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One of our producers actually suggested it. I read
as many versions as I could find, and loved the
story. I can relate to Elektra’s character, and I think
a lot of people can, this woman who has dedicated her life to avenging her father’s death. I’m
interested in that intense will, to be so devoted
that nothing can deter you from your goal.
Do you identify with that?
Sometimes I’ve felt super-strong and willful, and
at other times I haven’t cared as much about
the path I’m on. I actually ended up exploring the other characters more, Elektra’s mother
(Clytemnestra) and brother (Orestes) and sister
(Chrysothemis). How they operate gives you a
lot of information about her. The show is fast and
exhausting and has a lot of movement, which I
haven’t done in a while.
What kind of movement?
There’s a lot of synchronization and singing while
dancing, some improvisation and some set choreography. We do things that are very physically
demanding. In the original version we have a fight
scene, and we’ve hit heads before. That was scary.
So we’ve had to figure out, How do we make this
really terrifying but still safe?
Your work is often less physical, or at least less
choreographed. What inspired the shift?
Around the time I started making Elektra, I was
diagnosed with this rare inner ear disorder, superior canal dehiscence syndrome. It’s basically like
I have holes in the bones between my inner ear
and brain, so I have constant vertigo. It’s insane.
Moving is one of the only things that alleviates the
dizziness and stress. So that’s why I wanted Elektra
to have more movement. The disorder also makes
you sensitive to loud noise, which is a huge part
of my work. It’s all very metaphorical. I just can’t
do what I’ve been doing. My body is like, “No.”
I have to ask about the pig. Are you importing
one from out of town?
We’re getting it from my mom’s farm in Virginia.
We’ve only done the show in Europe, where they
provide the pig and a pig handler and another pig
in case the first doesn’t work, because it’s Europe
and they have the capacity to do this. But here,
we’re just going to go get the pig. It will probably
end up staying in my apartment.;■
The performance artist Ann Liv Young is most
notorious as her alter ego Sherry, a platinum-blonde provocateur who lashes out at audiences
and gives free therapy (Sherapy) in her roving
Sherry Truck. But she can do other characters, too,
as her dark, deranged takes on Snow White,
Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have shown. Turning
to Greek mythology with her latest works—Elektra
and its more portable companion piece, Elektra
Cabaret—she offers a sympathetic portrait of the
princess who plots with her brother to kill their
mother for killing their father. This Elektra even has
a pet: a live pig in the role of the Chorus. Both versions come to New York Live Arts, January 20–23
and 26–30, and both boast more dancing than
much of Young’s recent work.
The controversial artist
shares the stage with a
pig in Elektra.
BY SIOBHAN BURKE
Ann Liv Young Young (center) with some of her collaborators