In October of this year, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Works & Process at the Guggenheim announced four newly-commissioned video performances created during Works & Process “bubble residencies” at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in rural Hudson Valley. The performances took place and were videoed in August and September on the Lincoln Center Campus. Although the majority of these videos have been aired, one remains and the other three are still available on-demand at the organizations’ social media pages and at Lincolncenter.org.
“This pandemic derailed our commissioning and presenting timeline so we decided not to cancel but, instead, to support our family of Works & Process artists by forging a path to safely resume their creative work through COVID-19 bubble residencies,” said Caroline Cronson, producer of Works & Process at the Guggenheim.
“When few are able to safely gather, the works created inside Works & Process bubble residencies can provide us with a glimmer of what the future can look like as stewardship is channeled to artist-driven projects to shape a more inclusive, fair, and representative world. We are thrilled we were able to sequence bubble residency artists to, and partner with, Lincoln Center.” said Duke Dang, general manager of Works & Process at the Guggenheim.
These works extend over a wide range of dance and music genres to include Afrik, ballroom, beatboxing, body percussion, breaking, flexn, house dance, jazz, Krump, tap, and vogue. On Sunday, November 22, New York is Burning will premiere which feature Les Ballet Afrik with Omari Wiles. The press release describes it this way.
New York Is Burning by Omari Wiles, performed by Les Ballet Afrik
In homage to the 30th anniversary of Paris Is Burning, the documentary about voguing and drag balls, and the powerful expression of personal pride they represent in the face of racism, homophobia, and stigma of the AIDS crisis, Works & Process commissioned Omari Wiles, founding father of the House of Oricci and a legend within the ballroom community, to produce New York Is Burning. With the premiere at the Guggenheim postponed by the pandemic, in this past summer’s Works & Process bubble residency, Wiles continued to develop the commission for this company Les Ballet Afrik, with an eye to bringing the ballroom to the Guggenheim and Lincoln Center in a work featuring Wiles’s AfrikFusion, a style that combines traditional African dances and Afrobeat styles with house dance and vogue.
In uncanny resemblance to the 1980’s captured in Paris Is Burning, Wiles’ New York Is Burning reflects the aspirations, desires and yearnings of a diverse group of dancers for which the dance company serves as a surrogate family during yet another period where health, race, and financial crises continue to brew. The opportunity to perform at Lincoln Center is an affirmation of love, acceptance, and joy.
The first three premieres that aired on November 1, 8, & 15, 2020 were:
The Missing Element by The Beatbox House with Joseph Carella “Klassic,” Brian “Hallow Dreamz” Henry, Graham Reese, Anthony Rodriguez “Invertebrate”
Fusing the music making of beatbox with street dance, The Missing Element was commissioned by Works & Process to marry the cypher, widely found in rap, beatbox, and break dance, with the circular architecture of the Guggenheim. Through a pandemic induced detour, a new collaboration took inspiration from the heart of Lincoln Center, the Revson Fountain. During their Works & Process bubble residency The Missing Element collaborators made up of members of The Beatbox House including Amit Bhowmick, Chris Celiz, Neil Meadows “NaPoM”, Gene Shinozaki, and Kenny Urban, and dancers including flexer Joseph Carella “Klassic”, Krumper Brian “Hallow Dreamz” Henry, and breakers Graham Reese and Anthony Rodriguez “Invertebrate” created a site-specific work, embodying wind, fire, water and earth to push the boundaries of creativity to inspire the spirit and recovery of New York.
Music from the Sole
Fusing Brazilian music and rhythms with body percussion and tap traditions, Lincoln Center Education artists and Works & Process alums, dancer-musician Leonardo Sandoval and bassist-composer Gregory Richardson and their company Music from the Sole including dancer Gisele Silva, pianists Noé Kains, and José Cruzata, were commissioned as part of their summer 2020 Works & Process bubble residency to create new works for both the Guggenheim and Lincoln Center. These new works feature choreographic and musical influences from Sandoval’s native Brazil, and Richardson’s talent combining funk, house, jazz, and Afro-Cuban music. Performed and filmed at Hearst Plaza on the very last day of their bubble residency and during the pandemic, this work serves as a beacon of hope for the safe gathering of artists and the return of the performing arts to Lincoln Center.
UnderScored by Ephrat Asherie Dance and underground dance legends
UnderScored is a multi-faceted project rooted in the intergenerational stories and memories of New York City’s underground club heads. Created in collaboration with legendary elders from the underground dance community, Archie Burnett, Michele Saunders (both featured in this video), Louis “Loose” Kee, and Brahms “Bravo” LaFortune, the cast ranges in age from age 25-77. This project takes shape as a series of performances, community-based events and an oral history archive.
Works & Process produced also produced a four-part docuseries Isolation to Creation by filmmaker Nic Petry of Dancing Camera. This series was created to give audiences a behind the scenes view of the process. realized with support from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, that will premiere in January 2021 on the ALL ARTS streaming app, website and TV channel, an arts-focused multimedia platform. Notes from the Bubble, a series for trailers for Isolation to Creation, can be viewed at:
Find more information, click HERE.
To visit the Works & Process at the Guggenheim website, click HERE.
Compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Les Ballet Afrik – Photo courtesy of Dancing Camera