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La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival features new and diverse works

Anabella Lenzu. Photo by Todd Carrol.
Anabella Lenzu. Photo by Todd Carrol.

The 19th annual La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival kicks off May 16, running through June 2, at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, The Downstairs Theatre and The Club. Curated by Nicky Paraiso, the 2024 festival features new and recent works by 11 choreographers and companies with diverse creative practices and approaches to performance. Two off-site film/performance events in partnership with the Center for Remembering and Sharing will also be presented.

The stellar lineup includes Arthur Avilés, Yoshiko Chuma with Dennis O’Connor and composer Dane Terry, Dancers Unlimited, Emerging Choreographers/Hunter College MFA Dance Program, Anabella Lenzu, NUU Knynez, Koma Otake, Ilaria Passeri and Evelyna Dann with composer Stefano Zazzera, Pioneers Go East Collective, John Scott, and Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs.

Nicky Paraiso stated, “The singular choreographers participating in La MaMa Moves! during its 19th season are all strong, powerful individuals, beholden to no one, answering to nobody but themselves, adhering to no one style or genre, holding on to not one physical practice, dance technique or philosophy. Each individual artist is listening to their own voice; each does this with a fierce determination and a deep kind of listening to the movement directives and intentions of their physical body(ies).”

Tickets for La MaMa Moves! are $30 (general), $25 (students/seniors). The first 10 tickets are $10 (limit two per person). Two-, three- and five-show packages are available. Ticket prices are inclusive of all fees. Tickets are available at www.lamama.org/shows/la-mama-moves-dance-festival-2024.

Schedule of Performances:

Anabella Lenzu’s Listen to Your Mother (world premiere)
May 16-19, at The Downstairs Theatre

Listen to Your Mother is a choreographic research project dedicated to the lives of women-identifying artists who are mothers living in New York City. Created over three years, Listen to Your Mother captures underrepresented women’s stories to inspire dialogue, appreciation, and social support instead of the ongoing prejudice that is historically directed against mothers and women in the arts. Through Anabella Lenzu’s research and embodied practice exploring spoken word, movement and media, the work exposes the body histories of mothers who are grappling with the cultural differences of living in New York City. Listen to Your Mother is an unprecedented project on the NYC dance scene about motherhood and art-making.

Koma Otake’s You (2023)
May 17-19, at Ellen Stewart Theatre

Koma Otake makes his La MaMa debut with his acclaimed solo, You. “In dancing this work, I engage and converse with various You but one at a time. Friends, parents, siblings, spirits, streets, fields, and objects with personal memories all inspire and create memorable moments,” writes Otake. “The stage is all white. My painting hangs loosely. My movements are stormy and absurd. Dancing with You brings back memories, but a moment later, I dig my head into the ground, missing You.”

Emerging Choreographers, Hunter College MFA Dance Program
May 16-19, at The Club

The Hunter College MFA program in dance, launched in 2018 and directed by maura nguyễn donohue, is for returning professionals seeking to investigate the role of dance as a vehicle for positive change in the world. The La MaMa Moves! program includes works by artists who have taught in a variety of genres at Hunter. Maiya Redding ’22 presents excerpts of Bright Lies, Dark Truths, a trio that explores code switching, Black masculine identity, and denial. Darvejon Jones ’23 presents a n t a r e s, a work in progress built upon inquiries concerning liberation in Jones’s Black Dance praxis. Eve Jacobs ’24 brings Four Statements on Attention, a work for four dancers that stretches toward deep focus through movement and music. Austin Marquez ’24 shares original songs and dances from STAGES, his recent sold-out show at La MaMa Shares in The Downstairs, a celebration of resilience and self-discovery through shared experiences, and Cory Villegas/Soul Dance Co ‘24 delivers the AGUA in a Salsa celebration of the Afro-Latin diaspora in NYC.

Shared Program: Pioneers Go East Collective’s Electric Blue (2023-2024) and Arthur Avilés’ Naked Vanguard: Works (2021-2024)
May 23-25, at Ellen Stewart Theatre

Electric Blue is a performance installation inspired by queer thought-provoking literary icon Allen Ginsberg. A meditation on creative agency and pacifism, Electric Blue celebrates past and present LGBTQ+ resilience in pursuit of artistic and personal freedom. Taking Ginsberg’s writing — some of which was censored when first published — Pioneers examines the author’s controversial poetry reflecting same-sex love, male bonding, and the antiwar activism movement. The work deploys personal reflections to underscore how individual artists and community experiences are inevitably bound together, hinting at the potential for collective action. Created with archival research by director Gian Marco Riccardo Lo Forte, choreographer and performer Joey Kipp, and composer and performer ALEXA Grae, collaborating with designers Philip Treviño, Mark Tambella and Bryan BAIRA.

Arthur Avilés reimagines several of his classic nude solo dance works in his groundbreaking Naked Vanguard Series. In addition to revealing the body, the works deconstruct conventions of Latinx and Black cultures. Avilés showcases his signature Swift/Flow dance technique across works performed by Nikolai McKenzie, Hunter Sturgis, and himself. The program includes the pieces Morning Dance (2001), In the End, Let’s Begin (2021), Untitled #5A After Ted Shawn AKA Dansé Mexicaine & Jamaïquaine Américaine (2024), and the Bessie Award-winning A Jamaican BattyBwoy in America (2021).

Shared Program: NUU Knynez’s Black Butoh, and Ilaria Passeri and Eveleena Dann’s (U.S. premiere), and Stefano Zazzera’s Freaks
May 23-26, at The Downstairs Theatre

The always captivating dance trio NUU Knynez, current artists in residence at La MaMa, bring their distinctive style of performance to the festival. About the work, the artists write, “Three black brothers expressing their journeys embodying the art of krump infused with butoh, as they perform movements of joy, pain, peace, trauma, liberation and triumph within a stage series.” It was created and is performed by NUU Knynez: David “Twice Light” Adelaja, Tyrell “Rocka Jamez” James and Brian “Hallow Dreamz” Henry. 

Ilaria Passeri (director) and Eveleena Dann (performer) will present the U.S. premiere of Y, an installation/performance comprising music, sound, theater, art and video that explores the connection between human restlessness and the anthropomorphized territory of contemporary society. Where the vastness of the city grows, diminishing the natural territory hand in hand, and where man feels the need to regenerate rather than recover the understanding between man and nature. Sound design is by Stefano Zazzera, visual and lighting design is by Micke Tannemyr, costume design and makeup is by Roberta Scotton, and still photography and video is by Peter Alt.

There will be a live music solo performance with visuals by composer, producer and sound designer Stefano Zazzera following the Saturday evening performance.

Shared Program: Chris Yon & Taryn Griggs’s Yoggs Family Newsletter (NY Edition), Yoshiko Chuma’s Extreme Classics in the School of Hard Knocks (2024)
May 23-26, at The Club

Returning to La MaMa for the first time since 2013, choreographer/dancers and School of Hard Knocks alums Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs, present Yoggs Family Newsletter (NY Edition), a dance and sound collage narrated by their daughter, Bea Yon. The Yoggs Family Newsletter is about the ephemerality of parenthood and childhood. How they as a family create memories and how they perform memories inscribed on their bodies. Their newsletter is a growing collection of dances that addresses how they capture experiences and attach significance to when and where they dance together, and who they meet along the way as part of their family story.

Four remarkable artists join forces in Extreme Classics in the School of Hard Knocks: choreographers/dancers Yoshiko Chuma and Dennis O’Connor, accompanied by Dane Terry on piano. Costumes are. done by Gabriel Berry. This is extreme avant-garde for extreme classics by Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks.

InNprogressCollective’s MOHÁBBAT by Afshin Varjavandi
May 29-30, and June 2, at The Club

Italian urban dance group InNprogressCollective bring its latest work MOHÁBBAT to La MaMa Moves! Choreographed by Afshin Varjavandi, MOHÁBBAT (a Persian word meaning “affection, care”) explores the symbol of a family, one of many, who fled their country of origin in search of new hopes and a free, infinite horizon. The dancers build an eclectic fusion of contemporary gesture and urban technique, and an imaginary sacred space, a fortress or a refuge where there is no type of prevarication or cruelty, and in which they invite the public to enter. A gesture that invites a simple reflection: if every human being made taking care of others one of their priorities, no one would be left without that care that we all, humans with virtues and weaknesses, are in need of.

Dancers Unlimited’s 10th Anniversary Celebration
May 31-June 2, at Ellen Stewart Theatre

Dancers Unlimited, currently in residence at La MaMa, is a bi-coastal company in New York City and Hawaii. The company creates authentic movement narratives through community engagement, creative collaboration, and social justice work. This summer marks its 10th year creating work with and for the NYC community. Festival events include hula workshops and performances, film screenings, company repertoire showings, and an open style battle. Performers include Te Ao Mana, Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima o Nūioka, Ka Pā Hula O Laʻakea, Kinding Sindaw, Halau Hula O Na Mele `Aina `O Hawai`i, Red Hawk Native American Council, and more. 

John Scott’s Heroes (U.S. premiere)

May 31-June 2, at The Club

Heroes is a journey of music and movement using the universe of German operatic heroes: Beethoven’s Fidelio, Wagner’s Die Walkure, and Siegfried, and Weber’s Der Freischutz. John Scott, through his virtuosic heroic tenor voice, creates a dance physicalization of music to show two selves, human and mythological. The music portrays heroes battling impossible dark forces and conquering darkness paralleled with the idea of escape and love. Soundscape is by Jassem Hindi, and lighting is by Eric Würtz.

La MaMa Moves! in partnership with CRSStop Calling Them Dangerous by The School of Hard Knocks, and Love Story Palestine, vol. 10
June 1, at CRS (Center for Remembering and Sharing)

Love Story Palestine is about war and borders, centered around Palestine, and from the viewpoint of Ryuji Yamaguchi, a dance artist and educator based in Jordan for the past 16 years. The performance features stories and images of numerous Palestinians, including those from Gaza, with whom Yamaguchi has lived alongside. Discussion with Ryuji Yamaguchi, Muheb Esmat, and Bonnie Stein, moderated by Yoshiko Chuma.  

For more information, visit www.lamama.org/shows/la-mama-moves-dance-festival-2024.

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