The Chase Brock Experience Presents World Premiere of “American Sadness” at Abrons Arts Center, October 8-11
Chase Brock works in reverse of conventional modern dance choreographers who take aim at Broadway only after establishing themselves on the “serious” concert dance stage. Brock, who began his career at age 16 on the Great White Way in “The Music Man,” recently committed his prodigious talent to modern dance. The result is the three year old The Chase Brock Experience, which is slated to reveal the flip side of Brock’s often sunny choreography in the world premiere of “American Sadness,” the compelling centerpiece of the company’s season at the Abrons Arts Center, October 8-11.
“American Sadness” is set to Gabriel Kahane’s haunting, self-titled album, which through its sophisticated, layered songs and music examines the bleaker side of human relationships. Like the subtle complexity of the music, the dance elegantly weaves the rigor and force of classicism with the urgent vitality of urban vernacular dancing. The pointe shoes, sneakers and ballet shoes worn by the various dancers permit the choreography’s side-by-side integration of ballet, jazz and modern dance. Created over the course of a year, “American Sadness” is the first use of Kahane’s music for a dance. The dance’s title is from a line in the Kahane song “North Adams:” As the sky it darkened/Got a dose of american sadness/Rolled up all the windows/And we talked into the blackness. Dane Laffrey, the company’s associate artistic director, is designing the sets and costumes, and Japhy Weideman serves as lighting designer.
The 90 minute program also features Brock’s charm-filled “Slow Float” set to music by Laura Nyro; “Curious Episode,” a witty work set to music by Claude Bolling, and the speed-jetting “Junk and Lies” set to David Yazbek. Dane Laffrey designed the sets and costumes for all three works, and Tyler Micoleau, the lighting.
CBE company members featured in the October engagement are Matthew Branham, Kendrick D. Carter, Joshua Christopher, Ashley Eichbauer, Erica Furst, Ryan Jackson, Yukiko Kashiki, Cassandra Taylor, Connor Killian Weigand, and Micki Weiner.
The curtain for The Chase Brock Experience’s October 8, 9 and 10 performances is at 8pm; the October 11 curtain is at 5pm.
Where To Go
Tickets are $45, $35 and $19 for students, and can be purchased online at www.henrystreet.org/arts; over the phone by calling 1-866-811-4111. Abrons Arts Center is located at 466 Grand Street in Manhattan.
CHASE BROCK, who recently turned 26, created The Chase Brock Experience in 2006 after establishing himself as a sought-after choreographer for theater, film and opera.
Brock’s theater choreography includes “A Little Night Music” starring Polly Bergen and Barbara Walsh (CENTERSTAGE, Mark Lamos) and “Shenandoah” starring Scott Bakula (Ford’s Theatre, dir. Jeff Calhoun); the world premieres of “Yank!” (New York Musical Theatre Festival), The Civilians’ “This Beautiful City” (Humana Festival) and “Cole Porter’s The Pirate” (Prince Music Theater); “The 24 Hour Musicals” starring Kerry Butler, Gavin Creel and Nellie McKay (Joe’s Pub, dir. Moisés Kaufman) and “The Duchess of Malfi” (Yale School of Drama).
He served as choreographer for Bartlett Sher’s production of Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” for the Salzburg Festival, starring Nino Machaidze and Rolando Villazón, which aired live on Austria’s ORF network, and is now available on DVD. Television choreography credits include “Broadway Under the Stars” starring Sutton Foster, Jane Krakowski, Donna McKechnie and Elaine Stritch (CBS, dir. Jeff Calhoun) and the Joan As Police Woman music video “Eternal Flame” (MTV Europe, dir. Leah Meyerhoff). Film choreography includes the musicals “Clear Blue Tuesday” (2009) and “Love, Mom” starring Tonya Pinkins (2005).
As a teenager he studied with directors and choreographers Patricia Birch, Stanley Donen, Gregory Hines, and Tommy Tune at Ann Reinking’s Broadway Theatre Project; he studied ballet with Ronnie Zink and Carlos Agudelo at Ballet Spartanburg; dance composition with Pearl Lang at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance; and directing with Robert Wilson at his Watermill Center.
DANE LAFFREY, Brock’s main collaborator, has designed The Chase Brock Experience’s entire repertory and serves as the company’s associate artistic director. By the age of 25, he had designed sets and costumes for theatre, dance and opera on four continents. Recent credits include set design for the world premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s “Giant” at the 2009 Tony® Award-winning Signature Theatre and the world premiere of Martin Sherman’s adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” for Parco Productions in Tokyo and Osaka. Laffrey was nominated for a 2006 Sydney Theatre Award for his design of the Australian premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s “Some Explicit Polaroids.” He is a member of the advisory committee for Lincoln Center’s LCT3 and has lectured in set and costume design in the US and Australia.
GABRIEL KAHANE, singer, pianist and composer, is at the forefront of a generation of artists who are reinventing the landscape of 21st century music. Kahane’s self- titled debut album was released in September 2008. With twenty musicians involved, the recording offers snippets of string quartets juxtaposed with strummy folk songs, and brass chorales right beside jangly piano pop; yet it’s very much of a piece, an album meant to be heard as a whole. Kahane, 28, was recently named The Public Theater’s inaugural Musical Theater Fellow. Among his varied credits as a performer, Kahane has toured the Schumann Piano Quintet with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Additionally, he has performed and/or recorded with Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, Bill Frisell, Elvis Costello, Chris Thile and Loudon Wainwright III, among others.
Photo by Lois Greenfield.