September 20-23, 2018, at Times Square.
New York, NY, August 30, 2018 -- Danspace Project is thrilled to partner with Times Square Arts to present three site-specific commissions by luciana achugar, Laurie Berg, and Full Circle Souljahs (Ana “Rokafella” Garcia & Gabriel “Kwikstep” Dionisio) in New York City’s Times Square.
Danspace has invited these artists to consider Times Square’s history as a home to Broadway musicals, vaudeville, dance halls, and vernacular dance forms, including modern dance, tap, and hip hop, that emerged throughout the 20th century. The artists will explore perception, amplification, and activism within the cacophonous landscape of Times Square.
In New Mass Dance, luciana achugar creates a site-specific procession inspired by the New Dance Group, a 1930s modern dance collective that taught classes near Times Square promoting social change through movement.
In scape, Laurie Berg overlays a landscape of information over live performance via 3-D glasses, exploring Times Square as not just a place of spectacle and traffic but of visual messaging.
Full Circle Souljahs’ Behind the Groove – Times Square Edition is an homage to street and club dance trends from the ’70s to today, giving visibility to an underground dance community long associated with Times Square.
These three new works will be presented back-to-back so that audiences can experience all three works on one evening or over the course of the weekend. Details and schedule are below.
The audience is encouraged to check in at the Times Square Arts / Danspace Project information table on Duffy Square starting from 5:45pm for a free pair of 3-D glasses with which to view the work.
Whether she is working with dance and performance, collage, or jewelry, Laurie Berg draws on her interest in iconography, detail, humor, and absurdity to cultivate a collaborative, creative space that allows for rigorous play.
In scape, Berg’s new work for eight dancers (Jodi Bender, Laurie Berg, Melanie Greene, Madison Krekel, Kyle Marshall, Tonya Sisco, and Anna Adams Stark), the artist layers a landscape of information over movement, reflecting two conceptual inspirations tied into Times Square’s culture and history. The first is the elaborate, synchronized choreography of 1991 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Will Rogers Follies, in particular, the intricate patterning and coordination of Tommy Tune’s choreography for the dance number to “Our Favorite Son” (referenced in her 2011 Danspace Project commission, A Different Brand of Chaos). “In my version, the choreography is not done in unison, but through a series of polyrhythmic canons, that only come together in perfect unison for one instant before spiraling back into their syncopated cycles,” Berg explains.
The work also references the 1988 science fiction horror film They Live, in which a pair of sunglasses reveals within advertisements the subliminal messages aliens are using to dominate humanity. Berg’s version, in contrast, responds to the “brandscape” of Times Square while seeking to inspire action and change. 3D-style glasses, available to all viewers, will reveal hidden messages on the costumes of the performers and pedestrians, featuring texts developed with Jaime Shearn Coan and designs by visual artist Liliana Dirks-Goodman.
Performers: Jodi Bender, Laurie Berg, Melanie Greene, Madison Krekel, Kyle Marshall, Tonya Sisco, Anna Adams Stark
Costume Design/Concept: Liliana Dirks-Goodman, Jaime Shearn Coan, Laurie Berg
Costume Printing: Print All Over Me
Sound Design: Rena Anakwe
Broadway Plaza at 44th Street (concludes on Duffy Square)
New Mass Dance
luciana achugar’s New Mass Dance is a performance for 6 dancers (luciana achugar, Oren Barnoy, Rachel Berman, Malcolm-x Betts, Michael Mahalchick, Rebecca Wender, Sarah White) that takes both inspiration and its name from Mass Dance, a choreographic and pedagogical form taught at the New Dance Group, a pioneering agitprop dance school and presenting organization founded in the 1930s and based for almost forty years on West 47th Street in Times Square. New Dance Group sought to combine radical left-wing politics with modern dance by creating work about, and in response to, sociopolitical issues of the time.
Inspired by these Mass Dance improvisations, some of which satirized the unsafe working conditions of the early 20th century by showing how assembly-line work could easily become an insurrection, achugar proposes a new way forward in New Mass Dance. Using the untapped potential of bodies moving in public space as her guiding principle, she extends a communal invitation to transform the resistance movement from riotous demonstration to a procession of ritual healing and celebration through dance.
“I want to draw a parallel between the 1930s and the present day. Both are times of economic and social hardship — of strikes, racial prejudice, and the rise of fascism — that have produced a newfound understanding of the body as a crucible of experience and as an expressive instrument,” says achugar. “Resistance to the choreography of the Fordist assembly lines, in which workers’ movements were ‘choreographed’ in precise time measurements to maintain rigorous levels of productivity, gave rise to the ‘choreography’ of workers uniting in labor movements — an emotionally charged proletarian body in motion.”
New Mass Dance furthers achugar’s search for another kind of theater that poses art as healing ritual rather than spectacle. Since she began approaching making work to this end (OTRO TEATRO, 2013-2014) achugar created a method called “the practice of being in pleasure” as a way to not create dances as products but rather as a vehicle for healing the performers and the audience.
Full Circle Souljahs
Behind the Groove – Times Square Edition
Full Circle Souljahs is a Bronx-based nonprofit breaking (breakdance) collective that provides uplifting and educational programming highlighting the positive aspects of hip-hop culture. Ana “Rokafella” Garcia and Gabriel “Kwikstep” Dionisio, the husband and wife founders of Full Circle Souljahs, met as street performers in 1991, breaking in Times Square in order to pay their dance crews and drummers.
They slowly moved into video, festival, theater and educational realms, but always maintained their connections to the street and to the many generations of their dance family with a focus on providing young, aspiring hip-hop dancers/artists training and performance opportunities. “At Full Circle, we use our platform to feature upcoming talent from the Five Boroughs of NYC, while showing respect for the elders and architects of this uniquely urban expression that has spread across the world to touch continents and countries far away,” write Garcia and Dionisio. Their latest multi-generational/multi-genre hip-hop theater piece, Boxed In, was commissioned by Danspace Project this past spring.
Since 2009, Kwikstep has curated Behind the Groove, a dance party that invites the community to freestyle to classic dance music without the pressure of competition or bar culture.
With Behind the Groove – Times Square Edition, Kwikstep and Rokafella return to their origins in Times Square to offer a choreographed time capsule that shows the span of street and club dance trends from the 1970s through the present day.
“At a time when the mainstream defines and represents hip-hop in superficial ways, we continue to fight harder to shed light on the underground creatives who keep working, despite the lack of recognition,” says the duo. “This project brings visibility to underground dance forms through a chronology of street/club dance captured in a performance and competitions by some of NYC's most sought-after dancers.” In this program, popping, breaking, locking, up/rocking, house, lite feet, and krumping share the stage, spotlighting the music, the dancers, their natural element. The production features a DJ set, as well as house, popping, and breaking contests that will be judged by local icons and audience interaction. This fusion of events and styles evokes the block parties found in the Boroughs, bringing the all-inclusive spirit of underground dance communities into the heart of Times Square.
Full Circle Souljahs: Odylle “Mantis” Beder, John “Flonetik” Vinuya, Nasir “Kid Break” Malave, Mark “Styleski,” Raymond “Spex” Abbiw, Richard James
FC Hardrocks: Deana Richline, Jennifer “Beasty” Acosta, Janice Tomlinson, Sharmaine Sheppard
Lite feet by Noahlot: KR3Ts
Krumping: TJ Rocka and the Nu Knynnes
Logo design: Shiro
T-shirts: Eric Michael
Kuduro choreography: Manuel Kanza
Danspace Project at Times Square is free and open to all. More information at danspaceproject.org and tsq.org/arts.
All performances take place in New York City’s Times Square.
About Times Square Arts
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world’s most iconic urban places. Through the Square’s electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance’s own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district’s unique identity. Times Square Arts is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Visit TSq.org/Arts for more information. Follow on Twitter and Instagram at @TSqArts.
About Danspace Project
Danspace Project presents new work in dance, supports a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work, encourages experimentation, and connects artists to audiences. Now in its fourth decade, Danspace Project has supported a vital community of contemporary dance artists in an environment unlike any other in the United States. Located in the historic St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Danspace shares its facility with the Church, The Poetry Project, and New York Theatre Ballet. Danspace Project’s Commissioning Initiative has commissioned over 570 new works since its inception in 1994.
For more information, please contact Lily Cohen, (212) 674.8112, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Times Square Arts, please contact TJ Witham, (212) 452-5234, email@example.com.