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Three Epic Dance Programs Announced For Park Avenue Armory

Three Epic Dance Programs Announced For Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory's first full season of artistic programming culminates with the presentation of three dance companies: Shen Wei Dance Arts, STREB Extreme Action, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Highlighting the distinct visions and vocabularies of each choreographer, the programs draw upon the Armory's scale and character to immerse audiences in performances unhindered by the constraints of traditional performance spaces.

Beginning November 29, Shen Wei Dance Arts will stage a new work commissioned by the Armory and created during their time as an Armory Artist-in-Residence, alongside two of the company's signature pieces. Beginning December 14, STREB Extreme Action performs new gravity-defying works throughout the Armory's 55,000-square-foot, 85-foot-high Wade Thompson Drill Hall. And, on New Year's Eve, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will present the final performances of their nearly 60-year trajectory with the site-specific Park Avenue Armory Events. Celebrating the artistic genius of Merce Cunningham and showcasing the seminal influence that his Company has had on visual and performing arts and the American avant garde, this presentation offers audiences one final chance to see the Company before it is disbanded.

"Each of these three dance companies is known for creating work for non-traditional spaces, and each program at the Armory showcases new work that is informed by and that responds to the unique qualities of our expansive drill hall. The performances will provide audiences with dance that dynamically connects the artists with the audience in dramatically different ways," stated Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. "We are especially honored to once again be presenting the groundbreaking Merce Cunningham Dance Company, this time in their historic final performances."

Major support for this programming is provided by The Rockefeller Foundation. Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Prospect Hill Foundation. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.armoryonpark.org.

SHEN WEI DANCE ARTS
November 29 - December 3, 2011, at 7:30pm
December 4, 2011, at 2pm
Tickets: $35

Undivided Divided
World Premiere (Park Avenue Armory commission)
Concept, Choreography, and Sets: Shen Wei
Original Score: S? Percussion
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton
Digital Media and Animation: Josh Horowitz, Layne Braunstein
Costume Design: Austin Scarlett
Sound Design: Lawson White

Rite of Spring
Premiered: 2003 (American Dance Festival)
Choreography, Sets, and Costumes: Shen Wei
Music: Igor Stravinsky (Four-hand piano version recorded by Fazil Say)
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton

Folding
Premiered: 2000 (originally created for China's Guangdong Modern Dance Company)
Choreography, Set, Costume, and Make Up: Shen Wei
Music: John Tavener and Tibetan Buddhist Chants
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton

Following his creative exploration as a Park Avenue Armory Artist-in-Residence, Artistic Director Shen Wei and his company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, performs a bold world premiere work that heralds the next direction for the ensemble. Created during the Company's 16-month residency at the Armory, Undivided Divided combines handcrafted scenic elements with expansive digital projection in a performance that makes dynamic use of the boundless possibilities available in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall. Sixty 7'x7' visually distinct squares line the floor of the drill hall, providing 60 performance zones for the Company's 32 dancers. Each is distinguished with its own vocabulary and aesthetic by the use of lighting, projections, and Shen Wei's own scenic design elements. Twelve hand-crafted and performative installations line the rear perimeter of the stage space, designed to go beyond the visual and auditory aspects of the performance and create a wholly immersive experience. Audiences will be invited to move throughout the performance, creating moments of intimate engagement and highly individualized experiences. The evening-length program also includes restagings of two of Shen Wei's most celebrated works: Rite of Spring (2003), a study of deliberate versus reflexive movement set to a four-hand piano arrangement of Stravinsky's famous composition; and Folding (2000), which combines highly stylized movement with the ethereal melodies of John Tavener and traditional Tibetan Buddhist chants.

STREB Extreme Action
December 14 - 16, 20, 22, 2011, at 7pm
December 17 & 21, 2011, at 2pm & 7pm
December 18, 2011, at 3pm
Tickets: $35

Kiss the Air!
Action Architect and Choreographer: Elizabeth Streb
Composer: David Van Tiegham
Costume Design: Andrea Lauer
Video Design: Erik Pearson
Lighting Design: Robert Wierzel

New York's own "action heroes," STREB Extreme Action stretches the limitations of the human body. Choreographer and MacArthur "genius" award recipient Elizabeth Streb takes over the Armory's expansive Wade Thompson Drill Hall with Kiss the Air!, a performance of six new large-scale works that incorporate ziplines, ladders, trampolines, hoops, bungee cords, and a pool of water. The performance is anchored by Ascension, which encompasses a 21-foot turning ladder on which nine dancers attempt to balance and Human Fountain, which features sixteen performers leaping from a three-storey honey comb structure to create the effect of a human Bellagio Fountain. Also included are Falling Sideways, which uses stuntmen's Air Rams to launch dancers at lightning speed past the audience; Pass, which uses hoops and trampolines to create a gigantic human pendulum; 100 mph, during which two dancers will be attached to cables and turned into human sling shots; and Kiss The Water, in which dancers in bungee cords soar over the audience-and a pool of water-in the center of the drill hall. Part aerial dance, part daredevil act, Elizabeth Streb's work defies the natural laws of motion and gravity to create a visual and auditory tour de force.

MERCE CUNNINGHAM DANCE COMPANY
December 29 - 31, 2011, at 6:30pm & 9:00pm
Tickets: $10
Park Avenue Armory Events
Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Arranged by Robert Swinston
Music by David Behrman, John King, Takehisa Kosugi, and Christian Wolf
Décor by Daniel Arsham


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by Barnett Serchuk