Thursday, December 18, 2014

DoublePlus ends first season: Maree ReMalia and Abby Zbikowski

This week, the DoublePlus series at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center wraps up its first season with works by Maree ReMalia | merrygogo and Abby Zbikowski. The two, both MFA grads from Ohio State University, were curated for DoublePlus by longtime OSU professor and award-winning choreographer Bebe Miller.

Fiona Lundie (left) and Jennifer Meckley
in Abby Zbikowski's destabilizer
(photo: Alex Escalante)

Zbikowski, now teaching at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), is showing her boisterous duet, destabilizer, a solid hunk of choreography. What starts off looking like a predictable gimmick--when Fiona Lundie and Jennifer Meckley show up with rolls of duct tape, you gotta figure where things are headed--turns into an explosive, deliriously creative tour de force. But it doesn't stop there. And it isn't just about two tough cookies, their punk-rock energy and prizefighter reflexes, which is as far as some less-interesting makers would have gotten. The work is surprisingly dance-y, not just athletic, and the excellent Lundie and Meckley are all over that. There's precision, rhythm, spring and sensuality in the bodies and the structure. And also, costume changes! For whatever reason! More Zbikowski, please--and soon.

Anna Thompson
in scenes from now is now by Maree ReMalia
(photos: Alex Escalante)

ReMalia (aka merrygogo), based now in DC, has a background in Gaga, the body-freeing technique created by Ohad Naharin. Her work, now is now, features Pittsburgh-based movement/sound art duo slowdanger (Taylor Knight and Anna Thompson) navigating sonic storms and small, crumpled heaps of plastic rain ponchos. As props and costuming, the ponchos offer nearly endless possibilities for a childlike, cartoonish imagination. But these are two very, very intense children and ones who never allow themselves to stay with any game long enough to get bored. You're advised to follow suit. Dip in where it suits you, pay attention to the now, and keep it moving.

ReMalia and Zbikowski's program continues tonight through Saturday. Performances start at 7:30pm. Friday's show will be followed by a Q&A with Bebe Miller and the choreographers. For schedule information and tickets, click here.

Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis
Performing Arts Center
280 Broadway (enter at 53A Chambers Street), Manhattan

Poet Claudia Rankine: Uncovering violence in the day-to-day

Poet Claudia Rankine on the violent deaths of black men
by Mary Jo Brooks, PBS NewsHour, December 4, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"AUNTSforcamera" show opens at New Museum

Dance is an art of live bodies in charged space. If that space exists inside a machine, if the artist's delivery system is a screen, are the bodies in recorded time any less live to us, the space between us and them any less charged? Is the divide between viewer and do-er ever more distinct and unbridgeable? Is the work a discrete, permanent object, an owned commodity like anything else on display in a museum of visual art?

Test your responses to these questions at the New Museum, now through February 15, with AUNTSforcamera, an installation of dance-for-camera works created and filmed last September in a shared open-studio process at the museum.

The project, originally commissioned by Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum and TrouwAmsterdam, occupies transitional, non-gallery space, dispersed around various locations from lobby to stairway to Sky Room. A handy map helps you find your way. In the flexible and inviting AUNTS way, you're left on your own to make of this show what you will, choosing to go in order or mix things up, stay in front of one monitor for as long as you'd like or zip around, catching bits and pieces of the art in action.

Anya Liftig's A Very Something or Other might be a strategy for dealing, literally head-on, with her admitted discomfort in front of a camera. Her screen, set on a counter tucked into a tiny alcove, frames an extreme closeup of her face, in florid color, and the continual contortions of her facial muscles. A chair beckons a single viewer to sit close to Liftig's screen--the best way to get that alchemical charge, I'd say--although you can certainly stand in the space or even linger at the door as a few visitors did.

Saturated color in Cara Francis's REMOTE might signify human individuality, but images of blindfolded bodies and depersonalizing AR drone aerial shots, jerky framing and limbs detached by editing pull things in a completely opposite direction. An interesting and ominous tension.

The member of Collective Statement (Felicia Ballos, Jean Brennan and T. Charnan Lewis) solve the logistical challenge of not all being available at the same time by using the "exquisite corpse" technique. Their dance, drawing a line with my body straight to you, plays out in supple imagery over a stack of three monitors, one for each section of the human body--head, torso, legs. Each body section has costuming, props and activity all its own. Yes, in this patchwork world, it's possible to blow up a beach ball and nurse a child at the same time.

Other works on show:

#auntsforcamera (Karl Scholz)

Level Up: The Real Harlem Shake (Salome Asega, Chrybaby Cozie, Ali Rosa-Salas) Note: Accessible only on Saturday and Sundays.

Dancing the Edits (Vanessa Justice)

Primary Source (video): AUNTS at the New Museum 2012, 2014 (Gillian Walsh)

Star Crap Method via Lens (Larissa Velez-Jackson)


#trouwforcamera, #newmuseumforcamera (Karl Scholz)

AUNTSforcamera runs through February 15. Click here for hours and other visitor information.

For more on AUNTS, click here.

The New Museum
235 Bowery (one block south of Houston Street), Manhattan

Cumbe's on the move: Celebrate on January 31

Brooklyn's three-year old Cumbe: Center for African and Diasporan Dance has been forced out of its Fulton Street home, the building sold to make way for a residential tower. The directors are seeking interim space for classes. (Ideas? Click here.) In the meantime, you're invited to join the Cumbe community for a night of dancing and music including a live performance by Brown Rice Family band and mini-dance classes with the center's teachers.

The Moving Party
Saturday, January 31st, 9pm

Admission: $10-$20 sliding scale
Founded by Dominique Bravo, Pat Hall, and Jimena Martinez, Cumbe is the new home for African and diaspora dance in Brooklyn, bringing together classes and cultural education for dances from Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean. At Cumbe, young people, adults, and families alike immerse themselves in the joy and vitality of music and dance from the African diaspora.

Through a rich array of classes and dynamic teachers, students from novice to the experienced learn the rhythms and movements of Senegal, Guinea, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, and a broad range of other cultures. Performances, talks, and dance parties encourage a deeper understanding of the origins, meaning and evolution of these many dances, as well as connections between them. 
Marking life moments big and small, joyous and fierce, dances from Africa and countries nourished and inspired by African traditions bring tremendous spirit to our modern lives. Through dance and music, Cumbe creates a community that celebrates exuberance, sensuality, power, and laughter! We look forward to supporting this community as we continue to offer a selection of classes in various locations through Brooklyn while we search for our new home. After three wonderful years of African and diaspora dance, we invite you to keep moving with us!
For further information on Cumbe, the move and The Moving Party, click here.

558 Fulton Street, 2nd Floor (near Flatbush Avenue), Brooklyn

Anusha Kedhar: The body in protest

Choreography and Gesture Play an Important Role in Protests
by Anusha Kedhar, The New York Times, December 15, 2014

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