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Norte Maar’s CounterPointe presents all-female collaborations

'Immovable', a collaboration between choreographer Julia K. Gleich and visual artist Rachel Beach, from CounterPointe4. Photo by Jason Andrew, courtesy of the artists and Norte Maar.

These days especially, it seems even more important to make sure women have a voice. For its fifth installment of choreographic showcase CounterPointe this April 7-9, non-profit arts organization Norte Maar will feature the work of all women – seven choreographers paired with seven visual artists. Together, these women have produced work that is physical, visual and important, that explores the process of creation, inspiration and development.

CounterPointe5 will be presented in partnership with Brooklyn Ballet at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn, New York. Collaborators include CounterPointe Producer and Co-Founder of Norte Maar Julia K. Gleich with artist Elana Herzog, konverjdans with artist Nancy Baker, Brandi Marsh with artist Emily Noelle Lambert, Lynn Parkerson with artist Cornelia Thomsen, Ursula Verduzco with artist Lizzie Scott, Margaret Wiss with artist Noël Hennelly, and Erin Renee Young with artist Leslie Kirby.

“This project is all about creating opportunity,” Gleich tells Dance Informa. “I never wanted to highlight the work of women as separate artistic genre; there is no such thing. But certainly there are fewer women represented in roles of creative leadership in large ballet institutions. This is not about singling women out but rather including them in, creating networks and support channels and more risk-taking. In 2015, I felt that the project didn’t need to exist solely as an all-female kind of event. We brought in the collaborative element, which is truly at the heart of the mission of Norte Maar. And perhaps we will open up this project further in the future.”

Ursula Verduzco's 'Let Me Be Clear', in collaboration with artist Sarah Bednarek, for CounterPointe4. Photo by Lucas Chilczuk.

Ursula Verduzco’s ‘Let Me Be Clear’, in collaboration with artist Sarah Bednarek, for CounterPointe4. Photo by Lucas Chilczuk.

Verduzco, who will show her work Bi-Polaris, about fear and its repercussions, believes it is crucial, and perhaps overdue, to hear and experience the work of female voices. “Female artists have a different point of view about the world and the experience of living in it than male artists, just by being that – female,” she explains. “Not better, not worse, just different. It has taken long for female representation in the world to be accepted, valued and empowered, and there is no exception in the dance world, especially in roles of leadership. Being part of this project of all female voices allows us the opportunity to enjoy the point of view of us women. So we can all enjoy, learn, discuss, value and empower a different point of view.”

The visual artists, too, are eager to be a part of CounterPointe’s discussion. Scott, whose beanbag sculptural work will accompany Verduzco’s dance, comments that the art world doesn’t always pass the Bechdel test – an indicator for the presence of women that is not only in relation to men.

“It’s nice here to have a situation with a group of women artists in dialogue with each other about our work,” Scott says. “It’s important to have the chance to have these artistic conversations. Different things can surface when it’s all women.”

Marsh, whose work Freedom aims to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, says, “Unfortunately, the ballet world still has quite a ways to go regarding equality. I am so grateful for Julia leading the charge in giving women a voice in this genre.”

Not only does CounterPointe serve as a platform for female artists, but it also uses the aspect of collaboration for inspiration. “I am so very proud of this project,” Gleich says. “To hear some of the artists who have been involved talk about the experience of collaborating is very satisfying. Many have continued to work together on newer projects. Audiences have commented on finding delight in observing the artistic relationships that occur in the performances. Artists need spaces to try new ideas, and I think we are making this possible.”

Norte Maar’s fifth anniversary season of CounterPointe will be presented April 7-9, at The Actors Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn, New York. For tickets, click here, and for more information on Norte Maar, visit nortemaar.org.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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