A concert of original contemporary dance works by renowned choreographers will be performed by Queensborough dance students. The concert features Marjani Fortè-Saunders being Here, Robert Battle’s Rush Hour, Emily Berry’s Forgiveness, and Aviva Geismar’s Dis/Location. The program will also include works by student choreographers, highlighting the creative and collaborative spirit of dance and challenging students in bold and exciting ways.
Marjani Fortè-Saunders’ being Here is the first part of a trilogy that examines the intersection of mental illness, addiction and systemic poverty. Brian Seibert of The New York Times wrote that “being Here … takes a brave look at the ravages of mental illness and addiction…There’s a person in there, underneath the symptoms … [and] being Here gives us a glimpse.” Fortè-Saunders has performed with the dance company Urban Bush Women for 5 years and is now founder (with Nia Love) of LOVE|FORTÉ A COLLECTIVE. [www.loveforte.org]. For her own company, Marjani Fortè Works, she has received support from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Puffin Foundation, 651 Artists Development Initiative, LMCC and New Music America.
Robert Battle’s Rush Hour is a tour-de-force that “challenges dancers to express a range of emotions while executing bound, strong, unrelenting movements.” Joy Goodwin of the New York Sun noted that, “Rush Hour makes an audience sit up and take notice, marvel, even laugh. His work reaches over the edge of the stage and communicates with people.” Erika Pujic, former Battleworks Dance Company principal dancer and rehearsal director, was on faculty at QCC for five years and has set Battle’s Rush Hour. This year marks the 8th year QCC dance students have performed Battle’s choreography. Mr. Battle is currently the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Emily Berry’s Forgiveness is the culmination of having spent the past few years researching the topic of forgiveness with her company, B3W Performance Group. She traveled to 11 countries on 6 continents facilitating workshops on forgiveness in culturally diverse communities. QCC students went through the same process as her company in order to collaboratively create this inspiring piece. The students express their stories in their own movement languages on the topic of forgiveness. Emily Berry is the Artistic Director of B3W Performance Group, which has performed in the US, England, Greece, and Mexico. She received a Mondo Cane Commission from Dixon Place where the company premiered Confined. Her company will premiere Forgiveness at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, May 20-22, 2016. Emily is an Assistant Professor at QCC and directs the dance program. Writer, poet and former WBAI broadcaster Eva Yaa Asantewaa described Berry’s work as “Memorable, intelligent, strong.”
Aviva Geismar’s Dis/Location explores the trauma of losing one’s home and the struggle to find connections, with human-sized canvas sacks serving as restrictions against which the dancers struggle. The piece will be performed by eleven Queensborough students in this special adaptation. Aviva Geismar is the artistic director of Drastic Action, a contemporary dance company which has performed in many national and international venues for more than 20 years. She uses an idiosyncratic movement language to explore the nuances and paradoxes of human nature. Drastic Action will premiere “Dis/Location (Fort Tryon)” June 16-18, 2016 in Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights, NYC. These free public performances and associated workshops with local middle schools students are sponsored by: LMCC, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundations, Jody and John Arnhold and the PSC-CUNY Research Foundation. Geismar is an Assistant Professor at QCC. “Geismar’s dead-on understanding of social realities is like a poke in the ribs.” (Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 2005)