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Black Grace is to Petronio as….

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Berkshire denizens were lucky to have the opportunity last week to see Black Grace perform at Williams College’s ’62 Center. It was an amazing performance and Meredith, a former dance student who now spends her days working as part of our performing arts department, was struck by the connections between Black Grace’s performance and our upcoming show on April 9 and 10 by Stephen Petronio Dance Company. We asked her to write it down for us and here’s what she told us.

Both Neil Ieremia of Black Grace and Stephen Petronio use dance to explore the mixing of fashion and design with a dazzling sense of physicality that results in relentless complexities of form. Working with weather as a metaphor and source of inspiration, each choreographer utilizes a sort of scientific aesthetic — duets fold into groups, into clusters, into storms of movement that, though depersonalized by abstraction, leave the viewer feeling emotional and united with the dancers despite their epic virtuosity.

Neil Ieremia looked at weather as a metaphor for human migration and the emotional correlations one can imagine from the quote included in his program notes: “I have always believed in the spirit of the Long White Cloud that embraces everyone equally. But after reading these claims and reviewing passages of my personal journey, I realise the Long White Cloud has become dark in places and it feels like a storm is breaking.”

This combination of clustered spatial patterns and dynamic energetic and tempo shifts resulted in a humanist resolution of the conflict spurred by racist claims of an economist, Greg Clydesdale, who warns that Polynesians display “significant and enduring under achievement” – a problem he believes immigration is making worse

Petronio approaches weather as a force to be reckoned with. He sees the relentless capacities of weather as a reflection of the storms his company has weathered through its 25-year history, and looks forward to the rolling waves with anticipation and accomplishment. Like a howling sea captain, Petronio shows his true colors and creating a new work rather than a retrospective; this fearless choreographer is certainly not ready to rest on his laurels ( though there are plenty).

Each show offers a tri-fold combination of formal beauty, impressive virtuosity and epic explorations of humanity through dance — what I believe to be the most human form. By exploring weather, a subject that constantly reminds us how much we are at its mercy yet that we influence through our every action, in a form that is so tied to what we can control, our own bodies, both choreographers offer you a restless sense of empathy and connection to the performance.

Just another reason why dance so awesome.

Did you see Black Grace? What did you think?

Posted March 12, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance
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Farewell to a dear friend

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Just as we were deeply inspired by the life of, we are saddened by the passing of one of our most devoted ushers and fans, Evelyn Gallese. Evelyn passed away last week at age 92.

If you came to events at MASS MoCA you certainly recognize Evelyn. Frequently the usher at the door, she welcomed thousands to MASS MoCA. Her specialty was dance parties, where, after the greeting was done, you were sure to find her busting a move on the dance floor.

She took to the stage in June 2002 as one of the “Sprague ladies” in Martha Bower’s Dream Life of Bricks .  The photo above from that performance captures their show-stopping kick line. No surprise, its easy to pick out Evelyn, she’s the second from the right, kicking the highest.

Here are some remembrances from MASS MoCA staffers:

Of course we’ll miss Evelyn’s graceful and always cheery presence as a volunteer usher.  But what I’ll miss is her dancing.  Evelyn was a superb dancer, energetic, stylish, and such a fun partner.  We’ve hosted something like 40 big dance parties over the years, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted February 22, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, North Adams, Parties, Volunteers
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Dinner Saturday

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Here’s what Lickety Split will be serving at the Afro-Cuban Hip Hop Dance Party on Saturday night.
Pulled Pork Sandwich

Quiche with Rice and Black Beans

Cuban Plate with Lechon Azado (marinated pulled pork), rice, potaje de frijole (Cuban style black beans) and Y Chimol (a Cuban Pico de Gallo).

Cuban plate also available as vegetarian option.

Posted February 11, 2010 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Dining
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Zvi Gotheiner on ZviDance

With only one more day before the performance our dance company in residence ZviDance is hard at work preparing for their Work-In-Progress showing of  Zoom tomorrow at 8 PM.  Sarah LaDuke at WAMC got a chance to talk with choreographer Zvi Gotheiner for a Roundtable interview. You can listen to the full interview here! Also check out our YouTube page for three more videos of ZviDance rehearsals.

I sat in on a school time performance of Zoom the company did for local school children this morning. The students and teachers had a great time interacting with the dancers and effecting the action on the stage. Below are a few photos taken by the company and teachers in the audience.

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If you don’t have your tickets for ZviDance yet you can purchase them here. If you already have your tickets don’t forget to bring your cell phone to interact with the company!

Looking for something to do before the performance? Stop by the opening of Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With in the galleries.

Cheers,

Brittany

Posted December 11, 2009 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Work-in-progress
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ZviDance in residency

Our stellar Marketing Intern Will dropped in on our in-residence dance company ZviDance to see what they have been working on. Watch two videos of the ZviDance rehearsal Will watched on our YouTube page.

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This past Sunday I popped into a rehearsal of Zvi Gotheiner’s dance company, ZviDance, who are here at MASS MoCA as part of a residency to perfect their ambitious and exploratory performance, Zoom. The second I peeped my head into the rehearsal room I was struck by the humidity of the space. The windows were all fogged up and the smell of sweat and exercise brought me to the realization that some serious work was being done. I arrived just as Zvi was finishing up a routine and sending his dancers off to take a break. I sat down with Zvi to hear what he had to say about Zoom and his residency here.

Now, I am only a lowly Art History major, I don’t really know my way around the dancing world,  however my conversation with Zvi was really interesting. He told me Zoom is a collaborative project between himself and his dancers, composer Scott Killian, video designer Tal Yarden, and lighting designer Mark London, all whose main goal is to change the way people experience dance. Rather than the traditional model of Sit-Watch-and-be-Silent, they want the viewers to Sit-Watch-and -whip-out-your-cell-phones to text the company while they dance! Zvi explained that they have created a software where the viewers can send text messages and picture messages with their cell phones directly to the performers and designers and those images and messages will be displayed in real time with a series of other visual elements, with the effect that the choreography and music will be altered based on this interactive communication. OK, to a dance dunce like myself that sounds freaking sweet.

After our conversation I let Zvi get back to his dancers and I stayed to watch them rehearse a little bit. I began to really get into their rehearsal and wishing I could see it all put together with the music, lighting, and interactive video display. It became apparent to me that for the most part the performance is going to be a set piece and within which there will be cues, generated by the audience, that provoke the dancers to change and dance a different way.

It baffles me to think about the amount of hard work and mental and physical energy these dancers are going through during this residency. Zvi told me that this week is the only time he is able to get all of his dancers in one spot at one time to be able to work on the piece. Back home in New York City everyone has their own busy schedule of work, performances, etc. that it is almost impossible to get it all worked out at once. It is a true blessing for the project to have this residency so that they are able to have the time, facilities, and support that it needs to truly get all the kinks worked out, all the final decisions to be made, and then ultimately an actual performance put together to see how it all works out. I can’t wait for that moment this Saturday in the Hunter Center when I, along with the rest of the audience, will be encouraged to use my cell phone and be able to make my own fingerprint on the performance.

Posted December 9, 2009 by Brittany Bishop
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Interns
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Getting ready to perform

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Looking forward to Project Bandaloop here August 21 – 23?  The week preceding the performances follow company founder Amelia Rudolph and operations manager and rigger Thomas Cavanaugh on twitter to learn about the work behind the magic you’ll see in their vertical dance on our 19th century buildings.

Posted August 17, 2009 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Work-in-progress
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