top of page

Having Words - 35 Minutes

choreographed and performed by: Joel Smith and Liz Casebolt - casebolt and smith

Music: Nico Muhly

Costume Design: Joel Smith

Lighting Design: Eileen Cooley


Premiered at Diavolo Dance Theater, Los Angeles, CA 2008

This Performance: Diavo Dance Theater, Los Angeles, CA 2008


“Having Words” is a talking dance performed in the square. Relying largely on simple unison vocabulary, we simultaneously ask for assistance and support from audience members to execute the choreography, all the while performing in time with each other. The primary focus for the first fifteen minutes of the dance is to demonstrate the skill required for a dual process: we are listening to each other while we speak and engage audience members; we keep in time with each other while instructing audience members to assist us separately; we give commands while receiving commands.  The importance of this work is reflected in the relationship we develop with our audience. Not only do they have access/insight into how the dance is constructed, they have access to us through voice and touch. Here again, our work is challenging conventions of performance and provides access points for diverse audience goers.


In 2013 we were commissioned to re-construct “Having Words” for DanceWorks Chicago, a contemporary dance company based in Chicago.  We paired up everyone in the company: two women, two men, and a man and woman. While in the residence, the work took on many new directions and ended up being very different. Please refer to the second work sample below. Note that we developed this new version "Having Words v.2" in four days with DanceWorks, with this performance (work sample) on the fifth day.


 “Having Words V.2,” by DanceWorks Chicago in Chicago, IL where it as been performed at Logan Center for the Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Staddtheatre in Aschattenberg, Germany.

this video is an excerpt, beginning at about 8 minutes into the dance

Having Words v.2 - (30 Minutes)

choreographed by:  Joel Smith and Liz Casebolt - casebolt and smith

Performed by: Company members from DanceWorks Chicago

Music: Nico Muhly


Commissioned by DanceWorks Chicago, November, 2013.

Premiered at Auditorium Theater's Katten-Landou Studio. Chicago IL, 2013

This Performance: Auditorium Theater's Katten-Landou Studio. Chicago IL, 2013


Check out the "Having Words v.2" webpage for DanceWorks Chicago HERE


NOTE: We taught all six company members (three couples) the dance.  This video shows all three couples performing the dance, therefore it is 90 minutes long.  You are more than welcome to watch all three versions, but the first couple will suffice. The beginning of the video captures Julie Nakagawa, Artistic Director of DanceWorks Chicago, introducing the event, and casebolt and smith, who introduce the work.  The first duet begins thereafter at about the 3:15 minute mark. The volume will need to be turned up a bit for this video.


Password: lizandjoel

bottom of page