The welcome mat for artists from the four corners of the globe has shone brightly at La MaMa’s theater entryway for 55 years, and for the past 12, the welcome has been extended to choreographers and dancers participating in the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival, which this season includes 17 dance companies and artists whose work asks important questions about the conditions of the world in which we are now living. The 2017 festival runs May 18-June 4.
Featuring nine world premieres, two U.S. premieres and one New York premiere, the performances take place on all of La MaMa’s four indoor stages, as well as outdoors on East 4th Street for its 2017 “Dancing in the Street Block Party” on May 20, and for the first time, world-wide on the web.
“I believe one of the essential missions of art and art-making is to hold a mirror up to the world and its present and changing dilemmas,” said Nicky Paraiso, who has curated La MaMa Moves! since its inception in 2006. “The 2017 festival features multiple generations of choreographers from multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds whose work deals with the day-to-day political, social, and ecological challenges facing our world today.”
#HERE TO DANCE
This year La MaMa Moves! also takes to the world stage via the internet with a new program #Here to Dance, which invites dancers from throughout the world to choreograph one minute dance videos in response to the abuse and celebration of human rights. The dances, created and interpreted according to directives offered by three very different dance luminaries Annie-B Parson, Raja Feather Kelly, and a third to be determined, will be then shared on an online platform. “This kind of international communication within the global dance community will hopefully galvanize artists to actively support human rights,” said La MaMa Artistic Director Mia Yoo, the creative force behind the idea. The choreographic contributions to #Here to Dance will be shown on video during the “Dancing in the Street Block Party,” which promises a whirl wind of activities including a marching band, dance workshops, a DJ, hula instructions, and free food donated by neighborhood restaurants. Stay tuned for a major institutional announcement to be made at the party.
INSIDE THE FOUR THEATERS
Of special note this year is the world premiere of Stefanie Batten Bland’s “Welcome,” an hour-long work that looks at the various symbols of walls—those that separate and those that unite us—and our willingness to embrace and share space with others. Countering the present political climate in which walls have become synonymous with barriers that separate people and places, “Welcome” considers the graffiti decorated walls of cities as communal canvases that express the past and present of its neighborhood people. A mural comprised of paintings created by the Pre K children and their parents at the University Settlement on New York’s Lower East Side will be an integral part of the hour-long dance. The original score is by Paul Damian Hogan. Stefanie Batten Bland was a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Jerome Robbins Award.
Patricia Hoffbauer’s world premiere, “Getting Away with Murder” which features cameo appearances by Peggy Gould, Jennifer Way, Tom Rawe, Yvonne Rainer, Alyssa Alpine, pulls from a wide variety of sources to explore the ways in which women have been historically accused and abused. With a range of text dating back to Plato in juxtaposition to the dancing, the work will have sets by Gordon Landenberger, and costumes by Liz Prince.
Once criticized, and now celebrated for his ground-breaking mix of classical Indian dance and contemporary modern dance, the multi-award winning Indian choreographer/dancer Astad Deboo will present the New York premiere of “Eternal Embrace,” a 60-minute solo inspired by “Maati,” a Punjabi poem by Sufi poet Hazrat Bulleh Shah. Performed to an original percussion score played live by Yukio Tsuji, the dance combines Kathakali and Kathak, which Deboo studied at age 6, and modern dance (He studied with Martha Graham, among others). “Eternal Embrace” is filled with whirling, gravity-defying backbends and fluid hand gestures evoking the poem’s exploration of the tension between annihilation and infinity, and the cycle of life and death. Deboo’s unique position in Indian dance was acknowledged with the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, India’s highest honor offered a performing artist.
Maura Nguyen Donohue, a four-way contributor (installation art collaborator, choreographer, curator and panel participant) to the 2017 festival, continues her ongoing examination of the destruction of our oceans through discarded plastic with her audio-video installation “Tides Project: Drowning Planet” in the Downstairs Theater lobby. The installation then becomes integral to an improvised performance “Drowning Planet,” a world premiere, performed by Peggy Cheng, Rina Espiritu and Kirsten Flores-Davis. Donohue’s collaborators are: composer Adam Cuthbert; visual artist David Gonville; video designer Brian Nishi and interactive designer S.O. O’Brien. Donohue will also be part of a panel discussion “Slow Cook This” led by Ali Rosa-Salas, which examines the present and past marginalization of nonwhite artists.
AND MUCH MORE
The 2017 season opens with the world premiere of Young Soon Kim ‘s “iyouuswe”(read I you us we) in her company’s La MaMa Moves festival debut. The original music for this exploration of the “I” in terms of the “we” is by Marco Cappelli and Ki Young. The costume design is by Elizabeth Flores and the dramaturgy by James Leverett.
New Zealand-born Jeremy Nelson and Venezuelan native Luis Lara Malvacias’s 3rd Class Citizen return to the festival with the world premiere of “A” and “D,” another addition to their ongoing larger program” From A to Z.” Indian native Malini Sarinivasan will present “Remembering Pandit Ramesh Misra,” which is set to a score by the celebrated Sarangi player and composer who died this past March. Beth Graczyk and Mariana Valencia split an evening, with Graczyk performing her solo “One of You is Fake,” a world premiere, and Mariana Valencia presenting an excerpt from her solo “Album,” which uses a diarist text, dance and original songs to question who will write her story. “Album” was presented as a work in progress at BAX this spring.
Also on the boards is Brendan Drake’s trio “The Big Finish,” which uses music by Marvin Hamlisch and Justin Hurwitz; it is described by choreographer as a “little bit dark, a little bit complicated and a little bit of a musical spectacular.” “The Big Finish” shares the program with Jasmine Hearn’s solo “blue, sable and burning,” a choreographic response to Robin Coste Lewis’s poem, “The Voyage of the Sable Venus.”
The New York premiere of “My Memory,” choreographed and performed by Cambodian dance artist Rady Nget, shares a program with La MaMa Moves regular Yoshiko Chuma, who will present the world premiere of “PI=3.14…Dead End, Hey! All Women!” with a changing cast of downtown dance stars including Vicky Shick, Jodi Melnick, and Irene Hultman. The evening also includes Orlando Zane Hunger, Jr and Ricarrdo Valentine’s world premiere, “how to survive a plague,” which explores the AIDS epidemic through a contemporary lens. The work will be performed by Brother(hood)Dance!, comprised of the choreographic duo.
Brazilian choreographer Regina Nejman will share a program with the 2016 Bessie Award-winning choreographer and dancer Ephrat “Bounce“ Asherie, who will present “Odeon” set to music by Ernesto Nazareth, a Brazilian composer known for mixing European classical harmonies with African rhythms. Nejman will present the New York premiere of “Beautiful Figure,” an exploration of the changing notions of female beauty from the late Renaissance to present times.
The Polish-born choreographer Patricia Noworol will present her emotionally-charged “TREMENDOUS,” a world premiere featuring an all-woman cast of dancers and live music performed by noted Australian bassist, composer and vocalist Lisa Dowling.
Also, new this year are programs featuring emerging artists selected by outside curators: Maura Nguyen Donohue and Alexis Convento, who offer unique insight into the talent pool of the younger generation. Emerging choreographers Rina Espiritu, Alexandra Amirov, Kirsten Flores-Davis, Janice Rosario, Kareem Alexander, and Camilla Davis were tapped by Donohue. Fana Fraser, Mersiha Mesihovic, Veraalba Santa, Leslie Cuyjet, Maree ReMalia, and Jessica Pretty were selected by Convento.
WHERE TO GO & TICKET INFORMATION
La MaMa Moves! will take place at the Ellen Stewart Theatre, The Downstairs, The First Floor Theatre and The Club at La MaMa. The Ellen Stewart Theatre and The Downstairs is located at 66 East 4th Street. The Club and The First Floor Theatre are located at 74A East 4th Street.
Ellen Stewart Theatre: General Admission $25, Students/Seniors $20
The Downstairs: General Admission $15 – $25, Students/Seniors $10 – $20
First Floor Theatre & The Club: General Admission $20, Students/Seniors $15
Ten tickets are available for every performance for $10 each, advance sales only, as part of La MaMa’s 10 @ $10 ticketing initiative
All tickets can be purchased online at www.lamama.org or by phone at 212-352-3101. Tickets are also available for purchase at the box office one hour prior to each performance.
The 12th season of La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival has been made possible with public funds from National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, with special thanks to City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Ford Foundation; Howard Gilman Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The Jerome Robbins Foundation; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, and additional special production support from FUSED: French-US Exchange in Dance.