New York Live Arts Announces Additional Programming Details for Kyle Abraham's Suite of World Premiere Works

 New York Live Arts Announces Additional Programming Details for Kyle Abraham's Suite of World Premiere Works

New York Live Arts today announced further programming details for the suite of all-new world premiere works created by 2012-2014 Resident Commissioned Artist(RCA) Kyle Abraham, including a fourth, previously unannounced ensemble work. Known for creating "voluptuous movement phrases with touches of dance-theater" (The New York Times) Abraham and his company, Abraham.In.Motion, will present four works-one evening-length, two ensemble works and one trio-over two programs titled The Watershed and When the Wolves Came In at New York Live Arts from September 23 through 27 and September 30 through October 4, 2014. Exploring two totemic triumphs in the international history of the civil rights, the 150 year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 20 year anniversary of the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa, the works feature visual design by acclaimed conceptual artist Glenn Ligon and original music performed live by world renowned jazz artist Robert Glasper, accompanied by two musicians and a vocalist.

Both programs take inspiration from Max Roach's protest album "We Insist: Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite" that celebrated the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and shined a light on the growing Civil Rights Movement of that period in South Africa and the U.S. The powerful themes inherent in these historical milestones, in tandem with Abraham's choreography and Roach's music, connect ideas postured in a cross-cultural exploration of freedom and its progression from the 1960s to present day.

"Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln's tenacious album brought necessary attention to the burgeoning African independence movement of the 1950s," said Abraham. "Received as controversial, the album was a classic example of jazz being used as a vehicle to address racial and political issues of the time. As an artist who frequently creates works that probe socially relevant and timely events, I've been grateful to have the resources made available by Live Arts' RCA program to collaborate with Ligon and Glasper, two artists whom I greatly admire. Collectively reflecting on the impact and message of Roach's art and using that energy to fuel the creation of these new works has been a rewarding and challenging experience. I look forward to presenting the amalgamation of all these elements to the New York City community in September."

The first of the two programs, The Watershed, is an evening-length work for nine dancers with costumes designed by Karen Young. Sharing a musical likeness to Abraham's 2010 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award-winning work The Radio Show, The Watershed blends an eclectic sound score of 1960s R&B with contemporary classical and hip hop to create a historically referential work rooted in our current cultural, historical and political milieu. A dialogue on the universal aspiration toward freedom, the work references the emancipation following the Civil War, the political tumult of the 1960s and civil rights challenges of our present day, ultimately expanding upon the question: "Are we yet free?" Recognizing the role that societal labels surrounding race, gender and culture-among others-have on our individual and collective understanding of American history and its attendant tropes, The Watershed explores the freedom and camaraderie inherent to social dance, juxtaposing it with the circumscription traditionally found in choreographed movement.

The second program, When the Wolves Came In, is a stand-alone repertory-based program consisting of three works. The newest of these works, also titled When the Wolves Came In, is an ensemble work for six dancers set to the music of The Los Angeles Master Chorale's A Good Understanding(composed by the acclaimed American contemporary classical music composer Nico Muhly). With the dancers elegantly bedecked in beehives, the work posits a duality between freedom and the perception of prosecution. Through abstraction, When the Wolves Came In attempts to untether civil rights from issues of race, examining them more pointedly within the politics of power. Boasting highly articulated movement and elevated dress (by costume designer Karen Young), this generous and emotional abstraction seeks to not only neutralize the racialization of human rights, but also exaggerate the universally human impact that the loss of freedom entails.

All repertory works will feature visual design by acclaimed conceptual artist Glenn Ligon. Marking Ligon's first collaboration with a dance company, the sets take visual cues culled from an array of images and points in American history including the civil rights era, doo-wop and other cultural phenomena, as well as slavery and its history and iconography. "The process of collaboration is often a tricky one, however Kyle brings to our collaboration-and to the dance world-a deep understanding of the visual arts; he understands the continuities between the two art forms," said Ligon. "It has been inspiring to watch the dancers move and see Kyle's ideas transposed onto their bodies, and it has been a challenging and refreshing experience to expand my comfort zones into set design and see how ideas from Kyle's choreography spill over into my work."

Created in collaboration with Glasper,The Gettin', another work within the When the Wolves Came Inprogram, is a five-section group work comprised of duets in conversation with a seven-dancer ensemble and features costumes by Karen Young. For each performance, Glasper's original compositions will be performed live by Glasper, with Otis Brown III (drums), Vicente Archer (bass) and Charenee Wade (vocals). Incorporating movement influenced by kinetic references taken from Abraham's love of social dancing and integrated with his signature style of mellifluous fluidity juxtaposed with sharp accents, the movement exploration is rooted in the themes of freedom and civil rights. Musically, the score draws inspiration from Roach's opus, enabling a dialogue across artistic disciplines on the struggle for freedom and its ongoing evolution.

"We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, and the art that they created is part of the bloodline between us and them," said Glasper. "A great deal of profound art comes from adversity and struggle, and that art is the jewel, the diamond that came from our ancestors. Working with Kyle and his company on this project has been an enriching experience. It's been interesting to see the evolution of the symbiotic relationship between the music and the movement-it's a give and take-they are both feeding off each other. It is magic."

In addition to set compositional elements, The Gettin' will feature a number of improvisational components. Sprinkled throughout the work will be phrases of either improvised music, movement or both, making for a truly spontaneous live performance experience in which no two performances will be the same.

The third work, Hallowed, rounds out the When the Wolves Came In program and is a trio that explores queer urban dance aesthetics and uses movement ranging from whacking to voguing to popping and locking, interspersed with traditional modern dance forms. The musical score is comprised of various church sermons as well as music specifically referenced throughout the Civil Rights Movement during the years 1963-1967. Costumes for Hallowed (as well as the ensemble work When the Wolves Came In) will be created by Reid Bartelme, the New York City based designer known for fashioning "smart yet unobtrusive costume designs" (The New York Times).

Funding Support for The Watershed and When the Wolves Came In

The Watershed and When the Wolves Came In are commissioned and produced by New York Live Arts through its Resident Commissioned Artist Program, with lead support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Support for the presentation at New York Live Arts is provided, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Watershed and When the Wolves Came In is supported, in part, by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The works were developed, in part, through a production residency at On the Boards with support from the National Dance Project, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Listing info:

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion
Resident Commissioned Artist
The Watershed (Program A); When the Wolves Came In (Mixed Repertory Evening Program B)
(World Premiere - produced by New York Live Arts)
September 23 - 27; September 30 - October 4
Program A: September 23, 24, 26, October 1, 3 at 7:30pm
Program B: September 25, 27, 30, October 2, 4 at 7:30pm

New York Live Arts Theater, New York Live Arts
Tickets start at $35 with select $15 seats available
T: 212-924-0077 |
219 W 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
Box Office hours:
Monday-Friday 1 - 9pm | Saturday-Sunday 12 - 8pm

Schedule of Related Events:

Sept 25 at 6:00pm Come Early Conversation: Artist Talk with Visual Artist Glenn Ligon: Visual Design in Dance Performance

Sept 26 at 6:30pm Come Early Video Screening and Talk: Visual Artist and Videographer Carrie Schneider discusses her dance on camera collaboration with Kyle Abraham/A.I.M.

Oct 2 Stay Late Discussion: Creating When the Wolves Come In: Thomas Lax, Associate Curator, Media and Performance Art at MoMA in conversation with Kyle Abraham and Grammy® Award Winning Jazz Musician Robert Glasper

Oct 3 Stay Late Discussion: Aesthetics of Jazz, Hip Hop and the Performance of Protest (Moderators TBA)

New York Live Arts is a reserved seating house.

Tickets for the season go on sale to New York Live Arts Members and Associate Artists on July 28 and to the general public on August 18.

Box Office hours:
Monday - Friday 1pm - 9pm and Saturday-Sunday 10am - 9pm.



New York Live Arts is located at 219 West 19th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.

About Kyle Abraham
Kyle Abraham, New York Live Arts' 2012-2014 Resident Commissioned Artist and 2013 MacArthur Fellow, began his dance training at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He continued his dance studies in New York, receiving a B.F.A. from SUNY Purchase and an M.F.A. from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. In 2014, he also received an honorary doctorate from Washington & Jefferson University in Pittsburgh.

In 2012, Abraham was named the 2012 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award recipient and 2012 USA Ford Fellow. Later that year, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater premiered Abraham's newest work,Another Night at New York's City Center to rave reviews. Rebecca Bengal of Vogue writes, "What Abraham brings to Ailey is an avant-garde aesthetic, an original and politically minded downtown sensibility that doesn't distinguish between genres but freely draws on a vocabulary that is as much Merce and Martha as it is Eadweard Muybridge and Michael Jackson."

Abraham received a prestigious New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for his work in The Radio Show, and a Princess Grace Award for Choreography in 2010. The previous year, he was selected as one of Dance Magazine's 25 To Watch for 2009, and received a Jerome Travel and Study Grant in 2008.

His choreography has been presented throughout the United States and abroad, most recently at On The Boards, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, REDCAT, Philly Live Arts, Portland's Time Based Arts Festival, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Bates Dance Festival, Harlem Stage, Fall for Dance Festival at New York's City Center, Montreal, Germany, Jordan, Ecuador, Dublin's Project Arts Center, The Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum located in Okinawa Japan, The Andy Warhol Museum, The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and Byham Theater in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

In addition to performing and developing new works for his company, Abraham.In.Motion, Abraham recently premiered The Serpent and The Smoke, a new pas de deux for himself and acclaimed Bessie Award winning dancer and New York City Principle, Wendy Whelan as part of Restless Creature at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.

In 2011, OUT Magazine labeled Abraham as the "best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama."

About Glenn Ligon
Glenn Ligon lives and works in New York. Ligon received a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University in 1982, and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1985.

A mid-career retrospective of Ligon's work, Glenn Ligon: AMERICA, organized by Scott Rothkopf, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in March 2011. The exhibition traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the fall of 2011, and to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in early 2012. Ligon has been the subject of solo museum exhibitions at the Power Plant in Toronto, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Kunstverein Munich. His work was included in Documenta XI in 2002 and the 1991 and 1993 Whitney Biennials.

Glenn Ligon has earned numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 1997, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2003, the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 2006 and the Studio Museum's Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize in 2009.

Monographs of Ligon's work include Glenn Ligon: AMERICA published by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Yourself in the World: Selected Writings and Interviews published by Yale University Press, New Haven, CT; Glenn Ligon - Some Changes published by the Power Plant, Toronto; Glenn Ligon: Unbecoming published by the ICA Philadelphia; and Coloring: New Work by Glenn Ligon published by the Walker Art Center.

Selected public collections include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Fisher Landau Center, Long Island City, NY; Harvard Art Museum, Boston, MA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth, TX; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

About Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper grew up in Houston, Texas, playing piano in church at the age of 12 to accompany his mother who was a gospel, jazz and R&B singer. He went on to sharpen his prodigal chops at the Houston High School for the Performing Arts and New School University in NYC, allowing his developing affinity for pop, hip-hop and rock to inform his musical sensibilities. By 2003, Glasper had already racked up spots in the bands of prominent jazz artists such as Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, Terence Blanchard and Roy Hargrove. In addition, his deep appreciation of hip-hop and R&B allowed him to form lateral bonds in those respective worlds. Guided by his mother's example, Glasper simultaneously performed jazz while taking gigs as a touring musician and musical director for artists such as Maxwell, Yasiin Bey, Q-Tip and Bilal.

Glasper released two acclaimed acoustic jazz trio albums on Blue Note Records before he captured his unique duality with 2009's Double-Booked, which juxtaposed his acoustic trio and hip hop-infused Experiment band. RGX's 2012 breakout Black Radio, featuring Yasiin Bey, Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Lalah Hathaway, KING and others, laid out a new paradigm for creative music reaching beyond entrenched genre boundaries to create a singular vision that drew from all reaches of contemporary black music. Black Radio won Best R&B Album at the 2013 GRAMMY Awards.

RGX upped the ante with Black Radio 2 (2013), featuring Snoop Dogg, Anthony Hamilton, Luke James, Patrick Stump, Common, Jill Scott, Norah Jones, Emeli Sande, Faith Evans, Brandy and others. It is another genre-defying effort that took the Black Radio blueprint and built to even greater heights. A delight to critics and fans alike, Black Radio 2 brazenly traverses the genres of jazz, hip hop and R&B, creating a vibrant new chasm, brilliantly contrasting its predecessor in the process.

Glasper recently performed a duo piano concert at The Town Hall in NYC with label mate, Jason Moran, for Blue Note Records' 75th Anniversary, and with Jill Scott and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Academy of Music. He is currently touring with the Experiment band and working on numerous production projects for 2014/2015, including scoring the Don Cheadle film, Miles Ahead, and producing a Miles Davis remix album.

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, Executive 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.

Funding Support for New York Live Arts

The Brownstone Foundation; Con Edison; The Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art; The Ford Foundation; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; French American Cultural Exchange; The Grand Marnier Foundation; The Howard Gilman Foundation; Jerome Foundation; Lambent Foundation; The Samuel M. Levy Family Foundation; MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts; The Jerome Robbins Foundation; The Scherman Foundation; The Shubert Foundation; and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. New York Live Arts is supported by public funds administered by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Photo Credit: Carrie Schneider