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Sunday, August 14, 2022

GUEST REVIEW: Choreographer Alexandra Beller Directs DE-CRUIT’s Macbeth Adaptation

GUEST REVIEW:

Choreographer Alexandra Beller Directs DE-CRUIT’s Macbeth Adaptation

by Kate Foster Vishniakova


The struggle is real. In 55 minutes, Make Thick My Blood at Theatre Row reveals what most productions of Macbeth ignore: the physical and psychological trauma a couple faces after the loss of a child.


The story usually told of Macbeth is one soldier ascending to the throne as king by killing its predecessor. Make Thick My Blood presents that story differently. There are two soldiers, not one. There are two crowns, not one. There are two struggles, not one. This is the story of two soldiers, a couple, carrying the dead weight of loss, fighting to fill the void that grief created, and reflecting back at each other the trauma they share.



Dawn Stern as Lady Macbeth (photo: Ashley Garrett)


The audience enters into a small, intimate space. The stage is covered with a burlap tarp reminiscent of a bunker, but the calm music suggests the war is already over. Lady Macbeth (Dawn Stern) is center stage on the ground bowing down, shrouded in a dress of mourning. Macbeth (Stephan Wolfert) enters, and the two fall into a dance of simple, sharp movements. Shoulders drop into a slumber, he carries her as she tries to hold on, he crawls away, fighting the air, fighting the mind, fighting to the top, to only collapse, and repeat. What weighs them down is the bright red stain revealed on Lady Macbeth's white undergarment.


The light splashes the entire stage red, and we are at the top of the play. We see the Macbeths grapple with the loss of their child. 


Her body becomes the dagger he sees. When Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to murder the King, it is not only with her words, but with her body as the weapon. Maybe if he does this, they can finally move on and forget their loss.


When they ascend to the throne, they wear identical crowns. They turn to face each other; a haunting reflection where they see the dark damned spots of their past. They walk slowly hand-in-hand, bearing equal weight of the glory and consequences of their actions. Loss of a second life does not replace the first.


A baby's cry is knocking. Their inevitable deaths are soon to come.




Stephan Wolfert as Macbeth with Dawn Stern (photo: Ashley Garrett)



DE-CRUIT, founded by Wolfert and Stern, adapts Shakespeare's texts through the lens of trauma survivors. Make Thick My Blood is no exception. After their loss, Lady Macbeth is present in everything that Macbeth hears, sees, and does. It is in her body that they lose their baby, and it is from that point on that her presence and this traumatic memory never escape Macbeth's mind. 


What is refreshing is that this production could have focused only on the nightmare. But it focuses on the effort to wake up; the effort to move on from what no human can fully move on from: the loss of a loved one. The movement in this production, under the helm of Alexandra Beller, an award-winning choreographer in her directorial debut, successfully brings the full range of emotion felt by the couple to the surface. The adaptation and direction carved out space for empathy and relatability in a story that other productions typically leave out. The story of one couple's trauma reminds us that, in our bodies, we all carry the presence of past trauma and that it can manifest itself in unpredictable ways.


[CLOSED AUGUST 6, 2022]


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Kate Foster Vishniakova (photo courtesy of the writer)


Kate Foster Vishniakova is a dramaturg working in international and intercultural theater. She trained with artists at the Moscow Art Theatre School, in Germany as a DAAD grant recipient, and with IUGTE–International University Global Theatre Experience. She is a research dramaturg with the Verbatim Performance Lab at NYU and an HR consultant at Orr Group. MA German, Wayne State University. MFA Dramaturgy, Columbia University.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

From Poet Laureate Joy Harjo

 

Joy Harjo (photo: Karen Kuehn, courtesy Blue Flower Arts)

I like to think of a new year being possible at any moment,

as every moment is a kind of doorway.

 

Joy Harjo (Muscogee/Creek)

23rd Poet Laureate of the United States of America

quoted in The New York Times

 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

InfiniteBody Honor Roll 2021

InfiniteBody Honor Roll 2021


Eva Yaa Asantewaa


As always, this is not a Best-Of list, certainly, but a kind of memory palace of remarkable arts events and resources I connected with in 2021 during the continued pandemic. Given how things went this year, it was not a very dance-focused time for me, except where dancing was streamable, but it was great for catching up with streaming series I might have missed otherwise or books I now had more time to read.

2022 looks like it will start out pretty much the same. I send you, your loved ones, and your community best wishes for a safe, healthy, artful, and wonderful New Year!

 

Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You (HBO)

Omar Sy starring in Lupin (Netflix)

 

I Hate It Here: Stories from the End of the Old World, written and directed by Ike Holter, world premiere, Studio Theatre, streaming from December 10, 2020 through March 7, 2021

Lupin (Part 1), directed by Marcela Said, Ludovic Bernard and Louis Leterrier, starring Omar Sy, Netflix, streaming from January 8

New Sounds Presents: ETHEL with John Schaefer, The Greene Space and WNYC and WQXR, YouTube, from January 14

 

Regina King, director, One Night in Miami (photo: Evan Agostini)

Regina King in The Harder They Fall (photo: YouTube)

One Night in Miami  (Amazon Prime Video)

 

One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King, Amazon Prime Video, streaming from January 15

I May Destroy You, created by and starring Michaela Coel, directed by Sam Miller and Michaela Coel, HBO Max, streaming from June 7, 2020

Kapaemahu, directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson; animation director, Daniel Sousa; 2020; viewed February 2021

Black Art: In the Absence of Light, directed by Sam Pollard, HBO Max, streaming from February 13

Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao, Hulu, streaming from February 19

Mr. SOUL!, directed by Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard, released August 28, 2020; streaming on PBS from February 28

I Care A Lot, directed by J Blakeman, Netflix, streaming from September 12, 2020

Mank, directed by David Fincher, Netflix, streaming from December 4, 2020

Sound of Metal, directed by Darius Marder, Amazon Prime Video, streaming from December 4, 2020


Megan Thee Stallion on Legendary (HBO Max)

Cast of HBO Max's A Black Lady Sketch Show

Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity, by Tracee Stanley, Shambala, 2021

Tina, directed by Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, HBO Max, streaming from March 27

Twyla Moves, directed by Steve Cantor, American Masters, PBS, streaming from March 26

All In: The Fight for Democracy, directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés, Amazon Prime Video, streaming from September 9, 2020

All the Rage, by Rosamond S. King, Nightboat Books, 2021

Chasing Magic, by Ayodele Casel, streaming on The Joyce Theater website, beginning April 8

Conversation without Walls: Alice Sheppard and iele paloumpis, YouTube, April 9

Legendary (Season 1), directed by Rik Reinholdtsen, HBO Max, streaming from May 27, 2020

Legendary (Season 2), directed by Rik Reinholdtsen, HBO Max, streaming from May 6, 2021

Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre, directed by Simon Godwin, PBS Great Performances, April 23-May 21

A Black Lady Sketch Show, created by Robin Thede, directors Dime Davis (Season 1); Lacey Duke and Brittany Scott Smith (Season 2) HBO Max, streaming from 2019-2021

A Body in Fukushima, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston, Wesleyan University Press, May 2021

DanceAfrica 2021, BAM, streaming May 29 through June 10

In Treatment (all four seasons), various directors, HBO Max

The Flight Attendant, HBO Max, streaming from November 26, 2020

 

Author Clint Smith (photo: Carletta Girma)

                                                    Author Farah Jasmine Griffin (photo: Peggy Dillard Toone) 
 
Author Annette Gordon-Reed (photo: Stephanie Mitchell)

 

Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest, by Laura Raicovich, 2021

How the Word is Passed, by Clint Smith, Little, Brown & Co., 2021

Naomi Osaka, directed by Garrett Bradley, Netflix, streaming from July 16

In Our Mothers' Gardens, directed by Shantrelle P. Lewis, Netflix, streaming from 2020 

Transcendant Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi, Alfred A. Knopf, 2021

Mary J. Blige's My Life, directed by Vanessa Roth, Amazon Prime Video, 2021

Poet Warrior: A Memoir, by Joy Harjo, 2021

Surrealism Beyond Borders, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 11, 2021 through January 30, 2022

The Harder They Fall, directed by Jeymes Samuel, Netflix, streaming from November 3

 

Bo Burnham in Inside (Netflix)

Cast of Call My Agent! (Netflix)

King Richard, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, HBO Max, streaming from November 19

Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature, by Farah Jasmine Griffin, W.W. Norton & Company, 2021

Succession, created by Jesse Armstrong, HBO Max, streaming from 2018

Inside, by Bo Burnham, Netflix, streaming from May 2021

On Juneteenth, by Annette Gordon-Reed, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2021

Call My Agent!, Netflix, streaming from 2015


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Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Job openings: Dance, U.of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

JOBS

The Department of Dance at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign invites applications for two positions beginning August 2022:

*Assistant/Associate Specialized Teaching Professor of Dance working at the intersection of embodied practice and online/virtual innovation.  

Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Full job description and application

*Assistant/Associate Professor of Dance (Tenure-Track)  with a focused research/teaching trajectory in scholarship/choreography/performance. 

Fine & Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

For full job description and application

 
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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve, at Gibney, as Senior Director of Curation and Editorial Director. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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Monday, November 1, 2021

DANCE NOW's final bow

Today, DANCE NOW’s Founders and Board announced in a letter to artists, audiences and supporters that they had made the difficult decision to shutter operations as of December 31, 2021. The full text of the letter is shared below.

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Dear Beloved DANCE NOW Community,


DANCE NOW started in 1995 as a wild experiment to bring artists and audiences together through unconventional and accessible programs as a catalyst for creativity and exploration. From a small program in the Soho Arts Festival to a widening network of performance, creative development, and educational opportunities, DANCE NOW (DN) has been steadfast in our love for dancemakers and their ability to tell stories, to connect and provoke, to move and inspire. It is with a heavy heart, but also tremendous pride and gratitude, that DN shares that this is our final bow. The combined challenges of the COVID epidemic, the uncertainties around live performance, and loss of some foundational income has led the Board to this necessary decision. While the leadership announced the close of programming
by December 31st, DANCE NOW is honoring all existing commitments to artists through 2022, including the commissioning fees of 22 digital works and a creative commission for Kyle Marshall. The Fall On Demand program, featuring short dance works by The Davis Sisters, Davalois Fearon, Paul Singh, Rourou Ye, Audrey MacLean, and The Bang Group, will premiere at a virtual Watch Party on November 4, 2021 and will serve as the final performance event for DN.

Over the years, DN presented dance in more than 25 traditional and unconventional venues throughout NYC, and became the fall kick-off to the dance season. In 2003, DN created the Dance-mopolitan series, using the intimate setting of Joe’s Pub at The Public to inspire creativity and to give audiences an up-close and personal cultural experience. In the past decade, DN has diversified its programming to help start, expand, and  advance the careers of artists through residencies, teaching and performance opportunities, including more than 25 evening-length works for Joe’s Pub. DN constantly grew our community of artists, seeking out new voices, while continuing to support and promote existing artist
relationships across many generations. In response to the challenges of COVID, DN celebrated our 25th Anniversary through a new digital platform and interactive artist-to-audience celebrations. DN has presented the work of 1,000+ choreographers and more than 10,000 performers have graced our
stages and screens.

To our partners, funders, and audiences, thank you for your faith, investment and support on this exciting adventure. To our staff, Board and advisors, thank you for helping to steer the ship over the years. To Lauren, thank you for going above and beyond in every role you’ve taken on to realize the DN vision for 13 years. And to our beautiful, brilliant and passionate community of artists, thank you for 25 years of extraordinary dance and magic.

It has been our honor and privilege to have been an ally, accomplice, advocate, and ringleader. We look forward to seeing how we can all continue to dance outside the box!

With much love,

Robin Staff, Founder & Artistic Director
Tamara Greenfield, Founder & Board Chair


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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve, at Gibney, as Senior Director of Curation and Editorial Director. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Elizabeth Alexander on arts philanthropy and justice

 


Giving Done Right podcast explores social and racial justice in arts funding with Elizabeth Alexander, award-winning poet and president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and hosts Phil Buchanan and Grace Chiang Nicolette of Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Listen here.

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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve, at Gibney, as Senior Director of Curation and Editorial Director. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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Cynthia Oliver and Dormeshia are 2021 Doris Duke Awardees

Cynthia Oliver (photo: Ian Douglas)

Dormeshia (photo: AK47 Photography)

 

Congratulations to two of our stellar dance artists--Cynthia Oliver and Dormeshia--who are among seven winners of the 2021 Doris Duke Awards announced today by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation!

Other 2021 awardees include saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter, pianist/composer Danilo Pérez, pianist/composer Kris Davis, theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz, and actor/writer/director Teo Castellanos.

The annual Doris Duke Award, the largest national award to individuals in the performing arts, provides artists in theater, dance, and jazz with an award of $275,000.

“We are thrilled to award this year’s cohort of exceptional artists with this support,” said Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. “With the knowledge that these performing artists excel in their forms, we recognize that they deserve funding that trusts them to best determine how to invest in their own futures. These awards are intended to enable artists with the freedom to create the way that artists are meant to create: freely, organically and without restrictions.”

Read more about the Doris Duke Artist Awards and the 2021 Doris Duke Artists here


About the Doris Duke Artist Awards


The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation designed the Doris Duke Artist Awards to invest in exemplary individual artists in contemporary dance, jazz and theater work who have demonstrated their artistic vitality and ongoing commitment to their field. The award is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, it is a deep investment in the creative potential of dedicated artists. The foundation aims to empower Doris Duke Artists through the freedom of unrestricted support to take creative risks, explore new ideas, and pay for important professional and personal needs not typically funded by the project-related grants that dominate arts funding. While the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation initially conceived the Doris Duke Artists Awards as part of a larger $50 million special initiative that finished in 2017, recognition of the program’s importance in helping artists thrive spurred the foundation to cement a place for the flexible awards in its core strategy to support the arts.


About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation


The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation focuses its support to the performing arts on contemporary dance, jazz and theater artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded the foundation with a 2014 National Medal of Arts, presented by President Barack Obama, in special recognition of DDCF’s support of creative expression across the United States and “bold commitment” to artistic risk, which has helped artists, musicians, dancers and actors share their talents and enriched the cultural life of the nation. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve, at Gibney, as Senior Director of Curation and Editorial Director. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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