Three Epic Dance Programs Announced For Park Avenue Armory

Three Epic Dance Programs Announced For Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory's first full season of artistic programming culminates with the presentation of three dance companies: Shen Wei Dance Arts, STREB Extreme Action, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Highlighting the distinct visions and vocabularies of each choreographer, the programs draw upon the Armory's scale and character to immerse audiences in performances unhindered by the constraints of traditional performance spaces.

Beginning November 29, Shen Wei Dance Arts will stage a new work commissioned by the Armory and created during their time as an Armory Artist-in-Residence, alongside two of the company's signature pieces. Beginning December 14, STREB Extreme Action performs new gravity-defying works throughout the Armory's 55,000-square-foot, 85-foot-high Wade Thompson Drill Hall. And, on New Year's Eve, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will present the final performances of their nearly 60-year trajectory with the site-specific Park Avenue Armory Events. Celebrating the artistic genius of Merce Cunningham and showcasing the seminal influence that his Company has had on visual and performing arts and the American avant garde, this presentation offers audiences one final chance to see the Company before it is disbanded.

"Each of these three dance companies is known for creating work for non-traditional spaces, and each program at the Armory showcases new work that is informed by and that responds to the unique qualities of our expansive drill hall. The performances will provide audiences with dance that dynamically connects the artists with the audience in dramatically different ways," stated Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. "We are especially honored to once again be presenting the groundbreaking Merce Cunningham Dance Company, this time in their historic final performances."

Major support for this programming is provided by The Rockefeller Foundation. Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Prospect Hill Foundation. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

November 29 - December 3, 2011, at 7:30pm
December 4, 2011, at 2pm
Tickets: $35

Undivided Divided
World Premiere (Park Avenue Armory commission)
Concept, Choreography, and Sets: Shen Wei
Original Score: S? Percussion
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton
Digital Media and Animation: Josh Horowitz, Layne Braunstein
Costume Design: Austin Scarlett
Sound Design: Lawson White

Rite of Spring
Premiered: 2003 (American Dance Festival)
Choreography, Sets, and Costumes: Shen Wei
Music: Igor Stravinsky (Four-hand piano version recorded by Fazil Say)
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton

Premiered: 2000 (originally created for China's Guangdong Modern Dance Company)
Choreography, Set, Costume, and Make Up: Shen Wei
Music: John Tavener and Tibetan Buddhist Chants
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton

Following his creative exploration as a Park Avenue Armory Artist-in-Residence, Artistic Director Shen Wei and his company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, performs a bold world premiere work that heralds the next direction for the ensemble. Created during the Company's 16-month residency at the Armory, Undivided Divided combines handcrafted scenic elements with expansive digital projection in a performance that makes dynamic use of the boundless possibilities available in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall. Sixty 7'x7' visually distinct squares line the floor of the drill hall, providing 60 performance zones for the Company's 32 dancers. Each is distinguished with its own vocabulary and aesthetic by the use of lighting, projections, and Shen Wei's own scenic design elements. Twelve hand-crafted and performative installations line the rear perimeter of the stage space, designed to go beyond the visual and auditory aspects of the performance and create a wholly immersive experience. Audiences will be invited to move throughout the performance, creating moments of intimate engagement and highly individualized experiences. The evening-length program also includes restagings of two of Shen Wei's most celebrated works: Rite of Spring (2003), a study of deliberate versus reflexive movement set to a four-hand piano arrangement of Stravinsky's famous composition; and Folding (2000), which combines highly stylized movement with the ethereal melodies of John Tavener and traditional Tibetan Buddhist chants.

STREB Extreme Action
December 14 - 16, 20, 22, 2011, at 7pm
December 17 & 21, 2011, at 2pm & 7pm
December 18, 2011, at 3pm
Tickets: $35

Kiss the Air!
Action Architect and Choreographer: Elizabeth Streb
Composer: David Van Tiegham
Costume Design: Andrea Lauer
Video Design: Erik Pearson
Lighting Design: Robert Wierzel

New York's own "action heroes," STREB Extreme Action stretches the limitations of the human body. Choreographer and MacArthur "genius" award recipient Elizabeth Streb takes over the Armory's expansive Wade Thompson Drill Hall with Kiss the Air!, a performance of six new large-scale works that incorporate ziplines, ladders, trampolines, hoops, bungee cords, and a pool of water. The performance is anchored by Ascension, which encompasses a 21-foot turning ladder on which nine dancers attempt to balance and Human Fountain, which features sixteen performers leaping from a three-storey honey comb structure to create the effect of a human Bellagio Fountain. Also included are Falling Sideways, which uses stuntmen's Air Rams to launch dancers at lightning speed past the audience; Pass, which uses hoops and trampolines to create a gigantic human pendulum; 100 mph, during which two dancers will be attached to cables and turned into human sling shots; and Kiss The Water, in which dancers in bungee cords soar over the audience-and a pool of water-in the center of the drill hall. Part aerial dance, part daredevil act, Elizabeth Streb's work defies the natural laws of motion and gravity to create a visual and auditory tour de force.

December 29 - 31, 2011, at 6:30pm & 9:00pm
Tickets: $10
Park Avenue Armory Events
Choreography by Merce Cunningham
Arranged by Robert Swinston
Music by David Behrman, John King, Takehisa Kosugi, and Christian Wolf
Décor by Daniel Arsham

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns to New York City-its home since its founding in 1953-for six historic final performances at the Armory, culminating a two-year farewell Legacy Tour that brought the Company to more than 50 destinations worldwide. For this last engagement, the Company performs a series of Events created especially for the occasion across three stages in the Armory's dramatic drill hall. The Company has mounted these signature site-specific choreographic collages in unusual locations around the world throughout its history, including two previous engagements in the Armory's drill hall: a 1983 performance and the 2009 public memorial for the legendary dancer and choreographer. The Park Avenue Armory Events feature the last-ever music commission by the MCDC Music Committee and a specially commissioned décor by visual artist Daniel Arsham, who will fill the drill hall with massive suspended "clouds" comprised of thousands of individual colored spheres. This momentous engagement marks the final opportunity for audiences to experience first-hand the work of Merce Cunningham as performed by the Company he personally trained, and to celebrate Cunningham's lifetime of creative achievement with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company before it disbands.

About Park Avenue Armory
Part palace, part industrial shed, Park Avenue Armory fills a critical void in the cultural ecology of New York by enabling artists to create, and the public to experience, unconventional work that could not otherwise be mounted in traditional performance halls and museums. With its soaring 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall-reminiscent of 19th-century European train stations-and array of exuberant period rooms, the Armory invites artists to draw upon its grand scale and distinctive character to both inspire and inform their work. The Armory is currently undergoing a $200-million revitalization of its historic building, named among the "100 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the World" by the World Monuments Fund in 2000. The renovation and restoration, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, will stabilize and preserve the building and create new resources and spaces for exhibitions, installations, and performances, as well as Artist-in-Residence studios, rehearsal rooms, and back-of-house amenities-offering dynamic environments for artists and audiences alike.

Since its first production in September 2007-Aaron Young's Greeting Card, a 9,216-square-foot "action" painting created by the burned-out tire marks of ten choreographed motorcycles presented with Art Production Fund-the Armory has organized a series of immersive performances, installations, and works of art that have drawn critical and popular attention. 2011 marked the Armory's first full season of artistic programming, which culminates this November and December with site-specific performances by STREB and Shen Wei Dance Arts, and the final performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.