Now in its 59th season, La MaMa announces the 15th edition of the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival, which due to the Covid pandemic will be presented in a virtual format for the first time ever. Featuring digital premieres by five artists, the festival is curated and hosted by Nicky Paraiso. The artists who created these works include Kevin Augustine (US), Kari Hoaas (Norway), Anabella Lenzu (Argentina/Italy/US), and Tamar Rogoff (US) with Mei Yamanaka (Japan). Their work was created or recreated during a La MaMa-supported residency this past summer. The virtual La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival will take place Tuesdays & Wednesdays, January 19–20, and January 26–27, at 7pm (EST) on La MaMa’s website. Tickets are pay-what-you-can starting at $5.

Located in New York City, La MaMa is the only original Off-Off-Broadway venue still in operation. Founded  by theatre legend Ellen Stewart in 1961, La MaMa has supported over 5,000 productions, featuring 150,000 artists from 70 different nations. A few of those artists include Blue Man Group, Ping Chong, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Warren Leight, Michael Mayer, Tadeusz Kantor, Bette Midler, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Marc Shaiman, and Scott Wittman. La MaMa has been the recipient of over 30 Obie Awards and multiple Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, and it was the recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award.

“La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. We are a creative home to artists and audiences from around the world, and a dynamic hub for risk-taking new performance. A vital part of New York City’s cultural fabric, La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for producing theatre, dance, music, and performance art that defies form and embraces all identities.” – La MaMa website.

“We are thrilled to present five maverick choreographers who make work outside the box with invention, innovation, intelligence, and a deeply passionate, personal core of feeling,” said Paraiso. “For this virtual La MaMa Moves!, created in response to the global pandemic, we asked the choreographers who had been selected for the 2020 festival to reimagine and rethink their works for the video format, perhaps creating a new form/at entirely.”

On the festival

Kevin Augustine / Lone Wolf Tribe
BODY CONCERT (work-in-progress)
January 19 and 27, 7pm

Kevin Augustine utilizes puppetry as movement, carving out heretofore unknown territory. Anabella Lenzu bravely charts new paths for the body as feminist vessel with courage and fierce intelligence. Kari Hoaas researches humanity’s essential need for water with a rigorous movement practice informed by visual beauty and clarity. Tamar Rogoff manifests years of movement research and teaching, forging a new form of dance-theater informed by fearless questioning and rigor. Mei Yamanaka is a fearless performer researching and investigating her return to Japan during a global pandemic as she and her parents deal with quarantine and (perhaps) ghosts from their familial, cultural past.

BODY CONCERT is a hauntingly romantic moving-puppet sculpture of muscles, tendons, and bone. Animated in a rigorous solo choreography, Kevin Augustine’s spectacle embraces pure minimalism as he puppeteers with his hands, toes, and outstretched legs. Inspired by Butoh and performed to an original score by Mark Bruckner, this hybrid work brings Lone Wolf Tribe’s exquisitely sculpted foam-rubber puppets uniquely to life in a wordless, tender meditation on life’s beautiful impermanence.

Kevin Augustine - "Body Concert" - REACH - Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Kevin Augustine – “Body Concert” – REACH – Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Anabella Lenzu
The night that you stopped acting/La noche que dejaste de actua
January 19 and 20, 7pm

The night that you stopped acting/La noche que dejaste de actua is a one-woman show that confronts the absurdity and irony of life while being an artist and a spectator in today’s world. Choreographed and performed by Anabella Lenzu, the dance-theater work reflects Lenzu’s experience as a Latina/European artist living in New York and comes from a deep examination of her motivations as a woman, mother, and immigrant. The creative team includes Daniel Pettrow (director), Naoko Maeshiba (dramaturg), and Todd Carroll (videographer and technology advisor).

Anabella Lenzu - "The Night You Stopped Acting" - Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Anabella Lenzu – “The Night You Stopped Acting” – Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Kari Hoaas
HEAT – the distant episodes
January 20 and 26, 7pm

Kari Hoaas’s HEAT – the distant episodes, created in response to the continuing global pandemic, is a series of digital dance haikus that began with Be Like Water – the distant episodes in July. This series of dance-poems offers moments of pause, of contemplation on listening and seeing. With each episode audiences may notice the interplay of light, shadow, movement, and sound, and appreciate the immediate surroundings. In HEAT – the distant episodes the choreography is based on material from Kari Hoaas Productions’ original evening-length work HEAT (2018), adapted to and filmed in empty urban offices and workspaces in Oslo.

Ida Haugen in "Heat" by Kari Hoaas - Photo by Marius Hauge, courtesy of La MaMa

Ida Haugen in “Heat” by Kari Hoaas – Photo by Marius Hauge, courtesy of La MaMa

Tamar Rogoff and Mei Yamanaka
The Yamanakas At Home (work-in-progress)
Wonder About Merri (2019)
January 26 and 27, 7pm

The Yamanakas At Home, created by Tamar Rogoff in collaboration with Mei Yamanaka, quietly yet boldly engages the mundane and otherworldly. The piece centers on an older couple living in a house in Japan. They eat, they sleep, they do laundry. A figure enters the house leaving mysterious rice circles that surround this man and woman. As often as they sweep up the rice it returns. They wonder if someone is haunting them or trying to protect them. Rogoff envisions and directs. Yamamaka directs, edits, and dances the intruder/protector. Yamanaka’s parents perform as the couple.

Tamar Rogoff - Mei Yamanaka- Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Tamar Rogoff – Mei Yamanaka – Photo courtesy of La MaMa

This collaboration across the world began after Yamanaka left New York and returned to her family’s home in Japan at the start of the pandemic. The two artists forged a partnership, working together for the first time. For Rogoff, this opportunity to mix truth and fiction, a cast of dancers and non-dancers, a kind of site work and merger of dance and film, is what she loves most.

Tamara Rogoff - Mei Yamanaka and Parents - Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Tamara Rogoff – Mei Yamanaka and Parents – Photo courtesy of La MaMa

Wonder About Merri, a six-minute short that looks at a surprising moment in Merri Milwe’s life. Diagnosed with dystonia in 2012, she pursued a number of medical treatments and a lot of alternative routes recommended by friends. Some of these methods were crazy, some not, but all ineffective. A longtime dance student of Rogoff’s, she had stopped going to classes in fear that she couldn’t do anything. When she returned, she and Rogoff found some shocking evidence of movement they didn’t think was possible. Wonder About Merri is a hybrid, not a documentary, or a narrative, or a dance film. In Milwe’s words, it is “a cross between a music video and Lourdes.” Wonder About Merri was produced by Merri Milwe and Tamar Rogof. The film stars Merri Milwe and was directed by Tamar Rogoff. Editing and cinematography by Shachar Langlev. Sound design and original composition by Wilco Alkema. Wonder About Merri premiered at Dance on Camera in July 2019.

Festival Schedule

Tuesday, January 19, at 7pm
Kevin Augustine
Anabella Lenzu

Wednesday, January 20, at 7pm
Anabella Lenzu
Kari Hoaas

Tuesday, January 26, at 7pm
Kari Hoaas
Tamar Rogoff

Wednesday, January 27, at 7pm
Tamar Rogoff
Kevin Augustine

About the Artists

Kevin Augustine’s Lone Wolf Tribe is a theatrically provocative performance company conjuring brutally poetic visions about our collective human story. With a mission to investigate, challenge, and spellbind, Augustine is a virtuosic lone wolf—writing, directing, and performing alongside his tribe of foam-rubber carved puppets, all rescued from trashed couch cushions. With meticulous craft, physical rigor, and decidedly dark humor, Lone Wolf Tribe has been planting its flag on stage floors since 1997. The Tribe’s last production, The God Projekt, opened La MaMa’s 55th season in 2016, winning the NYC Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Performance Art Production. LWT’s opus, BRIDE, won the prestigious UNIMA Citation for Excellence in Puppetry and was hailed as a “Top 10 Show” by Time Out New York. Augustine has received multiple artist residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Wildacres, and performance residencies from Celebration Barn, BAX & NACL Theatre, Ella Fiskum Danz in Norway, and Les Sages Fous in Quebec.

Kari Hoaas is an award-winning Norwegian choreographer, dancer, and teacher. In 2005 she established Kari Hoaas Productions (KHP) in Oslo upon her return from 15 years of working in New York City and internationally. She has created 10 evening-length productions for KHP, touring in 20 countries on three continents, in addition to numerous shorter dance works, commissions, site-specific projects, and collaborations with other artists. Hoaas is known to create physical and complex performances that allow for ambiguity and contradiction, while retaining a profoundly human quality connected to our broader culture. Be Like Water (2015) was the first and HEAT (2018) the second in a cycle of works exploring our relationship with nature and responding to climate change. She is currently developing her third project in this cycle, Daylight, adapting it to the new remote performance reality. She is an associate professor at Christiania University College, Institute Norwegian College of Dance in Oslo, and teaches internationally.

Originally from Argentina, Anabella Lenzu is a dancer, choreographer, writer, and teacher with more than 30 years of experience working in Argentina, Chile, Italy, and the US. Lenzu directs her own company, Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama (ALDD), which since 2006 has presented 390 performances, created 14 choreographic works, and performed at 100 venues, presenting thought-provoking and historically conscious dance-theater. As a choreographer, Lenzu has been commissioned for opera, television, theater productions, and by many dance companies. She has produced and directed several award-winning short dance films and screened her work in over 50 festivals both nationally and internationally. Lenzu has written for various dance and art magazines, and published her first book in 2013, Unveiling Motion and Emotion. Her second book, Teaching Dance through Meaningful Gestures, is expected in 2021. Currently, Lenzu conducts classes at NYU Gallatin, Wagner College, Peridance Center, and is a 2019–20 Artist-in-Residence at CUNY Dance Initiative.

Tamar Rogoff is a New York-based filmmaker and choreographer who explores the outer limits of how people negotiate extreme circumstances. She combines and juxtaposes unlikely company members, always on the lookout for magical and tender ways to tell difficult stories. Rogoff’s large-scale site works, films, and more traditional proscenium performances house her lifelong experimental process. The Ivye Project (1994) took place in a forest in Belarus, surrounding the mass graves of Rogoff’s relatives and others killed in the Holocaust. This later became the subject of the documentary made by Rogoff and Daisy Wright called Summer in Ivye, which was screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival. In 2005, Rogoff choreographed a solo dance piece at P.S.122 for actor Claire Danes and was her movement coach in HBO’s Emmy Award-winning movie Temple Grandin. Rogoff was also a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program Fellow. She worked with Wright on a film about the training of Gregg Mozgala as he prepared to dance the role of the Faun at La MaMa. The film Enter the Faun, toured festivals in both the United States and abroad, winning the Gran Prix at Belgium’s Extraordinary Film Festival. It was broadcast on PBS and in Europe. Rogoff’s next film, a short called Wonder About Merri, won Most Daring Film at the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival.

Mei Yamanaka is a dancer and choreographer from Japan. She moved to New York in 2008. Yamanaka has worked and collaborated with artists including Catherine Galasso, Tiffany Mills, Mark Dendy, Jennifer Archibald, Christine Bonansea, Jody Oberfelder, among others. Her work has been seen at New York Live Arts/Fresh Tracks, Movement Research at Judson Church, Mix Festival at HERE, Food for Thought at Danspace, and more. She was a Fresh Tracks residency artist at Dance Theater Workshop in 2010–2011. Yamanaka was also a Chez Bushwick Artist In Residence in 2014. At present, she is staying, dancing, and creating in Japan, her home.

The 15th season of the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival has been made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, with special thanks to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; Ford Foundation; Howard Gilman Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; the Harkness Foundation for Dance; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Jerome Robbins Foundation; the Shubert Foundation, and the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

For more information please visit the La MaMa website HERE.

Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Jens Jeffrey Trinidad in Heat – Photo by Marius Hauge, courtesy of La MaMa