Porca Miseria 2 - The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham

Trajal Harrell

Contemporary dance, voguing, Japanese butoh, ancient Greek theatre, performance art – the American choreographer Trajal Harrell conjures up his elegant, subtle vocabulary from the influence of a wide range of genres. He bases his major new trilogy Porca Miseria on the stories and battles of three very different, but equally strong women: Maggie from Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the African-American choreographer and activist Katherine Dunham, and the Greek mythological Medea. Through them he explores issues of identity, gender, sexuality and power in a compelling way, breaking the boundaries between dance, theatre and the visual arts. The first and last parts can be seen in a theatre setting, while the middle part is as much art installation as performance piece.

part 2: The Deathbed of Katherine Dunham
The second part of Porca Miseria is inspired by a meeting between Harrell and African American choreographer Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) when she was on her deathbed in New York. Dunham was both a dance legend and a civil-rights activist who staged a hunger strike at age 82 in support of refugees. Part two of Porca Miseria is based on this encounter and all the questions he didn’t get to ask her. Harrell explores the boundaries between dance, theatre and visual arts – it’s equal parts installation and performance, and the audience is free to move around the space.


Sara Jansen
Trajal Harrell, Titilayo Adebayo, Helen Boyd Auerbach, Frances Chiaverini, Rob Fordeyn, Challenge Gumbodete, Christopher Matthews, Nasheeka Nedsreal, Tiran Normanson, Perle Palombe, Songhay Toldon, Ondrej Vidlar
direction, choreography, costumes, co-set design, sound
Trajal Harrell
co-set design
Erik Flatmo
Stéfane Perraud
Manchester International Festival
commissioned by
Manchester International Festival, Schauspielhaus Zürich, ONASSIS STEGI, Kampnagel, Holland Festival, the Barbican and Dance Umbrella, NYU Skirball, Berliner Festspiele and The Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi

This performance was made possible with support by