Kyle Abraham, choreographer and artistic director of A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, and a MacArthur Fellow, will return to Lincoln Center this June for Summer for the City, for which he’s curating two evenings of new works. Following last year’s two-night dance festival Reunions, this summer, Abraham pairs choreographers with composers, with the assignment of creating original site-specific works on Hearst Plaza.
The result will be Planting Connections, a mini-festival of music and dance, held June 16 and 17, at 6pm each evening.
“This is my second year having an opportunity to curate for Lincoln Center,” Abraham tells Dance Informa. “It’s been really exciting for me to find new ways to spotlight the amazing talent I’ve been exposed to over the years, and at Lincoln Center no less. This year, I wanted to focus on ‘planting connections’ with composers and choreographers with the hope that interesting pairings and deeper connections can be made for future endeavors.”
Connecting the artists across their disciplines was part of the excitement for Abraham, as he played “match maker” for each choreographer-composer pair. This year’s artists pairings are Kayla Farrish with Crystal Monet Hall, Vinson Jermaine Fraley Jr. with Yilei, Marla Phelan with Shelley Washington, and Jordan Demetrius Lloyd with Anthony R. Green.
“Each of the choreographers chosen are distinctively different from one another but all tie together in varying ways,” Abraham explains. “They all approach abstraction in ways that are either deeply contemplative or soulful.”
He adds, “I’m newer to Marla Phelan’s work, but I’m drawn to her personal physicality. Jordan Demetrius Lloyd is one of my favorite dance makers these days. I was first introduced to his work by Judy Hussie-Taylor, and I’ve been a fan ever since. His work is very thoughtful in a way that I find both very inspiring and surprising. Both Kayla Farrish and Vinson Fraley Jr. participated in Reunions last year. I really loved what they shared with the audiences and wanted to have some connection to the previous program from last summer. Vinson is one of the most unique and talented artists I’ve seen in awhile. His physicality as a dancer and dance maker, combined with his hauntingly angelic voice, constantly brings me to tears. With Kayla, she’s a force! I love the soulful exploration and ferociousness within everything she does. I get a sense of an embodied history, and a beautiful sense of vulnerability that draws you in as a viewer.”
The title Planting Connections was inspired by set/costume designer Clint Ramos’ installation for the outdoor spaces of Lincoln Center. “It seemed fitting with the idea of pairing choreographers and composers together who hadn’t worked together in the past,” Abraham says. “My hope is that these newfound connections could lead to future projects together with each distinctive pairing.”
Of the artists’ assignment – to create an original site-specific work on Hearst Plaza – Abraham says, “Each pairing was given time to explore the plaza and consider how they might best respond to the space. In some ways, it’s like setting two brilliant people up on a blind date at a pop-up restaurant in a very familiar location, and asking them to tell us (the viewers) how their experience was within 10-12 minutes.”
Abraham says he hope audiences will leave feeling inspired after the Planting Connections program, and like they’ve been invited into the artists’ worlds with new ways to see Hearst Plaza. “They’re creating a somewhat ephemeral imprint in your mind, that connects audiences to Clint Ramos’ installation and Lincoln Center in a really beautiful way,” he shares. “And in the process, I hope audiences will be turned onto several of the artists and continue to follow their art-making in the future.”
Planting Connections isn’t the only project Abraham has been hard at work on lately. He is currently on tour with his company, A.I.M, in Germany, presenting two different programs. Further tours will take place throughout the summer and fall, both domestically and internationally. In addition, Abraham will be making a new work for the Vail Dance Festival later this summer, has a couple of other commissioned projects for other companies, and the A.I.M Homecoming Gala is set for this October 2.
Planting Connections: Curated by Kyle Abraham will be presented at Lincoln Center on June 16 and 17. For more information, visit www.lincolncenter.org/series/summer-for-the-city/planting-connections-curated-by-kyle-abraham-704.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.