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jill sigman/thinkdance celebrates 25th anniversary with world premiere

jill sigman/thinkdance's Amala’ika Rinyire, Jill Sigman, dan cole and Stacy Lynn Smith. Photo courtesy of Gibney DMI.
jill sigman/thinkdance's Amala’ika Rinyire, Jill Sigman, dan cole and Stacy Lynn Smith. Photo courtesy of Gibney DMI.

For 25 years, jill sigman/thinkdance has worked with bodies, found materials and alternative geographies to envision a future in which we reconnect with the natural world and each other in the service of personal, communal and environmental healing. This June 21-23, at Gibney 280, jill sigman/thinkdance celebrates its milestone 25th anniversary with the world premiere of Re-Seeding (Encounter #3: The Commons) and a series of pre-show events and conversations at Gibney.

Continuing the company’s movement, sound and visual research practices, Re-Seeding (Encounter #3: The Commons) is a rigorous ritual-based process grounded in an exploration of our interconnectedness to land and each other. It grows out of Jill Sigman’s many years of making dances and installations about environmental and social justice issues. Building on this, Re-Seeding asks what it could mean for humans to “re-seed” themselves on land where they are not native — land that has been colonized and occupied — in a way that moves toward healing. What would it mean to understand the past and aspire toward collective well-being? What can those living in diaspora learn from plants that root themselves in new places and contribute to ecosystems in positive ways? In essence, it is a search for a better way to live on and with this land and its history.

For Sigman, Re-Seeding is at once personal and political. “It has its origins in my relationship to New York as a settler born on traditional Munsee Lenape homeland in what is now called Brooklyn,” said Sigman. “Through the interrelated practices of dancing, researching, foraging wild plants and working with clay, I try to metabolize a lineage of Jewish grief, genocide and displacement on land where that same lineage makes me part of a history of colonial trauma. And at the same time, that lineage of violence now heartbreakingly reinvents itself and inflicts genocide on the people of Gaza. Re-Seeding asks how we break these patterns.”

As part of the artistic process, the dancers engaged in a series of activations at different sites, researched their own family lineages, and met with Indigenous artists and activists, to experience the entanglement of their own embodied histories of displacement with the histories of the land they rehearsed on. This particular iteration of Re-Seeding is performed in a space that overlooks the historic site of the public commons of colonial New York City. As with all of Sigman’s work, the research-gathering has shaped Re-Seeding’s multilayered vocabulary and underlying rhythm, energy and logic. The piece is composed of detailed improvisational scores that, taken together, form a ritual calling for deep listening, relationality and transformation.

The live movement and sound scores are created and performed by dancers Dani “dan” Cole, Donna Costello, zavé martohardjono, J’nae Simmons, Stacy Lynn Smith and Sigman. ReSeeding features a live score for voice, electronics and percussion by Kristin Norderval (composer, voice, laptop), Gustavo Aguilar (percussion), and Miguel Frasconi (glass), and live painting with plant pigments by visual artist Paula Walters Parker. Dramaturgical support is by Marguerite Hemmings, ceramics by Jill Sigman and contributions to the process by Amala’ika Rinyire.

Performances are June 21-23. The performances on Friday and Saturday will be followed by a discussion with the artists. Following Sunday’s performance, there will be a 25th anniversary celebration with light bites, tea and company memorabilia. Pre-show gatherings in the Gibney Gallery will be held June 21 and 22, at 6pm. Join jill sigman/thinkdance for wild edible tea in a casual setting where guests can meet a fascinating array of scholars, activists and artists whose work intersects with the company’s projects, and hear their ideas about environmental justice, plants, waste and repair.

Tickets are $20 for all performances. Tickets for Sunday’s performance plus post-show 25th anniversary celebration start at $30. Tickets can be purchased online at: www.eventbrite.com/e/jill-sigmanthinkdance-25th-anniversary-performance-season-re-seedingtickets-899480288757?aff=oddtdtcreator.

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