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Doug Elkins Returns To PEAK PERFORMANCES To Show Two New Works, 4/20-23

Peak Performances is pleased to welcome back Doug Elkins, whom The New York Times calls "one of the most witty, musical and inventive choreographers of his generation," and his company, Doug Elkins choreography, etc., in an evening-length program of new and acclaimed works, April 20-23 at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University.

For four performances, the company will offer the world premiere of O, round desire, a new dance commissioned and co-produced by Peak Performances; A Hundred Indecisions, a new film produced by Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University,also making its world premiere at the Kasser; and Elkins' celebrated repertory work Mo(or)town/Redux (2012).

In creating O, round desire, Elkins is inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera and the writer's suggestion that "one can be in love with several people at the same time, feel the same sorrow with each, and not betray any of them." The choreography blends a variety of dance styles against a sonic mixtape ranging from classical music to rap. Noting that each dancer brings his or her own corporal history to the studio, Elkins watches for-and captures-clashes, collisions and moments of surrender. This new work features five dancers-Carolyn Cryer, Cori Marquis, Kyle Marshall, Donnell Oakley and Elias Rosa, making his company debut in the Peak Performances engagement-and a movement chorus comprised largely of Montclair State University students.

Elkins considers A Hundred Indecisions a companion to O, round desire, especially in its focus on desire and memory. The title and theme of the film come from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," the first professionally published poem by T.S. Eliot, who writes:

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

For Elkins, who choreographs and directs the film, A Hundred Indecisions represents both a new frontier and a return to origins. As he often does in his choreography, he uses his career history and his personal relationships as fodder for the film. Elkins connects his early days, in which he was a b-boy who frequented downtown clubs-where he met the late, great Willi Ninja, Mother of the House of Ninja-and the present, in which he helms a small modern dance company. The film mixes Willi's vogueing protégé Javier and the accomplished house dancers Carlos Cordova and Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie with Charmaine Seet, who has danced with and for Elkins since the 1990s, and Elkins' current company members Carolyn Cryer (also who also serves as the company's rehearsal director), Deborah Lohse, Cori Marquis, Kyle Marshall and Donnell Oakley. Completing the ensemble is Parisa Khobdeh, a longtime member of Paul Taylor's company whom Elkins met last year when he was commissioned to create a new work for Paul Taylor American Modern Dance. (The commission, The Weight of Smoke, returns March 12 and 17 at the Koch Theater in Manhattan.)

A Hundred Indecisions, making its world premiere on the program, is the third and final installment in Montclair State University's Dance for Film on Location initiative, which Peak Performances Executive Director Jedediah Wheeler conceived and launched with $450,000 of support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Wheeler describes Dance for Film on Location as a series of shorts in which "the camera is not used as a tool to document a performance, but rather as a collaborator to create a dance especially for film." The previous films in the Dance for Film on Location series are Heidi Latsky's Soliloquy (2015) and Nora Chipaumire's Afro Promo #1 Kinglady (2016).

At Peak Performances, Elkins and the company will reprise Mo(or)town/Redux (2012), another return to an earlier period in his career and in life. The dance resumes a movement conversation Elkins began in 1990 with Shakespeare's Othello and Jose Limon's seminal 1949 work The Moor's Pavane. Like Limon, Elkins transforms the text of Shakespeare's tragedy into a dance piece for four characters-Othello, Iago, Desdemona, and Emilia-and the simple prop of a handkerchief. With a Motown and neo-Motown-inspired soundscape created by Justin Levine and Matt Stine, and music direction by Levine, Elkins explores themes of power, love, jealousy and betrayal. Reviewing the premiere of Mo(or)town/Redux at Baryshnikov Arts Centerin 2012, Alastair Macaulay wrote in The New York Times, "To say that I want to see this program again is an understatement." Following the work's return to New York, in 2013 as part of Fall for Dance at City Center, Macaulay included Mo(or)town/Redux in his year-end top-ten list.

Peak Performances last presented Elkins in 2010, when Doug Elkins & Friends' performed Fräulein Maria, Elkins' loving deconstruction of The Sound of Music, at the Alexander Kasser Theater.

Funding Credits

Peak Performances @ Montclair State University co-produced and co-commissioned O, round desire. Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University produced A Hundred Indecisions with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Choreographers on Campus Initiative.

Mo(or)town /Redux was made possible with generous support from DANCEworks, a partnership between SUMMERDANCE Santa Barbara and the Lobero Theatre Foundation. Established in 2009, this unique opportunity is the brainchild of Dianne Vapnek, Founder and Artistic Director. Mo(or)town/Redux was presented at The Lobero on March 19 & 20, 2011[BZ1] .

About Doug Elkins

Doug Elkins is a two-time New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Award-winning choreographer and a 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Creative Arts Fellow. He began his dance career as a b-boy, touring the world with break dance groups New York Dance Express and Magnificent Force, among others. Elkins is a recipient of significant choreographic commissions and awards from the NEA, National Performance Network, Jerome Foundation, Choo-San Goh & H. Robert Magee Foundation, Dance Magazine Foundation, Metropolitan Life/American Dance Festival, Hartford Foundation, Arts International, The Greenwall Foundation and The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. In 1994, he received a Brandeis University Creative Arts Medal, sharing the stage with author Philip Roth and photographer Nan Goldin. In 2006, he was honored in New York City by the Martha Hill Award for Career Achievement; in 2010, he was honored in Boston with an Elliot Norton Award for Choreography (for Doug Elkins & Friends' Fräulein Maria, a loving deconstruction of The Sound of Music).

Elkins has taught and choreographed extensively in the US and Europe and has created original work for Israel's Batsheva Dance Company, Flying Karamazov Brothers, MaggioDanza, Pennsylvania Ballet, Union Dance and CanDoCo of London, as well as a number of university dance companies and the renowned Mini & Maxi of Holland. His theater work includes collaborations with JoAnne Akalaitis and Philip Glass, RoBert Woodruff, Pavel Dubrusky, Annie Hamburger, Molly Smith, Craig Lucas, David Henry Hwang, Barbara Karger and Michael Preston (including Fräulein Maria), Anne Kauffman, Arin Arbus and, most recently Janos Szasz for The Master & Margarita at Bard SummerScape. A graduate of SUNY/Purchase, Elkins received his MFA in Dance from Hollins University/ADF in 2007. His tenure at The Beacon School on the upper west side of Manhattan is the subject of Where the Dance Is, a short film by Marta Renzi. In fall 2013, he became a full-time faculty member at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey.

About Doug Elkins choreography, etc.

Doug Elkins choreography, etc. was established in summer 2009 as a way to brand independent dance, theater and teaching projects for Doug Elkins. The umbrella has allowed for the creation of three award-winning works: Fräulein Maria, which began at DANCENOW Joe's Pub in 2006 and, with the addition of theater directors Barbara Karger and Michael Preston, toured throughout North America 2009-2012; Mo(or)town/Redux; and Hapless Bizarre, a 2013 National Dance Project selection. The original Doug Elkins Dance Company, founded by Elkins, Ben Munisteri, David Neumann, Lisa Nicks and Jane Weiner, debuted at the 11 O'Clock News series at Dance Theater Workshop in 1987, and toured nationally and internationally for 15 years before disbanding in 2004.

About Peak Performances

Peak Performances is a program of the Office of Arts and Cultural Programming at Montclair State University and has been honored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts with an Arts Citation of Excellence and Designation of Major Impact. Programs in this season are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Alison and James T. Cirenza; Holly and Robert Gregory; and The Honorable Mary Mochary.

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