Ralph Lemon

The Geography Trilogy
1997, 2000, 2002, 2003 (with Djédjé Djédjé Gervais), 2005

Presented by the Walker in November 1997, Geography: Africa/Race (The Geography Trilogy: Part 1) was performed by nine male dancers and musicians against artist Nari Ward’s backdrop of shimmering walls of bottles and mattresses. The work is distinctly African yet unmistakably American, bringing to the surface rich metaphors of personal discovery formed out of ancestral exploration. As race was the root of Part 1, spirituality was the seed of Part 2, Tree. Following his sojourn and extensive research in Asia, Lemon again sought the spark of cultural collision in a piece that linked disparate customs and interlaced dances such as the Odissi of India with postmodern improvisation. Tree is an amalgam of movement, languages, folk songs, and incongruous images refracted through Lemon’s vision: “Here was this quiet little man from a village in South China who in some part of his body, spirit, soul, or culture knew Robert Johnson[1] and knew the Mississippi Delta. . . . It summed up this work in a way I could never have devised.”[2]

The Walker has assisted Lemon in realizing the conclusion of the Trilogy through commissioning support, two developmental residencies, and financially supporting How can you stay in the house all day and not go anywhere? (2004), the Web-based companion piece to the performance work. . . .


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Biographical Information

American, b. 1952
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Lemon graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1975, and was part of the Nancy Hauser Company before cofounding Mixed Blood Theater Company in 1976. He moved to New York in the late 1970s and, after a stint with Meredith Monk (whom he first saw perform at the...