In July we spent a remarkable week collaborating with composer Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, Mobius Percussion and participants in SōSi during a residency at Princeton University. Together with 9 dancers from the NY cast, Tan Temel from Turkey, and Rhonda Baker from Nova Scotia, we merged the music and dance scores for There Might Be Others. Imagine over 50 percussion instruments, from marimbas to wine bottles, and a hammered dulcimer to iPhones, played and danced by 25 performers. We also collaborated daily with Naomi Leonard, a professor of Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University and her post-doctoral student, Kayhan Ozcimder, who specialize in researching group decision making and collective motion. They are interested in using dynamic models from evolutionary biology to find new ways for the dancers and musicians to be creative in the context of There Might Be Others. Together we worked to create situations in rehearsals that drive the performers to respond in unfamiliar ways both as individuals and as members of the community building a single composition. The week culminated in a jam-packed informal performance with a standing ovation from the exuberant audience. We all look forward to more rehearsals to come!
In June I travelled to Poland with dancers Ralph, Green, and Courchel to create a version of There Might Be Others in residence at Stary Browar/Nowy Tanic, directed by Joanna Lesnierowska, with seven Polish dance artists. We opened the Malta Festival Poznan and toured to the Gdansk Festival. The tour was made possible by the one and only Szymon Wroblewski and the Adam Mickiewicza Institute in Warsaw and through a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Art Emergency Funds.
“The performers, who masterfully employ both technique and rhythm in a whimsical and energetic way, created a one-of-a-kind masterwork.”
Polish critic Stanislaw Godlewski
In February I travelled to the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, Nova Scotia with dancers Ralph, Green, and Courchel, to collaborate with Mocean, a Halifax-based dance company. Although we arrived and departed during heavy snow storms, luckily this is an art center with not only extraordinary food and warm studios, but also their own snow plow. Together with NS dancers Sara Coffin, Jactine Armstrong, Rhonda Baker, and Susanne Choi, we developed the material and score for There Might Be Others. The residency supported by a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and made warm and wonderful by Ross Creek directors Chris O’Neil and Ken Schwartz.
SHENANDOAH CONSERVATORY, VIRGINIA, February 2015
Tour to Thessaloniki and Patras, Greece – Sponsored by the American Embassy in Athens
Arriving in northern Greece in July, we performed Coming Together/Attica at the Moni Lazariston Festival in Thessaloniki. Aside from a downpour of rain during our final pre-show run through, a welcome respite from the heat, our performance was a tremendous success. We then traveled to the Peloponnese at perform at the Patras International Festival where we performed in a Roman Odeon theater from 150 AD perched on top of a steep hill overlooking the Ionian sea. It was magical. We also hosted a workshop at Dansarte – Center for Dance and Arts, a professional dance school in Patras directed by Tatiana Loverdou. The American Embassy in Athens sponsored the tour and produced a beautiful short documentary about our visit to Patras, created by Konstantinos Antonopoulos. Watch here: https://vimeo.com/103999941. I am grateful to have received the Stanley J. Seeger Summer Fellowship and funding from the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts, Committee on Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Humanities Council, and the Institute for International and Regional Studies at Princeton to make the tour happen.
Photographs by Katerina Koutsi Marouda
Coming Together/Attica Film included in Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy
I was invited by the Moscow-Based V-A-C Foundation (Victoria—the art of being contemporary) to have the film of Coming Together/Attica by Nic Petry of Dancing Camera, installed in their exhibit IK-00 Spaces of Confinement, curated by Katerina Chuchalini. This international group exhibition focuses on prison architecture and explores the spatial patterns of the institutions designed to punish and correct criminal, social, political and individual misconduct. IK-00 investigates the material and immaterial ‘walls’ of prisons and other types of correctional institutions and the ways they have evolved and how they they intervene with social life. The exhibit is part of the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy and runs from June 6-August 24, at the Casa dei Tre Oci in Giudecca. Opening night was a dream!
We performed There Might Be Others with Senaz Demirel, Pierre Guilbault, Cori Kresge, Vincent McCloskey, Christopher Ralph, Anna Schön and Tan Temal. Working in the tradition of open scores, this piece is created in performance. The dancers begin with a collection of movements, tasks, rules, games and contingencies; the choreography unfolds as the individuals respond to changing situations. Over the next year the piece will be developed in Canada, Poland and Turkey and I hope premiere the full-length dance with an international cast in 2015.
To read an interview that discusses the process of making aleatoric work, developing score based choreography and inspirations 6 Questions for Rebecca Lazier
Life as a Modern Dancer, where I discuss training, making work, and parenting.
Artist Profile #58 Rebecca Lazier
New Work presented at Movement Research at Judson Memorial Church, February 4, 2014
We presented the initial research for our newest work, currently titled There Might Be Others. The piece is a choreographic adaptation of the score and performer instructions for Terry Riley’s seminal composition In C. The improvisation score we are crafting reveals new choreographic potentials that align with my interest in balancing strict vocabulary boundaries with an aesthetic of spontaneous creativity.
Interview with Juilliard Journal: Q&A with Rebecca Lazier
Coming Together/Attica premiers in New York
After three-years in development, CT/A ran for six sold-out performances The Invisible Dog Art Center, June 2013. The success of the production would not have been possible without my extraordinary collaborators: Dancers Asli Bulbul, Pierre Guilbault, Jennifer Lafferty, Rashaun Mitchell, Christopher Ralph and Silas Riener; the music ensemble Newspeak featuring Mellissa Hughes, voice; James Johnston, keyboard; Taylor Levine, guitar; David T. Little, drums; Eileen Mack, clarinets; Peter Wise, percussion; and special guests: Robert Burkhart, cello and Patti Kilroy, violin; lighting designer Davison Scandrett; and costume designer Mary Jo Mecca.
The production sparked interest from a wide range of publications. In addition to being the Pick-of the-Week in The New York Times, feature articles were published in I Care If You Listen, CultureBot, ClassicalTV, ArtsonAir, and Exit Strata. For several of these online journals, it was the first time they featured extensive interviews with a choreographer. The performance was also highlighted on the PBS television program NYArts on Channel THIRTEEN and on France’s television program ARTE TV. George Grella, in Culturebot, implored “get out from underground and go see it!”
The reviews were unanimously excellent and published in The New York Times, Dance Magazine, Lucid Culture, and I Care If You Listen. Alastair Macaulay, the lead dance critic of The New York Times wrote “Rebecca Lazier’s new 50-minute “Coming Together/Attica” has an exciting immediacy. Its structure gives it drama. So does its action, which comes extremely close to the audience…. staggering degrees of violence in partnering: on several occasions one dancer hurls another to the floor with alarming force. The excellent six performers, admirably diverse in physique, are outstanding.”
Read more reviews here.
Coming Together/Attica World Premier in Nova Scotia
Just a few months ago we collaborated with the internationally renowned Scotia Festival of Music, Nova Scotia dance presenter Live Art Dance Productions and the Canada Council for the Arts to produce an epic residency in Halifax. We performed two distinct evenings of work, each with live music, to packed houses and rave reviews. Among our busy schedule of company classes and rehearsals we managed to have a lobster feast, bake pies, and enjoy the ocean air. We premiered Coming Together/Attica, choreographed with Frederic Rzewski’s score of the same name, with 12 musicians provided by Scotia Festival of Music. The stellar musicians come from across the globe to be part of the festival and they played the iconic score with passion and verve. Two days later we performed I Just Like This Music (a revised version of My Serenade from 2009 with Pytor Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major) with a 32-piece string orchestra on stage conducted by Bernard Gueller, principal conductor of Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. The opportunity to dance with live music is increasingly rare and these performances introduced a new model for collaborations between organizations to enable more performance opportunities. One of the reviews described Coming Together/Attica as “Imaginative, immediate, innovative, intense, energetic, exertive, exciting, evocative, curious, chaotic, compelling, creative…”
Four-City Tour of Turkey with Açik Dans
Thirteen years after I spent a year teaching at Mimar Sinan Conservatory in Istanbul, a former student, and now professor of dance, invited me to conduct a three-week teaching and performance residency. With funding from the American Embassy in Ankara, dancers Jennifer Lafferty, Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener we able to join me as we conducted master classes and performed excerpts of three dances in Antalya, Ankara, Eskisehir and Istanbul.The highlight of the tour was to return to Mimar Sinan and witness the growth of the program since my time on faculty. The program was only a few years old in 1998 and I taught 12 students all day, every day, in a small basement studio. Now, classes were filled with over 20 students and hosted in new state of the art studios that make any New Yorker jealous. Three of my former students have opened a small theater and we were able to perform there on our final day. It was gratifying to see the growth of the contemporary dance community and reflect on my small role in its history.
Princeton and Academic Forays
2011/12 was a year of new ventures in university collaborations. I jumped into the academic sphere quite literally when I delivered an academic response to Susan Foster’s latest work while half naked and performing a choreographic summary of “So You Think You Can Dance.” I co-created and co-taught a course on George Balanchine with former Principal dancer with New York City Ballet Heather Watts. A goal of the course was to expose students to this monumental choreographer of the 20th Century through dancing the ballets, a process that is generally only available to professional dancers. Twice weekly students immersed themselves in the Balanchine ballets, taught by Heather, where they learned excerpts of his ballets from the 1920s until the 1970s. The third class each week I led the class in choreographic experimentation based on the aesthetics, musicality and physicality of the Balanchine Repertory. Together we choreographed a dance that manifested the productive influence of studying a master as a means to discover craft and personal choreographic vision. On the invitation of Princeton colleague Simon Morrison, my dancers and I shared the bill with Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Serge, for a site-specific performance in a Princeton eating club that the New York Times called “exhilarating.” Also part of the [After the End of Music History] Conference at Princeton University I directed a world premier dance adaptation of Alexandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin to Serge Prokofiev’s score of the same name with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.
Read more in this article from the New Jersey Star Ledger.
Writing a Book: After teaching in higher education for 20 years I have started a book on the possibilities and problems of teaching dance technique. My goal is to assist dance educators to diversify and extend their studio teaching practices. As part of my research I will be hosting a workshop for teachers this summer to introduce and investigate my topics with a small group.