when they go dark, but don't think that the series focuses exclusively on the macabre. Georgiou says,

[W]hile harakiri on the surface seems to only deal with death, it actually deals with rebirth, a new life in the spirit world. This project is also about celebrating life, because from these little deaths that the artists are experiencing in creating these projects (as the collaborative process also is a form of harakiri as we all have to give up a little bit of ourselves for the whole), they have created a new way of living through the practice of art.

HARAKIRI: To Die For Performances commences Saturday, April 21 in the gallery at CentralTrak, and all performances are free and open to the public.

SCHEDULE OF PERFORMANCES (from 8pm-10pm each Saturday): **Sat. April 21: Jill Foltz, Tabitha Pease, George Quartz, and DGDG

**Sat. April 28: Emily Loving, Slik Stockings, Val Curry, and Spencer Brown

**Sat. May 5: Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet

**Sat. May 12: Big Rig Dance Collective and local filmmakers

**Sat. May 19: Michael Morris, Cody Ross, Andrew Blanton, and dancers

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Brentney Hamilton