In the Presence of Absence


World Premiere: November 10-12, 2023
at Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco, CA + Livestream

In the Presence of Absence brings together a wide range of individuals to tell some of the millions of stories of the last three years –  how the pandemic brought into focus the vast diversity of experiences, and yet provided a unifying lens through which to view our world. Led by Artistic Director Deborah Slater, the project sets out to explore how we all experienced the same moment differently and what we’re left with as we move forward.

Begun in collaboration with culture curator and racial equity consultant Tammy Johnson, In the Presence of Absence integrates dance, theater, text, interviews and image to explore the larger questions of our time by investigating the pandemic and post pandemic circumstances that affected us all, in our myriad differences.

In the Presence of Absence features performances by DSDT company members, members of the Cosmic Elders Theatre Ensemble + and Patricia Silver of Word for Word, original music composed by Marcus Shelby, sound design by Cliff Caruthers, lighting design by Allen Willner, video projections by video designer Oliva Ting, costumes by Dana Kawano and commissioned text from members of Youth Speaks.

Interview Excerpts

Poignant excerpt responses from the interview process. 

Performance Excerpts

In tandem with the interview process, Deborah Slater has been working with her dance company in the studio, developing performance material based on the dancers' personal stories. View excerpts from solos by each company member, performed as part of the work-in-progress showing of In the Presence of Absence in April 2022.

This project is supported by...

Deborah Slater Dance Theater and its programs are generously supported by San Francisco Grants for the Arts, California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Reopening Fund, Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, New Music USA, Sam Mazza Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, California Nonprofit Performing Arts Grant Program, California Small Business COVID-19 Relief, US Small Business Association Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, California Nonprofit Performing Arts Grant Program, The MAP Fund -- supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and Mellon Foundation -- and individual donors.