Strange Fruit draws its title from the 1937 poem and song of the same name by Abel Meeropol and made famous by the great jazz singer Billie Holiday—which metaphorically addresses lynching as a tool of racial terrorism during the Jim Crow Era. For this dance/theater work, the facts of lynching act as springboards into a highly personal interior space and state of mind. Abstract yet grounded in a brutal reality, Strange Fruit tracks choreographer Donald Byrd’s feelings as a response to lynching and plays out as a series of dance/theater vignettes.
The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company was born in 1982 out of an 11-year collaboration between Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane (1948–1988). During this time, they redefined the duet form and foreshadowed issues of identity, form, and social commentary that would change the face of American dance. The Company has performed worldwide in over 200 cities in 40 countries on every major continent and is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the dance-theater world.
In The Eye Is the First Circle, pianist Simone Dinnerstein combines elements from two iconic works: her father Simon Dinnerstein’s painting suite Fulbright Triptych (made at the beginning of her own life) and Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata, which expresses the imaginative and natural world of the Transcendentalists through an ecstatic and fractured musical lens. A collage of sounds and images from the Renaissance through the recent past converges in this collaboration with projection designer Laurie Olinder and lighting designer Davison Scandrett.
The language of the circus and dance movement highlight the physical potential of the acrobatic body as performers are confronted by a landscape in transformation. Circus and danced movement induce a slow metamorphosis of humans and organic matter, as performers confront nature, accompany it, dodge it, collide and merge with it. Like fractals, nothing here has a beginning or an end, but is part of a continuum.
Stephanie Batten Bland creates performance at the intersection of dance-theater and installation, questioning contemporary and historical cultural symbolism and the complexities of human relationships. Inspired by the 1967 Stanley Kramer film starring Sydney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, Look Who’s Coming to Dinner pays tribute to those who paved the way toward acceptance in love and life. Set around a transformative dinner setting, seven dance-theater artists excavate interlaced universal traumas through imagery and ritual as they seek a seat at the table.
MOVEMENT follows Yerushalmy’s most recent major work, Paramodernities, a six-part series generated through reverently and violently dissecting iconic modern choreographies. The project explored tenets of modern discourse – sovereignty, race, sexuality, disability – with contributions by scholars from different fields, and was created explicitly in order to provoke dynamic conversations with the past and its legacies. In MOVEMENT, existing dances are again quoted (this time from a vast array of sources), and pieced together into an intricate and elaborate quilt with radical and surprising results. By plucking (stealing) short movements and placing them outside of their original contexts, Yerushalmy repurposes them, re-orients them, and perhaps re-cultures them.
In Gandini Juggling’s hit Smashed, which made its U.S. Premiere at PEAK Performances, the manipulation of forbidden fruit shrewdly explored the strained relations between seven men and two women—and kindly flayed traditions of juggling and circus. Smashed2 is the dark art of juggling revisited. Director Sean Gandini and Kati Ylä-Hokkala borrow elements of Pina Bausch’s gestural choreography and combine them with the intricate patterns and cascades of solo and ensemble juggling. Simultaneously evoking great pleasure and small disquiet, Smashed2 lightly disrupts the rigid conventions of etiquette, dress, and body language. The result is a new hybrid of juggling, performed with meticulous unison and split-second timing.
(Mask Theater, Germany)
Using clowning, acrobatics, magic, and improvisation, Familie Flöz makes its highly anticipated U.S. debut after delighting European audiences for more than 20 years with captivating theatrical experiences. Strange things happen in Hotel Paradiso, a comedic thriller chock full of eccentric characters including a pajama-wearing front-desk clerk, a kleptomaniacal maid, and a cook who chops up more than just pork. Set in a family-run Alpine resort, this fairy tale full of secrets is created by a Berlin-based troupe known worldwide for works that are “wordless and yet somehow so expressive, full of yearning and yet also filled with joy” (The Guardian).