La MaMa Announces THE SHELL-SHOCKED NUT
From December 20 to 23, La MaMa Experimental Theater in association the GOH Productions will present the fourth annual production of East Village Dance Project's The Shell-Shocked Nut, an alternative Nutcracker set in the East Village, featuring an intergenerational cast of dancers and musicians. The piece is recommended for family audiences.
In this unconventional take on the seasonal staple, a wandering child and a war veteran suffering from PTSD take a magical voyage through the East Village. The pair of characters visit Tompkins Square Park, Economy Candy Store, Saint Mark's Place, and other iconic East Village landmarks while exploring themes of loss and recovery.
The New York Times said of the Shell-Shocked Nut, "The East Village has a "Nutcracker" of its own and, fittingly, it's on the gritty side." Time Out NY chose the production as a "Critics' Pick".
The Shell-Shocked Nut is conceived and directed by Martha Tornay and co-directed by Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski. The pair also spearhead East Village Dance Project (EVDP), a dance development program that has offered after-school classes in ballet, modern and choreography in lower Manhattan since 1997.
The show first emerged as a studio showing in the weeks after Superstorm Sandy created as a means of brightening spirits after a challenging time for the community. "I started thinking about the cathartic process of working through a stressful situation," Tornay said.
The sister and daughter of war veterans, Tornay was inspired to use the structure of the Nutcracker to tell a more personal story of the effects of trauma, while maintaining the accessible, family-friendly nature of the traditional ballet.
In the years following its inception, the piece has grown to a full-scale production, featuring young students from the dance program alongside an array of professional performers, artists and guest choreographers from NYC and beyond. The 2018 Guest Artists include the New Mexico-based Aerial group, Project in Motion; Detroit-based dance artists Shaina and Bryan Baira; and New York City performers Delaney McDonough, Indah Walsh, Chloe London, Xiao Quan, Lauren Kravitz, Ellen Maynard and OBIE-winning scenic designer Donald Eastman.
Local composer Clare Farris created original pieces for the show, based off the Tchaikovsky score. The show also includes sections of Tchaikovsky in its unadulterated state, Massachusetts-based musician/composer Peter Jones, and contemporary tracks by Duke Ellington, David Lowery, Lynn Anderson, Aretha Franklin and more.
The Shell-Shocked Nut will run from Dec. 20-23, Thurs to Sat at 7PM; Sunday at 3PM. Tickets are $20 and $15 seniors, students and children 12 and under, and can be purchased online at lamama.org or at the Box Office: (212) 352-3101
FUNDING: The East Village Dance Project and this project are supported, in part with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; and with support from private donors.
BACKGROUND AND BIOGRAPHIES OF KEY PROJECT MEMBERS
The Shell Shocked Nut is Conceived by Martha Tornay
Co-Directors: Martha Tornay & Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski of East Village Dance Project
Guest Dancers/choreographers: Bryan Baira, Shaina Baira, Chloe London, Lauren Kravitz, Rachel Knecht Scher, Ellen Maynard, Hilary McDaniel-Douglas of Project in Motion, Delaney McDonough, Xiao Quan, Indah Walsh, Students of East Village Dance Project @ Abrons Arts Center
Scenic Design: Donald Eastman
East Village Dance Project (EVDP), based in New York City, was founded in 1997 as a dance development program for youth age 3 through adult, under the artistic direction of Martha Tornay. EVDP offers classes in ballet, pointe, modern, improvisation and beginning choreography. The program has been recognized for its innovative approach to dance education, and for offering pre-professional classes to all, regardless of financial means. Through the program, EVDP students have performed at La MaMa Experimental Theater, Pace University, NYU Skirball Center, Abrons Arts Center, Vanaver Caravan Dance Festival, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors and alongside the acclaimed modern dance company, Keigwin + Company. EVDP's Teen Company, a pre-professional performance troupe, have been honored to perform works by guest choreographers including Kathryn Alter, Dante Brown, Ellen Cornfield, Molly Lieber, Amanda Loulaki, Nicole Wolcott and more. In January 2011, EVDP and GOH Productions opened Avenue C Studio. In 2017, EVDP relocated their youth program to Abrons Arts Center, renaming the program to East Village Dance Project @ Abrons Arts Center.
Martha Tornay has over 4 decades of intensive classical ballet studies including training with dance masters such as Mme. Gabriela Darvash, Gretchen Ward Warren and Robert Brassel. After performing for 18 years as a soloist with regional and international ballet and modern companies including Newport News Ballet (Virginia), Israel Ballet (Tel Aviv), and The Robert Kovich Company (NYC), she founded East Village Dance Project. Martha is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and a recipient of the Fine Arts Award in dance technique and choreography. In addition to directing East Village Dance Project, she is an adjunct professor at New York University's Experimental Theater Wing and teaches at Bates Dance Festival, the acclaimed summer dance workshop held at Bates College in Lewiston, ME.
Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski Originally from Western Massachusetts, Victoria received her BA in social science and dance from Sarah Lawrence College. In addition to working with the students of EVDP, Victoria has taught movement in preschools and public schools, served as a staff development coach for instructors teaching physical education classes, and worked with adults touched by cancer and chronic pain. As a performer, she has worked with both choreographers and playwrights including Katie Rose McLaughlin, Dan O'Neil, Sybil Kempson and David Neumann/advanced beginner group.
Project in Motion is a non-profit dance company founded in 1998. They develop collaborative audio/video, theatrical, terrestrial and aerial dance productions and perform on traditional aerial apparatuses, as well as custom built devices and set pieces of our own design. They seek to afford artists and their community the opportunity to experiment and develop the world of performance through creative workshops and collaborative projects. In the past thirteen years Project In Motion has performed in historic homes, along the banks of the Rio Grande, and in New York lofts, in addition to many other locations
Shaina Branfman Baira is Co-Artistic Director of BAIRA | MVMNT PHLSPHY. Shaina was born and raised in Victoria, Texas and received her BFA in Dance at the University of Iowa. She completed her certification as a Movement Analyst at the Laban Institute of Movement Studies, and completed studies in religion and philosophy at the New York All Faiths Seminary International where she was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. In 2016 Shaina was awarded the Atelier Award from the Laban Institute. Shaina is a member of The Feath3r Theory, and offers freelance interfaith mentoring and dialog throughout NYC.
Bryan Strimpel Baira is Co-Artistic Director of BAIRA | MVMNT PHLSPHY . Originally from Carleton, Michigan, he is a graduate of Wayne State University with a B.F.A in dance. Bryan has performed and taught around the world in places such as: Colombia, South Korea, Turkey, Tajikistan, and Armenia; as well as throughout NYC. He has danced with Nicholas Leichter Dance, Brian Brooks Moving Company, David Dorfman Dance and ThirdRailProjects. Bryan is an active sound designer/musician and is a member of The Feath3r Theory. Bryan is honored to have been selected as one of Dance Magazine's 'Top 25 to Watch' for 2013.
Indah M. Walsh is a choreographer, performer, dance educator, and administrator. She has danced in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and across the US. Indah earned a BFA in dance from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance in 2008 and an MFA in dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2014. As a choreographer, Indah Walsh was awarded a Creative Engagement Grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 2017. Indah has showcased work at venues and festivals in venues across NYC, as well as in California. Indah has taught and choreographed works for high schools, colleges, and dance conventions in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and California.
Delaney McDonough crafts multi-disciplinary events with movers ages 4-80. Her work has been produced across New England, New York City, San Francisco, Montreal and Santa Cruz. As a freelance performer, Delaney has performed with Annie Kloppenberg, Hana van der Kolk, Asher Woodworth, Sara Gibbons and others. She's steered two curitiorial undertakings in the great state of Maine, at Denmark Arts Center as Co-Director (2015-2017), and South Portland's Studio 408 as Director of Adult Programming and Director of Moving Target.
Chloe London is originally from Manhattan, NY and an alumni of the EVDP youth program. As a teen she took the lead role in the first performance of the Shell Shocked Nut. Chloe graduated in May 2017 with a BFA in Dance from SUNY Brockport's Honors College. In Rochester, NY Chloe danced for Chamber Ballet Brockport, Mariah Maloney, Laura Peterson, Zehnder Dance, Ashley Friend, and Assemblage Dance. Within the past few years, she trained her research and writing muscles at American Realness, Dante Brown |Warehouse Dance's Our Lips Project, Jacob's Pillow Dance, and The Kitchen. Chloe currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, dances for Wild Beast Dance, and creates her own work. She was a staff dance writer for Brockport's student paper The Stylus and showcases her dance writing on her website The Kinesthetic Scribe (kinestheticscribe.com).
Ellen Maynard is a Brooklyn-based dance artist and filmmaker. During her time as a BFA student of dance at The Ohio State University, Ellen performed in original works by Bebe Miller, Lily Skove, Ann Sofie Clemmensen, Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Ohad Fishof, and Noa Zuk; and created the dance film series The Wind is on us Here, Turning." Ellen's dance films have placed in festivals including the International 60 Seconds Dance Film Festival, the 9th International Screendance Festival, and the Third Coast Dance Film Festival. She is currently choreographing site-specific works, both live and filmed, for The West Harlem Arts Fund, as well as dancing with Dante Brown | Warehouse Dance and Quentin Burley Dance Group. Last year at Bates Dance Festival Ellen was director of photography for Stephan Koplowitz's dance film installation work-in-progress.
GOH Productions' mission is embodied in our logo, GOH, the Japanese character meaning "working together under one roof." That definition informs all the organization's work - collaborative and expansive, stretching the sky to its fullest capacity. GOH began in 1979, during a time of fiscal cutbacks and political turmoil; and faces, head-on, the challenges of nurturing artworks and artistic collaboration, testing the boundaries and borders of all categories. GOH has a primary goal of working with experimental and interdisciplinary artists to clarify their artistic vision and to make possible the production of new works in a variety of genres and in a variety of global landscapes. In the mid-1970s, GOH was founded as 7 Loaves, Inc. a non-profit arts producing and presenting organization in the Lower East Side/East Village of New York City. In 1988 the organization's name was changed to GOH Productions (GOH), and Bonnie Sue Stein became its Artistic and Executive Director, a position she still holds. Stein works with directly with a number of performing artists on the creation and development of collaborative projects in the U.S. and with international partners.
La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa's vision of nurturing new artists and new work remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961. La MaMa has presented more than 5,000 productions by 150,000 artists of all nations, cultures, races, and identities. Cultural pluralism and ethnic diversity are inherent in the work created on our stages. Here, artists find a supportive environment for artistic exploration, and audiences are part of the development of an artist's work over time.
A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, and more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Peter Brook, Ping Chong, André DeShields, Harvey Fierstein, Tadeusz Kantor, Adrienne Kennedy, Diane Lane, Warren Leight, Michael Mayer, Bette Midler, Meredith Monk, Kazuo Ohno, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Photo by Stacie Joy.