The Cowboys and Vikings Trilogy

The Cowboys and Vikings Trilogy is a multimedia performance bringing into question the contemporary reinvention of history.  The historical figures of the “Cowboy” and the “Viking” are dissected and repurposed to challenge societal assumptions about contemporary ideas of masculinity. Playing with the same structure of iconic Western film trilogies, the Cowboys and Vikings Project is presented in three interdisciplinary performances: ‘Five Gaits, Four Walls, Fourteen Knots’, ‘Wasteland, Water, and Words’, & ‘Trials and Trails’. Each performance features four male dancers, a musical score by Ryan Ingebritsen and video by Clint Wilson.

Cowboys and Vikings: Five Gaits, Four Walls, Fifteen Knots

Five Gaits, Four Walls, Fourteen Knots examines masculinity and territoriality through detailed analysis of both historical and Hollywood portrayals of the Cowboy, creating a sweeping landscape of maverick abandon, aggressive territoriality, and lonely constriction. Five Gaits, Four Walls, Fourteen Knots premiered March 2012 at the Dance Center of Columbia College as part of Receiver. Since its premiere, it has been restaged June 17-18, 2015, as a sited adaptation in Indian Boundary Park.

Cowboys and Vikings: Wasteland, Water, Words

Wasteland, Water, Words focuses on intersections between masculinity and economy examining the historic relationships of the “Viking” and the “Cowboy” to market forces and reinvented archetypal behaviors labeled as ‘viking’ and ‘cowboy’ that impacted the 2008 economic collapses in the US and Iceland. The acquisition of land, the fierce territoriality and masculinity of the frontiersman/raider, and the relationship between human, animal and land, provide the points of exploration and deconstruction for this performance project. This segment is the result of intensive research in Iceland and features an original sound score by Ryan Ingebritsen in collaboration with Icelandic Viking metal band Celestine. Wasteland, Water, Words premiered February 22-24, 2013, at Links Hall in Chicago as a featured part of IN>TIME 2013 Performance Art Festival.

Cowboys and Vikings: Trials and Trails

Trials and Trails examines notions of masculinity in relationship to speed, especially that of the iron horse (trains) and the steel horse (cars) and their historical place (transporting beef into and Scandinavian immigrants out of Chicago), and the contemporary impact of the rise and collapse of the steel industry in Chicago. This final installment arose from immersive community work with the South Side neighborhood of Chicago and intensive site research at Steelworkers Park, the former site of US Steel South Works factory. Trial and Trails premiered Sept 24-25, 2015, in Steelworkers Park as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program, and has been restaged annually twice in the same location.

Cowboys and Vikings: A Dance-for-Camera Trilogy


Central to Erica Mott Production’s mission is sharing its multi-layered interdisciplinary performance works, and the research behind them, with wide and diverse audiences. We strive to find the inroads that catalyze curiosity, critical thought and dialogue.

During a two week residency at the Ragdale Foundation in Chicago, Erica Mott Productions, in collaboration with filmmaker Mark Comiskey, has translated The Cowboys and Vikings Trilogy into three 15-minute site-filmed dance-for-camera videos that will be made available to the public for free online.  These videos will examine aspects of masculinity through the historical documentation of the “Cowboy” and the “Viking” and the contemporary reinterpretation of these archetypes in American and Scandinavian contexts.

Meet the Cowboys and Vikings Team!