Oklahoma Contemporary
One dancer lifts another whose head is thrown back dramatically. The upper left corner shows light shining through the surface of water and a pink logo reading "SQUID."



March 16-17, 2023
Main building | Te Ata Theater

SQUID was a work of dance theater centering on the intimacy contained in the imaginary space of two people trapped at the bottom of the ocean. SQUID was the collaborative creation of longtime dance partners Leslie Kraus and Douglas Gillespie — their first after more than a decade of acclaimed duets with the Kate Weare Dance Company.

SQUID was partly inspired by Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (“vampire squid from hell”) by Viliém Flusser and Louis Bec. Described as “part scientific treatise, part spoof, part philosophical discourse, part fable,” the authors suggest a powerful and ancient relationship between humans and vampyroteuthes.

Humans and vampyroteuthes live far apart from one another. We would be crushed by the pressure of its abyss, and it would suffocate in the air that we breathe. When we hold its relatives captive in aquaria … they kill themselves: They devour their own arms. How we would conduct ourselves if dragged to its depths … remains to be seen.

Kraus and Gillespie’s long dance relationship completed and broadened the inspiration; relationships placed within a pressurized environment and amplified through microscopic observations were the seed material for SQUID. The love, the conflict, the trust and the betrayal between the two trapped beings blossomed within the deep conditions.

A dancer in black crouches with arms held as though bound in front of them

Creative team

Directed by Leslie Kraus
Choreography: Leslie Kraus and Douglas Gillespie
Live sound design: Warren Realrider
Scenic design: Erasmo Salinas
Lighting design: Harrison Best

A circular yellow logo with the text "Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition"

This work was supported in part by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, through their Grants for Artists program.

SQUID choreographers and performers Leslie Kraus and Douglas Gillespie. Photos: Tessa Fungo.


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

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