This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

16Sep/11

TWI-NY TALK: MARIA HASSABI

Maria Hassabi premiered SOLO at FIAF’s 2009 Crossing the Line Festival

Saturday, September 17, Crossing the Line Festival: Fiction & Non-Fiction, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Ave., free, 212-355-6100, 2:30 - 6:00
SHOW: The Kitchen, 512 West 19th St., November 3-5, $15, 212-255-5793, 8:00
www.fiaf.org/crossingtheline
www.thekitchen.org
www.mariahassabi.com

In such recent productions as Solo and SoloShow, dancer and choreographer Maria Hassabi has displayed a remarkable dexterity, her lithe body interacting with a rolled-up carpet or dangling off the edge of a black platform. When we saw her listed on the French Institute Alliance Française’s website as one of the participants of the free “Fiction & Non-Fiction” kickoff to the 2011 Crossing the Line Festival on September 17, we immediately scheduled an interview with her. Alas, in checking the website later, her scheduled site-specific performance around the Cultural Services of the French Embassy building on Fifth Ave. had disappeared. Does that mean the Cyprus-born Hassabi won’t be participating? Even without her, the lineup is extremely impressive, with works by Trajal Harrell & Perle Palombe, Kimberly Bartosik, Raimund Hoghe & Takashi Ueno, Roderick Murray, and others. (Be sure to get a drink at Prune Nourry’s “Spermbar.”) We’re still holding out hope that Hassabi, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and a New Yorker since 1994, has something special planned for the afternoon, which runs from 2:30 to 6:00.

This year’s Crossing the Line Festival, which continues through October 17, also features Nick van Woert’s “Terra Amata” exhibition at the FIAF Gallery, Xavier le Roy’s “More Mouvements für Lachenmann” at Florence Gould Hall, Bartosik’s “i like penises: a little something in 24 acts” at Danspace Project, Sophie Calle’s free site-specific “Room” installation at the Lowell Hotel, and Rachid Ouramdane’s “Ordinary Witnesses” and “World Fair” at New York Live Arts. Hassabi is definitely scheduled to present the world premiere of her latest piece, SHOW, November 3-5 at the Kitchen. Whether or not she’ll be part of tomorrow’s fête, we’re still delighted that she answered some questions for us, even if she did skip over the one about what she was planning for “Fiction & Non-Fiction.”

twi-ny: What is it that draws you to the Crossing the Line Festival?

Maria Hassabi: What draws me to this festival primarily is the two curators (Lili Chopra and Simon Dove). I admire and respect both of them. I love working and being in conversation with them, feel lucky to be part of what they do, and excited to see what they’ve curated.

twi-ny: Are there any particular performances you’re looking forward to seeing at the festival?

MH: The usual suspects, which in this case, performance-wise, means pretty much all. Sadly, I will be missing many of them as I will be out of town.

twi-ny: You premiered SOLO and SOLOSHOW at PS122, and in November you’ll be premiering SHOW at the Kitchen with frequent collaborator Hristoula Harakas and Will Rawls. What is it about Hristoula that makes her so compatible with your choreography?

MH: There are many of my frequent collaborators in SHOW, including Hristoula, Marcos Rosales, Scott Lyall, Joe Levasseur. I like working with the same people. With Hristoula, we have worked together since 2002. I treasure such a long-term collaboration, and Hristoula’s ethics of work are irreplaceable. Of course, she’s undoubtedly a gorgeous performer.

twi-ny: You are a remarkably flexible dancer. Do you have a special exercise regimen or a secret you’re willing to share?

MH: I was born flexible! Then I slept all the way until I went onstage! You know, muscle atrophy helps!