Claudia La Rocco


It’s not always easy to look at things
Well, it’s easy to look at war. Think about traffic accidents.
The concrete horizon
The white room

Claudia La Rocco is a poet who writes about performance.
Claudia La Rocco is a theatre and dance critic who writes poetry.

Of course we’re all mourning for ourselves
Of course we get uncomfortable around our kind
It’s subjective

Encounter 1: The Performance Club
“Claudia La Rocco created the Performance Club to address her frustration with the increasing lack of journalistic space for thoughtful consideration of art; the absence of lively public debate; and the isolation of critics and artists in an era of specialization and academicism, leading to a growing disconnect between insiders and “the average audience member.” What would happen if we brought everyone together in one space, where freewheeling conversations could happen online and in person? Could we reactivate a sense of engagement and integration? Could we demarginalize artists and arts writing and demystify audience members? The answer, in the roughly 18 months of the club’s existence within WNYC, was a resounding yes. It grew to roughly 300 people from all walks of life (there are no membership dues or requirements, other than interest). We met monthly, stayed out for hours debating, and even presented in-progress showings, our activities revolving around a continuous, lively online conversation.”

This was shortly after, or maybe before, critic Oliver Basciano said to me: “You feel like a cynical bastard. But then that’s our job.” We both held drinks, as I remember. We both laughed. … Basciano was talking, I think, about having to write what exists beyond the pleasing surface. Not to be romanced. I understand what he means, and also I’m not so sure. Is it possible to fail through resistance?

Encounter 2: The Best Most Useless Dress
“Widely known as an incisive critic for The New York Times and Artforum, Claudia La Rocco is also a poet and performer whose hybrid texts are as mercurial and imaginative as her criticism. The Best Most Useless Dress reveals the breadth and depth of La Rocco’s art, encompassing a decade’s worth of poetry, essays, performance texts and reviews. These writings explore how movement and rhythm–in time, through space, across bodies, on the page–engender experience itself.”

At a certain point the fact that it was an impossible thing to do — write about performance — started to get really exciting. My training is in poetry, and I started seeing a lot of the similarities. My way into a lot of contemporary dance is through poetic structures. Structurally, the two forms seem to be in conversation in interesting ways.

Claudia La Rocco is a writer choreographing language.
Claudia La Rocco is a dedicated audience member performing response.

I have argued with the obedient world.

Further encounters:


history written by Maddy Costa

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