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Feature: STEPHEN PETRONIO COMPANY: BLOODLINES/BLOODLINES (FUTURE) at Danspace Project

Bloodlines/Bloodlines (Future) promises a spectacular evening of dance past and present, Dec 8-10!

Feature: STEPHEN PETRONIO COMPANY: BLOODLINES/BLOODLINES (FUTURE) at Danspace Project

It's no secret that Stephen Petronio is a pillar of the dance community.

Since his early days working with Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown, Stephen Petronio has been creating, dancing, and sharing his gift with the world, challenging audiences to expand their expectations and tap into the immensity of possibility. "In the 1980s, [being vocal about] being queer was...not that usual, so I wanted my queerness to be in my body and in my style...I [also] think popular culture was very much on my mind because it was in a moment that I thought dance could break through to a different audience."

But what began Stephen's meteoric rise to dance success and impact? He credits his first public performance at Danspace Project 40 years ago to catapulting his career. "I was a young dancer with Trisha Brown-I had started working with Steve Paxton in college...and Steve asked me and one of Trisha's other dancers, Randy Warshaw, to do this score and it was like God asking me to do something... it was a very very big deal for him to ask us to enact his score."

And from that early performance at Danspace, the rest, as they say, is history.

His accolades are plentiful: Stephen has created over 35 works for his company, Stephen Petronio Company, has collaborated with some of the world's most impressive artists, and has been commissioned by the most renowned modern dance and ballet companies. But perhaps his artistic impact is most greatly felt through the launch of "Bloodlines", an initiative to preserve the works of his mentors and help them live on in the minds and hearts of today's dancers. "... I was sitting on my back porch like, 'What do you really want to do with your life now?' I collect paintings and I collect art...and I was thinking 'What small part of my mind is stopping me from hanging these masters on my body with my dancers?'...So I thought, well, it's Merce [Cunningham] and Trisha [Brown] and Steve [Paxton] and Yvonne [Rainer] and the people that really were very formative to me as a young artist...so I thought... Bloodlines, that's a great way to frame what I'm interested in." In 2019, Petronio expanded this initiative to feature new works from up-and-coming artists, creating a never-ending circle of artistic expression.

So a return to Danspace Project 40 years after his first public performance there had to be monumental. The program features new, exciting works from choreographers including Davalois Fearon, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, Tendayi Kuumba & Greg Purnell (ÜFLY Mothership), but also masterworks from Stephen and his mentor, Steve Paxton. Says Stephen, "I'm bringing back a work that I did there with Steve Paxton and that was a very monumental moment for me...So, I've taught this to two of my dancers, this duet that I did with Randy."

And for how Stephen is feeling about this full-circle experience? "It's emotional-It's emotional in a lot of levels. To go to the place that was the first public venue is really exciting. I've loved Danspace all along, it's always in my heart."

Photo Credit: Julie Lemberger



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