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Okwui Okpokwasili Among New York Live Arts' 2015-16 Residency Artists

New York Live Arts today announced the recipients of a number of new works residency programs for the 2015-16 season and beyond as part of its newly envisioned new work development program, reflecting a renewed, industry-leading commitment to the support of the creative process. The celebrated New York-based writer, performer and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili will be the organization's third recipient of the Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA) award, the largest of its kind in the nation. Andrea Kleine, Sonya Tayeh, Adrienne Truscott, Preeti Vasudevan, Larissa Velez-Jackson and Gillian Walsh have been curated to develop new work to premiere in future seasons on the New York Live Arts stage through the Live Feed Program (formerly Studio Series).

Live Arts' resident artists reflect the organization's unparalleled commitment to developing new work and supporting the artist's creative growth. The organization's three Resident Artist programs include the Resident Commissioned Artist, the Live Feed Program and the Fresh Tracks Program. These wide-ranging residency programs cover new project development for artists at all stages of their careers from conception to premiere, offering infrastructural, networking and production support.

"Live Arts has established itself as one of New York City's most exciting and vital arts organizations, and with that comes an immense responsibility to significantly and continually further the support of artists," said Thomas O. Kriegsmann, Director of Programs. "We are incredibly proud to begin this two-year journey with Okwui, as well as extend and clarify our commitment to the artists' creation of new work, a vital element of any city's thriving artistic milieu."

During her tenure as RCA, Okpokwasili will develop her newest multi-disciplinary performance piece, Poor People's TV Room. Rooted in a kinetic history surrounding the women's resistance movement in Nigeria, the work draws from historical events to explore the amnesia around collective action initiated by African women, building a dystopian narrative around the impact of that erasure. Created with collaborator Peter Born, the work integrates choreography, song, text and film to make a visceral performance where the past and present collide. Poor People's TV Room will be presented at the end of Live Arts' 2016-17 season. Additionally, Bronx Gothic, Okpokwasili's celebrated work at the intersection of theater, dance and visual art installation, will be specially envisioned for the Live Arts stage and presented in October 2015.

"I am thrilled to be named Live Arts' newest RCA, and to receive the depth of support that this award and commission brings," said Okpokwasili. "I now have a two year span where my greatest concern can be the breadth of my imagination and the rigor of my practice. I look forward to this collaboration with New York Live Arts."

The Resident Commissioned Artist (RCA) Award, the highest tier of artistic support offered by New York Live Arts, is an unprecedented initiative that is the largest of its kind in the United States. Awarded to an outstanding mid-career artist, the program provides nearly $200,000 in direct support, including a salary each year for two years plus full health benefits, two years of residency time and a commission of a new work or works to premiere at New York Live Arts. Past Live Arts RCA's have included Yasuko Yokoshi and Kyle Abraham.

New York Live Arts' Resident Commissioned Artist program is made possible through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The second tier of residency support is the new works residency program entitled Live Feed (formerly Studio Series), offering artists sight unseen commitment to premiering work on Live Arts' stage within the two years following the artist's completion of the Live Feed residency. Live Arts provides the Live Feed artists space and support in various forms, from residency to administrative, development and production. Next year's program will support the following six artists at various stages of their careers in building the foundation of their next major work: Andrea Kleine, Sonya Tayeh, Adrienne Truscott, Preeti Vasudevan, Larissa Velez Jackson and Gillian Walsh. The artists were chosen for their recent track-record of ambitious new work, the scope and nature of their planned projects and their respective place in New York Live Arts' vision.

The projects presented by the 2015-16 Live Feed artists run the gamut from Vasudevan's multimedia, Bharatanatyam-inspired Stories by Hand in collaboration with multimedia artist Paul Kaiserto Larissa Velez- Jackson's further investigation of her outlandish queer family band, YACKEZ. The Emmy-nominated Tayeh will use the residency to work on You'll Still Call Me By Name (working title), a cathartic dance-symphony created in collaboration with acclaimed indie folk duo The Bengsons, based on the emotionally charged dream-memoir of her deeply complex relationship with her mother, the extreme beauty and enlightenment of an individual's sudden transformation and the tumult it can cause for those around them; Kleine will present Torture Playlist, a work inspired by the music the US government inflicts on prisoners; Walsh will be developing a new work; and Truscott will present Wild Bore, a collaboration between three artists, distinctively created and rehearsed across the dancers' three respective continents of origin. Dates for the 2015-16 Live Feed showings can be found in the listing info below.

The third major new work development program-serving artists' creative growth and opening a door into the Live Arts community-is the historic and widely lauded Fresh Tracks Residency Program, now in its 51st year. The program is among the oldest and most successful of its kind within a wide pool of new work residency programs provided in the region. Each year, five to six emerging choreographers are selected by a panel through a live audition process. Artists receive research, development, production and performance support across several months, including two public showings of in-process and fully realized works. Fresh Tracks provides opportunities for participating artists to engage directly with New York Live Arts staff, artists and arts professionals regarding their work within the context of the professional contemporary dance and performance field. Auditions will be held in September 2015, followed by public showings in February and June 2016.

Season Details:

Okwui Okpokwasili
Bronx Gothic
Oct 21-24 at 7:30pm
Tickets start at $15

Sonya Tayeh
You'll Still Call Me By Name (working title)
Dec 4 & 5, 2015, at 6pm
Tickets: $8

Gillian Walsh
Title TBD
Feb 26 & 27, 2016, at 6pm
Tickets: $8

Andrea Kleine
Torture Playlist
Mar 18 & 19, 2016, at 6pm
Tickets: $8

Preeti Vasudevan
Stories by Hand
Apr 8 & 9, 2016, at 6pm
Tickets: $8

Larissa Velez-Jackson
Title TBD
Apr 15 & 16, 2016, at 6pm
Tickets: $8

Adrienne Truscott
Wild Bore
May 20 & 21, 2016, at 6pm
Tickets: $8

Okwui Okpokwasili
Poor People's TV Room
Spring 2017
Exact dates TBA

About the Artists:

Okwui Okpokwasili is a New York-based writer, performer and choreographer. In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects that are raw, intimate experiences. Their first New York production, Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Production; an immersive installation version was featured in the 2008 Prelude Festival. Their second collaboration, Bronx Gothic, won a 2014 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Production and continues to tour nationally and internationally. In June of 2014, they presented an installation version entitled Bronx Gothic: The Oval as part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's River to River Festival. Their current project in development is Poor People's TV Room, an early iteration of which was presented by Lincoln Center in the David Rubinstein Atrium in June 2014.

As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with award-winning director Ralph Lemon, including How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?; Come home Charley Patton (for which she also won a New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award); a duet performed at The Museum of Modern Art as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century; and, most recently, Ralph Lemon's Scaffold Room. She has appeared as an actor in many productions, including Nora Chipaumire's Miriam; Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream; Kristin Marting's Sounding; Young Jean Lee's LEAR; Richard Foreman's Maria del Bosco; Richard Maxwell's Cowboys and Indians; and Joan Dark (The Goodman Theater/The Linz European Capital of Culture). Film credits include Malorie's Final Score, Knut Åsdam's Abyss, The Interpreter, The Hoax and I Am Legend.

Okpokwasili's residencies and awards include The French American Cultural Exchange (2006-2007); Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012); Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist-in-Residence (2013), NewYork Live Arts Studio Series (2013); Under Construction at the Park Avenue Armory (2013); New York Foundation for the Arts' Fellowship in Choreography (2013); Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Extended Life Program (2014-15); The Foundation for Contemporary Arts' artist grant in dance (2014), BRIClab (2015), Columbia University (2015) and the Rauschenberg Residency (2015).

Peter Born is a director, designer and filmmaker. In addition to his work with Okpokwasili, he is currently collaborating with David Thomson on a cycle of installation/performances revolving around a post-sexual incarnation of Venus, happening throughout 2015-16. He designed and created the set for Nora Chipaumire's rite/riot and he has created performance videos with Chipaumire, Thomson and Daria Fain, among others. He works as an art director and prop stylist for video and photo projects with clients such as Vogue, Estee Lauder, Barney's Co-op, Bloomingdales, Old Navy, "25" magazine, Northrup Grumman and The Wall Street Journal, with collaborators including Kanye West, Barnaby Roper, Santiago and Mauricio Sierra, Quentin Jones and NoStringsUS Puppet Productions. He is a former New York public high school teacher, an itinerant floral designer, corporate actor-facilitator and furniture designer. His collaborations with Okwui Okpokwasili have garnered two New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Awards.

Andrea Kleine has been described as an "enigmatic and eccentric" (The New York Times), "brainy, allusive Downtown artist" (Village Voice), whose work is "wry, poignant" (The New York Times) and "something like genius" (ArtVoice). Her hybrid performance pieceshave been presented at The Chocolate Factory Theater, PS 122, Dance TheaterWorkshop, Danspace Project, Walker Art Center, Red Eye Theater, HallwallsContemporary Arts Center, Franklin Furnace, The Kitchen and many other venues. Shehas received numerous commissions, grants and awards including support from theJerome Foundation, Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, Lower Manhattan CulturalCouncil, Slamdance Film Festival, IFP Market, New York State Council on the Arts, NYCDepartment of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Music Fund. She has been a Movement Research artist-in-residence, a Mabou Mines artist-in-residence and a Montalvo Art Center literary fellow. She has received five MacDowell Colony fellowships and the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship award. Her critical writing has been published in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Everyday Genius, NYFA Current, PAJ: a journal of performance and art, and on her blog, The Dancers Will Win. Her novel, CALF, will be published by Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press in October 2015.

Sonya Tayeh graduated with a B.F.A. in dance from Wayne State University and has since gone on to win many accolades for her choreography, including the Lucille Lortel award and the Obie award for her work on David Henry Hwang's "Kung Fu," for which she also received a Drama Desk nomination. An Emmy-nominee from FOX's So You Think You Can Dance, Tayeh has also created works for Madonna, Florence and the Machine, Kylie Minogue and Miley Cyrus. Stage credits include: Martha Graham Dance Company/LamentationVariation (Joyce Theatre); Kung Fu (Signature Theatre); The Last Goodbye (Old Globe, Williamstown); Spring Awakening (San Jose Repertory Theatre); Walk for Water (Cirque du Soleil); WAVE, NEXT WAVE, QUARTET; (Los Angeles Ballet); "The Root of Me", "EnduranceTo Move", and Battles" (Tayeh Dance Company).

Adrienne Truscott has been making genre-straddling work in New York City and abroad for about 15 years. She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, the Fosters' Panel Prize, the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Ingenuity and was a finalist for the Total Theater Award for experimentation with form. Her evening-length solo work and group works have been presented variously at Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs, Darwin Festival, PS122, Joe's Pub, The Kitchen, Dublin Fringe, Danspace, and Dance Theater Workshop among others. Truscott has worked with Deborah Hay, David Neumann, Sarah Michelson and Half-Straddle Theater Co. and has taught at Wesleyan University, Sarah Lawrence College and NYC LGBT Center. She engages many genres of performance that look, act and intend differently and has consistently sought out different environments for her work rather than relegate it to specific economic, social, aesthetic, or geographic contexts. Curious about how modes of presentation interact with different forms and how that can upend assumptions that often accompany these forms and their traditional audiences, she says yes to most offers and is attracted to the possibility of failure as a mandate for rigor.

Award-winning choreographer and educator Preeti Vasudevan is an exponent of classical Bharatanatyam creating new provocative contemporary works from the Indian tradition. Original works performed by her company, Thresh, have earned international acclaim for their fresh juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary voices (2009 META award for The Absent Lover and 7 nominations in 2013 for Savitri- dancing in the forest of death). Recenthighlights include: 2015 Atelier award, LIMS, NY; Artist in residence, New York Live Arts (2015-16) NY; Commissioned new work, Veiled Moon, by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015 (NY); Commissioned new work, Boxed, by Jacques D'Amboise's National Dance Institute 2014 (NY); Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Connect 2014-15 (NY); Presenter for the 2013 TEDxBarnard (Columbia University); Judson Church (NY) 2013; Commissioned work, Drumming a Dream, by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (2009) NY; Advance theater training with director Anne Bogart and the SITI company (NY); International Choreographer's Residency (ADF 2003), American Dance Festival (ADF); Faculty (ADF 2004); Emerging choreographer series (Joyce Foundation, NY 2003); As an educator, Vasudevan's ground-breaking educational website, Dancing for the Gods has been developed to build a cultural bridge through creative Indian dance and used in NYC Public Schools. Vasudevan holds a Master's in Dance Studies from Laban Centre London and is a Certified Movement Analyst from the Laban Institute of Movement Studies in New York.

Larissa Velez-Jackson is a NYC-based choreographer and multimedia artist. She has shown work at numerous NYC venues such as: (former) Dance Theater Workshop '09, Danspace Fall Platform '10, American Realness Festival '11 at Abrons Arts Center, New Museum of Contemporary Art '12 and Chocolate Factory Theater '14. In 2011, she launched a multimedia collaboration with her husband Jon Velez-Jackson called YACKEZ. YACKEZ most recently performed in residence at El Museo Del Barrio, February '15. Velez-Jackson was a danceweb scholar at Impulstanz Festival via the Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant '12. Following that, she was a Movement Research Artist in Residence '12-'13 and a SPARC resident '13 with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In May '14, LVJ performed an exciting mobile outdoor work, S.P.E.D. THE BX, with the support of Bronx non-profit Pepatían, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, The Point CDC and BAAD Bronx. S.P.E.D. THE BX culminated for an audience of 70 children and BRONXNET cable television. Velez-Jackson has taught mind/body wellness and fitness classes at 92 St Y and West Side Y in Manhattan for ten years, specializing in the older adult population.

Gillian Walsh is a dance artist from Brooklyn, NY. Her recent work Scenario: Script to Perform premiered at The Kitchen April 2015. Her previous work, Grinding and Equations, appeared in different incarnations at various spaces including Ben Pryor's Festival TBD: Emergency Glitter at Abrons Arts Center. That piece was called "a highlight of the season" by The New York Times and named one of the Best Dances of 2013 by Time Out New York. In 2014 she was an ISSUE project room artist-in-residence, a Triple Canopy Commission Recipient and was nominated for a Dance and Performance Bessie Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer. This summer she will be a danceWEB scholar at the impulsTanz festival in Vienna. As a performer she works with various artists including luciana achugar, Neal Medlyn, Adrienne Truscott, among others.

ABOUT NEW YORK LIVE ARTS - New York Live Arts is an internationally recognized destination for innovative movement-based artistry offering audiences access to art and artists notable for their conceptual rigor, formal experimentation and active engagement with the social, political and cultural currents of our times. At the center of this identity is Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director, a world-renowned choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer.

We commission, produce and present performances in our 20,000 square foot home, which includes a 184-seat theater and two 1,200 square foot studios that can be combined into one large studio. New York Live Arts serves as home base for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, provides an extensive range of participatory programs for adults and young people and supports the continuing professional development of artists.

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