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International Human Rights Arts Festival to Feature HAMILTON Dancer, Bessie Winner and More


2016 Bessie Award-winning choreographer Joya Powell brings her Movement of the People Dance Company to the premiere International Human Rights Art Festival, New York City's first arts-advocacy festival of its kind.

The Festival, presented by The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, co-sponsored and housed at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, NYC), will take place March 3-5, 2017. As part of the Dance portion of the festival, Jessica Chen of JChen Dance project is working with three additional dance companies to create human rights-oriented dance. Jacqueline Dugal will also create a piece incorporating human rights texts.

Tickets are $10-25 and are now available online with full schedule and participant information at

"Dance can help translate unspoken fears and emotions..." noted Jessica Chen, of the J CHEN PROJECT, "the nuances of a leg held up, a body launched into space, a gesture of yearning is immensely powerful. For this festival, we will use movement and choreography to enhance the conversation about critical human rights issues."

J CHEN PROJECT Commissions: Jessica Chen of JChen Dance Project comissioned works will be based in and incorporate a specific textual inspiration, ranging from the words of great human rights defenders (such as MLK Jr. or Gandhi) to a bland recitation of statistics on refugees, civilian war deaths, famine due to autocratic governments etc. The four pieces, comprising an hour of dance, will run both Saturday and Sunday, and be previewed at the opening festivities. Saturday, March 4, at 10:00 pm; Sunday, March 5, at 4 pm (see below for full lineup)

Movement of the People Dance Company: 2016 Bessie Award (Outstanding Emerging Choreographer) winning Joya Powell will be bringing her Dance Company to the Art Festival stage. The award reads: For her passionate choreographic engagement with issues of justice and race in our communities and our country; for connecting with the audience in ways that make it clear that these concerns belong to all of us-and action is required. Saturday, March 4, at 1:30 pm

Spilling Ink presents Samasta, which means whole or complete in Sanskrit, India's classical language. The two-part dance project sheds light on ancient and contemporary verses that speak to the power of spiritual fervor to transcend evil, and echo righteousness, justice and truth. Saturday, March 4, at 1:30 pm

Delirious Dances shares an excerpt from "Three Rites," which integrates dance, text and interactive art to explore what does life, liberty and happiness mean in America today. Choreographer Edisa Weeks formed Delirious Dances to empower people through the immediacy of dance. Weeks creates intimate environments that merge theater with dance, to deliriously explore our deepest desires, darkest fears and sweetest dreams. Sunday, March 5, at 8:30 pm

Dugal Dance: Jacqueline Dugal will be creating a work based in and incorporating a specific textual inspiration, ranging from the words of great human rights defenders (such as MLK Jr. or Gandhi) to a bland recitation of statistics on refugees, civilian war deaths, famine due to autocratic governments etc. Sunday, March 5, at 8:30 pm

JChen Commissions include:

Tom Tsai's "Hands Dance" is about why we protest and what do we protest about?

Karla Puna Garcia's (Broadway's Hamilton) piece is about immigration, as Filipino American, from a immigrant family.

Heather Robles' (Managing Director of The Bessies Awards) piece is about women's rights.

Jessica Chen / J CHEN PROJECT will present two shorter pieces. "Digital Vortex" a multi-media piece about the overpowering influences of our media and how that shapes our identity, and "First Words" a trio with two dancers representing shackles about how we can sometimes feel confined but there's always a choice.

The International Human Rights Art Festival will bring together more than 70 artists producing more than 40 events, all of them oriented toward advocacy. Artistic media will include theatre, performance, dance, spoken word, painting, photography, music, literary arts, workshops, panel discussions, a kidsfest (hands-on activities to introduce children to using art for socially-transformative purpose), film and others. Rigorously curated for quality as well as content, the event includes some of New York's most passionate rising artist-activists. It will raise social, cultural and political issues, as well as offering gentle, positive responses through thoughtful beauty and political and social thinking.

International Human Rights Art Festival takes place at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St, NYC) from March 3-5, 2017. Dixon Place is located at 161A Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey Streets), in Manhattan's Lower East Side (By subway: B/D to Grand, F to 2nd Ave, J/Z to Bowery, 6 to Spring St, M to Essex St). Tickets are $10-25 and are now available online at


Producer Tom Block, a 20-year activist painter, author, playwright and arts producer, as well as creator of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival (MD, 2010) is bringing the concept to NYC, with the 2017 International Human Rights Art Festival. The event is part of the growing number of initiatives of the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, which Mr. Block founded last year to teach, learn from, and work with New York's activist artist community.

Jessica Chen is the Founder and Artistic Director of J CHEN PROJECT. Chen recently made her Choreographic Debut in the commercial theater world for an Off-Broadway production at the Minetta Lane Theater, West Village. She had the honor of choreographing and directing a Featured Float in the 2016 and 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition, she was featured in an article for both The Huffington Post and 2015 October Issue of Dance Magazine.

Chen was honored as Keynote Speaker at Cornell University's 2011 Celebration of Asian American Women for her work empowering female leadership within the community. Chen's choreography has been presented throughout NYC including NY Live Arts Studio Series, Brooklyn Museum of Art, HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place, Ailey Citigroup Theater, DUMBO Dance Festival and Ars Nova. International and National credits include 2010 World Expo USA Pavilion in Shanghai, China and the Amnesty International Arts Festival in Washington D.C.

Karla Puno Garcia is currently a swing in the Broadway production Hamilton. She made her Broadway debut in Hot Feet, a dance musical directed by Maurice Hines, then went on to perform in the Broadway revivals of West Side Story, and Gigi; and the National Tours of Wicked and Addam's Family. Karla was a female finalist on FOX's So You Think You Can Dance (Season 5), and was seen on MTV's ABDC as a member of the Boogie Bots. Other credits include touring Australia as a soloist for Rasta Thomas' Bad Boys of Dance; VH1 Divas Live; the Comedy Awards, Radio City, and a principal dancer on NBC's SMASH (season 2). In 2011, she was named UNIpro Magazine's Top 30 Filipinos Under 30.

As a choreographer, Karla is inspired by the great Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, and combines her technical foundations with different textures of Musical Theater, Contemporary, and Hip-Hop. Her work has been performed at the 2015 NY Jazz Choreography Project, Jenn Jancuska's BC Beat, Jared Grimes' Broadway Underground, theBlake Whyte Music Festival, and Dancin' Downtown at The Joyce Theater, where her pieceAi Du was selected as a finalist.

Assistant Producer Julia Levine, a participant in the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art, is a theatre artist, educator, and activist around environmental, social, and economic justice.

Heather Robles has choreographed over 30 dances spanning various genres, including movement for AKB48's music video River, works presented at The Ailey School's Fall Fest, Marymount Manhattan College's Dancers at Work productions and work for several professional dance companies, including her own.

As a performer, Heather has also worked with Veronica Tan, Meghan Pilling, VQ Productions, Veteran Productions, Expressions of Grace, CoreDance Contemporary, Marie-Christine Giordano Dance, Teresa Fellion/Bodystories, Artichoke Dance Company, Renegade Performance Group, Nathan Trice/RITUALS, and currently, Alison Cook Beatty Dance Company. Heather is currently the Associate Director of The New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies.

Thomas Tsai, originally from Taipei, Taiwan, has presented work throughout California at MixMatch Dance Festival, Dance & Movement Workshop for Educators, Nancy Evans Dance Theatre's Friends/Family Dance Festival, Long Beach Dance Foundation's Salon Night, and Salta Dance Collective's PPP. His work has also been included internationally at Quinzena Contemporary Dance Festival in Portugal and ABUNDANCE Dance Festival in Sweden.

Dixon Place is honored to host to the first Human Rights Art Festival in New York's vibrant artistic history. An artistic incubator since 1986, Dixon Place is a Bessie and Obie Award-winning non-profit institution committed to supporting the creative process by presenting original works of theater, dance, music, puppetry, circus arts, literature and visual art at all stages of development. Presenting over 1000 creators a year, this local haven inspires and encourages diverse artists of all stripes and callings to take risks, generate new ideas and consummate new practices. Many artists, such as Blue Man Group, John Leguizamo, Lisa Kron, David Cale, David Drake, Deb Margolin and Reno, began their careers at DP. In addition to emerging artists, Dixon Place has been privileged to present established artists such as Mac Wellman, Holly Hughes, Justin Bond, Karen Finley, Kate Clinton and Martha Wainwright. After spawning a salon in her Paris apartment in 1985, founding Artistic Director Ellie Covan pioneered the institution in her NYC living room for 23 years. Covan was a recipient of a Bessie, a New York Dance and Performance Award and a Bax10 Award for her service to the community. Dixon Place received two Obie Awards, and an Edwin Booth Award for Excellence in Theater. Dixon Place has organically developed and expanded into a leading professional, state-of-the-art facility for artistic expression.

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