Reasons to get excited for “Visitation”:

  1. We love an opportunity for time-travel — let Jasperse’s ghosts ferry you between the past and the present.
  2. We love a cross-genre collaboration – Hahn Rowe’s composition includes scattered orchestral fragments by the controversial composer Richard Wagner.
  3. Fall is here and we’re ready to get spooky – Jasperse takes the audience on a spiritual journey, part séance, part exorcism.


Learn more about John Jasperse Projects, the company’s mission and history, at

A Note from John Jasperse

In terms of inspiration, texts, etc. the list is LONG.  But I can say that Alex Ross’ Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music was hugely informative to me.  Once we landed in the late 19th century terrain of Wagner, the references to Spiritualism, the occult, Mesmerism, Charcot, hysteria, etc. all flooded in.  Tarantism, though not of that period, also seemed topical.  Through the course of the pandemic, I will admit that my ambivalence around dance flowered into new heights.  While it is a vocation that I can’t imagine not doing, I also spent a lot of time during the early portion of the pandemic wondering what were doing.  What does it means to make a work of dancing that other people will sit in a dark theater and watch?  I wondered whether we would ever return to that, and yet, here we are doing just that.

I formed a cast for this work and began rehearsals in mid-February 2020.  We found ourselves on Zoom roughly 2 weeks later.  Nearly all of the 1st half of development for this work occurred on Zoom, which in itself is just insane when I think about it.  When 3 of the 6 cast members left the project about a year later because they moved out of New York, left the dance field entirely, or got a full time job with Trisha Brown Company, it seemed impossible to integrate new people who hadn’t been through that period on Zoom into the work.  All of the losses of that period had been writ into the work. So the missing dancers were in some ways a kind of ghost that haunted the project.  It occurred to me that all this disconnected connection and Zoom meetings wasn’t all that different than 19th century Spiritualism, where they were seeking to communicate with someone who wasn’t physically there.  The internet as the Ouija board of our time. 

And I will finally say that, for better or worse, I see Wagner as a kind of forebear of immersive aesthetic experience.  The desire to mute the tyranny of rational thought and to allow oneself to be swept away in feeling through music is both powerful and not new to our time. I am as implicated in that desire as anyone, but I have simultaneous significant ambivalence and reservations.  The intensely problematic history of Wagner as arguably the western musical canon’s most problematic dead white guy serves as a warning.  But Hollywood cinema couldn’t exist as it does without Wagner having laid the groundwork.  And I would argue, neither could immersive aesthetic experiences. As Alex Ross so keenly points out in his book, the spectrum of artistic and intellectual movements that have been influenced by Wagner is wildly vast and seemingly contradictory.  Wagner’s work has been appropriated in the service of movements that range from radically progressive to authoritarian fascism.  I wonder today, with so much of our politics on the left and the right being fueled not by distance of analytic thought but by proximal emotion (even rage), whether we have already fallen deep into some of the same traps of history.  All of that has informed my approach to this piece.

Office Hours: Coming Soon

Get Into It

In 2021, John Jasperse Projects opened their archives for public access and posted several full-length works online. Learn more at “Opening the Archive,” and peruse the company’s works to learn more about these performances and others available to view online.

Hinterland (2018)
Hinterland (2018)
Canyon (2012)
Canyon (2011)

Get Thee to the LIbrary

Recommended readings to get you in gear for the show.

David L. Eng and David Kazanjian, eds., Loss: The Politics of Mourning. University of California Press, 2002.

Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota, 1997.

André Lepecki, Exhausting Dance. Routledge, 2005.

Read All About It

New York Times | Sept 20, 2016

John Jasperse Hopes ‘Remains’ Lasts After the Dancing Stops

“I would argue performance and the practice of dancing are a little bit of a life practice. Every moment is dying. And that’s O.K.”

Bomb Magazine | Aug 15, 2011

John Jasperse's Canyon

“One way of losing oneself is by going deeper into the complexity… the process of going into the complexity allows me to lose myself in the form.”

All About Ectoplasm

Recommended Listening

Ghost Church

If we can use podcasts as a barometer of public interest, then spiritualism & the occult are clearly seeing a resurgence of popularity in the 21st century. If you want to learn more about the history of this movement, check out comedian & podcaster Jamie Loftus’s new series

Extra Credit

Learn more about other shows you might enjoy this season at NYU Skirball.

A Spectre is Haunting Skirball

Learn more about other shows with related themes.

In Praise of Liveness

Learn more about other shows with related themes.