Jane Comfort To Present 40th Anniversary Retrospective At La MaMa

By: Feb. 06, 2018
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La MaMa in association with LUMBERYARD Contemporary Performing Arts presents
Jane Comfort and Company Celebrating 40 Years of Making Dance with an Anniversary Retrospective

April 5-8, 2018 at La MaMa

"Jane Comfort, (is) a choreographer who's tackled political issues with passion and mordant wit...Aided by her splendid colleagues, Comfort stitches her disparate materials together with almost faultless theatrical skill." - Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice
La MaMa, in association with LUMBERYARD, is pleased to present Jane Comfort's 40th Anniversary Retrospective, April 5-8, 2018, at La MaMa in New York City. "A postmodernist pioneer in the use of verbal material in dance" (The New York Times), Jane Comfort has won critical acclaim for her multilayered works commenting on contemporary social and cultural issues with compassion and wit. The celebration will bring more than 20 former and current members to restage excerpts from seminal and favorite works spanning from 1978 to 2018, along with clips of archival videos.
Artists taking part in the retrospective include Nancy Alfaro, Heather Christian, Leslie Cuyjet, Mark Dendy, Sean Donovan, Paul Hamilton, Elinor Harrison, Julius Hollingsworth, Cori Marquis, Stephanie McKay, David Neumann, Lisa Niedermeyer, Stephen Nunley, Javier Perez, Christina Redd Johnson, Gabrielle Revlock, Peter Sciscioli, Ellen Smith Ahern, Cynthia Svigals, Petra van Noort, Brandon Washington, Edisa Weeks, and Darrin Wright, in addition to drummer Auchee Lee.

The program will feature the following works:

Four Screaming Women (1982) This seminal work reflects Comfort's early interest in rhythmic work, both in text and dance. Upon the work's recreation, last November at Joe's Pub as part of Dance/Now, Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine deemed it among the Best of 2017 and praised its "wonderful, witty brand of virtuosity."
Street Talk (1984) Originally part of Artificial Horizon, the work is an exploration of polyrhythms, with fast dancing set to live drumming. Percussionist Auchee Lee, who premiered Street Talk, will return to perform it at La MaMa.

Amazing Grace (2018) In this new iteration of the 2016 work, Comfort does a sign language version of the classic hymn against a rant by Trump in her most recent commentary on our political reality.

Jane Comfort's 40th Anniversary Retrospective will also feature the following excerpts:
For the Spider Women (1980) In this early video, Comfort explores the process of her pregnancy with an energetic solo recorded at six different times, as her shape alters and her weight increases.

Deportment (1991) A video features Comfort speaking about the creation of this searing satire of racial and sexual hatred, hypocrisy, and good manners in America - punctuated with clips from the piece.

Faith Healing (1993) Using Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie as its point of departure, the acclaimed dance theater work gives each member of the Wingfield family scenes from American movies in which they acquire the super personas of stars to act out their dreams. Premiered at PS 122 in 1993, Faith Healing was later produced Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company. Mark Dendy, who won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Amanda, will return to perform an excerpt of the work at La MaMa.
S/He (1995) The dance theatre tour-de-force uses gender and race reversals to take a provocative look at social attitudes in America during the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearings of the early 1990s. The retrospective will restage the work's famous scene in which a senate panel of black females presides over a white Hill and Thomas. It will also feature Comfort speaking about learning male body language from Diane Torr, followed by a video clip of S/He's drag section.

Underground River (1998) Winner of a 1998 Bessie Award, the work explores the fantasy life of a girl who appears to be unconscious to the outside world. Singing a cappella songs by Toshi Reagon and interacting with the magical visual creations of master puppeteer Basil Twist, the dancers dwell in a world of magic realism and eccentric beauty unseen by those who wish to make the girl "well."

Asphalt (2002) The spoken-word opera tells the story of Racine, an aspiring DJ who transcends his urban reality by entering a world made right by music. Asphalt features text by Carl Hancock Rux, vocal compositions by Toshi Reagon, and an instrumental score by DJ Spooky. The retrospective will feature one of the opera's most beautiful songs, along with a video of Comfort discussing her collaboration with Reagon and Hancock Rux.

Persephone (2004) Comfort explores the Greek myth of Persephone who is so admired by Hades that he abducts her and forces her to live with him as queen of the underworld. The work features a polyrythmic, gamelan-inspired score by Tigger Benford.
Beauty (2012) The provocative dance theater work investigates the American notion of female beauty through the lens of Barbie. Selected for the retrospective is a live solo riffing on male and female uses of body language.

You Are Here (2016) The piece is an ode to urban dwellers-the millions of citizens who live on top of each other and participate in the massive daily pedestrian dance of the street and the transit system. Following the live excerpt of people structurally aligning, yet in and out of sync, will be Darrin Wright's wild, off-kilter solo against the cityscape.
The evening will also include a video of Comfort's first dance, Steady Shift(1978), shown in the lobby as a continual video loop.
Performance Schedule and Ticketing Performances will take place at the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa, 66 E. 4thStreet, 2nd Floor.
Performance Times:

Thursday, April 5, 7:30pm

Friday, April 6, 8pm

Saturday, April 7, 8pm

Sunday, April 8, 4pm

Tickets: $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors (plus $1 facility fee). Tickets can be purchased online at http://lamama.org/jane_comfort/.

The opening night performance, on April 5, will be followed by a gala to benefit the company. The party will include champagne, hors d'oeuvres and dancing to the sounds of DJ Manchild Black. Benefit tickets, which include the performance and after-party, are $200 and can be purchased online at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10233024
About Jane Comfort and Her Company

Jane Comfort is an award-winning choreographer, writer, and director known for issue-oriented works integrating text and movement. Since 1978 she has created over 60 dance/theater works, many of them evening-length, that have been presented throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America.

Jane Comfort and Company creates dance theater works that push the intersection of movement and language to a new form of theater. The company is an extraordinary group of dancers, actors and singers whose multiple talents allow Jane Comfort to create deeply layered works utilizing a wide range of theatrical elements, from pure dance to chanted texts, a capella singing, film, lip-syncing, cross dressing, acted scenes and puppetry. The company creates theater in which transformation occurs through many voices. www.janecomfortandcompany.org

About La MaMa La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. The organization has a worldwide reputation for producing daring performance works that defy form and transcend barriers of ethnic and cultural identity. Founded in 1961 by award-winning theatre pioneer Ellen Stewart, La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists from more than 70 nations. A recipient of more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has helped launch the careers of countless artists, many of whom have made important contributions to American and international arts milieus.

La MaMa's 56th season highlights artists of different generations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds, who question social mores and confront stereotypes, corruption, bigotry, racism, and xenophobia in their work. Our stages embrace diversity in every form and present artists that persevere with bold self-expression despite social, economic, and political struggle and the 56th season reflects the urgency of reaffirming human interconnectedness.

About LUMBERYARD Contemporary Performing Arts LUMBERYARD Contemporary Performing Arts is a national non-profit organization that serves the performing arts community and its audiences by providing multi-faceted opportunities for artists to develop new work. Unwavering in its commitment to assisting artists throughout the creative process, LUMBERYARD operates with a collaborative and generous spirit, one driven by this support for artists and appreciation for the audiences who value their work.

LUMBERYARD's four-building campus on the Hudson River waterfront is a transformational project and part of the resurgence story of Catskill, NY. The complex consists of a main Lumberyard building in Catskill and three large adjacent barns along Catskill Creek. There will be a large, column-free, flexible theater, a lobby, administrative offices, housing for up to 20 resident artists, an artist lounge and a public courtyard. Phase II will encompass the three adjacent structures, which LUMBERYARD will develop in collaboration with the Village of Catskill and in line with the Village's Downtown and Waterfront Revitalization Strategy.

Each year in Catskill, LUMBERYARD will present a summer season consisting of premiere and work-in-progress performances by celebrated professional artists and companies, serving local residents and attracting tourists from across New York and beyond. From October through April, the facility will be available for collaborative residencies, subsidized and commercial rentals and community programming.
For more information about LUMBERYARD, visit lumberyard.org