Stephen Petronio Returns Back To Danspace Stage After Career Launching Season 40 Years Ago

Danspace Project and Stephen Petronio Company present three evenings of dance to celebrate legacy, the Now, and the Voices of Tomorrow.

By: Nov. 22, 2022
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Stephen Petronio Returns Back To Danspace Stage After Career Launching Season 40 Years Ago

Danspace Project and Stephen Petronio Company partner to present Bloodlines/Bloodlines(future), December 8-10, 2022 at Danspace Project's home in the historic St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery.

Returning to the stage where Petronio had his first evening-length show forty years ago, the season is a full circle moment for the company's founder; a re-staging of a work by Petronio's mentor and postmodern icon, Steve Paxton, a new and evolving work adapted for the Danspace Project stage created by Petronio for his ensemble of artists, and three in development and new works by early career choreographers, Davalois Fearon, Tendayi Kuumba and Greg Purnell (UFlyMothership), and Johnnie Cruise Mercer.

A concept that began in 2014 to honor and preserve a lineage of postmodern dance artists who have inspired Petronio's career as a dancemaker, the company's Bloodlines initiative continues this season with a look at Steve Paxton's structured improvisational movement score, Jag Vill Gärna Telefonera (I Would Like to Make a Phone Call), originally performed by Paxton and Robert Rauschenberg in 1964. The version on this program was a new iteration performed by Petronio and Randy Warshaw years later in 1982 at Danspace Project and was drawn from a visual score of sports photographs created by Paxton. The dancers imitated the positions of the subjects in the score in their own artistic way.

Having created more than 35 works for his ensemble throughout his career seasoned with elements of his greatest influences, Petronio continues to make dances for today's audience informed by a shifting cultural context. Originally conceived as a moving meditation filmed during the COVID-19 lockdown, RE New New Prayer For Nowbursts onto the stage as a call for connection and hope. This reconceived version of the dance has been restructured for the specific architecture of the St. Mark's Church sanctuary. A bold and visceral dialogue between bodies, space, and the viewer's eye, this work is a collaboration with composer/performance artist Monstah Black, who created the music based on the treasured songs "Balm in Gilead" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," recorded with The Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC), under the direction of Francisco Núñez.

Postmodern dancemakers like Paxton, Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer and Rudy Perez are credited with nurturing the talents of Petronio as a young dancer and choreographer. With the Bloodlines(future) initiative, Petronio is committed to paying it forward; commissioning new voices in the field and facilitating needed future-facing dialogue and innovation in the modern dance space on stage and off. This season, he invites three early career choreographers to present works that were commissioned by SPC in the past three years. Bessie Award-winning choreographer and SPC alumni Davalois Fearon will perform excerpts of Finding Herstory (2021), paying homage to Africanist dance forms Kumina, Doundounba, Congolese, Ska, Reggae, and Dancehall and their greater influences on the American dance landscape. The Adventures of Mr. Left Brain and Ms. Right by choreographer Tendayi Kuumba in collaboration with multimedia artist and musician Greg Purnell(known collectively as UFlyMothership) delves into the conflict of technology vs. nature, the analytical vs. the spiritual through song, movement, storytelling, and discovery. Johnnie Cruise Mercer's Process memoir 9 (Vol 8): 'back to love,' together with his collaborators, is a cumulative work across the three-evening season to explore and embody the three forms of love; eros, philos, and agape.

"It's a thrill to come back to Danspace, the first venue to ever produce my work," notes Petronio. "And to do so in conversation with a work from history that empowers me, alongside these voices of the future that inspire me, makes this evening a profound one for me," he continues.

"With Bloodlines/Bloodlines(future), Stephen is paying this generosity forward by commissioning young choreographers," adds Judy Hussie-Taylor, Danspace Project's Executive Director & Chief Curator. "When Stephen opened the Petronio Residency Center, he approached me about a Danspace partnership in support of emerging choreographers," she continues. "Johnnie Cruise Mercer and Tendayi Kuumba were two of the first choreographers to have Danspace Project residencies at PRC and I am looking forward to seeing their new works in our space this season."


Seating Sections:

$20 General Admission (unless otherwise noted)

Wheelchair user tickets are available.

Danspace Member Pricing:

$10 Students, Seniors, Solo and Annual Patron Members Tickets

Tickets on sale at (through OvationTix).


All events will take place at Danspace Project in St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East 10th Street (at 2nd Avenue), New York, NY in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood.

Nearest Accessible Subway stations:

L to 1st Avenue

L, N, Q, R, W to 14th Street/Union Square

COVID-19 Safety (as of October 2022)

Danspace Project COVID19 Protocols for audience, staff and other event participants are subject to change pending community transmission levels. Please check for the most up-to-date information when purchasing your ticket.

Stephen Petronio Company was founded in 1984 to support the creative work of modern dance choreographer Stephen Petronio. He has since honed a unique language of movement that speaks to the intuitive and complex possibilities of the body within our current time. Petronio has produced more than 80 works and the Company has performed before thousands of audience members nationally and internationally, including a regular New York City performance presence. Since 2015, in addition to continuing to develop and present Stephen Petronio's original choreography, the Company's mission has expanded to include legacy initiatives meant to honor the past, present, and future in the field of dance through new projects designed to amplify and complement Petronio's original mission. Through the Bloodlines initiative, SPC has restaged and presented 12 postmodern dance works by Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, Rudy Perez and Steve Paxton, and has commissioned three new solo works to date from young choreographers through Bloodlines(future). Petronio Residency Center, located in the Hudson Valley, supports future choreographic invention in the field with artist residencies as well as education and environmental | @stephenpetroniocompany

Davalois Fearon is a critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, and educator. Her work is driven by an aim to confront complex social problems and compel a profound contemplation of these issues by audiences - whether in renowned New York City venues such as The Joyce Theater or Metropolitan Museum of Art or in academic venues from New York to Florida. She has explored a wide range of social crises and challenges, from water rights to white supremacy, often coupling performances with awareness-raising events that broaden the impact and sustainability of her work. Born in Jamaica and raised in the Bronx, Fearon draws deeply on her experience as an immigrant, which has shaped her distinctive approach to dance-making and her unique movement vocabulary. This manifests in choreography that is said to reflect a "tenacious virtuosity." Her artistic lineage also extends from a 12-year career (2005-2017) with the Stephen Petronio Company, where she was a favorite of Petronio audiences for her bold performances. Fearon has received numerous prestigious grants and awards, including a MAP Fund Grant and a 2017 Bessie Award. In 2016, Fearon founded the Davalois Fearon Dance to push artistic and social boundaries. Learn more at

A 2021 Princess Grace Award Recipient in Choreography, Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a queer-black think-maker, a choreographer, educator, impresario, and social entrepreneur based in New York City. A native of Richmond, VA, Johnnie holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2021, Johnnie was nominated for two Bessie Awards in Dance and Performance: Outstanding Breakthrough Choreographer 2021, and Outstanding Production 2021 (for his choreography/direction on _AShadow Prince. alongside videographer: Tj Jacobs, creative director: Torian Ugworji, and composer: Monstah Black, whose work was also nominated for Outstanding Sound Design). Johnnie's choreographic work has been seen and/or shared by 92Y Harkness Dance Center, The Dixon Place, Danspace Project Inc, The Fusebox Festival, BAAD!, Abrons ArtsCenter, Mana Contemporary, La Mama Experimental Theater, The NADA Conference, Abrons Arts Center, The Clarice Performing Arts Center's The BlackLight Summit, and most recently in at The 2022 American Dance Festival (premiering a co-choreographed duet with season mentor/friend Stephen Petronio). Johnnie is the founding producer, and company director of TheREDprojectNYC (TRPNYC), a multidisciplinary ensemble of artists dedicated to the study of movement philosophy, and its use towards building communal spaces for black/other process, documentation, and investigation. Find out more about him (and his company) on instagram @johnniecruisemercer or @jcm_redprojectnyc.

UFlyMothership is Tendayi Kuumba & Greg Purnell. Collaborating since 2017, past works include Incog-Negro, U.F.O. "The Mixtape,'' HEROINE, and U.F.O: Stardust Melanin. Produced at AfroPunk, D.I.R.T. Festival Harriet's Gun, Movement Research's Spring Festival, Czech Republic of NY, Prague Effects Residency, Danspace Project's collective terrain/s series, Harlem Stage, Hi-ARTS, & BRICLab. BOLD Facilitator & former company member of Urban Bush Women, Tendayi made her Broadway debut in "David Byrne's America Utopia on Broadway" and performed in the film directed by Spike Lee. Tendayi was also seen on Broadway in the revival of "for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow was enuf," directed by Camille A. Brown. She's worked with Marjani Forte-Saunders (7NMS| E + M), Àṣẹ Dance Theatre Collective, nathantrice/RITUALS, "StrangeLove," Jim Findlay's "Electric Lucifer" & Philadelphia Opera's "We Shall Not be Moved," directed by Bill T. Jones. Greg Purnell is a Brooklyn born/bred multi-medium artist. He has been featured in 2015 BRIC Stoop Series "Barbershop Stories: it's all about hair" and BRIC TV's Brooklyn Made series. Other features include Afropunk, BAM, OkayAfrica, and Nike collaborations. He has been a Sound designer, lighting designer, director & music creator for various works. He has worked with UBW, The Illustrious Blacks, and MVMNT PHLSPY. Each piece created is a multi-layered portal of self discovery.

Stephen Petronio Company recognizes Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and SHS Foundation as lead supporters of the 2023 Season and Bloodlines.

Stephen Petronio Company's 2023 Season and Bloodlines are made possible, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and with additional support from the Hyde and Watson Foundation, Joseph & Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, New Music USA's Organizational Development Fund, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, The Shubert Foundation, and The Serena Foundation.