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Thursday 1.24 

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Rachel Brooker's Invitation
The Scrap Exchange—There's a sign on the wall as you enter. "This is an invitation to touch anywhere on exposed skin," it says, your first hint that Invitation is anything but a conventional dance performance. "You are free to touch, or not to touch. Please enter the space."

They're the program notes—and perhaps the operator's manual—for a three-hour audience-interactive dance work that choreographer and Chapel Hill native Rachel Brooker debuted last year in Berlin.

The first audiences were very shy. In one venue Brooker recalls, "there was such tension in the room; the audience spent 10 to 15 minutes just looking at us."

"It's understandable," she says. "The work confronts audience members with the problems of intimacy, of touching, of their own relationships with the performers."

The other bases for Brooker's experiment are rooted in her own Quaker background and her readings on wabi-sabi, an aesthetic from sixth-century Japan celebrating beauty in imperfection, incompleteness and transience. Her goal: "an interaction that goes directly from humanity to humanity, without words... Emptying the body of personality, so some other energy can enter."

"If I am empty," she continues, "the responses the audience member is left with—openness, desire—are their own. The Quakers have the idea of being confronted with yourself; of the search and the individual confrontation with God.

"We want to see to what extent is it possible to come close to someone you don't know," Brooker says. "Not to overstate it, but that feels meaningful, given the current global climate." —Byron Woods

Brooker will perform tonight from 7-10 p.m. Donations will go to the Central Asia Institute. She will also give public performances of a different work, titled Dance for Peace, at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25, at the corner of Franklin and Elliot streets in Chapel Hill and noon Saturday, Jan. 26, at the corner of Main and Gregson streets in Durham. For more info, visit

Chapel Hill
Edwin Yoder's Lions at Lamb House
Bulls Head Bookshop—Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and newly acclaimed fiction author Edwin Yoder returns home to the Tar Heel state and his UNC alma mater to read from his latest work, Lions at Lamb House. It's a tale comprised of equal parts intrigue and excitement, with its tell-all account of a Bostonian's meeting with Sigmund Freud circa 1908. Lend an ear at 3:30 p.m. —Kathy Justice

Yoder will also read at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m.

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Randy Shull's Crossing Boundaries
Gregg Museum, N.C. State Campus—Join curator Sue Baizerman for tonight's 5:30 p.m. gallery talk about Randy Shull, the Asheville-based jack of all trades: His work ranges from furniture making and design to landscape architecture and exterior design. Shull will be present for the opening reception, starting at 6 p.m. Check out for more info. —Karlie Justus

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