Mark DeGarmo Dance's LAS FRIDAS Begins at The Clemente Today
First debuting to New York City audiences in December 2015, previews for Mark DeGarmo's work, "Las Fridas," continue this spring in a co-production with The Clemente.
Performances run Wednesday - Sunday, beginning today, April 20 - 24, 2016, 8:00 pm and Saturday - Sunday, April 23 - 24, 2016, 3:00 pm at The Flamboyán Theater, The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, NYC 10002.
A 60-minute movement installation, "Las Fridas" is a love letter to Mexico and an offering to Frida Kahlo. It is composed of 16 sections in two equal 30-minute divisions of 8, creating a Mesoamerican mandala structure of four 4s. Duality of sun and moon, mother and child, sacred and secular, ancient and current appear throughout Kahlo's indigenous and mestizo, naïve and experienced imagery. In keeping with Kahlo's symbolism, the sections are paired across the work's two parts, structured as internal and external dyads.
While originally conceived over 30 years ago, DeGarmo completed "Las Fridas" during the past 7 years. More than solely existing in the dance sphere, the work plunges into a transcultural, transdisciplinary art space that is also theatrical and visual. Educational theorist Maxine Greene's hands and Living Theatre Co-Founder Judith Malina's feet appear as video projections and ex-votos through the windows of Frida's "Casa Azul." In offering this work for public viewing, choreographer Mark DeGarmo pays homage to his mothers, grandmothers, mentors and friends.
With Marie Baker-Lee playing the role of Dark Frida at the evening performances and Luis Gabriel Zaragoza stepping in for the matinees, the shuffling of gender roles challenges audiences to embrace the many little-known sides of Kahlo, beyond the charming "Fridita" the public knew her to be. Melanie Brown, of StageBuddy.com, hits on a different lens through which she viewed the performance:
"...the piece brings to center stage something that is frequently the elephant in the room when it comes to dance: aging. Neither DeGarmo nor Baker-Lee are young dancers; their performance brings the focus of this work to the aging body, as well as to the aging of relationships with other people and the self. In imagining Kahlo's continuing relationship with herself into old age, DeGarmo succeeds in reflecting the human condition when it comes to aging. As an homage to Kahlo and the culture she always used as a backdrop for her art, the work achieves its goals beautifully, but "Las Fridas" could easily stand alone as a study in the progression of time, and the inevitable dissonance that occurs when what you see in the mirror is no longer the way you feel inside."
DeGarmo has had a distinguished international career as choreographer and performer and his creative work reflects his passion for intercultural exchange. He describes his creative process as a synthesis of diverse influences:
"I am interested in exploring the roles of dance and the dancer in different cultures and to travel and interact with people from all over the world. My work has enabled me to dance, teach and work in a variety of cultural settings, including El Salvador; Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, Eastern Europe, Peru, Russia, France, England and more.These journeys fill me up with sounds, images, experiences and motion, and inspire me with new dreams for new ways to move and to speak through the dancing and moving body. I come home filled with new perspectives on what it is to be alive and full of dreams about the future. I return feeling connected with a transcultural and transdisciplinary community of artists."
Mark DeGarmo Dance presents original artist-scholar works that reflect and celebrate the multicultural experience of our communities. Over the past 20 years, Mark DeGarmo has created and produced over 100 dances and 28 international tours involving cultural diplomacy and exchange in 12 countries across Latin America and Europe. "Las Fridas" will tour Mexico in 2016. In 2015 DeGarmo received the Martha Hill Dance Fund's 15th Anniversary Mid-Career Award and the Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth Foundation's Recognition.
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center is a multicultural multi-arts cultural center which serves as an advocate for and supporter of not only Latino artists and organizations, but a broad spectrum of multicultural artists and organizations. Mark DeGarmo Dance has been a resident organization of The Clemente since 2001. The December 2015 showing of "Las Fridas" was held in The Clemente Studio 517 for a smaller and more intimate audience.
IF YOU GO:
New York City Previews of "Las Fridas: A Movement Installation and Offering"
by Mark DeGarmo, Choreographer and Director
Admission: $20, $25 | Ticket reservations: lasfridas.eventbrite.com.
For more about the event, visit www.theclementecenter.org/event/fridas.
Photo Credit: Leon Anthony James