In the November 2011 premiere of Maria Hassabi’s Show at the Kitchen, the audience stood or sat on the black floor as the Cyprus-born, New York–based choreographer and regular cohort Hristoula Harakas weaved ever so slowly through the crowd to a soundtrack that incorporated the audience’s preshow chatter. Hassabi has redefined the relationship between performer and audience once again in Premiere, which premiered at the Kitchen on November 6 and continues through Saturday. When the doors open, Hassabi, Harakas, Robert Steijn, Biba Bell, and Andros Zins-Browne are already carefully positioned on the floor, three sitting, two standing, facing the empty seats as ticket holders enter and walk around them to sit down. Blazing lights on either side illuminate the stock-still performers, who are soon bracketed by semicircles of fresh shoe prints. Once everyone is seated, the doors are closed, and for the next eighty minutes, the five performers, wearing different-colored denim pants, tucked-in button-down shirts with minute but strange extra details, and black shoes or boots, eventually begin moving nearly imperceptibly, slow enough to make Butoh look like the Indy 500. The only sounds are the squeaks made by hands and feet pressing against the floor, except for occasional electronic noise coming out of the speakers (as well as every stomach grumble, cough, and shift from the audience). Never making contact with one another, Hassabi, Harakas, Steijn, Bell, and Zins-Browne perform deeply pensive and carefully choreographed simultaneous solos, fiercely focused, never smiling or breaking concentration, creating a nervous energy between audience and dancer, filled with both trepidation and anticipation. Once you figure out how the performance will end, sheer elation takes over. And then, indeed, it comes to a close, and the audience exits much as it entered. A copresentation of Performa 13, Premiere is another fabulously creative, involving, and challenging piece by Hassabi in her continuing exploration of movement, expectation, personal connection, the nature of performance itself, and the endless intricacies of the human mind and body.
Like her titles, Maria Hassabi’s performances might seem minimalist on the surface, but there’s a whole lot more lurking underneath. In such works as 2009’s SOLO at P.S. 122 for FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival, that same year’s SoloShow at P.S. 122 for Performa 09, and 2011’s Show at the Kitchen (and later held outdoors on the Broad St. cobblestones for the River to River Festival), Hassabi usually appears by herself or with one other dancer (most often the magical Hristoula Harakas), utilizes few if any props (a carpet, a single platform), and moves not to music but to live and prerecorded local sounds that can even incorporate the audience’s own preshow murmurings. This week the Cyprus-born, New York-based dancer and choreographer returns to the Kitchen for the world premiere of the aptly titled Premiere, a copresentation with Performa 13. Featuring Hassabi, Harakas, Robert Steijn, Biba Bell, and Andros Zins-Browne, with sound design by Alex Waterman and visual art and dramaturgy by Scott Lyall (both Hassabi regulars), Premiere explores that moment when a new piece and the public first come together, as performers and the performance meet viewer and critic. It’s sort of like a blind date, neither side quite knowing how things will go but hoping to make a connection. It’s a situation rife with fear, anticipation, and promise, and it should be fascinating to see how Hassabi brings that to life. Premiere runs at the Kitchen from November 6 to 9; Performa 13 continues through November 24 with such other shows as Molly Lowe’s Hands Off at Temp Arts Space, Cally Spooner’s And You Were Wonderful, on Stage at the National Academy, Einat Amir’s Our Best Intentions at Affirmation Arts, Pete Drungle’s Dream Sequences for Solo Piano at Roulette, and Katarzyna Krakowiak’s free The Great and Secret Show at the James A. Farley Post Office.
Abrons Arts Center Playhouse
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
Thursday, January 10, 7:00; Friday, January 11, 7:00; Saturday, January 12, 4:30; Sunday, January 13, 7:00
In November 2011, Maria Hassabi presented SHOW at the Kitchen, where she and longtime collaborator Hristoula Harakas slowly weaved, wiggled, and wound their way across the floor amid the audience, which was allowed to go wherever they wanted, whether standing in the back or sitting right next to the performers. This past June, Hassabi and Harakas took the fab gathering outdoors on Broad St. as part of the free River to River Festival, where they interacted not only with an audience specifically there to see them but with passersby who had no idea what was going on. Intricately connected with its surroundings, SHOW can next be seen January 10-13 at Abrons Arts Center as part of the “American Realness” festival. Featuring sound design by Alex Waterman that incorporates freshly recorded noise and voices, including those of the audience itself, SHOW is an intimate experience in which Hassabi and Harakas do amazing things with their bodies, displaying remarkable elegance and strength as they move incredibly slowly, staring deep into each other’s eyes, crawling over their bodies, and holding their legs in the air in breathtaking positions. But SHOW breaks down the wall between audience and performer only so much as the crowd separates like a human Red Sea to let Hassabi and Harakas dance through. “American Realness” runs January 10-20 and also features works by Trajal Harrell, Faye Driscoll, Jack Ferver, Jeanine Durning, Tere O’Connor, Juliana May, and others.
Thursday, January 10, Le Skyroom, French Institute Alliance Française, 22 East 60th St. between Madison & Park Aves., free with RSVP, 212-355-6160, 7:30
Friday, January 11, Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St., $20, 5:30
Saturday, January 12, Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St., $20, 3:00
In such engaging works as Rumble Ghost, Swann!, and Two Alike, dancer, writer, and choreographer Jack Ferver digs deep within himself while telling stories inspired by familiar pop-culture tales. He goes a few steps further with Mon Ma Mes, in which he explores the nature of fiction and reality in an extremely intimate and revealing performance about his life and work. Mon Ma Mes premiered at the French Institute Alliance Française’s 2012 Crossing the Line festival, and it is now being presented again at FIAF as well as the Abrons Arts Center January 10-12. In the sixty-minute piece, Ferver takes “questions” from not-necessarily-random people in the audience, pulls individuals out of the crowd to join him, and breaks out into painstaking movements as he relates deeply personal tales from his younger days. As with most of his works, Ferver infuses Mon Ma Mes with intentionally uncomfortable moments in which the audience is not quite sure whether to laugh or cry. An exquisitely talented dancer, Ferver, at times accompanied by Reid Bartelme, moves to Schubert and Chopin as well as a commissioned piece by electronic music artist Roarke Menzies, twirling, jumping, and doing push-ups in tight shorts while John Fireman films everything as part of a documentary he is making about him. Mon Ma Mes is another compelling, self-analytical evening-length work by one of New York’s most inventive performers.
(The performances are part of the annual American Realness series, held in conjunction with the APAP conference.
”American Realness” runs January 10-20 with such other events as Maria Hassabi’s Show, Trajal Harrell’s Antigone Sr. / Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church [L], Jeanine Durning’s inging, and Faye Driscoll’s You’re Me.)
Back in November, Maria Hassabi presented SHOW at the Kitchen, where she and longtime collaborator Hristoula Harakas slowly weaved, wiggled, and wound their way across the floor amid the audience, which was allowed to go wherever they wanted, whether standing in the back or sitting right next to the performers. Hassabi and Harakas are now taking the fab gathering outdoors as part of the free River to River Festival, where they will be interacting not only with an audience specifically there to see them but by passersby who are bound to wonder just what is going on. Featuring sound design by Alex Waterman that incorporates freshly recorded noise and voices, the performance is an intimate experience that is sure to have renewed life from being out in the sun, compared to the more cramped and dark black-box room at the Kitchen. Hassabi and Harakas can do amazing things with their bodies, displaying elegance and strength, in what we called back in November “a brilliant, often erotically charged evening-length piece performed by two dynamic, brave dancers unafraid to take risks, involving the audience in unique and, at times, demanding ways.”
Update: As it turns out, SHOW does indeed offer a very different kind of experience in its new incarnation outdoors as part of the River to River Festival. On a cobblestone path on Broad St., Maria Hassabi and Hristoula Harakas move incredibly slowly, staring deep into each other’s eyes, crawling over each other’s bodies, and lifting their legs high into the air in breathtaking positions. Depending on which angle you are watching from ― you can sit on sidewalk benches, move around the area, or spread out on the street itself, where you might have to get out of the dancers’ way as they approach you ― you can see the large American flag on the Stock Exchange building or the George Washington statue in front of Federal Hall in the background. Alex Waterman’s score mixes in noises recorded earlier around Wall St., including construction work and sirens, layered with live sound. Despite the intense heat, Hassabi and Harakas soldier on as tourists gawk, shutterbugs surround them, food deliverers speed by on their bicycles, and dogs on leashes amble past them. Yet the two extraordinary dancers manage to maintain the piece’s inherent intimacy, especially when they make extended eye contact with people in the crowd.
22-25 Jackson Ave. at 46th Ave.
Sunday, March 4, 1:00 - 6:00
Series continues through May 13
Suggested admission: $10 (free for MoMA ticket holders within thirty days of ticket)
MoMA PS1’s weekly Sunday Sessions continues on March 4 with another afternoon of diverse, cutting-edge programming. Darren Bader, whose sculptures are on view in “Images” (and where salad is served on Saturdays and Mondays), will present “E-Party” under the Performance Dome, an exploration of the letter E[e] with Enya and Ed Hardy at 1:00, Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse at 2:30, and an experimental dance party at 4:30 with DJs Justin Strauss, Darshan Jesrani, and Domie Nation. At 3:00 in the Mini-Kunsthalle, dancer-choreographer Maria Hassabi has invited Swedish multidisciplinary artist Mårten Spångberg to give an hour-long comedic lecture in conjunction with the publication of his latest book, Spangbergianism, followed by a discussion moderated by André Lepecki. “It’s an exorcism, an attempt to engage in the lowest and dirtiest truths, delusions, opportunisms and what we don’t talk about. It shows no mercy,” Spångberg writes in the preface. Also at 3:00, ARTBOOK @ MOMA PS1 will present Lars Müller in conversation with Steven Holl in the museum lobby, followed by a book signing of Steven Holl: Color Light Time and Steven Holl: Scale. In addition, be sure to check out the current exhibitions, which include “Darren Bader: Images,” “Clifford Owens: Anthology,” “Frances Stark: My Best Thing,” and shows by Henry Taylor, Surasi Kusolwong, Rania Stephan, and the art collective Chim↑Pom.
This month several dancer/choreographers have been putting on unique performances in transformed spaces. In SHOW, Maria Hassabi and Hristoula Harakas wound their way across the floor of the Kitchen, right in the middle of the audience. In The Thank-you Bar at New York Live Arts, Emily Johnson/Catalyst invites people through a long corridor into a dark room where they can sit on small cushions and later gather around a kiddie pool filled with leaves. And in Wooden at HERE, Laura Peterson has cut the usual stage in half, with one side covered by live grass that has been turning brown since the run began November 4. Instead of the usual rafters, the audience sits on long wooden benches on a hard white surface amid thick tree branches hanging from the ceiling. Peterson, Kate Martel, Edward Rice, and Janna Diamond move slowly on the grass, gently falling and rolling, Amanda K. Ringger’s lighting casting multiple shadows on the walls. The natural beauty of the piece is enhanced by the intoxicating smell of the outdoors and interstitial, animalistic solos by rotating guest artists Shannon Gillen, Meredith Fages, Luke Gutgsell, and Asimina Chremos in a makeshift hallway. Following an intermission in which the audience must leave the theater, the space is reversed, the benches now on the soft grass, the dancers performing on the harder floor. Whereas the first half, “Ground,” featured beautifully mellifluous organic movement, the second half, “Trees,” is much harsher, the choreography more robotic, the dancers wearing kneepads to protect them as they fall hard to the floor. Soichiro Migita’s sound design changes as well, now more techno-based, blips and beeps replacing the smoother sounds of the first section. Although the general comparison might be obvious, setting the warm, organic environment against a cold, computerized soulless society, and it occasionally does get repetitive, Wooden is a compelling work whose elements are, appropriately, biodegradable. To read our twi-ny talk with Peterson, click here.