The Commons Choir's MAYDAY HEYDAY PARFAIT Coming to BRIC
BRIC has announced artists-in-residence The Commons Choir's premiere of mayday heyday parfait, a work of song, dance, and poetry expressing humanity's troubles and highest aspirations, imploring our capacity for empathy across difference.
Performing from November 9 - 12, a diverse cast of 15 will weave a multi-layered narrative from complex musical harmonies and highly personal movement.
Choreographed by Daria Faïn, with a libretto written by Robert Kocik in a profusion of languages, and compositions by Darius Jones, this ambitious investigative song cycle brings many voices of Brooklyn together through a collective creative process that looks toward dispelling distrust and unjustness.
The Commons Choir extensively researches the colonial, capital-driven violence of history that brought us to where we are now, to ultimately propose a collective healing-an understanding of a way forward where individuality, cultural identity, and connection to others are not mutually exclusive. The title mayday (distress signal, request for help) heyday (period of great success) parfait (French: perfect; layered concoction) whimsically alludes to Commons Choirs' exploration of how our stories and our histories are irreducible and interdependent-and to the restarting processes humanity needs to undergo to move from austerity policies to shared prosperity.
Formed in 2008, The Commons Choir is a fluid and open collective-with as many as 30 participants at any given time-led by choreographer Daria Faïn and poet Robert Kocik. Faïn and Kocik employ a process as distinct and inclusive as their performances: those who become involved in The Commons Choir need not be professional singers or dancers, and pieces are generated by individual performers' energies and backgrounds. These performers have come to them, through open calls, with a specific interest in using the intricacies of language and gesture to assert both individual history and human kinship-and to undo any perceived binary therein. Faïn says, "It's not like a dance company, where everyone moves the same way; they come from extremely diverse backgrounds and countries and it's very important to us that it stays that way. I wanted the performers to go into themselves as much as possible, so that the audience will see that what connects them is not a visual aesthetic, but rather the interdependency they can create culturally and in the work."
Through decades of research-like Faïn's martial arts background and Chinese energetics, and Kocik's work in architecture and his structural and poetic understanding of language-the two creators have developed what they call the Prosodic Body, a new field of research that explores language as sound, embodiment, and utmost expression. The Commons Choir is one manifestation of this study-and what they present to audiences is, itself, "performable research." Here, prosody (per Merriam Webster, "the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language") is analyzed and activated in the voices and bodies of performers, through Jones' complex compositions, Faïn's direction of movement as it relates to voice, and Kocik's co-writing of performers' stories as poetry and libretto.
mayday heyday parfait also features an exhibit displaying elements of research and discourse within the work, with video, a reading corner filled with books that fueled the piece, and an installation of the names of members of the Lenape tribe who were present, certainly with their own understanding of events, as their land was signed over to Dutch colonists to create the beginnings of now-New York City. Overall, mayday heyday parfait looks back, with a reparative lens, towards the point of departure for globalization-the atrocity-stained search for spices, and nutmeg in particular-from Da Gama's "discovery" of the sea route to India, to Columbus' accidental "discovery" of the West Indies, to the brutal Dutch control of the Banda islands over a spice Americans now affiliate with seasonal lattes, to the genocide of Native American populations. All of this was the dawn of what would euro-centrically be deemed the Age of Discovery. "It set into motion an attempt to monopolize resources, and the kind of exploitative commercialization/racism/desecration of this condition we're in now," emphasizes Kocik. "So we're trying to put in motion in our humble little way a kind of counteractive Age of Undiscovery-where we're meeting each other all over again, but without the arrogation. Just beholding who we are."
Performances run from November 9 to November 12, at 8pm at BRIC House (647 Fulton St, Brooklyn) General admission tickets are $20 in advance and $23 at the door. For ticketed events, the Box Office opens one hour prior to show time. Advanced tickets can be purchased at bricartsmedia.org or by phone at 877-987-6487.
Performers: Sylvestre Akakpo, Martita Abril, Massimiliano Balduzzi, Ilona Bito, Yoon Sun Choi, Lydia Chrisman, Laura Colomban, Drew Devero Belfon, Daria Faïn, Ichi Go, Alvaro Gonzales Dupuy, Antígona González, Michael Ingle, Aram Jibilian, Robert Kocik, Ivana Larrosa, Anaïs Maviel, Carol Porteous, Jean Carla Rodea, Saúl Ulerio, Fay Victor and Cecilia Woolfolk.
Daria Faïn is an acclaimed New York choreographer originally from Antibes, France. Her choreography fuses her European cultural background with two decades of practice in Asian philosophies of the body and American dance training. From this diverse background, Faïn has developed a unique movement and performance approach. She studied the classical Indian dance form Bharatha Natyam for five years in Paris with Amala Devi and in Madras, India with Swarnamuckie (State dancer of Tamil Nadu, 1982). In India she also studied the co-relationship between this classical form of dance and temple architecture. She was deeply influenced by her work with the Butoh-based artist Min Tanaka. With a grant from the French Ministry of Culture she studied at the Graham School in NYC from 1984 to1986. She has been certified in the Alexander Technique since 1991, and has been an instructor of the Universal Healing Tao (Mantak Chia Chinese Chi Kung University) since 2001 and studies Martial Arts with Master AlLen Frank from 2007-2010. Faïn has also extensively researched the reciprocal influence between architecture and human behavior, and has given lectures on Swiss-born architect and urbanist Le Corbusier. Over the years Faïn's choreographic research has led her to work with people with mental illness, the developmentally disabled, and blind-deaf individuals, leading to a complex understanding of the body as a endless resource of knowledge.
Robert Kocik is a poet, architect and economic-justice activist. He has studied poetics at the New College in San Francisco and engineering at the Ecole Polytechnique IBOIS in Lausanne, Switzerland. He has apprenticed with traditional Japanese woodworkers and the Compagnons du Devoir, a traditional French wood-framers guild. With the choreographer Daria Faïn he has developed an experiential science known as The Prosodic Body. With Fain he co-directs The Commons Choir. In the current climate of the privatization-of-everything (POE) his architectural works propose countervailing 'missing social services'. He is currently developing a building based on prosody and poets' imagined relevance to society. His essays comprise a nascent field called SOS (Sore, Oversensitive Sciences). His publications include: Overcoming Fitness (Autonomedia, 2001), and Rhrurbarb (Field Books, 2007), E-V-E-RY-O-N-E (Yo-Yo Labs). His poetry and writings have appeared in the journals Acts, Object, Crayon, Action Poetique, The New Coast, and Ecopoetics, among many others. His latest book Supple Science was published in 2013 by ON Contemporary Practice.
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Photo Credit: David Andrako