Performances: Bettmann Dances Presents Quis Custodiet

Quis Custodiet is a year-long community exploration of security by the dance company Bettmann Dances. Bettmann Dances is a program of the not-for-profit Day Eight.

Quis Custodiet explores how we – as individuals and communities – define and pursue security. Choreographer Robert Bettmann states, “Especially since 9/11, and the financial crisis, I have been grappling with issues of national and personal security, and I know I’m not alone. What can we do to be safe, as individuals and communities, and how does that impact security outside our communities?”

The title for the work is drawn from a phrase by the Greek philosopher Piccarus (6th century B.C.) – Quis Custodet Ipsus Custodiet, which means “who shall watch the watchers themselves?” In addition to exploring weighty issues of local and national security, Quis Custodiet is also a light-hearted exploration of the dancers relationship to the audience, and curation in the art world.

Over the coming months Mr. Bettmann and members of the company are available to bring the project to schools, community centers, and universities to share an empowering opportunity to express individual experience in motion.

The company was able to begin the Quis project through successful completion of Kickstarter project, but additional support through donations, sponsorships, and grants is necessary to bring the project to audiences throughout the mid-atlantic region.

Bettmann Dances first evening length performance – All Good Men – premiered in 2009 at the Capital Fringe Festival. A dance theater adaptation of a Dylan Thomas film-script, All Good Men was hailed in The Examiner as “an example of artistic craftsmanship.” For Quis Custodiet, choreographer Bettmann is teaming with an accomplished group of collaborators. Renowned glass and video artist Tim Tate (founder of the Washington Glass School) is working with multi-media artist Chanan Delivuk (professor at GW University) to create the video/set design for the project, and Ginger Carlin (founder of Booshie Design) is creating costumes.

The above information is from an e-mail received Monday, January 9th from a Day Eight board member.

The Deets

  • Bettmann Dances presents Quis Custodiet
  • Woolly Mammoth Theater –  641 D Street NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Saturday, January 14th, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tickets $25.00
  • Want two free VIP tickets? E-mail your full name (subject line: Quis Custodiet) by Friday, January 13th at 9:00 a.m. Winner will be chosen and announced at 10:30 a.m. via Twitter and Facebook.

Bettmann Dances ‘Quis Custodiet’


Bettmann Dances

source: Luis Gomez Photos


Conversations about security and what that means for our nation often come to the forefront around 9/11. This year is no different for Robert Bettmann, Artistic Director of Bettmann Dances, who aims to explore the issue of security through his company’s latest project Quis Custodiet.

Quis Custodiet, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘Quis custodiet ipsus custodet?’ which translates to ‘Who will watch the watchers themselves?’, is inspired by the personal connections Bettmann has with the issue of security. His grandparents met as refugees in New York during World War II, and Bettmann himself experienced life in the District both before and after 9/11. The title of the project also plays with the idea of performing for an audience. Spectators watch the dancers, but who watches the audience?

In addition to inspiration from his personal questions about security, Bettmann hopes to infuse the year-long project with feedback from the local community. He plans to hold dance workshops in different areas of the District, inviting participants to share their experiences through movement. Bettmann Dances will also be launching a website where visitors can exchange information and learn about the issue of security. According to Bettmann, the idea behind these initiatives is “to project local voices into a national dialogue.”

In regards to the dancing itself, Bettmann describes his style as theatrical, modern dance. He works toward creating beautiful and meaningful choreography that can be enjoyed on a variety of levels. If you’re interested in learning more about Bettmann Dances, visit You can also help support the project by pledging to their Kickstarter until Sunday, September 26th.

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