Columbia University's Miller Theatre Kicks Off MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS 2013 Tonight
The Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University have announced the 2nd annual MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS, which kicks off tonight, September 14 with a week of daily free participatory arts workshops (through Friday, September 20), and culminates in a procession on Saturday, September 21. This event is produced in partnership with Friends of Morningside Park and their annual Common Ground festival. Complete details and sign-up forms are available at www.morningside-lights.com.
Last year's inaugural Morningside Lights explored the theme "The Imagined City," with participants carrying illuminated skyscrapers soaring high above the crowds through Morningside Park. On the evening of September 21, 2013, a sea-floor fantasy of luminescent life forms-"The Luminous Deep"-will emerge from the neighborhood workshops of the second annual Morningside Lights, lighting the way once again from Morningside Park to the Columbia University campus. "Eerily beautiful" is how Time Out New York described last year's pageant.
The Lantern-Building Workshops
From tonight, September 14 through Friday, September 20, daily lantern-building workshops will take place at Miller Theatre, Broadway and 116th Street.
Workshops are free and open to participants of all backgrounds and abilities. Activities are geared toward teens and adults, but kids ages 8 and up are welcome with adult supervision. Participants are invited to put their creative skills to use while building illuminated lanterns and fantastical sea-inspired sculptures.
On Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15, workshops will run fromnoon to 6 p.m. During the week, workshops will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Those interested in taking part can visit www.morningside-lights.com for more information and to sign up for the build, the procession, or both.
The Creative Team
Visual artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop (PAW)-whose stunning creations lead the New York City's annual Halloween Parade-will teach building techniques and help community members realize their ideas through the creation of large-scale illuminated objects.
Musicians of all backgrounds are also invited to participate in a world premiere by composer Nathan Davis, who also wrote the score for last year's procession. Those interested will have opportunities to both build and perform on handmade musical instruments inspired by the sea.
From Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, Artistic Directors of Processional Arts Workshop: "We see processional art as a means to reflect on local and current realities. After Hurricane Sandy flooded New York, we were struck, as we listened to New Yorkers' harrowing stories, by how increasingly precarious and illusory the city's separation from nature really is. Whereas last year's procession was a celebration of the heights of utopian urbanism and manmade structures, we felt this year should address the deep and inevitable connection of the city to nature. The great cliff-side of Morningside Park is one of the few places in the city where you can still sense the vestiges of New York's prehistoric geography, so for the The Luminous Deep, we used the idea of the depths as a post-diluvian allegory. Imagining the deepest and oldest recesses of the natural world, our sea-floor fantasy of bio-luminescent creatures seeks to ask what lies beneath the fragile presence of human artifice, while recalling, in the wake of Sandy's waters, how those surrounded by darkness find ways to make their own light. "
Processional Arts Workshop
Processional Arts Workshop (PAW), under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, creates site-specific parades, processions, and immersive theatre happenings worldwide. Inspired by diverse, global traditions of Carnivalesque street theater, large-scale puppetry, and ritual pageant, PAW uses processional art as means to build and sustain community spirit and awareness, designing original works for established public events and festivals, as well as seeding site-specific pageant traditions in communities where no such events may have existed before. Drawing on regional cultures, history, folklore, ethnicity, and current sociopolitical concerns, PAW engages local residents in every stage of production, empowering them to identify and express the narratives that uniquely define "local" in their own community, against the modern tide of global homogenization.
The resulting works bring together hundreds of volunteers - integrating pageant puppetry, mobile architecture, illumination and projection, masked costume, and sound. Though best known for their giant puppet performances that lead NY's Village Halloween Parade each year, PAW has also created work for Socrates Sculpture Park, the High Line (for the PEN World Voices Festival), Trinidad Carnival, the EON Performance Festival in Istanbul, the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theatre, and the opening ceremonies of the Walkway Over the Hudson. In addition PAW has worked with communities internationally to create processions, flashmobs, and mobile performances in locales ranging from the streets of Kiev to the South Bronx; from Italian Alps to rural Texas. Their work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Trinidad, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Artists and Communities Grant, a CEC Artslink Grant to Ukraine, a Dutchess County Arts Council Project Grant, and a Roman Witt Visiting Artist Fellowship at University of Michigan. Alex and Sophia have also lectured on PAW's work and Carnivalesque art in general, at the New School, Bard College, Maine College of Art, University of the West Indies, and Kiev's Les Kurbas Centre. A complete catalogue of PAW's projects can be found at www.processionalarts.org.